Island Life: May - December, 2014


Vol. 16 Weekly News, Reviews, Music and Satire Sunday 2014

dasboot.gifWelcome to the second half of year 2014. 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 28, 2014


This week's image is of a tree branch near an entrance to Golden Gate Park. The seemingly dead and barren tree yielded this amazing flower overnight.

Something to keep in mind in the depths of this bleak midwinter when the earth is tilted away from the sun and so many things are going wrong, both here and abroad and one's life is not anywhere you want it to be.

The Rose
Song by Bette Midler

Some say love it is a river
That drowns the tender reed
Some say love it is a razor
That leaves your soul to bleed

Some say love it is a hunger
An endless aching need
I say love it is a flower
And you it's only seed

It's the heart afraid of breaking
That never learns to dance
It's the dream afraid of waking
That never takes the chance

It's the one who won't be taken
Who cannot seem to give
And the soul afraid of dyin'
That never learns to live

When the night has been too lonely
And the road has been too long
And you think that love is only
For the lucky and the strong

Just remember in the winter
Far beneath the bitter snows
Lies the seed that with the sun's love
In the spring becomes the rose


The new Mayor and Council were seated December 15 -- and not a day too soon, given the passive aggressive way the old guard left town in voting at the last minute for precisely the sort of development scheme that got them ousted. After that one, those folks will never do business in this town again, not in public office.

The development in question is the plan for the old Del Monte brick warehouse, featuring hundreds of living units, thanks to the "density bonus" zoning waiver that was also passed at the same meeting by the same folks in lame duck office.

Anyhoo, we welcome Trish Spencer as new mayor along with Frank Matarrese and Jim Oddie as new Councilmembers, who we are hoping will provide a more considered approach towards development.

Not on the Big Media list of folks who passed away this year, our Joe Scalise, Jr., aka Joe the Butcher, passed away at the ripe age of 80, but not after running the Scalise Butcher shop on the Island for the past 56 years.

Also passing after being struck by a bus on the corner of Grand and Otis Streets, was Sam Sause, a native of Dayton, Ohio but an Island resident for over 50 years. Sam was a bit of a local Pillar of Island Society, participating in a number of Rotarian programs in a number of ways, including facilitating grants for economic and water projects based in Central America and supporting the Navy League with a passion while also supporting the Alameda Collective, an organization that engages in local low-income housing projects.

This is the last entry of Island-Life for the year 2014. You all should have your NYE gigs lined up by now, or it will be eggnog in front of the Tube watching the ball drop somewhere else. Flaming Lips are doing the Warfield for two nights, so there may still be tickets to hear really strange sounds and watch the guy get passed around inside a plastic bubble, which must be the most hygienic way to do crowd surfing one can imagine.

We will start off 2015 with a postmortem on people who passed, and we promise you it shall be irreverent and unlike the Mass Media approach with its false pieties. Until then, go easy on the eggnog. We hear it's 250 calories a serving -- without the alcohol.

See you next year.


So anyway, the weather has quieted some around here with the weather acting sort of like a downgrade strip joint -- some chilly responses if pushed, overcast skies suggesting a lot of action, occasionally a gleam of hope through the clouds, but ultimately offering little other than chilly atmosphere and little moisture with a lot of fog resulting in everything getting tight down below. After all, it's just all entertainment.

It is crab season and Pedro has been out on the high seas beyond the Golden Gate getting his fair share, his new shipboard companion, Ferry Boat, beside. Among those who passed this year was Pedro's former long-term First Mate, Tugboat, a black lab of valiant heart who died defending the boat and its skipper against a recalcitrant 18 foot Great White shark that managed to tangle up in the nets.

In any case, Pedro has a new First Mate and after a short hiatus, he is glad to hear that his favorite Lutheran radio televangelist, Pastor Rotschue, has had his tubes rearranged or whatever via medical chicanery enough to allow the man to forge onward with Pedro's favorite program. Just a little "pipe repair". This after an episode involving a stroke. Everything turned out well, apparently, and the good man was back on the air after a couple weeks. So that part of 2014 is all good.

The Pee Tardy folks have not initiated a Putsch and burned the Reichstag again, or the House of Congress, so there are a few things for which to be thankful.

The Solstice passed with little complaint. Terry's Wiccan coven met out at Crab Cove to celebrate the turning of the year and for once, Eunice the Moose remained in her paddock.

Old Gaia sits there on the rickety porch of the world. Now is the time when Gaia tilts her weathered face creased with valleys, arroyos, hills, deserts, plains, mesas, continents and the liquid seas of her deep dark eyes towards a gaze at her son, Phoebus Apollo riding in his 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 creaking rails marking the ever ceaseless count of time's advance, ticking each second, each century, from the first moment of creation until that rocking chair stops at the moment of that last, terrible, motionless silence.

Some people confused by Astrological hoodoo believe in this day and age the season warms as the earth spins closer to the sun -- nothing could be further from that deception, unless it be the foolish nonsense of Mercury Retrograde, the classic illusion, for nothing moves with surer purpose than the planets.

As Gaia turns her face toward the light, her ravined face gradually warms with measured steps, deep shadow covering the valleys of her eyes, all the world warming up under rains that will welcome the Spring and life's renewal, and everything is precisely where it needs to be right at this moment while Phoebus Apollo gallops in his low-rider at an angle to her repose, harder to see, longer by degrees in his daily journey, a sort of side-show to beat all side shows. You think you have a hot ride? Ha! Check out this flaming chariot with five speed stick tearing across the skies, doing smoking donuts around the solar system, and flaming chrome that burns out the competition by light-years. You da man, Apollo! Just sayin'. Just sayin'.

Now we approach the turn of the year, something of an artificial division.

The Editor rumbled about the Offices of the Island-Life news agency, turning of lamps and shutting down computers. Darned staffers, leaving things logged in despite the plaintive pleas of the IT department to please allow the patch updates or whatever mystical things they have cooked up down there in the Server Room. He remembered meeting the Chief Engineer one evening, a Mr. Dweeb, and he had asked the man what it took to be a geek in this arena.

The man had answered, "Well you have to give up normal sleep patterns -- indeed all hope of rest at all -- and you must surrender all self-respect for no one will appreciate you when things go well, but they will surely pile on when things go ill. It's not like people clap you on the back every time they make a successful phone call."

Well what in the name of the deity do you get out of it then, asked the Editor.

"Well it's nice and quiet with the machines humming and they make me forget my troubles. Sometimes, I turn out the overhead lights, leaving just the server lights glowing, and there is no telephone down there and it is so peaceful and quiet, and then I can dream."

That's when the Editor realized why he had hired Mr. Dweeb. "Get back to work," he said. "And just keep the telephone system up and running."

"Yes, sir," said Mr. Dweeb, who descended down the trap door with its eerie emanation from below like he was Faustus descending to the Pit.

Dreamers and dreamed. As Pedro climbs up from the wharf where he has secured he boat, he thinks of Pastor Rotschue and his radio program. And he thinks "in the night, all around me in my sleep, sorcery is burrowing its invisible tunnels in every direction, from thousands of senders to thousands of unsuspecting recipients. Spells are being cast, poison is running its course; souls are being dispossessed of parasitic pseudo consciousness that lurk in the unguarded recesses of the mind."

At the same time, the captain of the Iranian spy submarine lurking in the estuary, still charged with the vague charge of keeping tabs upon the infidel port of Oaktown, says to his first mate, "There is drumming out there most nights. It never awakens me; I hear the drums and incorporate them into my dream, like the nightly cries of the muezzins. Even if in the dream I am in Qom, the first Allah akbar! effaces the backdrop and carries whatever comes next to Oaktown and the dream goes on."

"We soon shall acknowledge, if not celebrate, the New Year," added the Captain.

"Yes sir," said the First Mate, whose name was Mohammed. "Shall we dive?"

"Dive," said the Captain. "Dive, longing for messages of peace. Dive."

And with that the spy sub drove out of the estuary and out into the Bay and from there underneath the Golden Gate out into the Pacific, running silent, running deep.

And so the Editor was left alone at the end of the year, the last issue put to bed, with his desklamp making a little pool of light while all around the hung the muttering tapestries of darkness and him, sitting there at his desk with the last machines quietly humming, doing all for Company, longing for some like mind to reach out to his, with some sign, some indication that he was not entirely alone. Yet he was. Because all that existed was what he had made. A petty Creator looking for love in the classifieds he had written himself. Hoping with vain hope that somebody out there in the vast infinity of space and time says, "I believe in you.” And so go on.

The Editor walked out into the garden as the clock ticked over to midnight and all the world erupted with rockets and fizzlers. From across the estuary came the distinctive rap-rap sound of AK-47s and MAC 10 pistols.

Then came the ululation of the throughpassing train from far across the water as it trundled from the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their towers bedecked with holiday lights, letting its cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the former Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, its weedy railbed, its chainlink fence interstices until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the old Ohlone shellmounds to the unknown future.

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


DECEMBER 21, 2014


This week, as we sidle into the Solstice and the Holiday Season, our headline image is of a neighbor's window where a menorah marks the days and nights of Chanukah.


We'll keep this week short, as we know you guys are all out there battling the mall crowds to snag those special deals and larder provisions for the holiday parties going on.

Also busy has been the lame duck Council and Mayor who have been passing votes on issues that will effect the Island for years to come, notwithstanding they were voted out of office precisely because of the policies they are pushing to the very end of the year, even though many requested key votes on development projects be postponed a couple weeks into the next year.

In case you have not noticed, protests over the murderous police violence that has captured media attention around the world continue, albeit quietly. A good Commentary on the subject appeared this week in the Sun (Dec. 8, 2014, Vol.14, No. 12, Black Lives Matter, by Rasheed Shabazz, pg. 8), in which the writer commented the existing situation has had a history on the Island.

There are scads of events going on and if you don't have your NYE gig lined up, well, you best stay at home at this point. Tix may be available for Yoshi's where Con Funk Shun will likely lay down some bass-heavy riffs for the New Year's. The Bill Graham Civic is hosting a sort of glitter and lights extravaganza with "trapeze burlesque electro sideshow," so expect a bit of Ooh la la along with tons of canned "beats" and techno to provide a backdrop for your Ecstasy tabs.

On a more human scale, La Pena is having a NYE dance party live music from Orquesta La Moderna Tradicion.

As the year winds down the weather has let up for now, and while it looks like a system may moisten the Bay Area on Wednesday, it does look like fair skies are forecast for Xmas day into the weekend.

As for the Island-Life news, yes we have the new Holiday CD in the can with some 16 tracks and looking for the first time in history to consist entirely of original, in-house created material. Well, there are a few covers, but at least no hapless professional musicians got ripped off this time. We know you spend your time compiling that music CD for a special loved one, consisting entirely of ripped material. Nothing says how much you care about a person than handing them something and saying, "Here honey, I stole all this crap just for you!"

Now you can give your loved one some really crappy music, that is entirely free, from Island-Life.


So anyway, there is nothing like listening to a bunch of Norwegians in Minnesota singing a putative Finnish folk song with a spurious Spanish title that was actually written by a Swede and which consists entirely of nonsense syllables.

That situation pretty much provides the emblem for the state of America today as it should be. Everything is so damn ridiculous and over the top, what with the Midterm elections and the Tea Party and Boko Haram along with DAESH and the nonsensical Alaskan pipeline and the Rambo police everyone should just grab the nearest banjo, or something similar, and start singing "El Hambo."

Your boss is a jerk, has doubled your hours and wants you to work through the Holidays and be on call 24x7? Serenade her with "El Hambo."

Your neighbor has spiked your electrical line to get free power and insists on complaining about you to the landlord after she stole your garden tools? Render up a chorus of "El Hambo" to the old female dog.

Your colleagues conspire behind your back and make up stories about you in ways that help Management enslave your soul with special "Self help" programs from EAP? Belt out a good rendition of "El Hambo" since they think you are crazy anyway.

Some maniac former enemy with a grudge boobytrapped your vehicle with an Infernal Device involving nails and fishing line so as to flatten your tires in the dark away from home? Belt out a verse of "El Hambo."

Your wife wants you to move out, and your daughters disown you, and after the last doctor visit you have come down with the sickness blues. Your health is gone now and you have become pretty sure god no longer takes care of old folks and fools. Sing "El Hambo" with a mouth harp.

It probably will not help the situation, but it certainly will make you feel better. If you are lucky they will put you away in a quiet room where you can at last finish that novel on which you have been working for years.

Islanders handle this time of year in various ways. This year we see a lot more LED drapery out on the housefronts and apartment balconies than we saw during the Great Recession.

Speaking of the GR and the Midterms, isn't it fascinating how the Democrats who have left office, like John Kerry, Carter, both Clintons, and other individuals remain vital and active in the world, contributing to society and otherwise continuing to act useful to the Nation, while some others just lounge around the pool and engage as dilettantes in arts by presenting amateurish painting exhibitions.

Just an observation.

So anyway, Marlene and Andre's Household are prepping for the Horror Days in the usual manner for that benighted household of the Rejects of the World by securing seasonal employment as UPS baggage handlers, special banquet waiters, event security, and Department Store Elf Santa Assistants.

It's not much of a life, but vastly superior to working in an office as a lower level step-n-fetchit.

As last year, Pahrump, Jose, Javier, and Martini set out to fetch the Household tree, which they brought back from some unknown source very late at night on the official household Transport Vehicle, which is and has always been a children's red Flexible Flyer wagon.

Once safely inside the cottage the tree was set up in an old steel washtub and secured with a cinderblock as a base. The tree was a bit gaunt, lacking needles on one side and having a pronounced crook in its trunk, but for all of that it was a noble fir. After Martini went at it with garlands of led lights he had made by soldering together parts of discarded circuit boards it started to resemble something, Decorations consisted of any sort of ad hoc item that represented the Household inhabitants. Confetti consisted of torn aluminum foil that had been used to sharpen scissors. Ornaments ranged from condom wrappers from the Jack Sparrow Psychiatric Institute and from the Crazy Horse, along with paperclip people, spraypainted origami, bottle caps, discarded underwear, saran wrap, tin foil, cd's and movie DVDs, beer-tab strings, and glass fragments glued to molding hooks together with seawrack found down along the Strand.

In the end, it was a sort of Charlie Brown sort of tree, a bit sordid and lost, not unlike the Household inhabitants themselves, but still possessing its own sort of warmth and stoic grandeur.

Other households on the Island had their proud trees gaily bedecked and displayed through the windows, but this tree possessed genuine sincerity, as each and every ornament represented a part of the lives of the people who had helped decorate this thing.

The only ornaments of any repute consist of half a dozen fragile brown glass globes belonging to Marlene. They are all that remains of what her grandmother brought over on the boat from the Ukraine years ago. Marlene's grandmother had taken care of here for a while after the trouble with her father fell out, and was alone of all that benighted family who had retained a sense of humanity through that dreadful time.

Like any other decorated tree this one came freighted with memories. A brass belt buckle had belonged to Harold, who had lived in the house years ago. He had looked long and hard for work and got a job as a roofer, which he did until one day he fell off. A slipper belonged to Diane, who had always wanted to be a dancer. She came lightly tripping across the country, a spritely blond with elfin eyes from some wretched place in New Jersey and found a sort of refuge here. It was a MUNI bus that nailed her in the crosswalk that broke both her legs and for ever after she was a dancer imprisoned within the shell of a body that would not work anymore. Eventually she moved, as so many disappointed people do, up to the north coast where it rains all the time, but in the Household her dancing slippers remind people of her blithe spirit as it was and how she pirouetted across the tiny livingroom space to land all in a tumble in the arms of the surprised Occasional Quentin, laughing like mad.

As the evening segued into the deepest reaches of winter night, and tired souls relapsed into the dreamworld folded by comforters and blankets and pillows, the Opossum who escaped from last year's tree ambled along the fence with his new family of little opossums past the window menorah display and on over to the opposing yard to visit briefly the chicken coop of the Almeida family and pass underneath the window where Ferry Boat pressed up his nuzzle and whined with an urgent desire to speak with these creatures and learn their intentions so as to perhaps circumvent them with a ferocity of barking and toothy defense.

During the longest night of the year, exhausted humans overworked now for many years with less to show for it, dreamed the dreams of peoplekind and the Opossums continued on past the blinking lights of holiday and animatronic deer and LED crèches with polystyrene Jesus and on past the abode of Senor Don Guadalupe Erizo who observed impassively the massive round of the star-packed Milky Way as well as the passage of the marsupials.

On a quiet night, the longest night of the year, no sirens rent the night air and no one got shot and no one got stabbed and all was Peace on Earth.

Then came the ululation of the throughpassing train from far across the water as it trundled from the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their towers bedecked with holiday lights, letting its cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the former Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, its weedy railbed, its chainlink fence interstices until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the old Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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


DECEMBER 14, 2014


Just had to paraphrase John Mellencamp when we saw this timeless image, taken after a wedding this weekend at the Elks Lodge.

Kinda looks like the two kids are setting up how its going to play out for the next fifty years.

The original lyric goes at the end of the referenced song titled "Jack and Diane" as follows:

Oh yeah, life goes on
Long after the thrill of livin' is gone
Oh yeah, I say, life goes on
Long after the thrill of livin' is gone

Gonna let it rock
Let it roll
Let the Bible Belt come
And save my soul
Hold on to sixteen as long as you can
Changes come around real soon
Make us women and men

Oh yeah, life goes on
Long after the thrill of livin' is gone
Oh yeah, I say, life goes on
Long after the thrill of livin' is gone

Little ditty about Jack and Diane
Two American kids doin' the best they can


The Island is no exception to the strong concern people have across the nation about the terrible kill rate of Black individuals at the hands of police. Recent cases have attracted extensive national and worldwide media attention, leading to weeks of protests, which sometimes have featured violent acts by small groups taking advantage of civil unrest to loot and destroy property.

This past weekend protesters showed up at the annual City Hall tree lighting ceremony and again at City Hall on Sunday.

Here are some images as the protest began breaking up. Both protests ended peacefully without incident.

The signs refer to the NYC case in which six cops piled on a man accused of selling untaxed cigarettes. Eric Garner was put into a chokehold by Officer Daniel Pantaleo against Department policy and later died. Although the coroner ruled the 43 year old Garner's death an homicide, none of the police were charged and a Grand Jury determined there was no cause to pursue charges.

Richard Thompson at the Freight and Salvage, December 11, 2014

Consummate musician and folkie lyricist, Richard Thompson, wound up a three night run at the Freight in Berkeley midweek. All shows had been sold out within minutes of appearing online, but Island-Life copped a single ticket from a gentleman who mistakenly purchased two tickets without noticing they were each for different nights.

This was an unusual run in that RT performed without a set list, playing all requests. Doors opened for the 8pm show at seven and during the interim, people put their requests on paperslips into buckets.

Just about anything was allowed, although Richard did put a thumbs down to several unknown songs. Song lyrics for the more arcane requests were printed out by a helper who used an internet-connected computer.

For close to two hours, Richard Thompson delighted the packed Freight with humor and dazzling musical mastery. The first song turned out to be the Britney Spears cover, "Oops! I did it again.", which he prefaced by saying that this was a pop song, but he planned to reclaim it so as to demonstrate its "splendor." Which in fact he did, turning the light bit of fluff into a song about someone mulling some pensive regret over mistakes made in life, packing the melodic lines and fills with the sort of intricate fingerboard work he does so well.

There were, predictably, a fair number of requests for old Fairport Convention songs to the extent that Thompson exclaimed at one point, "Heavens you people! Don't you ever buy new CD'S?"

His rendering of the Sandy Denny "Who Knows Where the Time Goes," was, however, achingly beautiful. The graybeards and silvermanes in the audience sat hushed during his rendition.

There were many more lovely moments that Thursday night as the heavens crashed down in torrents outside, but Thompson provided plenty of humor as well. Since it was an all requests show, sure enough some fool requested "Freebird", and when RT pull the slip out of the hat he exclaimed, "Freebird?! I don't know it!" He then went on to say how he really was not a fan of Southern style rock which appears to come from a culture that has not gotten over the Civil War.

Then, incredibly, he said, "Well I don't know it, but I'll play it anyway. I'll just make it up. And then he sang, "O I am so lonely and so sad and blue. Now you have left me. I want to be freeeeeeee! Freeeeeeeeeee! As a bird. . . ".

Then he launched into a terrific parody of "woodshed shredding" with all the inane triplets and fancy runs up the neck before just abruptly stopping with "Okay, that's enough!"

Each song he picked came with a little patter, sometimes humorous and sometimes serious (I saw the Rolling Stones in 1963. They were terrible. But they got better! They did get much better!).

He called George Galt to come up and assist with "gob iron". Which George did capably and well, especially for a lush Dimming of the Day.

At the end of the amazing time the audience provided two standing ovations. Which he certainly deserved.

Here's the setlist for Thursday, and in looking at the other two nights we see he did not cherry pick -- exactly -- for the songs are different each night, save for "the most requested song ever" -- 1952 Black Vincent, and Dimming of the Day played all three nights.

Oops!... I Did It Again (Britney Spears cover)
Who Knows Where the Time Goes? (Sandy Denny cover)
Time Will Show the Wiser (The Merry-Go-Round cover)
Ohio (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young cover)
1952 Vincent Black Lightning
The Tracks of My Tears
(The Miracles cover) (with George Galt, harmonica)
You Can't Always Get What You Want (The Rolling Stones cover) (with George Galt, harmonica)
Dimming of the Day (Richard & Linda Thompson cover) (with George Galt, harmonica)
If I Were a Carpenter (Tim Hardin cover)
Sloth (Fairport Convention song)
Free Bird Spoof
Stony Ground
Waltzing's for Dreamers
The Star of the County Down (John McCormack cover)
Sidney Wells
(slower than the album version)
The Ballad of Easy Rider (Roger McGuinn cover)
The Angels Took My Racehorse Away
Summertime Blues (Eddie Cochran cover)
She Twists the Knife Again
Dad's Gonna Kill Me
Genesis Hall (Fairport Convention song)


On a completely different tangent, featuring a much younger -- and louder - crowd, KITS, Live 105 unleashed its annual Not So Silent Night at the O.Co Coluseum for two nights this weekend. We attended Night 2, featuring in reverse order of appearance, Imagine Dragons, Alt-J, Interpol, Cage the Elephant, Spoon, Vance Joy.

We can definitely say the extended concert, starting at 5:30pm and winding up after midnight stacked the energy level set by set.

Vance Joy is the brainchild of Aussie James Keogh, who plays an amped acoustic as if it were a full electric, backed by a variable bandlist. He is unusual in that his hit "Riptide" became a worldwide viral sensation, and he completed several successful world tours before he recorded his debut album in Seattle, only recently completed.

Keogh is an educated man whose songs often have literary touchstones -- he was studying for a law degree before music shunted his life course along a different path. Even though one can find traces of Hemingway, Capote and W.B Yeats in his lyrics, the guy rocks hard enough to make proud his main influence, Bloc Party.

This is one to watch develop in the upcoming times.

Spoon hails from Austin, Texas and counts as members Members: Britt Daniel, Jim Eno, Rob Pope, Eric Harvey, and Alex Fischel. The group has a refreshing lack of formality in their promotion, relying on performance to convince people they are serious (about music) and worth the time checking out. It is like they are saying, "You want to know about us? Just listen."

Stylistically, they are all about melodic downstrokes and post-punk infectious energy. Their single, "Do You" is positively toe-tapping.

While it may seem like these guys are new kids on the block, they actually formed up in 1993. The name Spoon was chosen to honor the 1970s German avant-garde band Can, whose hit song "Spoon" was the theme song to the 1985 movie Das Messer.

It was not until the band left the Elektra label and signed with the Indie label Merge Records in 2000 they developed some traction. Spoon’s Britt Daniel collaborated with Brian Reitzell to compose and arrange the soundtrack for the 2006 film Stranger than Fiction. The soundtrack consists chiefly of music performed by Spoon, and according to the liner notes of the official soundtrack, Brian Reitzell collaborated with Britt Daniel to compose the score.

Incredibly, the band just released its eighth album, They Want My Soul, after yet another label hop to Loma Vista Records.

The arena began to fill up for Cage the Eliphant. The band from Bowling Green, Kentucky includes Matt Shultz on Vocals, Brad Shultz on Guitar, Daniel Tichenor on Bass, and Jared Champion rounding out on Drums. Their single “Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked catepulted the band in 2009 to national notice, arriving to #5 on the charts.

The band has the rare quality of being able to blast the speakers with balls to the wall party sound, but also vary the dynamics to accomodate quieter, introspective tunes. According to the promo for their new album, Melophobia, "The album’s flagship single “Come A Little Closer” is a boisterous, blues-laden rocker and was one of the first songs the band completed for the album. The song marries the raw energy and playfulness the band is known for with their present interest in creating intimately expressive music, both in its pensively poetic lyrics and surging melody."

The song "Cigarette Daydreams" is a meditative reflection on someone the singer had loved and lost, either through death or some twisted change in the direction of his life.

These guys are still pretty young and dynamic, with singer Shultz doing leaping leg splits and repeatedly surfing the crowd. He could have wrung his shirt out to get a pint of sweat by the end of CTE's all too brief set.

Everyone knows Interpol. At least everyone who knows Alternative. The New York City band with Paul Banks (vocals, guitar, bass guitar), Sam Fogarino (vocals, guitar), Daniel Kessler (drums, percussion, sampler) in its current iteration. They formed in 1997 with a slightly different lineup, and soon were up there with Joy Division and Chameleons, with whom they are sometimes compared. They are one of the bands associated with the New York City indie music scene, and was one of several groups that emerged from the post-punk revival of the 2000s. The band's sound is generally a mix of staccato bass and rhythmic, harmonized guitar, with a snare heavy mix.

There is definitely a place for bands doing project music that has no intention of ever winding up in Top 40 radio, and Interpol's longevity proves their talent must pay off at least a little bit. For "Slow Hands" the entire crowd lifted their arms, showing that there is some appreciation out there as well.

We did not take in Alt-J, an English band out of Leeds that found its name after trying out a few monikers that happened to already be owned by someone else. In the right program, pressing Alt plus the J keys will render the scientific delta symbol. They formed in 2007, but did not debut an album until May of 2012. This is another "art" band that does something called Folktronica, a genre of music comprising various elements of folk music and electronica, often featuring samplings of acoustic instruments—especially stringed instruments—and incorporating hip hop or dance rhythms.Typically, computers are used during the recording process. Would have been interesting to hear these guys after Interpol.

The windup band was Las Vegas-based Imagine Dragons, whose moody crossover hit Radioactive, has been saturating the airwaves.

Imagine Dragons' line up consists of vocalist Dan Reynolds, guitarist Wayne "Wing" Sermon, bassist Ben McKee and drummer Daniel Platzman

To give you some idea of their popularity, The band's debut album Night Visions has sold over 2 million copies in the US, and it has been certified platinum in twelve countries. The album is also certified gold in multiple countries.

In response to their debut album Imagine Dragons won an American Music Award for Favorite Alternative Artist, a Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance, five Billboard Music Awards, and a World Music Award. In May 2014, the band was nominated for a total of fourteen different Billboard Music Awards, including Top Artist of the Year and a Milestone Award, recognizing innovation and creativity of different artists across different genres.

All this is on the base of one single album released in 2012. Their second album is not due until February 2015.

Since we like to highlight good stuff people may not know about, we learned In 2013, along with the family of Tyler Robinson, Imagine Dragons started a charity named The Tyler Robinson Foundation, helping young people battling cancer. In 2014, the first Tyler Robinson Foundation Gala was held in Las Vegas. Imagine Dragons performed for "Playing It Forward" to raise $100k for school music programs. In 2013, the band partnered with mtvU to help choose four Fulbright-mtvU Fellowship recipients. In 2013, Imagine Dragons partnered with Do The Write Thing: National Campaign to Stop Violence for a fundraising event. Imagine Dragons performed as part of Amnesty International's "Bringing Human Rights Home" concert in Brooklyn on February 5, 2014.

So what have YOU been doing in YOUR spare time?


So anyway, this past week saw a genuine dockwalloper come crashing into the Bay Area with a punishing 4-8 inches accumulation within 24 hours. The 24 hours passed and the rain kept on coming down until Friday. Needless to day every transplanted Angelino crashed on the freeway causing all sorts of additional reasons for NorCal to despise SoCal and for SoCal to despise NorCal -- the one for pissy driving and the other for snootiness combined with bad weather that decent San Diegans had abolished long ago.

Some people say there are no seasons in California and that is all bunk. We have moderate dry temperatures in summer, and we have chilly rain temperatures in Winter and Spring happens ad hoc all the time for brief periods. So go fix your wagon.

The Annual meeting of the Non Compos Mentis Chapter of the National Association of Directionally Confused and Traffic Enfeebled is taking place. This one day seminar takes place at the Marriot PostModerne building during the weeks of December 1 through December 20th. One may query as to why and how a one day seminar takes three weeks of time, but let it be known that because of the nature of membership, it takes that long to ensure that everyone arrives sometime during this time period all at the same location.

The topic has not varied for years: The Use and Abuse of the Stealth Turn. The stealth turn is a maneuvre which one must master so as to achieve the prized Broken Airbag Award, and features having the skills to abruptly change direction without anyone in the surrounding area having the slightest clue what you are about to do.

The scoring for the test is, of course, quixotic. Some years points are awarded for pedestrian "kills". In other years, points are subtracted for vehicular manslaughter, however this is not a hard and fast policy.

It does seem that this meeting always takes place during the Holidays, and then again when the weather improves, and yet again on each occurance of a full moon, but let it be known that these other manifestations of sneaky driving are mere practice sessions for the enchilada grande in December.

Officer O'Madhauen has often been an invited speaker, always bringing with him his steering column prop with which to demonstrate the marvelous chicanery of the left side blinker.

"Most of you in NorCal here do not know what this is, so I am here to demonstrate," the Officer begins. "This thing that sticks out of your steering column is called a "turn signal". It is meant to indicate the desire and willingness and ability to change direction. Here is a factoid of which you may not be aware. This device was mentioned in your first driver's manual! Yes! The one you did not read . . . !" And so on.

So anyway again. Winter is upon us and the Horror Days are fast approaching. All the churches are in a tizzy for preparation, even Temple Israel over in Harbor Bay. Sister Incontinence got the idea from a radio show, and it seemed like a good idea, to have the angels come in during the Xmas Pageant on stilts instead of running them on wires, which in past years had resulted in unexpected results. And unexpected conclusions when the air brakes failed.

To hear to tell, most of the churches of any repute featured sermons that talked about St. John the Baptist, he who lived in the desert and ate locusts and honey, which certainly seems an odd diet, odd even for those dedicated to probiotics and acidophulus milk. I mean he is in the desert after all and why could he not chop up some sopapilla to vary up things. Think about it. The man was plain peculiar.

St. John is not like the other apostles in the Xian pantheon. Largely because he is not strictly speaking a figure limited to Xianity. The Sufi's hold him in respect and he is a figure that is revered in the Koran. Within Islam it is said that it is Saint John who provides a sort of welcoming committee to the Prophet as he ascended to the Third Heaven. It is said that he fortold the coming of a Savior greater than himself and that it was he who baptized Jesus rather than the other way around.

There is some suggestion that he predates the Xian era by a goodly number of years and as far as we know he is the only apostle who is known to have successfully rebuked Saint Peter in debate.

So these are the weighty things contemplated by our clerics. Some say that his time in the desert, enjoying or not his early probiotic diet of locusts and honey, is an example of how we must learn from privation and make use of it to better ourselves. Certainly pain and privation appear to be our destiny, so any sort of use we can make out of working as a parkinglot attendant or a miserable admin assistant for a tyrannical boss is probably a good thing. Winnepeg used to have its weather as a regular reminder of common misery that was supposed to build character. Same for Bear Lake Minnesota. The weather was a common experience that bound our people in a sense of communal travail.

Things like tornados and earthquakes should do the same thing, but the truth is those events are so quirky in their consequences and their distribution of unearned punishment that they only serve to confirm the opinion that some people got it good and the rest of us get hammered down because we dont have the equity build up and the right connections.

Now the weather up at Bear Lake is strangely warm and parents now drive their kids to school because of abductors and molesters and similar demons, when we all used to stand upon the packed ice at the bus stop to await the Yellow Peril to drive us to day-long misery and contention. And when there was not so much ice you got onto your bike and pedalled the miles through a biting gale to arrive at school and learn your lessons and fight your fights among the heathen before pedalling on home with a flickering headlamp in days before they had this daylight hours thing for schools and if you got a flat you got home late with wet books and a lecture to meet you, as in "I paid good money for those books! Least you could do is wrap them in plastic before setting out." And all of this was supposed to prepare you for the misery of adult life, which is in the minds of some, an extension of the misery of childhood. All is misery and suffering and we can expect nothing else. And so we endure the cubicle life.

You had to be like St. John, a man without sin, a man who just DIY in the desert and sucked it up. And yet, the Sufi's understood that there was a mystical aspect about the man. In fact he might not have been an apostle at all, but one of those Mormon space aliens. That would be just like a space alien who had no idea about hamburgers and homefries to go about eating bugs and honey, thinking this is what humans must do all the time.

He could still be spiritual and religious and holy and touched by the flame of god, but nevertheless a bit confused about dietary issues. You can't have everything, especially if you are not exactly the Messiah on point.

Meanwhile as we grind inexorably through the Horror Days, Jose has to wear an elf getup at the Macy's at Union Square, while Suan has to wear -- and mostly remove -- an elf costume at the Crazy Horse. Suzie has to wear an elf costume at the Old Same Place Bar because the costume features an ultra-miniskirt that shows of her legs and is supposedly supposed to get people to buy more liquor in hopes of getting some or in despair of getting anything at all in a drown your hopes sort of way.

Tolkein had a line on it early on; elfs never go out of style, especially for the Next Generation. Originally Elves were mean, nasty dwarvish creatures who spoilt the milk and upset the livestock. They were not good companions and they hung around like unwanted relatives. Then somehow they turned into something kind of cool, like the guys in the Lord of the Rings who wore really cool bling and who could shoot arrows faster than a Mac-10 pistol.

You never will find an elf in the cubicles and for the same reason Frodo will never wind up on any real episode of The Office. Cubicles and the Office situations are far too much removed from every day life.

The cubicles are not real. That HP printer is not real. Your chair is not real. Even your job is not real. What the imbecile Department wants is certainly nothing to do with reality; you knew that. What matters and what is most important is your part in the Fellowship of the Ring. You simply need to discover that and walk away -- without notice -- from that stupid computer. And if someone trivial complains, you say simply, "I cannot breath."

This is how you connect with people with whom you thought you had no connection.

Late after closing, Suzie locked up the Old Same Place Bar during a break in the rain and saw a figure standing there wearing animal skins, barefoot in the cold and she imagined here yet again is another homeless person seeking an handout.

"Prepare yourself the way for you yourself are the way and the way towards redemption and entry into the Kingdom of Eternal Life. There is no other."

With that, the personage vanished before her eyes.

Suzie completed the lockup, wearing her overcoat that hid her embarrassing costume, and strode on home through the pattering rain.

Then came the ululation of the throughpassing train from far across the water as it trundled from the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their sentry lights, letting its cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the former Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, its weedy railbed, its chainlink fence interstices until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the old Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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


DECEMBER 7, 2014


Saturday presented another full moon, which coyly peeped from behind storm-wrack clouds. This shot of one of the Supermoons a while back, was taken by Island-Lifer Tammy. But it works just as well.

The tenderhearted moon surrounded by storm-clouds.


With yet another inexplicable court decision on yet another case involving a policeofficer killing an unarmed Black man, yet more riots swept the nation, even as serious protesters pleaded for nonviolence.

The Mayor's Office in Oakland issued another public letter, which was received in electronic form by several mid- and large-sized businesses, and which sought to reassure citizens about municipal response to anticipated unrest after the Garner decision in New York.

Coming hard on the heels of the killing of several young Black men, including Oscar Grant (shot in the back in Oakland on a BART platform), Trayvon Martin (shot by a wannabe cop acting as a neighborhood watch volunteer), Micheal Brown (shot after an altercation subsequent to being stopped for walking in the street), as well as many other instances of unnecessary lethal force, this one just serves to keep the problem high in the Media's radar.

Garner had been stopped on the street out of suspicion of selling illegal cigarettes when he put his hands up but seemed to provide moderate resistance to an inexplicable arrest. Officer Daniel Pantaleo responded by putting the overweight man into a chokehold, bringing both of them down to the ground, assisted by five other officers. Once down, Pantaleo knelt on the man's head and chest. Garner died of asphyxiation, and the coroner determined cause of death to be murder. A jury subsequently found not enough evidence to try the officer.

The chokehold technique is forbidden by the NYPD via policy, as the technique is known to cause permanent harm and death among all entities that occasionally have to use physical restraint, entities including medical and psychiatric staff as well as law enforcement.

There are a lot of problems in this scenario, starting with the fact that Garner should have been given a citation and order to appear in court over the matter; an arrest was entirely unnecessary to begin with. Then, given that six officers had decided on their own to take the guy down, Pantaleo's use of a chokehold on a guy holding up his arms or not holding up his arms - it makes no difference - violated NYPD procedure.

As natural rage and fury over these incidents sweeps the nation, the consequences for Oakland and the Bay Area involve repeated and determined protests that feature a small group seeking to take advantage of the gatherings to cause mayhem. Sunday morning the Black Bandanna crowd invaded a peaceful protest in Berkeley, smashing shop windows and looting stores, while peaceful protesters pleaded for a stop to violence, blocking some of the stores from being destroyed.

Oakland is a racially mixed town which has seen some significant violence in the past, both as a function of uncontrolled police actions as well as stupid citizens firing bullets at each other without considering that bullets do not just stop when they miss. There is a memorial in front of Oakland's Admin building at 1220 Oak Street that commemorates the hundreds of children killed in crossfires over the past few decades.

In addition, the Bay Area is hope to any number of small groups that seek to exploit civil unrest for political reasons.

For a while, it is best to pick one's daily commute well, as police TAC squads are using the freeway onramps to assemble for trouble. One of the tactics used by the Black Bandanna crowd is to get a hundred or so people up on the freeway decks to block traffic, drawing police manpower up to get them off, while another contingent of so-called protesters smashes and burns things at streetlevel.

Just as this method will never jump-start the New Revolution, heavy-handed militarized police employing military tactics with military grade weaponry will never assure the social order. And just as heavy-handed tactics really don't work, there should never have been an issue of an officer dragging some kid through the window of his cruiser to the extent the kid fights back and gets killed for what was essentially jaywalking, nor should somebody be taken down in any sort of hold to be arrested in any form for suspected sales of tax-free cigarettes.

There is always a better way to do things, and usually the better way is the peaceful way.


Even though the troubled Island hospital has been absorbed into the County system that includes Highland, San Leandro, and a bevy of clinics, its financial troubles continue as the Island governing board seeks to maintain significant independence. In the past, the habit of the hospital to refuse Medicare patients has helped cause the current backlog of late bills amounting to some $17 million. Which does not feature the staggering cost of retrofitting buildings to withstand earthquake. The recently elected board, including the newly appointed CEO, Panlasigui, have high hopes of turning things around. Lets hope they do.

In some positive news Tim Lewis Communities has wisely given up on its plan to build housing out at Crab Cove, so the EBPRC is now free to continue with its plans to expand its facilities there.

The Holidays are upon us and events are happening. The annual Tree Lighting ceremony took place during a lull in the rain this weekend and the Parade of Yachts also happened in the estuary.

Various City Hall meetings of note will take place, notably the Tuesday Council Meeting in the evening, when development plans will be discussed.

Alameda Citizens Taskforce has some helpful information about the ongoing squabble over the lame duck session trying to hurry critical votes before the new blood comes in. Here is the Press Release.

Tuesday night, December 2, City Council has scheduled an agenda item (6-D) which will decide the future development of the Del Monte property. There are three steps being considered two ordinances (one adopting the Master Plan, and one for entering into a Development Agreement), and the third is a public hearing on the ordinances. Even though Council will not vote on the ordinances until their Dec. 16 meeting, it will probably be the public’s last chance to express our views to Council.

Please come, fill out a speaker’s slip at the door, and state your opinion, or just state that you agree with those who spoke in opposition previously. The media reports a head count of speakers who were for and against an issue.

If you think it is inappropriate to place this item on a crowded, regular agenda, and that it should instead be presented at a dedicated special meeting (of the new council) please e-mail the Council members by pasting these addresses onto your note:;;;;;;

The agenda for the meeting can be read here: Meeting agenda.

Residents may want to consider the fact that Oakland also is facing some big housing development proposals just across the estuary, including a proposed 10,000 unit development along with a rebuilt Coliseum as part of the "Coliseum Plan".

And you think traffic is bad now . . . .

We see the IPD, which to its credit has not directly killed anyone lately, is seeing funds to improve the Police Weight Room. It does sound like the room could use some spiffy up, but we kinda wonder about the need for one at all when any number of large, well equipped gyms close by would serve as well or better. A police officer typically starts out with a $120,000 year salary plus benefits, so it is not unreasonable to expect a portion of that to go to necessary self-maintenance.

Still, the last time the department wanted something, they watched a man die for an hour in the water so as to prove a point about the budget. So we probably should give them what they want for fear of what they will do this time if frustrated.

Robert Cray is sold out for his show at Yoshi's on the warmer side of the Bay, and so are all three nights for Richard Thompson at the Freight. We will see if we can get somebody in to one of those for you, though.


So anyway, the Island is slowly drying out from a set of proper dockwallopers that thoroughly rained on everybody's parade. Given the seriousness of our multi-year drought, most are quietly joyful that enough of this continuing may relieve what scientists are calling the worst drought in the Golden State in 1,200 years.

Of course nobody taking notes was living in the Golden State and it has been considered bad form in the Ohlone to speak about the past and one's past relatives, which kind of obviates any sort of continuing history. In the absence of that, scientists have been drilling core samples in old trees and generally puttering about the lab with rocks to look at the geological record, finding the last time California suffered a drought this bad was around 800 AD.

Mindful of the gutter contretemps that occured last March, when he had to endure not only hospitalization, but the liberal maunderings of the boy next door praising Obamacare, Mr. Cribbage took care of the eves by hiring Pahrump and Javier to evacuated the dead rats and foliage while he and Mr. Blather sipped G&T's in the gazebo the way Masters of the Universe are supposed to do.

That was in the summer. Now it's cold, or something Angelenos imagine is cold. It's not really cold like you find in the mountains where the Donner Party got into a bit of lethal trouble, or Winnepeg where those people really know cold, but cooler. And the hours of light have evaporated, with dusk arriving by four and darkness by five.

Old Gaia sits there on the rickety porch of the world. Now is the time when Gaia tilts her weathered face creased with valleys, arroyos, hills, deserts, plains, mesas, continents and the liquid seas of her deep dark eyes away from a direct gaze at her son, Phoebus Apollo riding in his 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 creaking rails marking the ever ceaseless count of time's advance, ticking each second, each century, from the first moment of creation until that rocking chair stops at the moment of that last, terrible, motionless silence.

Some people confused by Astrological hoodoo believe in this day and age the season warms as the earth spins closer to the sun -- nothing could be further from that deception, unless it be the foolish nonsense of Mercury Retrograde, the classic illusion, for nothing moves with surer purpose than the planets.

As Gaia turns her face away from the light, her ravined face gradually cools with measured steps, deep shadow covering the valleys of her eyes, all the world getting colder, and everything is precisely where it needs to be right at this moment while Phoebus Apollo moves at an angle to her repose, harder to see, briefer in his journey.

People on the Island have already put out their holiday decorations and once again Thompson Avenue glimmers with an extraordinary display. Even Reverend Freethought, minister to the Unitarian Church, has put out lights and decorations in the spirit of things. Since the Unitarians believe it's all good, the front of the chapel features icycle lights, a Black Kawanzaa Santa, the Islamic Crescent, a few angels, the usual grazing deer armatures hung with LEDs, a Wiccan pentangle or two, one large, stone Buddha, and a couple menorah in the windows.

Over at Our Lady of Incessant Complaint, Father Danyluk, who feels his religion trends sometimes to overboard gaudy show, is much put out having to recruit decent singers for the annual Pageant. There being such a surfeit of churches on the Island, no congregation really was big enough to field volunteers for many churchly events, so they were all compelled to borrow from each other just to get through the liturgical year. He has tried the Methodists, only to find that although obliging, the singers tended to starchy formality. Same for the Episcopalians, whose pastor insisted on using a pitchpipe to get his people in synch.

"Give me an A", said Pastor Nance Haughtboy.

"Ahhhhhhh . . . ".

"That's not an A! I don't know what that was. Give me an A -- like this: Tweeeet!"

"Ayyyy . . .".

"That's better. Please try to remember how that sounded . . . ".

The Tibetans didn't know any of the carols and the Baptists at Rev. Rectumrod's congregation do not believe in sharing.

The Baptists over in Oaktown were a different, generous sort altogether, and they all could sing to bring out the tears for joy, but Officer O'Madhauen always issued traffic citations and car searches every time they came over.

As for the Iglesia del Luz de los Cajóns de Estacionamiento del Mundo lodged in the former Adelphian hall, those people had as much musical aptitude as a Santa Cruz banana slug. He drove by in hope one day and heard the most wretched howling that he thought Satan had entered the place. They were shouting, "Save meeeeee! O Saaaaaaaave meeeee!" Heck, if you want to be saved, just have faith and that will do the trick. Put aside the opera.

Hence it was he had to appeal each year to Pastor Nyquist for some solid accompaniment.

Over at Marlene and Andre's Household the group that lived in the one bedroom cottage because the rents had gotten so obscene with the greed were all getting ready, each in their own way, for the Holidays, which generally involved making money in some ad hoc fashion, serving banquets and corporate parties as bartenders and waiters and busboys, working the Occasional Workforce as UPS package handlers and Santa Elves for Macy's.

It was rare that any one of them landed a gig portraying the Big Man himself. That involved having some pull and being friends with a retail department manager and everybody knew those kinds of people have no real friends. Over at the Mega-Safeway, no one had heard of the man people had called "Mr. Whipple" for quite some time.

So Javier and Pahrump had to be content with wearing green felt caps and knickerbocker short pants and green felt curly-toe shoes along the lines of a David Sedaris story. Some people may wonder just how real the Santaland Diaries happen to be.

Take it from Javier: it's all true.

In the Old Same Place Bar, Padraic and Dawn made ready for the onslaught of the Horror Days. They put up the tinsel and with Suzie's help draped the lights and tinsel and sprayed fake snow on the windows. In the meantime the Black Friday madness came and went and then everyone suffered the Cyber-Monday and then everyone had to endure the endless reprise of the Black Cyber Tuesday and the Somewhat Purplish Wednesday, while all the beancounters remained silent about the real numbers, even while promising "heaps and heaps of profits and economy stimulation".

In any case, far more important, the Raiders dumped the 49er's this past weekend, and ended thereby their chances for bowl opportunity. No joy in Mudville across the water tonight.

O well.

Then came the ululation of the throughpassing train from far across the water as it trundled from the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their sentry lights, letting its cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the former Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, its weedy railbed, its chainlink fence interstices until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the old Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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


NOVEMBER 30, 2014


This week's photo was taken in high likelihood by Chad, our in-house HTML coder and is of his wife standing at the corner of Ramona and Alameda during one of our recent downpours.

We all have high hopes that this stuff continues up higher to relieve the Golden State of its multi-year drought.


The image, from any one of the recent street responses to the court decision not to prosecute the cop who killed Michael Brown pretty much sums it up around here. Every day last week since that decision has seen protests develop into violence, with one group of protesters getting up on 580 to block traffic while other groups smashed windows, looted stores, and set automobiles and dumpsters on fire.

One witness reported seeing a car marked with the Anarchist symbol (capital A surrounded by a circle) parked over on 26th Avenue off Fruitvale, apparently in an effort to keep their own vehicles from being damaged.

The first night saw over 1000 people involved with successively fewer individuals getting rowdy each succeeding night, but with crowds still numbering in the hundreds. In Oaktown, more well-staffed cities and the Sheriff's department provided assistance to the manpower-strapped OPD.

In San Francisco, protesters continued activities through Thanksgiving Day and afterwards, managing to close malls through threat of destruction. Similar events happened in other States, however the push to buy things on Black Friday still called out crowds to pack stores, although these crowds were not any more peaceful, with numerous fistfights breaking out in the aisles, even though some shoppers commented that the "deals" provided no better pricing than at any other time of the year. In many cases, buyers ignored the fact that the posted "steep markdown" signs were deceptive in that the "full value price" did not reflect the item's real value and the item had never ever been offered at full value.

In Chicago, a man pulled out a pistol and shot his former girlfriend in the aisles of Nordstroms at the height of the shopping madness Friday before killing himself.

As usual, retail outfits began claiming large percentage increases in spending were expected, perhaps to boost consumer confidence.

Over the weekend, Officer Wilson, who shot the unarmed Michael Brown in Ferguson, announced his resignation from the police over concerns his continued presence as a policeman in Ferguson would decrease public safety.

He may be right about that, but his resignation probably will not bring an end to his public presence, as George Zimmerman, a would-be cop who killed Trayvon Martin in Sanford Florida, and Johannes Mehserle, a BART cop who shot Oscar Grant on a train platform in Oakland, continue to return to the public eye via media scrutiny over the slightest peccadillo. None of the men is likely to enjoy a continued career in law enforcement, and each of them is very likely to surface in the media again for any kind of minor issue. All of the officers were White or Hispanic males and all victims were unarmed Black youth.

As time marches on, altercations between unarmed Black males and White law officers continue to result in inexplicable shootings around the country, some of which continue to result in death. There appears to have been little change in police procedure across the nation, although each new case now is garnering national, and sometimes world attention, provoking national discussion, as well as steadily mounting rage, on the increasingly militarized aspect of police procedure as well as the hot, quickness to ratchet up the violent response attitude.

When the Ferguson court verdict was handed down, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan promised that the police had "come a long way", indirectly referencing the extreme, over-the-top response by the police to ending the Occupy Movement in Ogawa Plaza that nearly killed a couple people. But looking at the first night in Ferguson, it was clear those boys had not gotten the message, for they did everything perfectly wrong by marching into the crowd with armored tanks, mounted machine-guns and other heavy weaponry, sending a message to the world that this country had lost its credibility as a nation of freedoms and peaceful Democracy.

What is needed is a way to defuse situations without automatic threat of force. Sorry, but "Do as I say and you won't be hurt," does not fly, not only because it is inconsistent with the ideals of a free society, but it just does not work. Time and again History has shown it does not work. If it did, Mubarak and Gaddafy and Pinochet would still be in power.

Police trigger-happy attitudes are one thing, as when Albuquerque police shot a homeless man in the back after he had turned his back on them, starting to move sluggishly up a steep hill. The simply impossible, yet continuing slaying of Black youth is another discussion, which now seems to be finally happening. Maybe this time something will come of it.

To paraphrase the words of Mississippi John Hurt in the song, Lewis Collins,

Now dear friends ain't it hard
to see all these young men laid up
in a brand new graveyard
where angels have laid them away.


As per Tradition, on the day of the 16th 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 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, which had cleared from the storm clouds for the day, 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.

This was followed by the devilish meisterwerk composed by PDQ Bach entitled, "Die Sieg der Satanische Landentwickler", an adaptable work which allows insertion of alta-contemporary chorales at the whim of the Conductor.

The ensemble group which has made something of a name for itself by inventing entirely new parts for voice, consisted of Mayor Marie as Conductor and Councilperson Lena as soprano alla pique in The Lame Duck segment. Councilperson Chen as Loki with his distinctive rubato tenor, and Tony Daysog as mezzo soprano mournful did a fair version of "A Man of Constant Sorrow", with Councilperson Marilyn in her reprising alto triumphale in the esoteric work La Chambre à l'arrière Enfumee Boogie.

Newly elected Mayor Trish Spencer appeared, together with Jim Oddie en masque, performing El Mysterioso Surprise, which evoked tonalities of The Phantom of the Opera. Frank Matarrese reprised his role as Zorro Retournee.

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, and quite a pastiche. 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 Smashed Manager Organ were Carol Taylor and Pat Aston of St. Charles.

Brad and Janet of Park Avenue performed upon the African zebra-fellator with defibrillation device and plate of 420 Brownies.

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 Wooden Horsie Flailing Flange with great effect and
Shannon Ramsey sounded affectingly sweet with the Mugwhump Twinkie-Smasher with Airhose.

Jade Myst of San Franciso performed upon the Inflateable Cross with Koan-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 Former White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler who was accompanied by California's Attorney General. Ruemmler is considered one of the top choices to replace Eric Holder, who recently resigned as National Attorney General. Harris had also been considered, however she recently won re-election to the Golden State post and besides, she has said she likes the weather in Sacto better than D.C.

Eric Holder and Chuck Hagel arrived in a seperate detachment which kept to itself.

The change in political realities being what they are, and the 'Shoot being such a popular event, representatives from the Pee Tardy and Republican parties also sent representatives. A specific request to exclude Sarah Palin due to past taste and rule violations was received with great relief and appreciation on all sides.

Notice of a Para Sailing contingent caused some anxiety among the GOP delegates, who have a history of linguistic reversals, but when told this was a California thing involving surfboards, the situation relaxed into genial bipartisan bonhomie, for everyone finally had come to agree on at least one thing, and a new rule against unsportsmanlike hunting from helicopters was passed and a great Huzzah! went up and delegates of all persuasions shouted "Hip hip hooray for the Great old USA!"

Indeed the Poodleshoot, now into its 16th year had acquired the august status of Tradition in America. There is much that is thoroughly American about the entire celebration, which conflates love of firearms, sanguinivorousness, rebellious behavior, ecstatic jumping up and down, questionable music, and gleeful destruction. One is hard put to imagine the genteel -- genteel save for people from Marseilles -- or the logical Germans engaging in any such activity. Certainly not the pothead Dutch or the sensible Italians with their meatballs and pizza. Even the dog-loving Thais, along with the Vietnamese, Chinese and Japanese would not engage in such pursuits, as extreme as any of those peoples may be from time to time, for they have been around for thousands of years and so already have their own traditions.

The Japanese have their Kanamara Matsuri, and the Chinese have their Gum Lung. The Indians of India have curry and vegetarianism, which precludes Poodleshoots along with BBQ, and they have their seemingly interminable conflict with the Pakistanis to provide national venting, while the Burmese still need to outlive Yul Brenner.

The entire Middle East is bat-wacky insane at the moment, providing plenty of opportunity for sport killing of each other, which allows a form of protection for the dogs that live there. No one has seen a poodle in the vicinity of Dar es Salaam for well over two thousand years.

As for South America, the Uruguayans exuberantly BBQ guinea pigs during their festivals, dressing them up first in cute, adorable costumes before quickly gutting them, so there is sensibility here of caring. In Brazil, no gaucho worth his salt would waste his riata upon something so lowly as a poodle. Heavens no. And as for the United States of Mexico, dear, beloved, benighted Mexico with its drug lord problems and Jesus on a tortilla, well, the Mexicans have enough problems without creating another by means of a poodleshoot. Besides, most Mexicans possess common sense.

In any case all this talk about Tradition brings to mind previous Poodleshoots not recorded in these annals.

Down by the McKay Avenue spit, where the clapping storks have roosted for generations in the tall palm trees there, a place which traditionally has been a site of contention from ages past up to the present dispute between the GSA and the EBPR, Eugene took a breather in a lull of a fierce firefight between his party and a group of well-armed dogwalkers underneath one of those tall palms with Grant Marcus, a fourth generation Islander. There they leaned upon their rifles as did the ancient Greek spearmen and Tolkenian heros of old and rested amid the continuing battle.

Eugene commented that this scrap was a nasty one indeed, compared to years past. He said he never expected the enemy to actually fight back.

It was then Grant regaled Eugene of Poodleshoots of yore. Back then, in the early days before the Civil War, the poodles were armored with stiff jerkin that resisted the ball and shot of smoothbore flintlock muskets. Then it came down hand to hand battle in the weeds, with men picking up rocks to use as weapons, as in the Battle of the Acute Angle and the Wilderness of Cattails. Then there was the disastrous charge of the Flashlight Brigade at night in '04, which gave rise to heraldic poetry penned by Old Tennis Shoes: "Doggies to the left of them. Doggies to the right of them. Dog poop in front of them. Onward the six or so. . .".

This began among the early Spanish colonials not long after they build the Presidio in the curious year of 1776 out of traditional adobe brick. Adobe is a bad thing out of which to make structures in a place prone to heavy rains, but it took a while for the Spanish conquerors to figure this out. With everything slumping in place, adobe reverting back to its main constituent material -- mud -- the Spanish settlers looked for distractions. They tried bear baiting and they tried bear hunting, making things spicy by using only a knife and a rope against the 1500 pound grizzly, but nothing proved quite as exciting as hunting poodle, a version of which had been introduced by effete Gabachos and which had burgeoned into large, vicious dog packs, the members of which learned to barber each other with flint knives.

The rowdy 49'ers adopted this poodlehunt custom, which as California gradually civilized itself, died out in all but a few rare backwaters, such as the Island.

The 1904 Earthquake and Fire pretty much put an end to many barbarous entertainments, including the Barbary Coast itself -- but that is another story.

It was in November of 1906, the Bay area still recoiling and rebuilding after the Earthquake and Fire when Ole Sanderson and Carlos Tunt revived the poodleshoot Tradition after seeing so many stately homes replace the brick chimney stacks which had once been the defining feature of the East Bay. The sight of a pompadoured creature prancing on the sidewalk where men had once labored with steam and shovel infuriated the two to such a degree they reintroduced the Poodleshoot as a formal event to celebrate thanks upon survival and many are the stories from those days, featuring valorous deeds along with tender stories of the heart.

It was in the tumultuous year of 1916, the US poised to enter the War to End All Wars that Ole Fergeson, armed with a crossbow and taking cover behind a water tank, saved the Stanford House at Lake Merrit from a brace of poodles bearing flaming torches in their mouths, and so met the future Helgi Fergeson, who thanked him profusely in her chambers with her ample gifts. By which she had much renown.

Then, as now, with every tank comes a sentimental story.

So anyway, said Grant. Those were the days.

Then came the general assault and the two were hard pressed, retreating up the spit to the cove where a missile weapon brought down Eugene's companion, even as they joined a group of stalwart lads and lassies who returned a volley that repulsed the onslaught for the moment.

As Grant lay there, passing his last breaths he said, give this message to my relative Grant Marcoux. He is a blacksmith living at the end of Grand . . . . And with that he passed a token to Eugene as darkness covered up his eyes and he was no more.

And with this, Eugene arose and he was wroth and he called forth the others around him for he was fey and young, well not so young actually being something like forty or so, but still fey and they launched their offensive and charged even as the sun withdrew behind veils of striated incarnedine and gold and azure beyond the trees and they came upon the enemy and smote them and scattered them like leaves before the wind and they were utterly destroyed, so angered was Eugene and his companions.

The next day amid feasting and celebration of victory there was lamentation for the fallen and Eugene remembered the token and this he took to the house of the blacksmith was known as Grant Marcoux and some wondered how is it that in this age of iPods and nanothings there lives still a blacksmith among us, but in this house Marcoux dwells yet still, a tethering to a past in which things were made to last and be repaired to last some more, for that is the way on this island, where we do things the old way.

And unto Marcoux, who runs the Pilgrim's Soul Forge, Eugene brought the token and upon seeing this token, Grant said, and so he is gone?

Eugene nodded.

Marcoux took the token and shook it and said, "Thus Jingletown jingles."

Well this made no sense at all to Eugene and he went away with wonder in his heart. For that is the way in times of war; quite a lot of it does not make any sense.

So ended the 16th Annual Poodleshoot and BBQ.

Then came the ululation of the throughpassing train from far across the water as it trundled from the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their sentry lights, letting its cry keen across the grateful waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the former Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, its weedy railbed, its chainlink fence interstices until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the old Ohlone shellmounds to thankful parts unknown.

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


NOVEMBER 23, 2014


This week shows Santa Clara Avenue displaying its Fall colors a couple weeks before the recent rainstorms. And just why the Island has its name, which is a spanish word for "a tree-lined street."


Workers in large companies got a message about the upcoming legal decision, expected any day now out of Ferguson, from then Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, who has since lost her bid for re-election. As a public service we are reprinting the letter to the community below.

November 18, 2014

Dear Oakland Community,

The recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, have touched us all. We anticipate that regardless of the verdict reached by the Missouri grand jury in the coming days or weeks, demonstrations could occur in Oakland.

The City of Oakland is committed to facilitating peaceful expressions and demonstrations. Although we don’t anticipate problems to occur, keeping peace on our streets and protecting the safety of Oakland residents and businesses is our top priority and we will be prepared.

Currently, we are aware that on the day that the verdict is announced, several groups have called to gather downtown at Frank H. Ogawa Plaza beginning at 5:00 p.m.

We are providing this information to raise awareness about these events, not to alarm, and so that you may plan ahead. Note that traffic in downtown could be intermittently displaced as demonstrations occur. OPD will facilitate traffic to ensure pedestrian and vehicular safety. If traffic and/or transit impacts occur, employers, employees, and residents are advised to visit or call 511 for up-to-date transition information.

The attached flyer provides tips on how to prepare your business and stay informed. Feel free to share this information with your employees, neighbors and tenants.

Additionally, Healing Centers are being offered as safe alternative venues to engage in productive dialogue and healing around any emotions brought out by the Ferguson verdict. The Healing Centers will be located in West, Central and East Oakland. They will be open on the two weekdays immediately following the Ferguson verdict. Light refreshments will be provided. The Healing Centers are supported by the Department of Human Services’ Oakland Unite program, in partnership with community-based organizations throughout Oakland. Their locations will be:

• East Oakland: Youth UpRising, 8711 MacArthur Boulevard, (510) 777-1163

  • Central Oakland: Youth Employment Partnership, 2300 International Blvd, (510) 533-3447

  • • West Oakland: Healthy Communities/Healthy Oakland: 2 sites

  • o 2580 San Pablo Avenue

  • o Liberty Hall, 1485 8th Street

The Oakland Police Department has significantly improved the ways it handles demonstrations in our city. In 2011 I asked for an outside evaluation of the department’s crowd management policies that resulted in a top-to-bottom retraining of the police force and improved OPD practices to keep our residents, our businesses and our officers safe while facilitating free expression. At the same time the department has neared full compliance with our court-ordered reforms, dramatically reduced use-of-force incidents and required officers to wear chest-mounted body cameras on their uniforms. We have successfully facilitated more than 70 demonstrations this year throughout Oakland, and we know that with continued cooperation from our community and the high level of professionalism of our officers, we will continue doing so.

Our hearts are with Mike Brown’s family and with every Oakland family touched by violence. I am grateful for the work we have done together to make Oakland a safer place and to heal our collective wounds. We still have much to do, but I am confident that we will continue making this important progress with compassion and peaceful determination.


Mayor Jean Quan


Things are shaping up for this Holiday Season's round of entertainment and good works. The annual Celebration of Craftswomen, which has been raising funds to support the SF Women's Building for nearly forty years will take place in the usual spot at Fort Mason from Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, through the weekend. You can get all your holiday shopping done in one fell (or felt!) swoop at Celebration of Craftswomen, a gigantic arts and crafts show. Featuring over 150 women artists, this event brings together ceramics, enamels, fibers, glass, jewelry, paintings and soaps under one roof, and even has some gourmet gifts for the hungry folks in your family. Craftswomen also will offer live demonstrations so you can learn how to make that scarf or bowl yourself next year. Be prepared to check everyone off your shopping list, and you just might find a one-of-a-kind leather bag for yourself too.

Tickets from Goldstar are just $5, but double that at the door.

The 29th annual Christmas Revels takes place this year December 12-14 and 19-21 at the Scottish Rite Theatre in Oakland. Each year the revels presents a unique interactive story complete with song, dance, comedy and fine musicianship. This time around the revels returns to grassroots America.

Here is the press blurb: " It is December 1934, the depths of the Great Depression, and Johnny Jackson (Rene Collins) finds himself wandering aimlessly, wondering what life holds in store for him, and where he should go to find his destiny. He encounters The Magic Man, (Kevin Carr) who sends Johnny off to the four directions in search of where he belongs. And so his journey along the American Roads begins. Along the way he meets the mysterious Cajun, Zozo la Brique (Tristan Cunningham), a Shaker family, Appalachian cloggers and other rail riders and road campers each with their own take on holiday traditions.

Also featured in the cast are Revels Artistic Associates Shira Kammen and James Galileo, the musical group Euphonia, featuring Sylvia Herrold and a chorus of over sixty adults, teens and children from the community. It's two hours of song, dance, stories, ritual and laughter as we once again come together to Welcome Yule! "

Tickets range from $20-$60, and there is an intermission. Check for info.

Kol Truah, the Jewish Choir of the EAst Bay, will be performing at various sacred locations from 12/6 to 12/20, starting with Temple Israel right here on the Island. Check out for more information.

Peralta Hacienda, that little bit of remainder of the once grand Rancho San Antonio, which once extended from Fremont up to San Pablo along the water, will hold an open house in the Hacienda built around 1872 to replace the adobe destroyed by the 1868 earthquake.

The structure, and a minorly later one, sit in a park at 2465 34th Avenue and are preserved as museums and cultural centers for a wide range of activities that serve the community. The Open House is 2:30-5:30 and will feature mulled cider, music and lots of local lore from the delightful hermosas, who have a habit of snagging the hearts of visitors. Go to to learn more about this fascinating part of California history.


So anyway, a proper dockwalloper set in this week, drenching everything and raising hearts in drought-stricken California, this the third storm in as many weeks swelling the parched reservoirs and giving hope that maybe this is the year we put aside water disaster for another time. Of course there may be some who now regret voting for Jerry Brown's pet water retention project for all the billions it will cost, but pay no heed. For now, the rain falls here and snow higher up, allowing us to flush that stinky toilet filled with dark orange water, and stop collecting shower water for the garden and reusing the dishwater for any number of other uses. All those things we learned when we were kids growing up in California and mostly not liking the rules part of that, hearing over and over, "Gosh darn it, turn off that faucet! Do you think we are all rich as Midas around here? Someday you will turn the tap and nothing is going to come out, and you know why? Because you and your friends used it all!. And don't forget to turn the light out when you go out; show some respect for the people who pay the bills around here. . .".

Thanksgiving is coming up, and there will be more of that remembering stuff along with boatloads of Tradition. Of course everyone looks forward to the Island Poodleshoot and BBQ, but there are other more reasonable things that go on as well. Lionel, owner of the Pampered Pup is having family up from Louisiana and Mr. Howitzer is going to visit Grass Valley where the Dudgeon part of the family resides.

While Lionel's family would always break spontaneously into gospel songs and creole (think of the turkey seasoned liberally with cayenne, paprika and garlic), Grass Valley is a town Mr. Howitzer despises and the Dudgeons are, in his mind, a collection of dissolute, boring, tendentious, uncouth people possessed of strong Liberal opinions. In short the entire trip is a collosal waste of time and he goes only out of a sense of Tradition and he really does not want them to invite themselves down to his manor, for the children are all wild and destructive.

Dodd, his long suffering manservant, remains secretly pleased the Master is going, for this means he will enjoy a few days of wonderful peace with his family away from the demanding codger. They'll have his wife's family over into their cramped cottage in Stonehenge Lane, or he and the missus will drive up the 101 to Petaluma to see the relations, all of whom he loves without reservation. And each year it has become a little Tradition after packing off the Master to descend to the cellars and there pour himself in celebration a small glass of congnac from a bottle that is said to once have dated from the time of Napoleon Bonapart, but after several years of this little ritual has been somewhat adulterated, so as to maintain the apparent fill level with Christian Brothers brandy.

It has occured to Dodd that he really ought to move on to bottles of stuff for which his responsibility is to keep the inventory manifest. Mr. Howitzer, of course, has no idea what is down there save from this manifest. There is a South African port Dodd has been meaning to try ever since the old tyrant had him drive him in the limo, forcing Dodd to stay in a motel at a suitable distance away, but within reach of cell phone for the entire Holiday time.

There is always a joyous celebration at Marlene and Andre's Household, for everyone chips in to make a feast with the turkey and fixings from the Food Bank. While most of the residents there do not have any more family than their housemates, the affair is jovial enough.

In California the population is evenly divided between folks who go visit relatives on Thanksgiving -- or host their inlaws here -- and those who have successfully abandoned, or been abandoned by their relations, and so make do with friends and strangers for this is their wont. Naturally, those of you who slip into your Subaru or your VW to drive to grandma's old place out in Mariposa County may not consider those of us who will be working that day and the day after, for things like Emergency Rooms, Radio Stations, Crisis Centers, Police dispatch do not stop for Holidays. For us, the re-warmed plate supplied by a spouse or lover, enjoyed as well as possible after getting off work at midnight with spouse or lover snoozing away in the warm bed. For us the potluck at work and the cold cut spread in the Community Room, with maybe a bit of time and a dinner with the Residents of the Facility.

As Lou Reed used to sing, "Some people like to go out dancing. Other people, like us, gotta work.

Walking back to the Household, towing the House Official Transport, a battered, red, child's flexible flyer wagon loaded with Food Bank goods, Marlene suddenly thought of the temp who had just finished his contract at the clinic where she also temped. They both had started and finished up their stints at the same time, covering for women on maternity leave. His name was Avi and his had been a long journey since the Revolution in his native country of Iran. Forced to flee with such family as could escape, he had lived for a while in Israel before coming to the United States and had learned and seen much along the way.

She liked him, for he was warm and witty and compassionate, and very, very patient.

What would he and people like him be doing on this Holiday? Alone and thousands of miles from anything familiar, childhood memories locked in a box that had no present reminders. The old guy from Bosnia she had meet at the polling station recently. The Chilean who had survived being thrown from a helicopter during Pinochet's Dirty War. The kids at the Jack Sparrow Home. Kids who were better off without their abusive fathers and their IDU mothers.

And Avi, who had just said goodbye.

When Marlene got back to the Household, she pulled out the phone book and started hunting for a name, which she found easily enough. Then she asked to use Suan's cellphone. Suan worked as a dancer at the Crazy Horse, so she had a little money for a pay-as-you-go phone. She asked Marlene what was up, and Marlene told her she was inviting a guest to the House dinner. For there really can be no genuine thanks without genuine empathy and kindness. It's easy to say thank you if you are wealthy, like Mr. Howitzer. Or it should be. It's a rougher road for some of the rest of us who tend to get manhandled by Life.

All of the House residents had been put through the mill of Life, so to speak, but they were all grateful to have a roof over their heads -- for such had not always been the case -- for good, decent, friendly companions, for the food they got, such as it was, and the momentary hiatus for each of them in which Life stopped knocking their heads around.

In the Old Same Place Bar the conversation turned around, as it always does this time of year, to the best way to cook a turkey. After much disputation that would have made Socrates proud, it turned out that the various methods devolved into camps of briners, smokers, basters covered against basters uncovered, stuffing of various types, a small coterie of BBq-ers, and hot oil boiling, with the hot oil folks admitting that you needed a hoe handle some six feet long along with a six foot ladder, two concrete pads to support the apparatus, a fire extinguisher, yards of gauze and burn linement, and at least two southern boys who had done this sort of crazy thing before.

"Why don't you just donate 15 cans to the Food Bank Drive and get an entire meal supplied already cooked," somebody said. "Why go through all the fuss.?"

Then came the ululation of the throughpassing train from far across the water as it trundled from the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their sentry lights, letting its cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the former Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, its weedy railbed, its chainlink fence interstices until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the old Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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


NOVEMBER 16, 2014


This week's photo comes from honorary Island-Lifer Catherine Harris, an artist who lives presently down in Atascadero, but who has connections up here. She calls this one "Longing for Rain". Indeed before the recent storms things looked pretty sere around here.


The recent storms have provided moderate relief, however even as we write this, local water districts are planning for rate increases to handle the possibility of another year of drought. California derives its water from the melted snow in the Sierra, and we have not gotten anywhere near enough snowpack to alleviate the current crisis.

That said, we are looking at another brief storm to come in sometime towards the end of the week, so get ready for a damp weekend.


Fire Chief Mike D'Orazi is retiring after just 3.5 years as chief, but after a fire career that started in 1979. In fact, the man had retired in July of 2007, but came out of retirement to serve as interim Chief during a period that saw much upheaval in City Hall and the Police leadership, with many executives vacating within months of one another during the height of the Great Recession.

Doug Long, an Island native who graduated from Alameda HIgh School in 1981, and who joined the Department in 1988, will serve as interim Chief.

The old Carnegie Building that once served as the main library seems finally slated for occupancy as the Pinball Museum is looking to relocate there. The historic structure has been vacant since 1998 due to seismic upgrade needs. The City has since invested $4 million in improvments and is demanding a $3.5 million deposit for additional improvements in exchange for a $1 per year lease.

The City official website got hacked during the elections, but it was a consequence of drive-by hacking opportunism, rather than direct maliciousness.

Still, does not feel good to be taken down by any means.

Basically, in drive-by attacks, hackers are seeking to exploit a known opening -- in this case a weakness in Drupal platform websites. Drupal had issued a patch and an advisory on the weakness, but either the webhost or City Hall had not acted on the news. The hackers did a general search for Drupal platforms and simply attacked all of them, in this case with a SQL injection exploit.

The city website is now back up and running.


Island-Life stepped out for a rare visit to the West Coast from Richard Shindell, who has been calling Argentina home since the Reagan years. He was preceded at the Freight and Salvage by opening act Robbie Schaefer who is a singer, a songwriter, and one-fourth of a much beloved folk-rock band Eddie From Ohio, which perversely is based in rural Virginia. Schaefer's act was a bit of a sleeper, conveying the sense of a really nice guy who performs for children, but little tension or dynamics in his music and who employs his talents well in service of others less well advantaged. Several of our party needed to go fetch coffee to continue.

Shindell came out and started a bit cold, performing old hits interspersed with long vocal patter as he retuned his acoustic to any of the odd non-standard tunings he employs. Eventually, the receptive crowd got him to loosen up and he started playing new songs with confidence and surprising complexity we had not seen in performances by this artist before. He seemed to realize early on that the acoustics of the new F&S soundspace would allow him to stretch out a bit more than usual.

New for Shindell was a Stratocaster that he used to transpose some of his older material in new ways and at one point, he stated, "I really like this guitar!" He employed this instrument effectvely for a 12 bar standard pattern song that involved a lost cow on the Argentinian pampas.

Never one to aim for top 40 status, one of Shindell's favorites of the evening he called " an anti-objectivist rant called 'Atlas Choked'." This one seemed aimed at what he imagined to be Berkeley Intellectuals in the crowd.

Shindell has worked with a number of people in the past, including John Gorka, Dar Williams and Lucy Kaplansky. This time he brought master pianist Radoslav Lorkovic, a Croatian born and classically trained folk and blues musician whom he met through a European promoter while on tour in Italy a number of years ago. It would be an understatement to say that Lorkovic provided deft accompaniment, always supplying just the right touch to evoke mood and energy with superb craftsmanship on the Freight's baby Grand.

There are not many people who can write lyrics as trenchant as well as poingnant as Richard Shindell. As his current home remains Argentina, and his former stomping grounds involve the New Jersey Eastern Seaboard, visits to this part of the world remain rare, and it was clear Sunday night that the people wanted him to remain less of a stranger via two standing ovations.

Encore was the touching song about Mary Magdelene, wherein Mary exclaims, "Jesus loved me, this I know, Why on earth did he have to go?.


The Last Fare of the Day
Deer on the Parkway
The Kenworth of My Dreams
Are You Happy Now?
You Again
Your Guitar
Stray Cow Blues
Atlas Choking
Reunion Hill
I Know You Rider
(Tossi Aaron cover)
There Goes Mavis
The Ballad of Mary Magdalen


So anyway, winter finally has arrived in the form it takes around here. We don't have snow very often, only once every six or eight years. And when it does arrive like an astonishing Biblical event, it dusts the ground perfunctorily before disappearing the following morning. If you are wanting snow, for some odd reason -- perhaps you came from somewhere else where snow happens all the time, you have to drive to Tahoe or Grass Valley in the mountains. There you find people bundled up and sliding off the road and into each other. Which is how we assume marriages start in places like the Midwest and the East Coast. Around here people get married all the time -- its a way of demonstrating that you like people. It must be more difficult in other places where folks are more reserved, distant. In the East people seem to detest one another with such vehemence that it is anyone's guess where in that passion play of universal pushiness and loathing love and marriage come to fruition. That is why they have snow; to perpetuate the population.

In any case, after experiencing snow nostalgia, people come back to the winter that is on the Island, where the trees dutifully lose their leaves and the temperature gets moderately chilly, not so cold as to be uncomfortable for most of us, but sufficient to annoy people from SoCal.

Along with the weather some folks have already draped the stair handrails with Xmas lights, which some feel is a bit jumping the gun as we have a ways to go before Thanksgiving gets foisted on us.

This Sunday the Sermon at the CFSM was based on a text from the Joy of Cooking, Unexpurgated Version. The text concerned the manner and style of preparing whole walrus, which seems to involve a great deal of charcoal and digging a trench. It must be said that most Californians, and practically all Islanders have never encountered the need to prepare such a dish, if dish is what one would call such a preparation, but this merely indicates the need to embrace the Boy Scout motto and hold fast to belief that some day one surely will encounter something similar to a walrus meal..

Conversation in the annex over tea, cordials and bundt cake shifted from this topic to that of the harbor seals, who the Depuglia brothers had yet to succeed in evicting from their basking spit of repose where WETA wants to build a facility. The Depuglias had tried threats, shouting, black powder cannons, Metallica tapes and Abba, the latter of which only served to provoke a rush of seal rage that resulted in the expensive transmitters being utterly destroyed.

A few people commented that the Depuglias were demonstratively no better at the eviction of marine mammals than they were in automotive repair and maintenance and there have been a few people sold lemons by the Depuglias who have gone out in rowboats loaded with fish from Chinatown to feed the seals and offer encouragement.

While it is difficult to imagine how anyone can go about offering an harbor seal encouragement in a way that the animal can comprehend, still, its a nice thought which presents an interesting picture upon which to dwell on the upcoming rainy days.

Over at Our Lady of Incessant Complaint, the Sunday Sermon was more along the lines of the King James Bible in terms of textual reference, and there are many people who prefer that sort of thing over the Joy of Cooking, at least on Sundays for about an hour.

Of course once that hour has passed, off they go in their Ford Explorers and their Jeeps to consult the Mosswood Cookbook and other apocryphical documents. Father Danyluk watches them pile into their bulbous vehicles and drive away with a sigh and a heavy heart, hoping with faint heart only that the brief taste of an eternal banquet will gradually bring the wandering fold back to the table, there to dine upon Word made flesh.

But on reflection that sounded a bit like trendy zombie-ism and so he thought he ought to revise this planned sermon in his own mind before trying it out.

In the Old Same Place Bar, Babar was commiserating with Papoon over the recent elections. It was pretty clear that the Somewhat Liberal party had taken a hiding, but it was also clear just about nobody went to the polls this time, which meant that majorities meant nothing in the long run. "If people are so foolish as to elect majorities in both the House and the Senate, then they are going to get the government they deserve," Papoon said.

"I am afraid that is the case this time around," said Papoon. "And it will not be a good thing."

"I tend to agree," said Babar, who knew a true Conservative avoids extremes in all things, including Victory Celebrations.

Then came the ululation of the throughpassing train from far across the water as it trundled from the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their sentry lights along First Street, letting its cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the former Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, its weedy railbed, its chainlink fence interstices until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off out of shadows on the edge of town past the old Ohlone shellmounds, trundling under the gaze of the moon to parts unknown.

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

NOVEMBER 9, 2014


This week's headline is not of any structure around here -- this is the Brandenburg Gate as it was nearly 35 years ago. You will not see many images like this, for this is the gate as seen looking from East towards the West. The man seen walking is an East German Volkspolizist making sure that nobody gets any closer to this area. The shot was taken behind a barbed wire fence with a telephoto lens from the Russian War Memorial.

Less than nine years after this picture was taken, in 1989, DDR officials announced that all citizens would be free to cross to the West at any checkpoint. Not more than a few days later, the Berlin Wall was dismantled.


Much is being made in the Media about the midterm elections, so we will give a brief local rundown on the results and what we think it means for California and the Bay Area. Numbers come from the Alameda County Registry of Voters office, headed by Dave MacDonald.

U.S. Representative, 13th Congressional District
Vote for One (1) Only
Total Precincts: 510 Precincts Reported: 510 Percent Reported: 100.00
Contest # of Votes % of Total
DEM - Barbara Lee 99800 87.30
REP - Dakin Sundeen 14523 12.70

U.S. Representative, 15th Congressional District
Contest # of Votes % of Total
DEM - Eric Swalwell 58949 70.01
REP - Hugh Bussell 25253 29.99

U.S. Representative, 17th Congressional District
Total Precincts: 98 Precincts Reported: 98 Percent Reported: 100.00
Contest # of Votes % of Total
DEM - Mike Honda 10509 51.14
DEM - Ro Khanna 10040 48.86

State Assembly, 18th District
Total Precincts: 314 Precincts Reported: 314 % Reported: 100.00
Contest # of Votes % of Total
DEM - Rob Bonta 52784 85.45
REP - David Erlich 8990 14.55

State Assembly, 15th District
Total Precincts: 314 Precincts Reported: 314 % Reported: 100.00
Contest # of Votes % of Total
DEM - Tony Thurmond 23260 50.35
DEM - Eliz. Echols 22940 49.65

Total Precincts: 1118 Precincts Reported: 1118 % Reported: 100.00
Contest # of Votes % of Total
DEM - Edmund G. ''Jerry'' Brown 180748 80.87
REP - Neel Kashkari 42766 19.13

Total Precincts: 1118 Precincts Reported: 1118 Percent Reported: 100.00
Pass? Title # of Votes Percent # of Votes Percent
N ........
State Proposition 1 - Water bond
State Proposition 2 - Rainy Day fund
State Proposition 45 - Insurance Rates
State Proposition 46 - Malpractice cap
State Proposition 47 - Sentencing, Drugs
State Proposition 48 - Tribal Gambling

Mayor - Alameda
Vote for One (1) Only
Total Precincts: 45 Precincts Reported: 45 Percent Reported: 100.00

Contest # of Votes % of Total
NP - Trish Spencer 6776 50.90
NP - Marie Gilmore 6489 48.74
Write-in 48 0.36

Members, City Council - Alameda
Vote for no more than Two (2)

Contest # of Votes % of Total
NP - Frank Matarrese 7198 36.91
NP - Jim Oddie 6434 32.99
NP - Stewart G. Chen 5778 29.62


Mayor - Oakland (RCV) Libby Schaaf defeated incumbent Jean Quan at 29.11% to Quan's 15.81%.

Robert Rayburn won the District 4 BART Directory handily at 50.70% to Lena Tam's 35.28%.

Alameda County's Measure BB was narrowly approved at 69.56% in favor of preserving the 1% sales tax originally passed in 2000 to help transportation. 30.44% voted against continuing the tax.

The Island approved Measure I to raise money for the School District via bonds at 61.41% in favor to 38.59% against.

The City of Oakland joined a number of West Coast cities in raising the minimum wage to $15/hour via passage of Measure FF by a whopping 81.18%.

So now that all the screaming has died down, we see California more or less taking its own road independent of the Nation by the overwhelming election of Democrats in all contended races. Jerry Brown coasted to victory over the little known Kashkari, not only because the man is popular, but also because a general distaste for Republican ideology has swelled here during the extremely ineffective stewardship of Arnold Schwarzenegger and the obviously punitive attitude Bush, jr. took towards the Golden State. In addition, if anyone knows anything about Kashkari it is the fact that he was instrumental in the odious bank bailout during the Great Recession -- hardly good props for the man.

Locally, we saw an election marked by pathetically low turnouts, which probably helped unseat nearly the entire "Mayor's Block" that Marie Gilmore had enjoyed for a few years. On the Island outrage over the developer shenanigans that threaten the quality of life here no doubt had a great deal to do with ousting Gilmore and Chen, more than Chen's legal troubles of a few years ago. That and a lackluster voter turnout. For a city that is home to over 70,000 people, barely 7,000 showed up at the polls and VBM to pick its major for the next four years.

Outrage and general dissatisfaction no doubt had a lot to do with Oakland's mayoral race in a city that has quite a lot of problems that seemed to prove intractable during Quan's once promising reign. Her mishandling of the Occupy Movement protest and subsequent major demonstrations that shut down the Port for days probably also had a lot to do with electing someone who has promised to restore the police department numbers to that of Jerry Brown's days here.

Statewide passage of some Propositions may be due largely to the low turnout at the polls as well. The State generally has a "Tough on crime" approach, so passage of Prop. 47, which reduces from felony to misdemeanor the status of certain drug-related and property crimes. Judges reportedly did not even wait for full certification of election results before releasing scads of prisoners from the jails.

Props 1 and 2 are Governor Brown's pet legislative pieces, and he is likely to be known for the legacy these create for a long, long time. We have needed a resolution to the water crisis situation in the State for decades, and Prop. 1 promises to at least get the ball rolling. Prop. 2 is a no-brainer we have also needed for a long time, as we never before had a way to create a cash reservoir for the State to employ during hard times.

Reelected to an unprecedented fourth term, along with virtually all of his elected Executive team in Sacto, Governor Brown sits in a prime position to push forward a number of additional pet projects as well as do battle with the new realities in Washington.

Things like the minimum wage hikes and what amounts to a defacto decriminalization of pot use do have something in common with nationwide results, where the electorate appeared to have a schizo attitude in ousting Democrats while the Country appears to be steadily improving in all areas, while at the same time the electorate went the opposite direction in passing in district after district scads of liberal bond measures, tax increases, capital improvement programs and marijuana decriminalization in such a way the pundits are left scratching their heads.


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 snap of crisp Fall air and exertion, and that powerful Desire that swells the bosoms of 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 splatter. 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 red-blooded American Island-Lifers -- the Annual Poodleshoot and BBQ.

Some time this week we will post this year's Rulebook, but of course you are free to peruse last year's ruleset, the link to which is posted in the sidebar, 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 niceties of purchasing hunting licenses.

This year, the 16th Annual Poodleshoot and BBQ shall be an august occasion replete with grand dignitaries from all sides of the political spectrum and plenty of delightful ultraviolence besides. It is hard to believe that we have enjoyed sixteen years of poodleshoots, but time passes and these sorts of things revolve with the slow turn of the years into our little Island Traditions. Indeed it is quite amazing that we are allowed to continue to have this thing, and we can only guess that warm hearted souls in the NRA have something to do with it.

In fact every year is an momentous 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 joy 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 truly 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 and everyone is invited.

Indeed this event is such an affair that even folks who never shot a weapon in their lives get into the spirit of preparations well in advance. Some people choose this time to take vacations in Cabo San Lucas and the more genteel environs of upstate Minnesota and Minneapolis, two places where the people are known for good manners and polite deer hunting.

You might say that deer hunting is hardly an activity suited for polite society, but in no region of the world will you find more obliging souls than Bear Lake up near the Canadian border. In fact it is well known that when a hunter like Dick Buckshot Cheney shoots a friend by accident, it is the friend who apologizes for getting in the way. It might have been a turkey shoot and not a deer hunt, but all the same, turkeys can be ornery and cruel just as deer can be dangerous. It's wildlife after all.

Still, just look at the manly sport of deer hunting. First thing a man does is put on special clothing after dousing himself with special deer attractant cologne, as if he were getting ready for a date on Broadway, he sets up the wet bar in the blind or duckhouse or whatever so there's liquor involved to loosen the inhibitions, and then, to cap off this fey enterprise, he puts on makeup. No wonder women want to get into this thing as well.

And of course there have always been guys into dressing up real colorful in outrageous orange and putting on makeup with perfume and so, we just want to say, we don't criticize, because we like all kinds of people. It's all good.

In any case, here on the Island Pagano's stocks up on hardware, like ropes and tarps and gutting knives while Beverly's Art Supply puts out baskets of camo material, like fake autumn leaves for your helmet and rig. CVS begins stuffing the shelves full of gauze and ointments because, during the well oiled Poodleshoot with a lot of guys out there blasting away like Rambo on crystal meth, there are always those little accidents. Which is why every shop on Park Street has these steel shutters they roll down just before the Shoot to protect the windows a little bit just like they do every night in New York City.

And if those developers get their way, when this Island population drives over 120,000, you will see those boys rolling down those shutters EVERY night.

In the Old Same Place Bar, all the talk was about the upcoming Poodleshoot and what people were doing to get ready and Eugene was holding forth as a 16 year wounded veteran of the Poodle Wars to astonished and admiring listeners gathered round his stool at the bar.

"Some of you may exclaim with wonder how is it that roughneck Michigan with its factory trade and burly Minnesota with its sturdy Viking heritage come out more genteel than California, land of the lotus-eating Hippies and aromatherapy?

Kids, you don't know Californians and where we came from.

California was settled by a bunch of Bear Flagger illegal immigrant malcontents who banded together to rob the Mexican citizens of their property and murder some one and a half million Indians who weren't even Indians -- that Columbus had got it all wrong when he set out from some place he didn't know, arrive at a place he did not recognize, label the place he discovered something unreasonably inaccurate and return to his own place not ever knowing where he had been.

Which is all to say the Indians, who really were not Indians but Native Americans all the time living here for some 10,000 years, got themselves murdered and there followed a massive migration of people invested with disease, bad morals, lots of whores from down south, and the most egregious example of savage avarice the world had ever seen, which we plaintively call the Gold Rush in our foolish nostalgia.

A scad of Okies arrived on windsurfboards, coasting on the dry winds over fields of wheat and orange trees, and they tried to improve the place with values of hard work and decent living, but got beaten down by the Grapes of Wrath who wanted to send them back where they came from, and by then everything had turned into Dustbowl and obnoxiousness and the railroads got filled with octopi in all the boxcars, which tipped over and caused an earthquake which drowned the Imperial Valley in a salt flood and created the Salton Sea, which is a pathetic place to live in or visit because you can smell that poisoned sump from miles away.

Don't get me started on the zoot suit riots. Please. You go out to the Valley and you just eyeball any old farmer there standing looking at the drought stricken fields with his cheeks looking like ravined territory with dry arroyos, a hundred years of struggle in that face. That is California - an ocean of dry disappointment some call Paradise. That is all I have to say on the subject."

Then came the ululation of the throughpassing train from far across the water as it trundled from the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their sentry lights along First Street, letting its cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the former Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, its weedy railbed, its chainlink fence interstices until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off out of shadows on the edge of town past the old Ohlone shellmounds, trundling under the gaze of the moon to parts unknown.

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


NOVEMBER 2, 2014


This week's image comes from the Supermoon period we enjoyed this past summer. Roving photographer, Tammy took the image down by the Grand Marina.


This week the news is all about the windup to the Dias de los Muertos. Island-Life staffers took a stroll down through the Fruitvale where one of the largest celebrations of the Day of the Dead outside Mexico takes place.

It is said that for about a week the veil between this world and the next becomes thin, allowing dead souls to revisit loved ones.

A main component of the Day of the Dead observances is the building of ofretas, which feature artifacts, photos, personal effects and favorite foods of a dear departed loved one.


The Ofretas can be a combination of public grief as well as personal commemoration of loss as seen in this tryptich remembering those who have died trying to emigrate to the US over the inhospitable Sonoran desert.


The ofretas can be overtly political in tone. Here the nasty School for the Americas, which has been known to train dictators to be even nastier, calls for an end to the violence. Photos on the table are of famous people, as in Victor Jara on the far left, who was murdered by the Chilean junta run by SOA graduate Pinochet. Victor Jara was a folksinger who was tortured and killed at the infamous soccer stadium detention center.

Loss of a child . . . .

Children learn early not to fear death.

Although we know that death is merely an illusory translation to another plane of existence, the pain of loss remains real and so we seek to be cleansed with things like burning sage in ceremonies that predate the Xian religions by thousands of years. Here a woman holds out her arms to have all parts of her cleansed by a curandera. Things can get intensely emotional at the more private gatherings.

One have of the face is painted to show that we are two things and our flesh covering is but a mask, an illusion.

Our ancestors watch over us at all times.


We try to make light of this death business. Here a lovely hermosa cannot help but present a little grin, knowing she is being photographed.

A booth seller mugs for the camera.

The Senior Center remembers former residents and the docent laughs when she sees she is being knipsed.


So anyway, as the iron bells tolled and the last vestige of summer fled yammering into the cold dark out of which a darker cold breeze blew, Denby put on 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. Dammit.

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

"Hoo! Hoooooo!"

Okay, okay. Poor choice of words.

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," Penny said, and 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.

On the edge of the group a slender woman, dressed in 1950's style pants and a simple blouse with brown hair done in a utilitarian perm sat on a log with several dogs at her feet. All of the dogs possessed sharp alert ears, faces like that of a fox with pointed muzzles, wiry bodies built for speed and a short-hair coat of orange with white pattern markings. Their tails curled behind them in upwards curlicues, each one tipped with white as if dipped in bleach.

"Basenjis!" Denby said in surprise, and one of them ran up to him to sniff. "Comet! It's you!"

When he said that the dog sat back and made the most unearthly yodeling sound," Owooooowwwoooo!" Then all the other dogs ran up to him and made as if to leap up and rest their paws on his torso, but their insubstantial bodies kept falling through his, and they milled about in confusion until they made do with lower level sniffing and licking, which felt like cold cotton towels on his skin, every once in a while letting out that unearthly yodel, for basenjis cannot bark.

"Aunt Liz! How did Comet and Betsy and Toto come to be here?"

"They are my welcoming committee. Maybe they have been waiting all this time for me to arrive."

"Well I guess this answers the age-old question, 'Do dogs have souls?'." Denby said.

"Indeed they do. More soul than a lot of people."


"Well how have you been?"

"O, up and down. Been down a long time, but somewhat more up than otherwise recently. Actually its been kind of a roller coaster."

"O really?"

A couple girls ran barefoot between them from outside the firelight and then off into the darkness. Another one, dressed in gingham, came tearing in from the other side, but Penny reached out to snag her squealing and swing her around in a hug.

"I am glad to see its not all doom and gloom around here."

Aunt Liz laughed. "O hardly! Your girls have provided endless amusements."

"All mine?" Denby said, one eyebrow rising.

"Well, would have, could have more like it. I don't see why you never married."

"Well, you know," Denby said, looking over at Penny playing with the gingham girl, "Things didn't work out the way I planned. The right girl just didn't hang around."

"O Denby, they are all the same. Take it from me. I know there is a certain bartender down there who . . .".

"Uhh, no."

"Now Denby, she's a winsome . . . ".


"Why not?"

"She's a character," Denby said. "And she has her own fate. So you going to hook up with Origen or Harry now?"

"O, I don't see any reason to limit my options. Why not hook up with both? After all everything is possible in Paradise."

"Aunt Liz! What makes you so certain in this place, the waiting room for that place and Hell, you are going over to the Golden City? Never mind the idea of hooking with two men at once . . .".

In answer Aunt Liz removed a golden disk from her mouth. "I have the obolu. Whichever way I am going, I am going soon. And I just have a feeling. You should always trust a woman's intuition. Right Penny?"

Penny's laugh tinkled like crystalline bells. "Right you are!"

"Aunt Liz you were to have your 98th birthday on Thursday next! Now you are planning to paint the town red in Heaven?!"

"Better believe it boy! And if its the Other Place, I am going to show that mean old Devil just how to do the jellyroll! Maybe soften Old Nick up a bit and get him to contribute to the Orphanage as a start; get him on the road for good instead of evil. I had a good old time for about 90 of those years, sonny, and wasted too much time pining for Harry the last eight or so. Learn this from my example -- don't put off a good time because that's the sort of thing you want to remember when you can't do it any more, not the roller coaster stuff. I only regret selling that RX7 when I was just 60. I could handle it much better than that kid who wrapped it around a telephone pole."

A girl wearing thick glasses and jeans and a pageboy haircut ran by and stopped suddenly in front of Denby. "Boo!" she said suddenly before scampering off into the reeds along the shore.

From across the water a glimmering approached.

"Denby," Penny said. "Each time you come here it is closer to the time of the Ferryman. What can this mean?"

"Time to go," said Aunt Liz, and she stood up with all the dogs and moved down towards the landing.

As Denby watched knots of people began moving toward the landing as well, and a strange compulsion to follow them took hold of the man with a powerful longing. But Penny held him back. By some strange power she was able to hold him back.

"You cannot abide the sight of his eyes, which are wheels of fire," she said. "Now is not your time. And don't think I do not feel such a longing to run down there right now as of this minute myself. I so long to be rid of this place and crossing over you cannot believe how bad it is! I don't know how long I have and every second is a tick on the side of Eternity! I want to rise from this oubliette hour by waiting hour!" Penny wailed.

"Penny, why then are you still here in the anteroom?"

There was a long pause. "I am afraid of what it means." And she paused again. "Because I am waiting for you."

"Well then," Denby said, reaching to his pouch for his knife. "I will end it now and then you can go . . .".

"No! Self-murder means you and I will never see each other again! Not for eternity! I will be responsible and they will send you to the Other Place and it will definitely not be a good place. Stop! Stop!"

"We just have to wait," Denby said, knowing that the Angry Elf gang was looking to resolve him as a problem for good. A matter of time.

"Yes," Penny said, and hung her shoulders down sadly. "We can only wait."

Around the two of them a ring of girls stood watching with silent dark eyes. Then the mood broke as a knot of people drifted down the beach, scattering the girls to the winds.

A thin albino man came striding across the sands with a guitar accompanied by a reedy sort of fellow, also with a guitar strumming an old folk-blues song. The albino fellow asked the reedy fellow how the song went again, and the reedy fellow said, "Now Johnny, you don't need to be playing all those notes and making it over complicated. We are going to be playing a concert for somebody pretty special soon. Just strum it and it goes, I am a ho ho ho ho hobo. . . sorta like that . . .".

Along after this group followed a stately Black woman dressed in robes and a duffy sort of professorial white man and they were conversing. "I know now why the caged bird sings," said the white man. “What, anyway, was that sticky infusion, that rank flavor of blood, that poetry, by which I lived?” said the Black woman. And they passed on.

They all went down there to the infernal dock and waited there for the Ferryman.

An animated group followed after that with several people who may have considered themselves important in life, but now no matter. A woman was trying to converse with a fellow in a suit, and she kept saying with a strong New York accent, "Can we talk? Can we talk?"

When the Ferryman docked, most of the gathered souls got on board, but one figure was waved off, even as the figure stood there shouting, "I am the son of Papa Doc Duvalier! I have earned my passage!"

In answer, the ferryman turned his eyes, which are wheels of fire, upon the figure on the dock and cindered his soul into the semblance of a man, and so there he stood, waiting for passage to the other place.

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 some kind of loss. "Papi?" she said. A faint odor of cinnamon and cloves wafted over him. Her eyes were large and deep as deep Caribbean pools. And then she turned and ran off into the darkness.

An iron bell began to clang.

"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.

He made his way back to the island offices which now remained empty, save for the Editor in his glass-enclosed cubicle.

"Any news about the Elections," asked the Editor. "Any tips on who comes out on top?"

"Somehow it never came up," Denby said.

"How bad was it down there," asked the Editor.

"Well," said Denby. "There were moments of discovery. Um could I have that drink now?"

"I haven't offered you any, but I can tell by the look on your face you really could use one. Or two."

That was when the Editor broke out the 12 year old Scotch. He knew intuitively that something had happened. Always trust an editor's intuition.

Then came the eerie ululation of the throughpassing train from far across the water as it trundled from the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their sentry lights along First Street, letting its cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the former Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, its ghost-haunted, weedy railbed, its chainlink fence interstices until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off out of shadows on the edge of town past the old Ohlone shellmounds, trundling lugubriously under the gaze of the haunted moon to parts unknown.

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


OCTOBER 26, 2014


This week's photo comes from Gary Branchaud, and is of the estuary at sunset as surfboarders come paddling back two WETA boats at dock.


Finally got around to updating the Stories section which features 12 years of Island-Life characters getting into scrapes, rescuing abandoned children, falling in and out of love, Annual Poodleshoots, The Wee Man turning things topsy turvy while magically changing people's underwear into either bees or spun gold, escaping moose, Denby visiting The Other Side, and folks generally kicking up their heels. "Live" links are in bold with a clipart graphic. We are about halfway, but will be updating each day.

Most Islanders know that Silly Hall has decided to allow a community based discussion about the horrendous rental situation on the Island, which is getting a splash-over from the criminal rents going sky-high all around the Bay. Of course by punting on forming a Council-based task-force to look at the situation here, persons up for reelection avoid any possible blow-back from deep-pocket interests who could easily influence an election for any one or all candidates.

People don't like Unions and they don't like rent control, but sometimes the only way to check the bastards is by enforcing good behavior via statute and collective bargaining. Of course there is one sure fire way to shunt something like rent control aside. The landlords need to put the kibosh on nastiness like the Ellis Act and halt the destructive hikes in rents for both commercial and private housing while all the while sniveling the same excuse, Location, location, location.

Location indeed. We were living here 20-30 years before you newbies arrived here from Texas with your big land plans. So what if a dot commer makes more than you with your properties. You want some impoverished, struggling group of people, six to a room, living from paycheck to paycheck to barely make ends meet living in your apartments?

On the good news front, we hear that the memorial bench in Jackson Park is slated for restoration. Tucker's Ice Cream raised funds via sale of a special flavor of ice cream towards restoration. Parks and Rec. has already cleaned up the debris and repainted the structure built in 1920 for Isabelle Clark as memorial to her late husband George Clark. People wanting to help preserve an Island legacy can send checks to PO Box 1677, Alameda, CA 94501. Payee is Alameda Architectural Preservation Society, and the subject line should specify "Save the Bench". You can also go to

It's getting to the Season of Giving, so while you are in that mode of collecting tax deductions, you can also donate funds to help victims of the arson spree that destroyed businesses and rendered several people homeless. Make checks payable to Alameda Relief Fund, and send to First Community Bank, 2531 Blanding Avenue, Alameda, Ca 94501. Or you can drop a check in person at the branch located within the Nob Hill Store at the Bridgeside Center.

PSA - Elections

We are reminded that the Vote by Mail envelope costs 70 cents for our district. Thanks Bill Withrow for posting that letter to the Editor of the Sun.

Also note, that if you have not completed your VBM ballot, you can drop it off at any polling station -- not just your own precinct. Make sure to sign the back of the envelope or it will not be counted. If you have someone deliver it for you, make sure to sign the top of the back and write the name of the authorized deliverer. The envelope goes into the locked grey ballot box, so make sure this happens before leaving the polling station.

This may be a midterm for most of the country, but do note that for us, we choose the State Governor as well as most of the State Executive offices this time around, and locally we have the mayoral race plus councilmembers, plus our State Assembly rep AND 11th District Congressional Rep -- who in this case happens to be Barbara Lee.

There's no 3rd party distractions here, so in all cases it is a choice between Democrat or Republican. Not so much in Oaktown, where we have high hopes for Kaplan to replace the woman who violently ended the Occupy protest in front of the horrified eyes of the nation.

Among the Props, we have our own Measure I, which is a bond measure for fixing up the schools, that includes a nice provision forbidding funds raised to go to administrator salaries.

Look to October 12th on the reasoning behind our seemingly quirky choices.

PROP 1: Water Bond Attempts to ease the State's water woes by raising $7.5 billion dollars -- We suggest you vote NO because no provision to repair the existing infrastructure, including the badly aging levees. Rewrite it guys, and send it back to vote again.

PROP 2: State budget stabilization account - basically creates a "rainy day" account over time. YES, definitely.

PROP 45: Healthcare Insurance rate changes to be approved by the Insurance Commissioner. NO

PROP 46: Drug testing of doctors combined with increase in negligence fines. Cap rise in malpractice payouts. NO. Should be two separate issues.

PROP 47:This Initiative revises the sentence from felony to misdemeanor for minor drug and property offenses. Provisional YES, unless someone can come up with something better. Would be better if things like gun theft were not in there.

PROP 48: Approves tribal gaming compacts with the North Forth Rancheria of Mono tribes and the Wiyot Tribe. YES, definitely.


We have some pictures of decor from around the Island, where some of us take All Hallow's Eve seriously. Here are a few of the less elaborate ones, indicating sometimes simpler is best.

Spiders are popular this year...

In case you ever wondered whatever happened to Bozo the Clown...

The big spider is back on Grand Street. He has been a regular each Halloween for over a decade.

Such a lovely couple to welcome visitors . . .


Ewwwwww, gross!

What's with the soccer ball?


So anyway, once again the time came around for the Annual Drawing of Straws. Each year the Editor calls the entire pressroom together for the chance drawing that will determine who must make the dreadful crossing to the Other Side on the last night of El Dias de Los Muertos. There the staffer is charged to consult with the Departed so as to glean news or portent of what is to come in the following year.

This information, is of course, a valuable bit of data for any self-respecting Editor.

The procedure does not vary much from year to year, save in those years some people feel,for some unexplained reason, they do not want to go face to face in conversation with dead people. Then the Editor has to go and ferret these cowards out from wherever they have secreted themselves so as to get the ball rolling, make the show go on, preserve Tradition, and get the job firmly done.

Rachel, the Administrative Assistant cum sandwiches and beer fetcher, carrys around the battered fedora hat with the straws to each staffer wherever they may be. Even Festus, the messenger, is required perforce to take his chances.

"Boss, I am a hamster! How can I talk to people!"

"You talkin' to me?" The Editor said.

"Ahhhh! I should never have let on I can do the human speech; it's always bad for the animal. Look what happened to Mister Ed -- farmed out to a circus dog and pony show at the end of his days. Our lives are nothing but abuse. . .".

"Shut up and sit down and take your straw."

"That's what they said to Mr. Ed."

The one year two people went was the year when the main loser in this bad contest had a broken leg and so Jose had to push Denby's wheelchair literally through the gates of Hell.

How was it, people asked Jose.

"It really, really sucked!" Jose answered. And no more about it would he ever say to anyone. The following year he hit in the toilet stall until somebody came to drag him out, kicking and screaming and crying like a baby.

This year, what with the protracted lack of "Recovery" from the dismal Great Recession, which many claimed had not ceased at all, but only slackened once a President with some intelligence got sent to the White House, people sat around the Pressroom with cups of coffee and ibuprofen and here and there the distinctive blue dots of Valium, resigned to the terrible news, staring with lackluster eyes devoid of hope.

As it so happened the drawing occurred on the night when the big dockwalloper hit the Island, the remnants of a typhoon which had given Japan some trouble a week ago, and so as events unfolded, torrents of rain came down in a howling wind outside and every once in a while the lights flickered as if about to go out entirely. They didn't but it sure added to the atmosphere of doom and gloom that pervaded the place.

As the hat passed around, Rachel stepping with the gracile movements of a dance instructor between the desks, each drew and breathed a sigh of relief as they compared their straw with that of a neighbor, which was the best way to defuse the tension that built until the final straw.

They need not have worried, save for the slim possibility that chance would upset Tradition, for according to Tradition, each and every year, the same man always loses. That man is always Denby, who accepts his fate with sad resignation. After all the straws are drawn and it is clear who must take on the quest, people clap the man on his back, wishing him well with high hysterically relieved voices and the high pitched, forced laughter of people who have been released from a monstrous fate. They all wish him well with sympathies, but mutter under their breath, "My god am I glad it's not me!"

Festus scampers back to his immense Habitot home, a home constructed of hundreds of feet, perhaps thousands, of clear plastic Habitot tubing that snakes around the rooms, up the stairs, loops over itself and joins pathways to pathways with crossconnects and hutch stations, all purchased over the past decade by various staffers who have been adding to this structure every week with more pieces of that famous pet store item to the point that in the Pressroom, it is the people who live and work in an enclosure while all around them Festus and his companions roam with far more freedom in their own home. Some people might claim that the Island-Life offices are not your usual pressrooms.

Jose pops up with a question. "My straw is shorter than all the others, but still not so short as Denby's. What can this mean?"

"O! Glad you reminded me! That means you must be the one to start the Island-Life Contraption for this year's Flyover."

Jose's response was violent and immediate. "Aaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiiiieeeeeeaaaaahhhhhh!" Then he fell down weeping.

"Now Jose, at least it is not as bad as going to Hell," Denby said.

"Perdido gabachos! Last time I broke both legs my left arm and lost nearly my life!" Jose said.

"Now, now Jose. It's been over four years, almost five, since the last flyover and we are about due for another, given all the things which have changed here. And you have had plenty of time to recover and learn how to walk normally again," said the Editor.

After that, Denby went over to the Old Same Place Bar to take the edge off of things. Somehow the word had gotten out -- in a small town, bad news travels faster than the Special Delivery Postman -- and so they all edged away from him there at the bar, giving him the hairy eyeball and whispering among themselves with awe and fear and perhaps a little respect -- but not too much of that, as respect is hard earned around here. Even the hookers held back and became almost demure in his presence. Almost.

Suzie, who simply could not resist this one time, mixed up a cocktail for him that is called the Corpse Reviver, but she did not tell him the name, only that it was something to help lift the spirits when you feel deadened. By life, of course. By Life.

For those of you who simply must know, we spare the Google search by saying the plain Corpse Reviver cocktail is a cognac-based cocktail, with two parts cognac, one part Calvados or equivalent apple brandy, and one part sweet vermouth. It is a family of cocktails with many variations. At the Old Same Place Bar the habit was to make it neat in a cocktail glass with equal parts gin, lemon juice, Cointreau, Kina Lillet, and a dash or two of absinthe from the local distillery. Suzie paused a moment before dumping a goodly half jigger of absinthe into the mixer.

So when Denby left the bar he was in fine fettle, feeling much better about the world and all his misfortunes. Officer O'Madhauen noticed this, for it was his habit to park kitty-corner from the bar on the small sidestreet, angling both for speeders and for DUI. He set his Crown Vic in gear in hopes that he would observe the man get into a car and attempt to drive, but Denby never had owned a car in his life, well briefly he owned a VW microbus he shared with Sandra, the Hippie, but she left him for a member of the Hells Angels and took the minibus with her only to have the transaxle break at the Tehachapi Divide on a sweltering day in August because she always wanted to paint her nails and snort cocaine rather than allow basic vehicle maintenance get in the way of having fun.

In any case Denby kept on walking unsteadily past several parked cars and clearly had no intention of allowing himself to be pulled over for DUI, so Officer O'Madhauen worked on the pedestrian error possibility of a ticket and so parked his own vehicle to watch for a jaywalking incident, but when it came time to cross, Denby stumbled on up to the crosswalk at Sherman Street, where O'Madhauen hoped for a crossing against the light violation. Denby stood there gazing upward and when the light changed, went ahead and ambled legally across, staring up into the sky.

At the next intersection, near the Forbidden Island bar, Denby paused and remained staring up at the sky. So Officer O'Madhauen set himself quickly into gear and drove up to park his black and white and leaning out the window, hoping for at least an intoxicated in public offense, asked if Denby had been drinking.

"Not a drop," Denby said. "I am a total teetotaler."

This dumbfounded the straightforward O'Madhauen. "I just saw you walk out of a bar. Don't deny it."

"Yes, I was delivering a message. I am a part time delivery boy. That is what I do." Denby paused. "I notice your shirt is not buttoned up all the way. In fact it looks buttoned up a bit askew. Have you taken anything, like painkillers or tranks?"

"I . . . nevermind. It's you walking around staring up at nothing we are concerned about. . . ".

"I was looking to see if there would be any more Super Moon like they have been talking about in the news. There is nothing wrong with that."

"Just do as I say and you won't get hurt," said the Officer.

"So you are going to kill me for jaywalking?"

"So you admit you were jaywalking. Ha!"

"Did you observe me jaywalking? I think I walked with the light. You know you really should fix your shirt buttons. They will not help your case."

"Nevermind all that, get out of your car . . . O for pete's sake skip that, put your hands on the hood and spread 'em!" Officer O'Madhauen said, opening his door and getting out of the cruiser while withdrawing his nightstick as curious onlookers peeped at this show from behind curtains.

"Um, whose hood? You'rs?" Denby began to realize he was in a dangerous situation in America. Do as I say and you will not be hurt, means, this encounter may very well mean that I will die for any imaginary infraction.

A call came in from dispatch that an armed robbery was in progress at the Chuckee Cheese on Webster with a 2921, firearm weapon present.

Officer O'Madhauen responded with "Suspected DUI in custody. Returning to Station."

The radio commanded him to let the DUI go and respond ASAP on code to Webster and provide backup. Meanwhile the led on the dashcam recording his interaction with Denby glowed bright red.

Officer O'Madhauen cursed in language that is typically not used at community pancake breakfasts with the Citizens and let Denby go with the warning, "I am gonna have my eye on you!", before racing off with all sirens blazing in answer to the the more serious call.

"Don't forget to fix your shirt!" Denby shouted.

Then came the eerie ululation of the throughpassing train from far across the water as it trundled from the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their sentry lights along First Street, letting its cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the former Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, its ghost-haunted, weedy railbed, its chainlink fence interstices until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off out of shadows on the edge of town past the old Ohlone shellmounds under the gaze of the haunted moon to parts unknown.

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


OCTOBER 19, 2014


This week's headline photo comes courtesy of Island-Lifer Tammy, who works during the day for one of the local Realtor companies (just so you all know we are not down on ALL Realtors and property management folks -- just the jerkoffs)

Any case she took this shot beside the door of a property as it was being shown.

Both Joan Osborne and Gwen Stefani have songs entitled Spider Web, BTW.


Before we get around to talking locally, lets pay homage to a true Bay Area Icon that is no more. By now most of you know the Bay Guardian abruptly ceased publication this Tuesday. In some far corners you could still find Vol. 49, No.3, October 15-21, which is the Best of the Bay issue, 40th iteration of that topic.

The 48-year-old newspaper had been on life support since founders and spouses Bruce Brugmann and Jean Dibble sold it to the San Francisco Media Co. in 2012. Like at just about every other print outlet around the country, revenue had fallen.

Many pundits had much to say about why and how the progressive media leader had closed its doors, but the truth can be summed up in the phrase, "The times they are a'changing."

For nearly half a century the free weekly paper led the fight for progressive ideals as well as free speech -- through its support of Project Censored -- but as technology allowed a drive toward instant news and any sort of writing available also for free via mobile devices, readership declined via attrition of the highly partisan Baby Boomers. The younger kids tend not to pickup a newspapers or magazines -- another media form heading for Tombstone Hill.

The sale of the paper to a corporate entity also hurt the paper's image.

For all that decline, there was little warning for the abrupt shutdown. According to SF Gate, "The end came in a hurry. Even before the public announcement was made, the newspaper’s website and Facebook page were shut down.

“We were told at 10 a.m. (Tuesday) that this issue would be our last. They shut down everything — our sites, our social media, our passkeys, right away,” said Steven T. Jones, the paper’s editor. “We’ve all been laid off, effective immediately. ... I need an escort to go to the bathroom and get back to the office to pack up my stuff.”

The decision was made by San Francisco Media Co., the parent company that bought it in 2012 from its founder, Bruce Brugmann. “It is the hardest decision I’ve had to make in my 20-year newspaper career,” the San Francisco Media Co.’s publisher, Glenn Zuehls, said in a statement.

Will Oremus, Technology Editor for Slate, a magazine with close affiliation to the former archrival SF Weekly, hinted in the changing nature of San Francisco itself as a main cause.

"Over the decades, though, the Guardian as an institution had come to stand for something more than just convenient concert listings, seamy classified ads, and snarky coverage of the local political scene. It was an embodiment of a certain vision of the city—a vision of San Francisco as a haven for artists, immigrants, eccentrics, hobos, bohos, gays and lesbians, and any extant members of that perennially endangered species, the local working-class family.

Today, as the city’s booming technology industry drives housing prices beyond the means of even the upper-middle class, that vision has begun to take on a sepia tone."

Oremus did conclude his article on a somewhat optimistic, if also somewhat wistful note.

"The saddest thing about the Guardian’s downfall is that the paper has faded from relevance at a time in San Francisco’s history when the high-flying tech sector is threatening to engulf everything about it that the Guardian and its loyal readers held dear. There is a backlash transpiring in the streets, on blogs, and in magazines. For once, the Guardian is not leading the charge."

According to Wickipedia, "The Bay Guardian was known for reporting, celebrating, and promoting left-wing and progressive issues within San Francisco and around the San Francisco Bay Area as a whole. This usually included muckraking, legislation to control and limit gentrification, and endorsement of political candidates and other laws and policies that fall within its political views. It also printed movie and music reviews, an annual nude beaches issue, and an annual sex issue."


Closer to home, please note that AMP is seeking comment during a Town Hall Meeting whose date has changed from October 21 to November 6 at the Free Library in the Regina Stafford Room.

Also note that radio station "The Bone" 107.7 will hold a Monster's Ball aboard the Hornet October 25th. Tix are $30 for General Admission. Call 521-8448, ext. 282 or visit

Here's a tip for those of you who dislike those roving scavengers entering your property to rifle the recycle bin: crushed cans, broken glass and crushed plastic bottles are just as useful to the professional waste management people, but the folks pushing stolen shopping carts will be turned away if they bring material in crushed condition.

ELECTIONS are coming up and we are filtering information so its not such a deluge. We covered Candidates and State Props last week. Here is what the League of Women Voters has to say about City Proposition I:

Measure I (the AUSD bond measure)
League of Women Voters of Alameda Votes to Support Measure I, AUSD Bond Measure to Upgrade Public School Facilities

(September 25, 2014, Alameda, CA) The League of Women Voters® of Alameda (LWVA) voted to support Measure I, the $179.5 million Alameda Local School Improvement Bond Measure, at its September 18, 2014, board meeting. The $179.5 million Alameda Unified School District bond issue is on the November 4 ballot.

Measure I will fund the specific new school facilities and upgrades throughout the Alameda Unified School District included in the district's Facilities Master Plan and Implementation Plan B. Measure I needs a 55% majority to pass, and includes requirements for citizen oversight and annual audits. (Bond funds cannot be used to pay for previous bonds or administrative salaries.)

For more information, read the press release or contact:

Kate Quick, LWVA Co-president
Karen Butter, LWVA Action Co-chair

You do know that tickets for Billy Idol at the Fox on February 15 went on sale Friday, don't you? Well you might not know that tickets for Richard Shindell at the Freight and Salvage Sunday November 16th went on sale. Singer/songwriter/guitarist Shindell lives in South America these days, and tends to make only rare trips to the West Coast, generally preferring his New Jersey birthplace for stateside concerts.

He does not play fancy, ornate guitar, but backs some of the best lyrics in the business with basic major chords. He never has been as flamboyant or controversial as Bob Dylan, but his work definitely ranks up there beside the Masters and CGP's in terms of complexity and social commitment. His bitter song about the breakup from hell, "Are You Happy Now" is probably the best Halloween-based tune out there.


So anyway, we enter the season when weird, unexplained stuff starts to happen. People who live in New York or Chicago or San Francisco see tiered people doing unexplainable things all the time, so they get jaded. In a small town like the Island, strange behavior stands out. Even reasonable behavior stands out to some people who have rigorous opinions.

Squirrels continue to go mad in the mornings

Meanwhile the Natural world continues about its business. The Canadian Geese have arrived, en route to Rio, leaving a squadron to remain here, for here is far enough. Hummingbirds take the last sips of what they can find from trumpet vine flowers and the bird-of-paradise fans out for one last brilliant orange and red hurrah before everything goes gloomy and gray. Squirrels continue to go mad in the mornings, like officeworkers who have taken in too much strong coffee -- chattering and digging frantic holes where nothing special resides. The raccoons trundle along the leaning pine up into the branches and the opossum scurries for things to store up, even though it is likely to be a dry winter here and all along Santa Clara the oaks turn burnt sienna, more out of duty and tradition than in response to any real change in temperature.

In the night, all around us in our sleep, "sorcery is burrowing its invisible tunnels in every direction, from thousands of senders to thousands of unsuspecting recipients. Spells are being cast, poison is running its course; souls are being dispossessed of parasitic pseudo consciousness that lurk in the unguarded recesses of the mind."

Most folks spent their days assembling extraordinary house and lawn displays for upcoming Halloween or madly stitching those costumes for the annual Fright Ball benefit held by the Native Sons of the Golden West which was held in their "parlor", the old hall down by the Marina.

a dead and rotting Ronald Reagan

Besides the usual feral female cats, a schooner's worth of pirates and assorted space aliens, the hall overflowed with a Mr. Hanky (that was Chris Lindberg, who held a devotion to the South Park television show), the Almeida family dressed as a bag of marshmallows, the Island-life Editor come as a dead and rotting Ronald Reagan, several members of Congress dripping with blood and looking a bit vampirish, four President Assads, a baker's dozen of hastily done DAESH fighter-thugs carrying scimitars, a plethora of medical workers in ebola hazmat suits, which made for drinking the punch through the respirator masks a dicey proposition, and at least one premature, but hopeful, Xmas present.

Tommy, dressed as a hamster and Toby, dressed as an elderberry bush got into an argument that started over the upcoming Midterm Elections. Toby had been pro-Teaparty and Tommy had been virulently for wholesale health care reform. Toby, a converted Log Cabin Republican since he had met Tommy, slammed down a pan of flan, which did not help the settling of that delicacy in the slightest.

"How can you possibly hold such a silly opinion! You are as silly as a ninny!" Toby said, which was quite hurtful. This segued into a heated discussion about Toby's relatives, who did not approve of Tommy, nor their "lifestyle."

"That's where you get your finicky, finicky, finicky sort of attitude about toothpaste! You are just like Uncle Albert!"

"Oh you think you are so . . . so neat! Well you!"

Lynette, dressed as a chimney sweep sat there nursing an unaccustomed Manhattan on the comfy chair while a hamster in the kitchen shouted at a weeping berry bush. She had gotten into a snit with Susan over Proposition 47(Sentence Reduction for minor drug offenses: Lynette for, Susan against because her brother had died of an heroin overdose).

He had gotten into a tiff with Mr. Hanky, the Xmas Poo

In an evening which had begun acrimoniously, and which showed signs of descending into atavistic savagery, Claude, visiting from New Mexico, managed to intake quite a bit of punch which somehow got him into the mood to breakdance, but all he could do was spin around on his back on the floor. He had gotten into a tiff with Mr. Hanky, the Xmas Poo a little earlier over a fight bet made well over forty years ago at The Embers in the City, and certain unpleasant memories had stirred up. Inside the large tootsie roll costume was Steve.

Clebia did not need to wear a costume

The two had been married to the same woman, although at different times, and now the woman was with neither man. When an otherwise distinguished professor of physics in his seventies dressed as a cockroach begins spinning around on his back in the livingroom, weeping all the while it makes for an ugly sight and Shanti, wearing an appropriate Arkin Pest Control outfit which looked rather fetching, began shouting at him while the Xmas Poo began knocking back these potent Brazilian cocktails made by Clebia, who actually comes from Brazil. Clebia did not need to wear a costume -- she wore what came naturally to any artistically-inclined woman from Brazil in a scheme of long flowing orange so that she resembled a tasty pumpkin. She, owning a B&B in the City, had opinions about the business tax that no one agreed with, but because she was well-bred and of fine character, she held aloof from the arguments.

The lovely Susanne, dressed like a figure from a Leonard Cohen song, observed the contention and found Occasional Quentin to engage in deep conversation, largely because he seemed like an harmless idiot -- which, in fact, he is -- and so they actually had a meaningful discussion about animal nature which touched upon ptarmigans, deer and hummingbirds. It was a kind of an oasis of sanity in that place rife with politics.

The health care debate drew in Doyle, dressed as a talus mountainside, Leonard, dressed as a dead distinguished author, Suan dressed in her stripper's outfit from the Crazy Horse, and Molly, who had come as a jungle cat. Although four people discussed the issues, they somehow came up with five different opinions, and this resulted in a fair amount of shouting and arm waving.

Rachel, from the Offices and dressed as a player for the Giant's began whacking Denby with her plastic baseball bat.

"Hey!" Denby said. "I'm apolitical!"

"I know, but this is fun!" She kept hitting him over the head until Karen ran up and tackled her and the three of them went down in a heap that toppled Carol coming in from the kitchen.

"Hey! The canapés!"

The canapés went flying all over which much pleased Bonkers, Godzilla and Fruitbat who ran about gobbling up the olives with all their tails wagging, save for Fruitbat, who is a cat that sometimes possesses decorum exceeding those of his captive humans.

Helen, dressed as a Sans Culottes revolutionary tripped over Fruitbat's leash and crashed into everybody just as they were getting up.

So of course they all went down again in a pile.

A thud reverberated as Nancy, dressed as Scottish castle lost her footing on the olives and cream cheese. "Ow!" She said. "This all comes from liberals and their lack of discipline!"

"For some reason this reminds me of Beckett," Denby said.

"Idiot!" Rachel said with energy. "Shut up!"

Marlene appeared among them, dressed as a zombie and pleaded, "Please, for goodness sake and goodness sake and goodness sake, stop your infernal bickering and enjoy yourselves! Maureen has gone to all this trouble to make this food for us and Greg and Stacy, the newlyweds."

Andre, her bedmate, also costumed as a zombie, tugged on his lip piercings.

There was a brief pause before someone asked Marlene about the change to the vote requirement to pass the annual budget and she unwisely deferred a response. This resulted in a fresh round of arguing and bickering and breaking of glass.

This of course got our pair of punks in a dither, and so two zombies started shouting "eff you!" at each other with ratcheting enthusiasm, but since they always said that to each other, few paid any attention in the general disarray.

Things really began to decay with long-term hatreds and grudges coming up. "I should have left you in the ditch," Graham, dressed as a 17th Century British Aristocrat with a walking cane, shouted down at Claude, who paused in his spinning.

"What? You mean in 1969? And left little David in the back!" Claude said, quite hurt.

Little David, now forty-something man with a family of his own, stood there in his sailor suit and began singing the lyrics to a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta and adding little gracenote lyrics of his own. Oom-papa oom-papa. . .

Graham's wife, dressed as Marie Antoinette, reminded him that it was he, Graham, who had supplied the Purple Windowpane to Claude that day.

Quentin, trying to be nice, managed to resurrect an half dozen painful memories and insult Graham six times until the poor man started to weep until he joined the Poo in tossing down several stiff ones in succession. Laurie, dressed as a bodybuilder, offered to break Quentin's arms. "He's an idiot," blubbered Graham. This made Quentin start to cry and Susanne threw her arms up in exasperation.

"Oom-papa, Oom-papa", went David, trying to get his dad to collect himself.

O the air was heavy with History and Politics and family dynamics.

The door was open and a girl, about eight or nine walked in. She was barefoot and wearing what looked like an old-fashioned nightgown with a Peter Pan collar and her dark eyes were very large. The time had just passed midnight.

The girl walked up to Lynette through the crowd and stood in front of the woman. This is what she said.

"Please tell them to stop. I can't rest. Please. It hurts."

An odd chill filled the room

Well, of course. Late hour. Neighbors and all. It was a wonder no one had called the cops. Poor child, trying to sleep. Seeing this situation, Susan walked over to stand there and block any more cockroach gyrations and Claude came abruptly to a halt with his eyes staring wildly up at the ceiling. Susan told Shanti to be quiet while Lynette went into the kitchen to intervene between the hamster and the elderberry bush. An odd chill filled the room as a sense of shame filled all of them. Keeping this girl awake with their arguing about nothing, about silliness.

The little girl looked somehow familiar, with her dark hair tumbling down in sleepy curls, as if she evoked something seen on a poster or the side of milk carton. She stood there, holding the most serious expression on her face, then turned and walked out of the door, down the steps and over the breakwater down to the beach with the full moon lighting everything up quite clearly.

"Good god! She's going in!" Someone shouted.

With the terrible events of the Memorial Day Raymond Zack drowning still on everyone's minds those who could ran down to the beach. Officer O'Madhauen had stripped to his skivvies and gotten up to his knees in the water before he halted, brought up short by the sight.

There, the little girl kept on going out over the mudflats exposed by the low tide, then over the top of the gentle swells, and glimmering faintly as if lit within by a candle, continued to walk on the surface of the water out into the middle of the Bay and there vanished as all of them stood there, watching.

"Effing A!" said Andre. Everyone else was as quiet as the grave.

At the Sanchez's, the former Ms. Morales and Mr. Sanchez were gathering up everything after a night of door-knocks and trick-or-treats, for their house was known as a "safe house" as Ms. Morales was still a schoolteacher at Longfellow. The procession of goblins, ghosts, witches, pirates, hoboes and Cindarellas had dwindled down to the occasional teen who would show up with a bag and hardly any costume, gone too old to seriously take costume seriously and not gotten old enough to appreciate it for the fantasy. Mr. Sanchez handled those cases with a stern talking-to and the teens left chastened to go forward with the necessary rituals of teenage activity in America.

Mr. Sanchez had bought the house from the executors of the estate of Mr. and Mrs. Strife, the same parents who had produced Pimenta Strife, who even now was recovering from the effects of too much nitrous inhaled at the Exotic Erotic Ball in the City.

It should be hardly no surprise how Pimenta turned out, for her parents spent much of their waking hours justifying their family name. Sarah Strife had been a Blue Dog Democrat and her husband, Sam Strife had been a rock-rib Republican who made Eisenhower look liberal. Where she was fiercely jealous, he was fiercely possessive. There's was not a marriage made in Heaven or Hell so much as the Plain of Discord.

he came back from Korea with a fire in his loins

If he was hot, wanting the windows open, she wanted them closed on account of her thyroid. If she wanted ornate French furniture, he wanted Amish simplicity. If she was Lutheran, he was Catholic. She was analog; he was digital. Both rebelled against their upbringing to arrive in opposite directions and cross-purposes. No one could ever figure out how the two had ever gotten together in the first place. Truth was, he came back from Korea with a fire in his loins and a mindset about that for which people and women were intended and he definitely made a distinction between the two.

She, for her part, had delved into the Beats, had absorbed the latest thought by the Feminists and had come to the conclusion that the way to resolve the Male Problem was to seize the bull by its horns, so to speak. Extremely metaphorically.

So, some three months pregnant, she had married him -- as there were few practical options in the 1950's on the Island, which always remained a decade or more behind the rest of the country -- and so they found themselves with the one factor in common of guilt, for Guilt is the one thing that Catholics and Lutherans and Jews all share. Possibly Moslems as well, which would be indicative of how we all are, really, in relation to one another.

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

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

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

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

Now, every time there is a full moon, or a high tide, or unusual weather, Mr. Sanchez and the former Ms. Morales can hear these footsteps up above, angry murmurs in the hallway, doors slamming, and this eternal bickering, this sniping and carping and accusation which likely will pursue the former couple down through eternity for that appears to be their fate.

While outside, unplugging the inflatable spider, Ms. Morales looks up and can see the shadow figures of two people shouting at one another and these figures are standing in her own bedroom with the lamplight on, their shadows gesticulating on the curtains.

"Strife people, go away. In the name of god, please go to sleep. This is no longer your place now. Please let us be and go to where you need to go. Leave us in peace."

Suddenly, just like that, the lights went out and all was quiet. But she knew this simple exorcism would not be enough and they would be back again.

Then came the ululation of the throughpassing train from far across the water as it trundled from the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their sentry lights along First Street, letting its cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the former Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, its ghost-haunted, weedy railbed, its chainlink fence interstices until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off out of shadows on the edge of town past the old Ohlone shellmounds under the gaze of the haunted moon to parts unknown.

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


OCTOBER 12, 2014


This week the headline photo comes from the gal who staffs the Social Events Desk, Sharon, and is of one of the Power boxes which has been used as a canvas by artists commissioned by the Island power utility (AMP).

We're not sure what it means, but we like it.

Here is another one, located behind the BofA parking lot off Santa Clara


In one of the weirder front page items in the Sun this week, we noted that the family of the man shot and killed by an off-duty sheriff while attempting an armed robbery at the Bonfare Market on High Street is suing for wrongful death. On July 18, 2013 Leroy Brown and Marc Traylor entered the market, wearing masks and with guns drawn, The off-duty officer, reading a magazine at the time shot both men, killing Brown and wounding Traylor who fled. Traylor was apprehended after going to the hospital for treatment of his wounds.

Now we know that the cops have been overeager to resort to deadly force in some places, but this lawsuit would take the cake for laughability had not somebody died acting violently stupid.

Halloween is coming up, so book your gigs now. Extra Action Marching Band will be at the New Parish on San Pablo to help get through that night with a bit of horns and a lot of horniness.

Remember the Gin Blossoms? They are still around and will be doing Yoshi's East on Thursday.

Ray Lamontagne is coming to the Fox on Tuesday to explain how he was saved by a "Kind Woman".

We heard Four Year Bender is going to be coming to a venue around here. We strongly suggest checking them out, as these guys put on a party so fun that when you wake up you will have no idea in whose house you left your pants.

Okay, the midterm elections are up for grabs. Looking at the candidates and how polarized we all are, making recommendations seems pretty fruitless. Both Richmond and the Island will be looking to select Mayors. The races for Assembly and for Congress pretty much come down to either Democrat or Republican without a lot of contention. People would be foolish not to vote Barbara Lee back in for the 13th District, which is pretty much all we have to say about it save that Ms. Lee appears to be capable, attentive, and feisty enough for the job along with possessing boatloads of integrity.

Rob Bonta is using his Council position here as a lilypad for Assembly, which feels a bit like relentless careerism, but then you don't want a milquetoast in Sacramento being mauled by those savages. It seems pretty clear from past campaigns that the Party has its eye on him and he is being groomed for something. If that is what you want, then okay. He could not be any worse than that fellow who styled his manner a la Tony Soprano and who left office during the last elections. You know who we are talking about.

The EBX is all about Oaktown, but they ran a special piece on our Island, focussing on the development issues that will chart the course of the Island for the next half century. The EBX is correct in the assumption that pro or anti development sentiment "likely will determine the outcome of the election." (East Bay Express, October 8-14, 2014, page 14, It's all about the Point, by Steven Tavares)

Starting right off, we have our incumbent, Marie Gilmore strongly backing the development of the Point, while her opponent, Trish Spencer "adamantly opposes the proposed large development" which will feature more than 1,400 new homes.

Stewart Chen and Jim Oddie both support the Mayor's position, whereas former Councilmember, Frank Matarrese has revised his position and is now against the current proposal.

Just about all the candidates are waffling on the rent control thing, probably realizing the anger about the obscene rent situation is not yet enough to counteract the dollars held by more affluent property owners.

In propositions, we note that the city measure that dealt with the McKay Avenue fiasco does not appear, probably because of the Council's short-circuit of that process by levering a lawsuit against the GSA.

PROP 1: Water Bond - this was recently added while Prop 43 was removed. This one attempts to resolve the Golden State's water woes by raising $7.5 billion dollars -- we can hear the Tea Partiers gnashing there teeth over the sound of that one! But seriously, $2.7 billion of the money looks to be earmarked for "water storage", which means humongeous dams. Well, this sounds pretty much like an expensive kick the can down the road. We need more complex solutions to a number of problems that are all causing the water issues exacerbated by the current drought. We suggest you vote NO.

PROP 2: State budget stabilization account - basically creates a "rainy day" account over time. There is some claim that this will reduce reserves funding for schools. Various versions of this one have cropped up in past elections, but most of them were written by strident Tea Bagger types, and included all sorts of cumbersome limits under the guise of "fiscal responsibility." This one feel more like common sense. Bay Guardian says YES and so do we.

PROP 45: Healthcare Insurance rate changes to be approved by the Insurance Commissioner. This one is odd, as rates must now be approved by a newly created independent commission which has not had time yet to demonstrate any inadequacy. The Insurance Commissioner is an elected executive office position in California. The current position is held by Democrat Dave Jones. Nevertheless we see that the parties in favor include Consumer Watchdog and the California Nurses Association. This one bears looking into deeper but we give it a tentative YES, largely because it also requires public disclosure and hearings on rate changes.

PROP 46: Drug testing of doctors combined with increase in negligence fines. This is another one of those things that has a seemingly good idea combined with a questionable one, albeit probably not that bad for the average person as it stands. Nobody should seriously be against drug testing for physicians -- we thought that was already common practice. Raising the cap on medical malpractice from 250,000 to $1.1 million probably IS driven by lawyer greed -- all doctors must now carry liability insurance in excess of one million, so the payout is not likely to be slow if set by a judge, and it is unlikely that doctors will leave due to higher premiums as they pay it already. What might happen is a stiffer opposition on the part of organizational entities to shooting for a bargained arrangement or just writing the check to avoid the costs of litigation. We would have to say NO on this one. The two items need to be broken apart and voted on separately. The Bay Guardian says stop hating on doctors, for pete's sake. Has this really ever been a problem?

PROP 47:This Initiative revises the sentence from felony to misdemeanor for minor drug and property offenses. Does not apply to individuals with priors or to registered sex offenders. Given that Governor Brown, who is likely to be reelected, stated a while ago that a goal was to reduced the prison population, we think this is one relatively safe way to cut down the numbers given that nothing will be perfect. The Initiative is stated by the State Controller to have a likely savings in the hundreds of millions of dollars each year. The State Police Chiefs Assoc. does not like the liberation of 10,000 felons with understandable concern, however you just cannot put everybody in prison you distrust. We say YES.

PROP 48: This one approves tribal gaming compacts with the North Forth Rancheria of Mono tribes and the Wiyot Tribe. Con arguments worry that a plethora of casinos will appear right in your backyard next to your church. Seems paranoid. We say vote YES. This mostly affects Madura County and environs anyway, where there is plenty of room to plop another casino without problems and will create thousands of jobs in that area of California which really could use the work.


So anyway, the weather is getting finally into the schizo realm of what used to be called "Indian Summer", but which latterly features 80 degrees alternating with cool overcast nights and mornings. Meanwhile we had one of the last Supermoons visit us Wednesday around 4 AM. This full moon was accompanied by an eclipse, caused by the shadow of the earth somewhat blocking the light of the sun and causing a blood-red appearance.

Few persons are awake at that hour. Mothers with newborns. IT personnel tending the quietly humming machines. Fishermen. Some construction workers and factory employees. And devotees of Wicca, who always get up or stay up for such momentous events, as only they seem to appreciate the large quality of what goes on.

Pedro was motoring out to the lanes when the moon quietly shifted to red and he stilled the engines and paused to gaze up at the apparition the moon had become. Ferryboat, learning the ropes and adapting to the sea as a new seadog sat there, awaiting instruction on the placid swell. The sea all around the boat dimmed and took on a strange magenta cast during the eclipse. Strange birds from Africa took refuge in the rigging. Sailfish leapt from the water and glided for yards before diving down again.

The radio preacher said that Pastor Liz had taken up lodging down by the lake, which meant she had given up her bizarre foray into the Byzantine and had returned home to her people. Home to the place where she had always belonged.

And it was odd hearing this homey declaration while something so strange and beautiful was happening in the world.

Officer O'Madhauen, parked down by the old brick DelMonte cannery building, soon to be rehabbed into fancy apartments for people who make more money than you and I, observed with his Styrofoam coffee in hand the moon rise and change color with his mouth open the entire time, agape and wondering, especially as no traffic headed down that road at all. For in fact, all the scofflaws and red-light runners had drifted their engines to the side at that hour to watch the Supermoon go through its changes.

The moon is a powerful influence upon our lives and the Moon Goddess has always, down through the ages, always been someone with which you do not want to trifle. Toni Savage gathered with her coven down by Crab Cove at the usual meeting spot and there many spells were cast and much disputation was put to test, until, ultimately, at the appointed hour there they stood, all in a circle with their candles and their robes while the moon rose majestically, owning all of this frippery and pretense and the members of the coven stood in awe, each bathed in a blood-red hue. For this we worship and do what we do.

When the moon began to change, Fey almost ruined the mood by running to get her camera, while Susan tried to take pictures with her iPhone.

O, for pete's sake, said Toni, when the flash went off. Put that thing away. It's koyanniskaatsi!

Davidka, head sorceress, got everyone into a circle and had them Om the moon, Om being the universal sound of harmony.

Down by Lincoln Park the Man from Minot was taking a walk back from the Old Same Place Bar when he encountered Pimenta Strife dressed in a robe and they paused together to observe the lunar changes. At one point Pimenta dropped her robe, revealing that she was naked underneath. The Man from Minot had to say afterwards that what resulted was one of the best nights of his life.

Senor Erizo was observing the moon, as was his wont, when his den mate emerged to also watch the events unfold.

"Alors! La lune est rouge et tres belle ce soir! she said.

"Sí, ella es hermosa," said the Don.

As was their habit, Don Guadalupe Erizo spoke in his native Spanish and Madame Herisson spoke in French. As the wise man knows, these creatures understand all the languages of the world, but seldom speak to humans for fear of being misunderstood. And of course the wise man also knows that men and women always seem to speak entirely different languages at one another.

"Elle doit être grande pour être un philosophe et contempler la beauté du monde." (It must be grand to be a philosopher and contemplate the beauty of the world.) she said.

"Miro la luna y las estrellas", he said. (I look at the moon and the stars).

"C'est merveilleux tout de même. Tu regarderas, la nuit, les étoiles.." (It is wonderful all the same. To observe the night, the stars)

"No es nada especial. Todas las personas tienen las estrellas", the Don said simply. (It is nothing special. Everyone has the stars.)

"Les gens ont des étoiles qui ne sont pas les mêmes." she said. (All people have the stars, but it's not the same for everyone.)Then she continued, "Pour les uns, qui voyagent, les étoiles sont des guides. Pour d’autres elles ne sont rien que de petites lumières. Pour d’autres qui sont savants elles sont des problèmes. Pour la businessman elles étaient de l’or. Mais toutes ces étoiles-là elles se taisent. Toi, tu ont des étoiles comme personne n’en...".

"Ah, Ah , mon cher , mon bien-aimé," said the Don, quite out of character. "Je crois que tu est le Philosophe ici." (I believe you are the philosopher here.)

"Ah!" (O!) and she blushed as much as any self-possessed hedghog can. Then she snuggled up to the Don, who permitted this rare affection, because this blood moon was a rare event indeed.

Marlene awoke as the moon's radiance limned her window, Andre slumbering deep beside her. She stroked his forehead, knowing the pain he had gone through with his abusive father and his drug-addled mother. Marlene suffered from insomnia -- indeed from what she had suffered herself, she sometimes feared to slide back into the repetitious world of nightmares -- and so she watched the lunar changes begin. As the moon hung full and swollen at the main stage of the eclipse, she whispered, "Will we ever be happy again?" And then the moon glided quietly through the hours back again to its bright, shining face. Then, the girl lay back down and slept without dreams, or dreams of walking through meadows thronging with hummingbirds.

Over at Mr. Howitzer's, the landowner threw a moon party, but everyone got so drunk on the gin rickeys tossed up by Dodd that they all fell fast asleep, including Mr. Howitzer, who snored loudly in his reclining easy chair, leaving Dodd to pick up trash and clean the place of upchuck before driving home to see the moon turn blood red through his car windows down by the Strand. He pulled over and watched the whole thing, standing and leaning against his battered 1977 Volvo, feeling the Bay breeze waft over the shallows and tousel the hair he had left to him. He got back into his car, saying to the moon, "Well done. Quite right," and then drove home to the missus and his warm bed.

Musicians -- and artists in general -- keep different hours than the rest of humanity, so that is why Denby puttered around, up and about, doing the odd chore while dressed in his underwear and wearing his newsboy cap so as to govern his unruly head of hair. He was cleaning the tub when a splash got on him which made him take off the undershorts.

The bathroom faced southeast and so when the moon began to change, a strange color filled the window. Denby turned off the light to see it was much brighter outside, so he stepped out of the bathroom and out onto the third floor landing to observe the moon going through something interesting. He heard a click behind him and discovered that the door had closed and locked behind him and so there he was on the third floor above the street. Figuring he might be able to scoot along at this hour the second floor and then up the stairs undetected to his apartment, which he was sure he had left unlocked, he descended to find the second floor fire-escape also closed and locked. It was never closed and locked, especially during the recent heat wave. Someone always propped it open with a brick, but there the brick lay, somnolent and innocent on the landing right in front of the locked door.

O yes, there had been burgluries in the neighborhood recently. Hot prowls resulting in terrible things being done to elderly people. So someone had closed and locked the door and there Denby stood, stark naked save for flip-flops and a hat.

He heard a sound coming down the alley -- It was Linda Wooten, an RN coming off shift from Highland Hospital, returning home.

"Uh, ma'am excuse me, but uh . . .".

The girl started in fear and looked up.

"Um do you have like a bobby pin? I am locked out."

The girl looked down and then looked back up again at Denby, who was holding the footmat in front of him. It was a small footmat.

"Well, um, I have a lab coat and some paperclips," said Linda. "I think the lab coat would be a good idea."

She balled up the coat and threw it up as high as she could. It opened and fluttered down to the first landing, so Denby descended with many apologies, carrying the footmat. He retrieved the coat and the paperclips with many thanks.

"No problem," said Linda. "By the way, nice hat."

Denby thanked her again.

"You can keep the coat." Linda said. And she walked on down the alley, her heels clacking upon the stones.

Denby found someone had placed a key under the first floor landing footmat, which got him in and he hung the lab coat by the door, wondering how on earth in what manner would he ever be able to return it.

And so the night passed quietly into morning, drifting on a sea of peace and wonder and no one got shot and no one got stabbed.

Then came the ululation of the throughpassing train from far across the water as it trundled from the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their sentry lights along First Street, letting its cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the former Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, its ghost-haunted, weedy railbed, its chainlink fence interstices until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off out of shadows on the edge of town past the old Ohlone shellmounds under the gaze of the Supermoon to parts unknown.

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


OCTOBER 5, 2014


October has arrived and with it the onset of our favorite holiday. Here an early installation of some seasonal decor found on a side street near Park.

Well, maybe he looks more impressive at night. . . .


Lots of events took place all around the Bay this weekend as we wilted collectively under a late year heat wave. Temps along the coast spiked into the 90's while inland saw triple digit lunatic weather.

Oaktoberfest took place in the Dimond District of Oaktown on Saturday. There was food, live music, and of course, barrels of craft brewery suds. Music kicked off, of course, with the tuba-infused oompah Bavarian stuff but Pete Escovedo's Latin Ensemble reminded everyone why the Deutschen have this sensucht nach 'm Suden -- the yearning for southern passion.

Another beer event took place down in San Leandro where the music ranged from punk to afro-world beats.

Over in Babylon, at the newly named Hellman meadows, the HSBF took place with the usual suspects. Steve Earle appeared with his son on stage, making it a true family event. Local boys Chris Isaak and Peter Rowan showed up. Didn't read the program in detail, so we missed Chris Smither, who generally puts on a thoroughly engaging performance.

Once again, the seemingly ageless Emmylou Harris wound things up on the Banjo Stage, although a couple acts came on close to dark around 6pm, apparently to ease the congestion cause by half a million people leaving the park at once.

Adding to the jollies we had First Fridays, which the City and the Art Galleries are trying to tone down from the raucous circus it became. PHOTO, however, remained stalwart in hosting its Open Portfolio Night, showcasing Mitsu Yoshikawa, Yelena Zhavoronkova and Christine Federici on Friday. SLATE has shifted its events to the middle of the month (3rd Thursdays).

On the Island we have Autobody, renamed from its renaming to Popups back to the original name, introducing new work by Jamie Banes and Silive Lukacova.

The controversial, and feisty, Lorde kicked off the weekend here at the Fox on Friday night. Coming to the Fox October 14th the New Orleans gent Ray Lamontagne (Kind Woman) should bring some stylish bluesy stuff worth checking out.

Yoshi's on the warmer side of the Bay will host Roy Rogers with the DRK October 12, which is not a bad way to spend a Sunday evening. Sadly, no Norton Buffalo, who passed away last year due to cancer. Leon Russell follows up on the 21st at the same venue.

Not too early to line up your NYE gig. Flaming Lips, always a bit over the top, are celebrating not one, but two nights of NYE at the Warfield.

In the absence of Jerry, the space at Bill Graham Civic will be given over to one of those canned music rave things. Maybe they may have some live stuff. The night is billed thematically as Sea of Dreams.

Also copping to the ecstasy crowd that is into light shows with "beats" will be the Oracle Arena.

There will be a full lunar eclipse on Wednesday night, visible to stateside folks as a "Blood Moon". Since this is the year of Supermoons, the effect should be dramatic. Cloudless days and nights are forecast for this week.


So anyway, now comes the season when frightful things stalk the public byways. Things like hideous ghouls, zombies, bloodsucking vampires, Frankensteins and golems. That's right, its Election Time again!

The midterm pamphlets have been sent out by ROV and here in California we will be choosing the Governor, either Jerry Brown to continue or GOP Neel Kashikari, an individual whom nobody knows or has ever seen, in fact.

Along with Governor, the usual raft of suspect officers need to be either approved or replaced. While Barbara Lee is up for reelection against Republican Dakin Sundeen, also a non-career politician like Kashikari, we see that our Islander Rob Bonta is aiming for 18th District State Assembly in a clear career move up from the Hospital LAFCO board, to City Councilperson and now this. He is up against David Erlich, a professional electrician.

We will talk about these candidates as well as the Propositions, which include a State Constitution amendment, a bit later.

Mainly we want to talk about the Bay Area's favorite Holiday, the several week period of hard parties, fantasy role play, dressing up in costumes, jumping up and down, bounding exuberance, raw sex, and sheer fun called in some places Halloween. There is so much fun going on around here, there is something even for children to enjoy.

And of course the annual search for the most sincere pumpkin patch in the world.

Eugene has been polishing up his special gleaming weapon, the Bowser Boffer, for some of you know what very special holiday event follows in the next month on this Island.

Ah, Tradition.

In the meantime the occasional pistol crack and submachinegun rattle signify only the occasional traffic altercation on the freeway or family dispute in Oaktown being resolved in the usual way of Northern California in this post Grunge, post punk, post Hippie era -- we kill one another.

This kind of thing certainly is at odds with the image of what Babylon would like to present to the world: a region of happy, smiley people practicing yoga and swimming to work each day, like in a Kliban cartoon. But, you know, the marketing people over there on California Street happen to be the best in the world and so no one suspects that within the bright beating shining heart of Babylon resides a cold, rotten core of selfish Republicanism eager to inflict the Ellis Act at every opportunity.

As a result of this, scads of artists are fleeing Babylon to come here to the Island, where arrogant privilege remains verbal in the confident face of certain obscene rent increases that will definitively drive out the riffraff born here.

Nevertheless something remains of NorCal which is peculiar, offbeat, strange and worthy of preservation. Good people still live here -- isolated and beset for certain, but they do exist.

In any case, Larry Larch, who is director of the nonprofit Pushy People Anonymous won some sort of award from his old highschool in his hometown of La Mirada and so he paid a visit out there to give a talk, supposedly as the main speaker at the 30th reunion dinner. He did not have a good way of getting there, as the BART does not go down so far and nowadays the bus system had gotten physically dangerous. His own car, a 1977 Volvo remained in the shop. So he hooked up with Pahrump who owned a scooter and had an extra helmet.

When asked if he had any protective clothing for riding a scooter, he had to admit that all he had were suits from the Mens Wearhouse and flip-flops for footgear, so Pahrump dug around to come up with a pair of leather pants that glowed lavender and Martini supplied a set of Doc Martins for the ride.

Now it may surprise some people to discover that California is no different, really, from most of the United States. There are a few unusual cities that capture all of the press, all of the attention, and indeed, it is the business of those particular cities to do just that to make money.

But California was settled by unruly people of no special intellectual development more interested in escaping the 9-5 office job than anything else. Bands of Okies followed the dissatisfied Mormons and 49'ers from heartland farms to make these small towns that populate the California landscape. In truth, most of California, in terms of land mass, is no different than any rural scape in Illinois, Iowa, or Minnesota. The farmers of Modesto would be in perfect agreement with the farmers of Lincoln Nebraska. Within the scope of the Bay Area metropolis, home to some nine million people, and the scope of the LA basin, home to 35 million, there lives a different sort of culture. Outside these two areas, you find small towns such as you would find anywhere.

From such a town came Larry Larch.

When Larry and Pahrump arrived in La Mirada off of Route 5, with a few jaunts on arterials to left and right, they stopped at a cafe to take stock of things and check the maps, because in the intervening years since Larry had left, all the landmarks had changed, and the man there wanted to know if they were rock stars on account of their clothing and clear presentment as to not being from anywhere near there.

Pahrump, a Native American, was used to this sort of thing, but Larry had to go an invent a fictional rock band called the "DC MonkeySpankers", and this seemed to satisfy the man who promised to look for their gigs in the local paper.

When they got to the Welder's Union Hall, where the dinner was being held, Larry had to pay $30 to get Pahrump in there, despite supposedly being the guest of honor. They sat down at a table and Larry looked around at all the people who had survived the past 30 years and thought about what he would say about becoming the successful entrepreneur of Pushy People Anonymous, realizing that his high school experiences had provided much of the impetus to found an organization that tries to ameliorate or kibosh pushiness -- but not in a good way. There was Frank Fetta, a still chubby, boyish fellow who desired to become a Mafia kingpin, and had started off by threatening people and treating his sidekick, Nils, like dirt. He had pulled a gun out of a hall locker, telling Larry he better not ask the girl named Vicki to the Homecoming Dance.

Over there was Sandra Bollox, a brassy redhead who had acquired quite the romantic reputation, but who had laughed in his face before turning on her heel after he had helped clean up her Chihuahua's mess at another school dance.

Larry, understandably, pretty much stopped going to high school dances after his sophomore year and skipped on the Prom.

There was Bob Pettit, still a used car salesman after all these years, who had sold Larry his first car for $1000 -- a substantially inactive Pinto which Bob had furnished by spray painting the engine black, draining the oil so as to hide the leaks and turned the odometer back with a hand drill. Fortunately the head blew fairly early as the brakes were worn to the base metal, which had, in turn, gouged the rotors and drums.

Pahrump was over by the punch bowl when Sandra came up to him and said, "Are you a real Indian? How, Chief!" And she put the palm of her hand up to her mouth and went, "Wooo wooo wooo!" imitating a 50's era Oater Native American. Pahrump walked away.

One after another Larry ticked off the reasons which had driven him to establish his business hundreds of miles from this place. He turned to Pahrump and said, "Let's get out of here."

The two of them walked out and down the road to the Dew Drop In bar and each of them had a Fat Tire and a bump.

"They made me what I am today," Larry said. "They are all bullies and I hate them." A large portion of Larry's business involved providing, in addition to group therapy, highly trained service dogs that would respond to pushy behavior and obnoxiousness by biting the owners, who had been enrolled by family and close associates.

Then they got on Pahrump's scooter and drove through the little town where Larry had grown up. They drove past the new Library center and they drove past the park where Larry had first kissed a girl named Heidi and they drove to the old high school where Larry stood at the chain link fence looking for a while at the buildings, not saying anything. Then they got on Pahrump's scooter and drove the long way home.

Back on the Island, Rev. Howler, of the Adelphian Iglesia del Luz de los Cajóns de Estacionamiento del Mundo, was in fine dramatic form on the subject of parking place seizures and how in the Kingdom of Heaven that was immanent there would be room for the cars of the Elect, who would all drive massive SUV's while those ignominious damned would be sentenced to driving unairconditioned two-door Toyotas endlessly in circles around a city office building, searching for an open spot.

In the Old Same Place Bar Tipitina was complaining about her boss to Suzie, who listened patiently behind the bar to how she was being abused at the firm of Jack Sparrow and Partners. Seems her boss, Tim Pircey, had arbitrarily shifted her working hours to suit his own comfort level, had demanded that Tipitina fly regularly to San Diego -- on her own credit card -- and had demanded all flights be economy class. Accounting had changed the expense report from a simple spreadsheet to a cumbersome two page macro-enabled document that took hours to complete. In addition, the filing room where Tipitina spent most of her time was a stifling, hot, unairconditioned space that took the full force of the sun through a skylight that had no view. The temperature in there rose well into the nineties.

The Man from Minot overheard all this and said, each age has its own label to match the characteristics of the characters that define the times. We saw the Sixties as a time of people coming together so it was called the "We Generation." What followed was the more self-involved period we call the "Me Generation". Then came the Reaganites and the Neo-cons with the "I Got Mine Generation." Of course we blipped through the Clinton time to a time when lack of intelligence, exalted ignorance, touted incompetence, and imbecility governed the land: The Age of the Moron. Nowadays we have a new spirit determined largely by disappointment, violence, obnoxiousness, over-the-top violations of personal space, pushiness, and rude behavior where Larry Larch's PPA is in high demand. Voila! Welcome to The Age of the A-hole. That is the time in which we now live.

They all sat there for a moment considering these truths.

The reverie was broken by the ululation of the throughpassing train from far across the water as it trundled from the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their sentry lights along First Street, letting its cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the former Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, its ghost-haunted, weedy railbed, its chainlink fence interstices until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off out of shadows on the edge of town past the old Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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

SEPTEMBER 28, 2014


This week we have an image of the cuttlefish graffiti that for a while deluged the surfaces of Babylon across the water. This image was taken on the entrance to the Fruitvale Bridge, but over in Babylon this image appeared on curbstones, firehydrants, and just about every flat surface imaginable, all without the main artist ever being captured on film. Then, quite suddenly, all images over there began to vanish without being replaced.

Could it be our cuttlefish expert got ousted by the evil Ellis Act depredations going on across the water and had to come here?

We shall see. No one knows, but the Shadow knows.


The Angry Elf gang got busy Sunday morning, sending out a couple of thugs to make a number of people's lives really miserable in burning them out of house and home and business. Two members of the Taikeff gang set over 8 fires within a seven block radius, with most of the early fires starting around 1:30 am set in a classic distraction pattern in trash barrels to put off the fire department before the thugs torched a car in an alley behind Angela's Restaurant and Brite Cleaners, causing a conflagration that destroyed five businesses as well as the upstairs apartment from where two inhabitants narrowly escaped with their lives.

Another couple on the 1100 block of Regent Street fled their home when one of the trash barrel fires leapt to the house structure, resulting in a total of four people left homeless.

At 2:22 a.m., on the 2200 block of San Antonio Avenue, a two-story Victorian home that was converted into a duplex was torched.

Francisco Rodriguez was working while his four kids, the oldest age 13, were sleeping in the rear unit of the duplex. Everyone got out safely, but the home was a total loss.

The owners of Angela's had put their entire life savings into renovating the new restaurant and had not gotten around to purchasing insurance and so the Zafari family is totally wiped out financially by the disaster perpetrated by this extortion gang.

Ten minutes later, firefighters put out a burning car in the garage of a home on the 1000 block of Willow Street, and, at 3:29 a.m., crews squelched a fire in a garbage can next to an apartment on the 2200 block of Encinal Avenue, Colburn said.

For most of Sunday Park Street was blocked off between Santa Clara and Buena Vista, with only pedestrian and bicycle traffic allowed through the crime zone.

Surveillance video of a neighboring business on Park caught images of the stooges employed for the arson and so the prime suspects were apprehended within a few hours.

These fires come on the heels of several fires AFD fought last weekend, making all of us wonder just what the heck is going on.

Speaking of what's going on, anyone notice the armies of Asian ragpickers combing through the trashbins lately. Also notice that many of them now use stolen shopping carts to truck their pilferage? Also notice that these folks are blithely crossing property lines, entering gates, climbing over walls strolling down drives to backyards to harvest their recycleables? Which of course is stealing from the waste management folks but all of you can afford to pay more for pickup anyway, so its all good. Or is it?

Seems what was borderline has become acceptable, and even more than acceptable. Now these characters have regular routes they pursue each day and each week. And of course none of you minds paying a bit more at the grocery for the theft of several hundred $200 shopping carts. After all, most of you dine on lobster and tri tip and filet mignon every night, so your grocery bill is nothing.

What seems to be a victimless crime is far from victimless. You, my friends, are being preyed upon and this is no joke due to the scope of it, for each ragpicker out there is costing some business somewhere in this area several thousand dollars in lost revenue and replacement costs. Not to mention some thug casing your joint is happy to observe the lack of activity at certain times of day. Ever been robbed?

Start thinking.


So anyway, looks like WETA has secured permission to "harass" the harbor seals that sunbathe and frolic near Berry Point where the USS Hornet now docks. Seems WETA wants to build a ferry terminal out there to handle the scads of newcomers planned to arrive because of Development Greed.

WETA hired the Depuglia brothers who went out there to yell and throw rocks. The Depuglia's are not especially bright individuals who feign abilities to "do" sheet metal and repurpose old cars that should have been sent to the salvage graveyard, but harassment is a skill that supposedly does not require much in the way of cognitive ability. The yelling and rock-throwing didn't do much other than make the bull seals miffed until they chased off the Depuglias. Next the brothers resorted to blasting Metallica CD's from 100 watt amps. Through field glasses they could see some commotion, but no departures. By this time, the show had acquired quite a shoreline of spectators and Marlene looking out commented that it looked like the seals were dancing.

This resulting in yet more yelling and rock throwing from the Depuglias who now took this seal eviction as a kind of insult to their collective masculinity, so they started yelling stuff that had one of the neighbors call the police and Officer Popinjay cited both of them for lewd behavior. Which had the effect of polarizing the onlookers who started taking sides, with most of the Household of Marlene and Andre being pro-seal and most of Mr. Howitzer's friends rooting for the eviction.

So the harassers returned and shifted to burping Barry Manilow and Abba, a combination which has been known to produce acrimony and dissatisfaction around the world. Tapes of Brittany Spears singing with her real voice, sans Autotune seemed to do the trick. That and the Abba caused the seals to howl in anguish before dropping into the water.

The effect, of course, has been dismal, with neighbors complaining as loudly as the mama harbor seals.

It is known that one of the objectives of DAESH, the radical pseudo-Islamic fundamentalist sect that now has Washington's collective panties in a twist, is to eradicate all trace of ABBA from the music lexicon of the world.

Go for it guys.

In any case, the geese have now belatedly doing the honking and gathering thing. All the birds seem to have suddenly gotten the idea now is a good time to pack the bags, in fact. We have had a few nights that were very nearly cool, prompting a few oak trees to make up their minds that summer had finally ended with a few leaves here and there going brown.

Since the season for killing animals in sport now shifts from fish to crab and large mammals Wootie Kanootie, the famous Canadian moose tamer, has taken to issuing stern injunctions to the sometime wayward Eunice in Quebecois. You may think it an extraordinary sight to see a big man in a large fur hat cursing in Canadian French to a moose or elk or any wapiti and you would be right.

The word "moose" first entered English by 1606, and is borrowed from Algonquian languages (compare the Narragansett moos and Eastern Abenaki mos; according to early sources, these were likely derived from moosu, meaning "he strips off", and possibly involved forms from multiple languages mutually reinforcing one another. The Proto-Algonquian form was *mo·swa, which probably means "big guy with big ugly nose". Go figure.

The term "moose" is a name of North American origin, and the scientific name "Alces alces" comes from its Latin name, which like most Latin names makes no sense at all.

The animal was known in Europe as the "elk." The moose went extinct in Britain during the Bronze age, long before the European's discovery of America. The youngest bones were found in Scotland and are roughly 3900 years old. The matter is further confused by the fact that in America an elk is not a moose, but a different sort of animal entirely.

This has lead to a great deal of material for comedy, however the moose has little sense of humor, and in revenge they regularly murder Canadians by the hundreds each year.

In any case Eunice was a moose with a wayward sort of mind, given to wandering beyond the paddock, and as any sane man knows, it is useless enterprise to try to corral a headstrong female for the man will gain little profit or luck by this effort and very likely may end up the worse for wear all the same.

So anyway, getting back to the seasonal changes, the old maypole swings wide from Spring into a rope tied to a tree limb overhanging the river of Summer that plunges and eddies down to the cooler niches and dark pools that lap the bank beneath the rise up the yellowing sward to the old porch-swing going back and forth and all the leaves falling, bringing the scents of apple deadfall, warming cider, the tang of wood-smoking chimney somewhere in the neighborhood. Yellow school buses appear more prominent now that colors are invading the world.

The yellow busses, the changing leaves, and even the light looks more golden in the late afternoons as clouds scud across the azure sky as the evening approaches each day more quickly, like the end of Life itself.

The kids playing in the field at the park and mothers calling all the memories to come home for supper, get in before it goes all dark and the lights in windows coming on and the streetlights one after another crackling on with a snap -- what remains on the empty streets after everyone has gone.

Rosh Hashanah came and went last Wednesday and Thursday. There is no special news to relate except that a record number of women gave birth during those two days, which makes one wonder. Fortunately the apples from Washington are crisp this year and there is still plenty of honey to be had, despite the reputed attrition of the bee population.

At Marlene and Andre's, no ram's horn was to be found, so Martini found an old French horn in a garage sale and Sarah blew into the ear of Quentin to make the shofar part of yontif. Or the yontif part of the shofar. Whatever.

This is not precisely correct, said Rolph, who as a native born German seemed to lack authority on Hebrew matters, however it must be said some reeducation efforts since the War have resulted in astounding successes, so one can never know for sure. Which makes all of these issues pure California, for nowhere else would anyone care to have them.

"You need to blow each morning for the entire month of Elul, the month preceding Rosh Hashanah. The sound of the shofar is intended to awaken the listeners from their "slumbers" and alert them to the coming judgment," said Rolf in an anguished voice. "This is preparation for Yom Kippur."

Well, they ignored him of course. As the people always do prophets.

Nevertheless, ten days are counting, the teshuvah, until Yom Kippur when things turn around. The names of the good people have been written down. The names of indifferent have these ten days to think about things. The names of the wicked have also been written down, and they have ten days before the book is closed on their subject of crimes.

Marlene, who probably of all the people described in these annals has the fewest of sins of which to ask forgiveness, went out with little Adam and a pocketful of breadcrumbs to the pond at the edge of the baseball diamond at Washington Park and there she cast out her petty crimes, such as they were, upon the water for the ducks to gabble up. Taschlich. And the ducks paddled and gabbled this way and that, and so sin was devoured from the world.

For a time. Until the Turning.

And so the evening passed into night on the Island after many disasters, many fires, many disappointments. But a calm reigned for a time as all the thugs rested and all the troubled people lay down to sleep. For a night, no sirens rent the calm, no one got stabbed and no one got shot.

There came from far off across the water the ululation of the throughpassing train as it trundled from the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their sentry lights along First Street, letting its cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the former Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, its ghost-haunted, weedy railbed, between the interstices of the chainlink fences until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off out of shadows on the edge of town past the old Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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


SEPTEMBER 21, 2014


This week's image is of a visitor to the Lunatic Asylum of St. Charles where Carol had doubted the reports from previous tenants of a habitual prowler. Below one can see the ears of someone named Coco inside the apartment, staring with rapt attention.


Front page of the Sun presents the Mayoral Candidates for the upcoming election. There is a bit of frenzy going on this time, which is a bit unusual for your "midterm" events, so its nice to get some balance -- at least for now. The Democrats have responded to the over the top, financed attack ads against Obama with equally as shrill rhetoric.

People. Let us take a breath.

Island candidates responded to questions, responses to which can be found at

It looks like Marie Gilmore (incumbent) is going head-to-head with Trish Spencer, the controversial school district Board member. With Mayor Marie, we know what we get -- more of the same. With Spencer we probably should put aside tales of contentiousness and look at what kind of change she would make, not only as far as the schools goes, but with regard to development and the obscene rent increases going on.

Not everyone is on the rent gouging bandwagon, but there are millions of dollars at stake in these new developments and we have hearsay that one landlord, who has been purchasing Edwardian homes to convert to high-priced $3,000 one bedroom apartments, has been called to help design the Point project along with a dubious developer entity out of Florida, a developer with a nasty reputation for shady tactics.

It is unfortunate that Silly Hall passed the buck recently on the issue of even discussing rent control, for that means the issues will shunt to a "committee" to be essentially tabled until the situation has gotten so bad that somebody presents first one, then another emergency ballot measure, each of which will be less than satisfactory and certainly cause all the problems that some people dread whenever the subject comes up.

By passing the buck here, Silly Hall has virtually ensured that down the road some form of legislative rent control will come into being, and in a way that is certainly going to irk just about everybody.

Looking at the Letters to the Editor we see a few that clearly seem to be puff pieces written by industry insiders promoting their boss's point of view in that all this activity should not be questioned and we all should just roll over and accept the changes, good or ill.

Well, it seems pretty clear that, given the staggering amount of money involved with these developments that will house 2,000 and 3,000 people a piece, change is inevitable, if only that the amount of money insures Mafia involvement and Mafia enforcement. We really cannot explain some of the wacky backroom deals that have taken place here any other way other than Tony Soprano getting involved. Hey, I gotta deal you cannot refuse. An' I maka sure you NOT refuse. Or else. . . .

The change that will happen includes more people -- hella more people -- living in the confined space of the Island, which is already quite densely populated.


Got notice that John Mellencamp will perform at the Greek in July, 2015 and presale tix popped up on the Internet for a short while 9/15-9/18, so if you did not get yours expect to battle the crowds. Mellencamp, a roots rocker, has been returning to the dirty fingernails basis for his songs, delving into deep blues and doing benefits for wounded warriors at VA hospitals in low-keyed under marketed events. It is no secret the blue collar smalltown boy is popular around dear dirty Oaktown as well as Detroit, so expect a gritty show in July.

Folsom Street Fair was this weekend. So was the Eat Real Fest. Still, not too early to secure NYE tix for local boys Primus at the Fox.

Naomi Klein presents, This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs. The Climate on September 29, Monday, 7:30 pm at
the First Congregational Church of Berkeley, 2345 Channing Way, Berkeley. This event Co-Sponsored by: KPFA Radio 94.1 FM, Earth Island Journal & Movement Generation.

This series has some interesting items coming up in October, including lectures by musicians Bruce Cockburn and Herbie Hancock, so stay tuned.


So anyway, like many small towns with self-assurance ranking up there with the modesty of a Miley Cyrus with her famous butt, our own town has been much concerned about this semi-Islamic fundamentalist group, Daesh. Daesh paramilitary types have been running around the Middle East like the bad little doggies they are, pooping on everything and generally acting like scarved versions of Lewis Carrol's Red Queen, chanting pretty much the same inanities ("Off with his head! Off with his head!").

Concerns have grown in Silly Hall that after Syria, the Island may be next. It stands to reason as we have the best halal markets in the East Bay and we would be a natural lilypad to launch from in attacks on the rest of the West. After all, the famous Doolittle raiders took off from here. Well, at least their aircraft carriers did.

Mr. Terse, LT. USMC, Ret., has gotten up a confab with Mr. Spline, (Black Ops, NSA, TSA, CIA, BPOE), Cmdr. Stiffstik, and Simon Snark, even going so far as to lift -- for the moment -- surveillance of Wally's whistleblower son, Joshua up at the Greek Temple so as to get to grips on how to deal with the threat of Daesh in the Heartland where it is well known, as reported by reputable entities such as Soldier of Fortune Magazine, the National Enquirer, and Glen Beck, that sleeper cells were breeding terrorists and Bolsheviks in places like Sioux City, Lincoln, Carbondale, Minneapolis, St. Louis and Birmingham, Alabama, all in collusion with the Executive Branch of our own federal government.

They were joined by the militant arm of Parlor 33 1/3 of the Native Sons of the Golden West. Meanwhile, Joshua took the opportunity to go get a pizza down in the flats.

"I heard that this Obama refused a slice of bundt cake at one of his propaganda whistle stops," said Snark. "What kind of good-old boy American refuses a slice of white cake I tell you? It means something."

"He's a secret Muslim," said Stiffstik. "And a public Socialist to boot. His middle name is Hussein."

"We real Americans gotta band together," Mr. Spline said. "I move that we form a counterrevolutionary force -- I gotta lotta friends up in northern Idaho who know how to survive living on mealbugs and bark and stuff. We can call ourselves the Defenders Of America."

"D.O.A. I kinda like the sound of that," said Cmdr. Stiffstik.

"I am not so sure I wanna survive eating mealybugs," said Mr. Snark.

"Hey, we are all in this together," Mr. Spline said. "You want your daughter to walk around all wrapped in one of those burkha things when its hot as blazes outside? That's what those DAESH types do when they take over some place." That'll keep her out of trouble. Your wife, too."

"Heck," Cmdr. Stiffstik said. "I just lock her up in her room come Friday night. Aint no pimple-faced brat gonna get in her knickers, no way. I am a Navy guy and I know what guys her age are all about."

"You lock up your WIFE . . ."!? Mr. Spline said.

"No, Malvina, my daughter. Pay attention." Said the Commander.

"How about those emergency bars you get in your disaster survival kit? I aint gonna stuff no mealybugs in my mouth," Mr. Snark said.

"You get hungry enough you will put anything in your mouth, believe me. I suppose you would rather become a Communist if it came to choices."

"I don't know about that . . .".

Äll right everybody, say you got rounded up by these here Daesh guys with the turbans and you get a choice -- either renounce your Creator and become an Islamicist of their particular school or eat mealybugs and wash it down with camel snot."

All of them were silent for quite a while imagining that situation and what they would do. For some, this question brought back childhood memories and tears came to the eyes of these grown men. Well, middle-aged men at least.

The meeting went on for quite a while like that until they concluded with a pledge of allegiance to the flag and sang God Bless America and they all swore on Bibles they would stand together to defend the Land of the Free and each other but most certainly not the Government, whom all of them distrusted.

After most of them left, Pahrump and Jose went around cleaning up, putting away the folding chairs and taking down the religious icons hung up for the meeting: framed portraits of St. Ronald Reagan, Glenn Beck, Milton Friedman, Teddy Roosevelt, and Sarah Palin posing in a bikini while holding an AK-47.

"Doesn't look like anyone touched the sponge cake," Jose commented. "Should I keep it?"

""Throw it out," Pahrump said. "That stuff aint real food."

Jose tossed the thing into the trash barrel with some leftover cookies before hauling it out to the fenced container area. It was took heavy to lift and tip into the dumpster so he left it there and locked up the place.

That night the raccoons came to climb over the fence and raid the dumpster. They found the trash barrel and tipped it over to feast on the watermelon and the cookies, batting away the spongecake after one of them sunk his teeth into it before gagging and running over to the pool by the standpipe to vigorously wash his hands and clean the taste of it out of his mouth.

This was observed by the Captain via the periscope belonging to the AIS Chadoor, the Iranian spy submarine hiding in the estuary. The spy sub was supposed to keep tabs on military activity at the port, but this proved to be so boring and uneventful, the captain and crew often trained the scope upon the more entertaining island.

"If we have to rely on these infidels to help us fight the crazy Daesh, then we all are in a lot of trouble," commented the Captain.

"I do not think the Daesh will die laughing," said the First Mate. ""But Allah works in mysterious ways."

They were all quiet for a time, pondering these wise words.

"I don't think we are that much different from them, my Captain," said the First Mate. "We all want to live, to thrive, to raise a family with children. It is just a few people have a problem with control. "

"I agree," the Captain said and clapped up the handles of the periscope to make it descend. "Dive!"

And with that the Iranian spy submarine passed silently out of the estuary into the Bay and from there under the Golden Gate to the inaccurately named Pacific Ocean, running silent, running deep, leaving behind only the barest hint of a ripple.

There came from far off across the water the ululation of the throughpassing train as it trundled from the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their sentry lights along First Street, letting its cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the former Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, its ghost-haunted, weedy railbed, between the interstices of the chainlink fences until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off out of shadows on the edge of town past the old Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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



SEPTEMBER 14, 2014


This week's shot comes from a collection Alonzo made along his regular bike path to work in Oaktown. These casings are from a shoot-out that seems to take place regularly on Coolidge Avenue near School Street.

In this case, police responded to calls from the Dimond District of shots fired after a car shot up a house on Coolidge across the street from Fred Finch Children's Home and Brett Harte school. Police were fired upon and gave chase down Coolidge under the freeway where the suspects were apprehended with machine pistols loaded with 50 round clips, among other things.

Fortunately, no one was hurt in this incident.


Moderating sunny weather has led to great turnouts for the public fairs, such as Grant's Soul Forge out on the Point and the Webster Faire this past weekend. Going forward we see the formidable Robert Cray show at Yoshis going on PreSale now.
Tickets are $69 for the Wed, Dec 10 at Yoshi's Oakland. Cray is famous for having BB King hand over his prized Lucille in concert to indicate a passing of the guard for the Blues from the Old Master to the New.

The Fox continues its roll of excellent shows with the Thievery Corporation on October 2. David Byrne is involved with this group.

The venerable Greek hosts Erykah Badu with Childish Gambino October 17th, while the same venue has Lorde showing up to claim Friday, October 3rd.

On the prosaic realm, Pyramid Alehouse in Berzerkeley will have a form of Oktoberfest with "Staches and Steins" 09/25 starting 5:30 to closing. The Dimond District will hold its own "Oaktoberfest", surprisingly, in the month of October on the 4th. Check out for a listing of live music, food and events taking place 11 am to 6pm.

Treasure Island hosts its music festival 10/18/14 featuring Outkast and Massive Attack. See for details.

Since the East Bay is where its at right now, while Babylon is showing up, embarrassingly so, on lists compiling the "Cities consisting mostly of assholes," you may want to check out The New Parish (579 18th Street at San Pablo), Leo's at 5447 T'graph where Zigaboo Modeliste takes over 10/4, and the Rock Steady (at 1745 San Pablo).

In an effort to regain space after First Fridays in Oaktown became co-opted by heavy partiers, supplanting the art connoisseurs and artists for whom the original event was intended, local gallery owners have concocted "Third Thursdays" as a way of allowing critics and art shoppers to rub elbows.

SLATE just announced its contributions via PR last week and they are "slating" Thursday, September 18th for

• Oakland Here and Now: A Live Painting Event | sponsored by SLATE
• Artists Reception for SLATE's Paint & Pool Exhibit | featuring new work by Andrzej Michael Karwacki, Victor Cohen Stuart, and Lola
• Third Thursday ArtWalk on 25th Street | Galleries & creative spaces open late.

This event brings together four Oakland street artists who will produce artworks, live and outside, on large aluminum panels. Viewers will experience the creation of a painting from start to finish, as well as interact with the artists during and after their process. Artists listed on the agenda are: Nite Owl • Cameron Thompson • Desi Mundo • Peskador.

The precise address is 473 25th Street in Oakland, where several galleries inhabit an historic steel-sided building.


Reports of a weapon on campus at Island High on Friday proved to be unfounded after the school went into lockdown. District spokesperson Susan Davis says the campus at Island High School is “all clear.” The district will be communicating with parents about the incident shortly, Davis said.

On the political front, ACT is ramping up its activities with its quarterly meeting. Here is the Press Release:

"ACT is having a forum. This will be our quarterly meeting.

Wednesday, September 17th, at 7:00 PM
at the Alameda Hospital, conference room A on the second floor

We will have candidates and incumbents for both the city and school board positions who will address local issues and answer citizens’ questions. Bring your friends, and we’ll see you there."

ACT stands for, in this case, Alameda Citizens Task Force.

You may have heard that AMP is having local artists "do up" the street corner power boxes. Looks like some of the newspaper kiosk vendors have done the same and a good example is the EB Express kiosk on Santa Clara and Oak with its surrealistic images of a chicken-headed human form.


So anyway, this past week maniacs cut the head off of another innocent person, apparently under the misguided idea that murdering someone innocent will somehow persuade the Western powers to keep away from ongoing wretchedness this group is causing and get the Saudis, the Kuwaiti's, Yemen, Egypt, Turkey, Oman, and whomever else to join in its head-banging lunatic ideas of a State governed by misinterpretation of the Koran, apparently by people who have never read it.

Mustapha Kemal, the cleric at the local Island Mosque shouted angrily with a copy of the holy book in his hands. "The Prophet never was commanded by Gabriel to recite that you must kill your neighbor dentist for fixing the teeth in a man's mouth!"

Aboard the Iranian spy submarine El Chadoor there has been much soul searching with the Captain concluding with an aphorism. "This conquer the world is old-time stuff coming from the days of war against the Mongol hordes, and now which has nothing to do with the Prophet or defending the Faith. It is said that the man who takes just one step towards god shall enjoy the fact that god will take two steps towards him. In other words, it should come easily, and not at the point of a sword."

Now that both Labor Day and Memorial Day are past, the Bay Area is moving inexorably toward that special Holiday which brings out the monsters, the nightmares, the spooks, outsized spiders, ghouls and devilish smoke machines. That is, of course Election Day.

But before Election Day we have the far more enjoyable festival of fantasies and costumes called Halloween, which is celebrated here with more zest than anywhere else in the world for this part of the world has long held a patent on making fantasies real. Or at least, you know, actionable. The boys dress as girls and the girls dress as boys and dweebs dress like their favorite Star Wars character. Well, that happens all year anyway, but still, it is a good excuse for a Bay Area party. There is even something in it for children as well.

Marlene and Andre are planning their shindig at the Household with found materials and Martini is fashioning a skeleton out of rebar and LED's ripped from discarded circuit boards, while Mr. Howitzer is cobbling shopping lists for Dodd so as to trick up the Mansion a bit. This being an Election year it will also serve as a fundraiser for the Conservative candidates, one of whom wants to help Chevron put oil rigs in the Bay.

Up in the hills at the Greek temple Mr. Terse is still keeping tabs on Joshua, who has been holed up in the sanctuary ever since they came after him for blowing the whistle on the Administration's secret wiretapping of regional Mayoral restrooms. Joshua pokes his head out once in a while to tease the humorless Mr. Terse.

"Scotland free yet?"

"Scotland shall never go free of Great Britain!" shouted Mr. Terse. It was all he could do to avoid unloading his service pistol at the ornate door of the church which had snapped shut. "Damned liberals," grumbled Mr. Terse.

In the Old Same Place Bar, Babar -- the Conservative Candidate -- sat with Papoon -- the Somewhat Liberal Candidate. The Pee Tardy Candidate, Mr. Retentiff, and the Green Candidate, Ms. Olive Flambeaux couldn't stand to be in the same room with each other so they remained absent.

Babar asked how Papoon stood on the McKay Avenue issue and Papoon expressed surprise that Babar would want to know.

"Of course I want to know. Whatever is your position, I must be logically in opposition."

Well, that is American politics in a nutshell.

McKay Avenue is one of those things that began with backroom deals that seemed assured before someone squawked about taking land designated for expansion of the Cove parkland and giving it to a Developer.

Taking the land designated by ballot is one thing, but giving it to a Developer many found to be odious.

The GSA, former owner of the land, felt because it is the Federal Government, it can do whatever it wants and so got into a hissy fit with Eminent Domains and the Regional Parks and Rec people got into a legal snit and amid loud arguing and drive-by nastiness got asked to sit together and discuss the matter like adults, which of course did not work out and soon everything descended into an atavistic brawl with motorcycle chains and knives and rending of teeth and smashing of chairs over people's heads.

It was worse than the warfare Oakland endured during the eviction of the Occupy protesters from the Plaza in front of City Hall.

Asking some people to act like adults in this area is like asking the KKK to please show a little sensitivity and tolerance.

Father Danyluk, priest of the Church of Our Lady of Incessant Complaint, paused by the moonlit Cove with the disputed strip of land extending its dark arm out into the Bay. He had been paying a visit to Mrs. Dudgeon to provide the widow with whatever consolation a man of the cloth had to offer. Mr. Dudgeon had always been a dour, gruff man with a lineage going back to the Bear Flagger days. One had the impression that he had set his opinions about age 13 and had seen little reason to alter them since.

A branch of the Dudgeons had split off from the clan when Isiah Dudgeon decided to join a cult known as the Golden Dawn. His progeny never seemed to flourish financially, becoming variously Sikhs, Transcendentalists, Unitarians, and ultimately Buddhists. It was Lance Dudgeon who changed his name to Druge and helped found the Tassajara monastery, while Bruce Dudgeon got into Speakeasies, bootlegging, and rum running during that famous time.. This branch of the family, by being so disreputable, were call the Low Dudgeons and it was a bad thing to associate with any of them.

Ralph, of course, belonged to the other type of Dudgeon with money, the High Dudgeons.

His house had been one of the houses snagged up by Eminent Domain during the big 580 push through the heart of Oaktown and he had never lost his sense of injustice and outrage about the events, although he was not a man without means. His family still owned a tract of land in Mariposa, and in fact his great grandfather had been among the people who unloaded the land belonging to Charles C. Fremont back then when he himself had fallen on hard times before becoming Senator.

In any case the seizure of the house put in him a savage distrust and hatred of the government to such an extent that his wife, Irene, took the opinion that his heart condition had been caused by this one event in his life.

It may be other factors contributed. "Damn hippies! Thought we got rid of you back in the sixties!" he shouted at the Occupy tents in Frank Ogawa Plaza. And his face got red and a little foam appeared at the corners of his mouth because of the medication he was on. Not many of the people in the tents had been alive during the sixties -- most of them had been born a good twenty years after the high water mark of the times referenced by Hunter Thompson had been reached and ebbed away with all the detritus. If asked to describe what a Hippy was, they would have been hard pressed to mention even their parents, who also had been born well after the high water mark. "Uncle John, the CPA? He's old but no, he never was no hippy. Maybe, but I don't think so. Hippies have hair all over the place and Uncle John is as bald as a cue ball . . .".

We are likely to continue to have misunderstandings for quite a while longer about a period of time that particularly affected California, but in any case it was at the family farm in Mariposa that Ralph Dudgeon died. The postman came by and saw the mail had not been taken out of the box for a couple days, even though he knew Ralph had been dropping in recently. So he drove up the trail there and coming to the house found Ralph standing there with his hands on the rain barrel.

The postman, Merv Levinsky, called out to Ralph but the man did not move. Merv sat there with the engine idling for a while and still Ralph did not move and the wind kicked the door open.

Ralph had come out there to move the barrel, or maybe look in, but nobody will ever know for he died, probably in an instant, standing with his head down and holding onto the barrel, leaning a bit on the side.

Well the funeral was a modest affair over at the Basilica with not so many people -- Ralph had been 82 years old and had seen quite a lot of his contemporaries pass on before him -- but the ham and cheese sandwiches were supplied by Raleys and the bread was from Semifreddis, so they were pretty good and by the end of everything all the plates were clean.

The children all sent their respects from Connecticut and other places where they had drifted like box elder seeds scattered about the world.

Mrs. Dudgeon offered Father Danyluk some port, but he abstained. "Don't mind if I have another myself, she said cheerily. "It's not so bad. I think I will have the curtains redone."

She did not seem to be sad or grieving at all. Quite the contrary, she appeared as chipper as a chipmunk in June. "O, I forgot to water the hydrangea! Don't be downhearted Father. It's all for the best. He is in a better place, I am sure."

So after this business, Father Danyluk stood beside the lagoon where he had fished for many a year, the waning moon rising high, still with some strength left after its Supermoon status had faded. It had been the summer of Supermoons. And the old priest wondered what had he done with all the light . . . .

There came from far off across the water the ululation of the throughpassing train as it trundled from the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their sentry lights along First Street, letting its cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the former Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, its ghost-haunted, weedy railbed, between the interstices of the chainlink fences until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off out of shadows on the edge of town past the old Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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




This week's image comes from Facebook friend and Island-lifer artist Carol Taylor, and is of one of her friends acting a bit sneaky. She calls it "clamcat".


You may have noticed we have not been covering events recently quite as much in the past.

We are going into a sort of retreat from the world for the time being to get a handle on some of the adversarial entities out there who for some reason want to quash Island-Life. Could it be that we have something called the "midterm elections" coming up? Well, there is that kind of thing we hit a few times before this one. Plus the usual suspects in the Angry Elf gang and people who have their own bugbears and Guy Fawkes fantasies, along with the usual list of private demons stacked on to some medical issues.

So the editorial office will not be on the streets or out and about for a while, and as a result we will rely on you folks to be our eyes and ears for events.

Here is an open invitation: you want to be published with something for your clip file? Send us a line.

So anyway, looks like the Speakeasy Lounge got off to a rocky start with its owner being arrested for acting stupid. Well, the charges may be otherwise, but acting stupid pretty much tots up the list. Seems the man assaulted a police officer, who of course called in support and who naturally piled on the guy who continued to resist arrest, which we think would be a natural result from the first action.

Since he was White the man was not shot down in cold blood as seen in so many other recent high profile cases. Or maybe the IPD realized they were dealing with someone more stupid than dangerous.

The Speakeasy lounge appears to enforce a wacky dress code, at which American Oak has sniped, so may be this one needs to settle down a bit. Or maybe retrain the IPD.

On Police matters, the Urban Shield people seem miffed that Oaktown mayor Quan has disinvited the group back again for practice maneuvers and playing with big toys. Demonstrators came out in force to protest the annual police ho-down in the face of several over-the-top police deadly responses against innocent people involving a steadily mounting militarization of police response to practically all things civilian, including use of armored tanks, machine guns, and grenade launchers.

Police have said that the heavy armor is necessary to deal sometimes with heavily armored Mafia types, however the use of this equipment has seldom been employed against such entities in the US. Mexico perhaps, against drug cartels, but not here. So all this heavy armor weaponry available for use tends to be deployed against flower-power activists and at the start, peaceful demonstrators.

Recognizant of the dreadful events that took place to oust the Occupy people this past year, as well as the recent spate of deadly force outrages, Quan has put thumbs down on any more heavy-handed police activity in a city that has suffered much from premature deadly force application. So now the police people are stomping around in a snit, complaining they have to find a new place to play with their toys and conduct maneuvers.

Well, okay, go somewhere else. You have proven you don't fix the problems here, but only add to them. Good-bye and good riddance.

We are still boiling over the Santa Fe footage of cops shooting a homeless man in the back as he moves sluggishly up hill away from them with no threat whatsoever. There was no excuse for that murder. As there has not been for any number of additional outrages. And it seems clear that the police do not get the message that there is accelerated use of deadly force and that over militarization is not appropriate for a viable democracy. There should never be any sort of "do as I say or you will not be hurt" kind of law enforcement or any sort of order enforcement at any sort of degree.

Otherwise your democracy is a farce and Kim Jong might as well run the show.

First Friday happened - could not do it - we are engaged in war.

Looking at the Fox we see Coheed and Cambria bringing in their version of 70's rock with a layer of starship to the Fox. Jethro Tull returns in a blast from the past as Ian Anderson performs from his new album "Homo Erraticus". Expect some flute for that one. Thievery Corporation performs 10/2. Look to 9/26 for international sensation Paolo Nutini who trends to include some fabulous stars on his gig.

In-house fave Beck will be doing the Masonic 09/19 for "Opening Night". We hear the space has been renovated and such. Old Crow Medicine Show are followed by Modest Mouse and the Pixies (09/30), which seems to indicate this venue has secured a decent booking agent during the recent upheaval.

Looking at bookings, seems the Fox remains on a roll and the Masonic is about to catch up, while the Fillmore and Warfield and Yoshi's West and Slim's appear to be slacking. The East Bay is where it is happening.


So anyway, the warmer than usual weather, indicative of a dry El Nino approaching (not good for California deep into a drought) has caused all sorts of strange things to wind up in local fishermen's nets and lines. In the East, someone caught two rare albino lobsters. Someone else caught a creature so weird the biology wonks are scratching their heads, saying, well, it could be a mantis shrimp. If its a shrimp, at four feet in length, your basic catfish and wading children better watch out because there may be more of them out there.

Now we hear, on top of everything, a man from Fullerton just caught a wahoo off the coast of Los Angeles. A 50 pound wahoo at that. Nothing so exciting has ever happened in Fullerton before.

Eugene came motoring in from his foray out to the Farralones where he caught the strangest looking fish anyone had ever seen. Little Imbecilla Cupcake stared at the thing dangling from the yardarm and said it best after taking her forefinger out of her nose, "That sure is the ugliest fish I ever seen."

Everyone asked Eugene if he knew what it was and if he was planning on eating it.

"I don't know and I don't think so," Eugene said.

It took the commercial fisherman, Pedro, to identify the monster.

"That's a rare South American Bupkis," he said. "They usually hang out off the coast of Peru."

So they all stood there looking at the bupkis and Imbecilla put her finger back in her nose meditatively.

The nights are getting chilly -- not dreadfully so, but noticeably cooler than early in the summer -- and so the sleeping areas of Marlene and Andre's household are filling up again. Snuffles has returned from whatever odious location he spends his summers to the bad castle of the hole in the deck where Jose and Javier nearly burned the place down on Javier's fiftieth birthday.

Javier's birthdays trend to the violent and often involve some hours in the city jail, so the younger Jose has started looking for ways to make himself scarce when early June rolls around. It is not that the man from Mexico City is particularly violent himself; he is just a man who has a flair for the spectacular. He is a man who enjoys exciting and excitable women, which is always a recipe for vigorous drama. Jose, who hails from Sonora, is a good boy raised well and well taught by his abuelita to be courteous, honest and hardworking.

He is always about being a good example and he tells little Adam to please not open his switchblade in the house and definitely not to bring it to school. Little Adam looks up to him for Jose is helping him to learn Spanish.

Adam goes down to the riprap border where Pahrump is fishing for dinner. He already has some perch and two sea bass, so this dinner will be a welcome refresher from the Food Bank dry goods. Adam watches the man fish and asks him questions and the man answers. He tells Adam about how the Ohlone used to catch salmon by standing with legs straddling a narrow fishway made of wicker and they would just drive a trident down to spear a week's worth of lox for their bagels. Or whatever. That was when the fish were so plentiful the water boiled and the steelhead run caused tsunamis up the Eel River and the Humboldt.

One can see there are many different kinds of people living in this household of Marlene and Andre.

In the Old Same Place Bar, everyone wanted to know Padraic's opinion on the upcoming vote of the Scots for or against independence from the United Kingdom.

Padraic hemmed and hawed, then told them all about how King Fergus Mór mac Erc had once united the Gaels in the kingdom of Dalriada, creating a vibrant, creative civilization bound by the sea of Moyle. The Lordship of the Isles came to an end under MacDonald's tartan, then came the Saxons and all was left in the ashes up to 1912 was fierce longing. World War II ended even those wan hopes as Parnell went down in flames during the Kitty O'Shea affair, the brave poets of the Post Office Insurrection of 1916 slaughtered by the English cannons and the hangman. Scotland, which had supplied its unknowing bairns to the Ulster Plantations, sent its Orange sons of the Boyne off to the Somme, never to return. Then came the brutal Black and Tans and savage 1921.

"Well, are you for or against," asked the Man from Minot.

"There's danger and there's hope." Padraic said. "The North could go up in flames, or we could have a new Dalraida."

"Is that stuff in the jar any good," Eugene said.

For answer, Suzie popped the top of the jar and speared an object lurking in its viscous depths to land it neatly on the plate held by Dawn who plopped the dish down with a fork, a knife, a napkin, and a chunk of bread. Pickled eel.

"I asked if it was any good," Eugene said.

"Don't know. Nobody has had it for four or five years."

Eugene cut a piece off and speared it with his fork and raised the morsel to his lips. "How long has it been in that jar?"

"Four or five years." Dawn said.

"It's better than lutefisk," Padraic said.

Eugene set the morsel back down on his plate and thought better of eating it.

Meanwhile, Ms. Almeida unpacked the boxes which had just arrived from Europe to begin making the Portuguese specialty called Bacalhau. She took out the contents from one box and tossed it into the sink to rehydrate and loosen the salt off. A tremendous fetid odor rose up and the dog ran from the room. She opened up the window and turned on the fan and a raccoon walking by with an intent to raid the hen house passed out. The wooden boxes bore the legend "Hergestellt en Norwege: Lutefisk."

Portugese fishermen, in their zeal to supply the nation with the main staple for Bacalcau, which is to the Portuguese what spaghetti is to Italy, the baguette to France, mushy peas to the English, kraut to the Germans, had long ago exhausted the Mediterranean of its supply of cod. Fortunately, a supplier stepped in with not only tons of schools of living cod, but tonnes of boxes of salted cod already available and seemingly unwanted save by a handful of towns located in Midwestern America.

Once upon a time, the Norwegians consumed quantities of lutefisk, but the modern generation, learning of subtler, more varegated dishes, like Matjes Herring and T-bone steak turned their noses up at the stuff. They did not want lutefisk -- they wanted iPhones and hamburgers. So millions of pounds of cod that had been dehydrated in the wind before being buried in pits with gallons of lye as a preservative and then hung out to dry again remained stacked in boxes. Some of those boxes several years old, for lutefisk does not decay.

So it was that Norway rescued Portugal, which went through an unruly time of civic unrest, going even to the extremes of ousting its benevolent dictator Salazar and allowing its last territorial possession, the Azores, to go free for lack of salt cod before glomming onto the Nordic Solution.

Pedro Almeida, out on the pre-dawn high seas, headed for the fishing grounds listened to the radio for his favorite program, but the show had been canceled as the host, Pastor Rotschue, was slated for surgery. Pedro had been listening to that show for nearly his entire life -- recently the televangelist had celebrated 40 years on the air with a special that had featured dancing in the streets outside of broadcast station.

The Pastor was an unusual sort of televangelist who believed that since life was so short relative to Eternity, we might as well enjoy ourselves and have a good time as all the Creator had provided had to have some kind of divine goodness in it, even wine and booze and making whoopee.

Pedro wondered about a man of the cloth carrying such opinions, but he had millions of followers and the guests on his show were always lively good people. And he always dispensed advice and wisdom with such warm good humor over the years Pedro had come to think through the impersonal radio of the man as a kind of friend in the funny way people tend to imagine the voice on the radio happens to be addressing them personally. Well he was a man Pedro wouldn't mind having as a good friend were the fellow ever to notice him listening in reality.

Now the Pastor was headed to the operating room for a bit of heart repair. In Pedro's opinion there was nothing at all wrong with the man's heart, but what did he, a poor fisherman know.

The old ship's prow beat upon the waves and the new ship's dog, Ferryboat, gazed outward through the port glass at whatever may be out beyond the reach of the cabin lights, the swelling moon drifting overhead through Blakean clouds of charcoal and chiascuro gods deliberating the fates of men.

Best of luck old friend, he said.

As the Editor was putting out the lights in the Island-Life Offices he noted a copy of "The People of Helmsoe" on a copywriter's desk and recollected an anecdote about Strindberg in which a former classmate had remarked about the demented genius that "Er var een rigtig ekelhafte fisk."

This, by the way memosyne chains things together, brought up an old Ole and Lena joke. Ole was laying upstairs dying and the doctors said he had not much more time to go at 94. Things looked bad indeed. Lena busied herself downstairs preparing for the wake and all the people that would be dropping by to pay respects, because in such a time a woman has to occupy herself. Well Ole felt a burst of energy late at night with the moon hanging high, perhaps the last shot of adrenaline he would have in this life and he began to feel hungry. So he climbed out of his bed and crawled on hands and knees down the stairs, slowly and painfully, to the kitchen where he found trays of ham and cheese sandwiches. And he stood up with great effort and unwrapped the saran wrap and was about to take a bite of a sandwich when Lena came storming in and slapped him.

"Hey, you stop that! Those are for the funeral!"

There came from far off across the water the ululation of the throughpassing train as it trundled from the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their sentry lights along First Street, letting its cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the former Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, its ghost-haunted, weedy railbed, between the interstices of the chainlink fences until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off out of shadows on the edge of town past the old Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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


AUGUST 31, 2014


Do you know how difficult it is to find a popular song that features beans and which is not a stupid CW thing? Anyway, this week's headline photo represents summer's last burst of wholesome goodness on the vine, a bit of remaining warmth and life clinging to the Old Fence.


Friends and folks are filtering back from the Blackrock desert where the usual organized mayhem of Burning Man took place.

Here is a shot from Facebook Friend Chris O'Halloran from The Burn.

Sure has come a long way from those bonfires out at Baker's Beach when the wildest thing that happened was leaping over the burning timbers.

Taking over the heavy mantles of responsibility, along with any mixed metaphors that dangle their participles, from the inimitably named Mary Rudge, Julia Park Tracey will assume the office of Island Poet Laureate September 6th during a City Council Meeting. You may know of her as a founding editor of the Sun, but this poet has a handful of novels as well as numerous publications to her credit. She also maintains a blog at

Ms. Rudge held the position officially for four years, then continued unofficially as the Island's literary guide until she passed away earlier this year.

Out in the still wild hinterlands of the Island, Grant Marcuse held his 2nd Annual Pilgrim Soul Forge Fall Fair. 12 artists gathered about Grant's forge where he practices the blacksmith arts pretty much as they developed hundreds of years ago during the Middle Ages. Live music was supplied by the Doggone Blues Band and eats supplied by Beulah’s Bean Truck.

It was Life on the Island, and if you were not there at some point, you were not alive on the Island.


So anyway, the sultry days emerge from high cloud with humid suggestions, but the nights are easing into cool reminders that the virgins should make much of time. The Dweeb Report says that we are looking at a period of dry, stable temperatures with little forthcoming in precipitation for a while. The Pacific Rim satellite photos show virtually no activity out there.

A heated flap occurred down at Silly Hall when the Faux News commentator called the City Manager out for wearing a beige suit during a recent press conference, declaring that this apparel demonstrated clear and inappropriate partisanship in a serious time of travail. Our City Manager responded by calling the commentator a "numbskull" and demanding that the person respond by declaring the color of his underwear. The CM then granted Vogue an exclusive interview to talk about what upcoming Presidential candidates should wear while on the hustings.

The Conservative responded, as was expected, by stating that he always wore red, white and blue or nothing at all in true martial spirit.

Representatives from Cosmo and Esquire each weighed in on the CM's apparel with particular attention to his tie, concluding by the crosshatch pattern that tensions would start to ease in the Middle East as both Israel and Hamas declared victory over the latest brough-hahah, while his socks pointed to rising frictions with the City of Newark.

The fashion police indicated that raised shoulder pads are definitely out this season, which sent Dianne Feinstein on a mad rush to Nordstrom's and Macy's so as to replace her political trousseau.

Father Danyluk dropped in to the Monsef family to offer condolences for the passing of Hadi, former Councilperson for the City. So did Pastor Nyquist and also Reverend Jason Arrabiata of the CFSM and Mustapha Omer Kemal as well. Hadi had come from Iran originally, so it was anybody's guess what he was spiritually, although his reputation stood unique and distinctive in his well-known kindness and greatness of heart. Hadi had been one of those extremely rare oxymoron examples of an honest politician of the like we have not seen around here for quite a while, an old school sort of Islander man dedicated to public service as well as a good representative of all the great and good things immigrants bring to this country.

The Monsef family patiently put up with the visits from well-wishers and allowed a secular memorial service to be held at the Elks.

Down at the Old Same Place bar, all the talk is about the passing of Hadi Monsef and how the old guard is passing away and of how things are changing. A former vice-mayor who had known Hadi well, been a good friend in fact, comes into the bar for a bump and a Fat Tire. "I owe everything to Hadi," he said. "He was a gentleman . . .".

September is a time of changes, of some parts of the world dying around us, or seeming to as things go into a long cold sleep. But just as sleep is a kind of temporary death, according to Pastor Nyquist, the reverse is also true. As September advances, the leaves drop in a slow revolve and the box elder lets go its little propellers to patter down through the branches. The gardens yield up their last tomatoes and the light slants a certain way in the late afternoons, indicating the gradually shortening days. Color schemes shift from greens and bright reds to burnt siennas, browns, oranges.

Its always difficult to know just what to say to someone who has lost someone close, whether a family member or a good friend or a classmate. There is always this uncomfortable sense of how words can never be enough to replace that grief. There is a sense however of memento mori in all of us. It is something we share, this sense of loss. For live long enough, survive enough of the crap that life dishes out, everyone loses someone close and, ultimately, the day comes when the room is empty and you are not there as well. If anything, the words indicate that sharing, not only of loss, but of what is kept in the form of memories.

A strain of Middle Eastern music drifts on the air along with the tang of someone's fireplace as the sun sets a little earlier than it did yesterday. The clatter of someone working in their kitchen spills out of an open window, and the scent of the homegrown tomato becomes your madeline, provoking a memory of being with your friend long ago, walking along the path made just after the big shoreline Fill that made the lagoon, walking with that dog named . . . . What was his name? And that memory chains to an earlier memory still of dashing along to leap into the piles of leaves that took so long to rake.

As you grew older you forgot things, and suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, was hurt so badly you thought you would die, but you did not then and you are alive now and still the song of the fruit and vegetable peddler calling out his wares from the truck on the street comes back to you long after there was no more peddler and everything now is bought in grocery "lifestyle stores" and the marsh where you once caught a six foot blacksnake became a parkinglot, the woods there a village and the old ways are become just memories.

The shouts and cries of kids after school running down to the Strand in the present bring back that Labor Day weekend with the sun bathing everything and the water reflecting bright rays from the chop and the kite so high up and here it comes, bounding across the sand as you call out, "Randy! Randy!" to leap into your arms all tailwag and licking and woof. His name was Randy.

In the Old Same Place Bar it is getting close to closing time and Suzie issues Last Call. Pimenta Strife stops trying to hit on Wootee Kanootee, seeing this one was useless, and the Man from Minot breaks off his conversation with Larry Larch about service dogs. Denby segues from "One Kind Favor" to a short version of "Keys to the Highway." There is never enough time to get done everything we want to do.

There came from far off across the water the ululation of the throughpassing train as it trundled from the spotlight gantries of the Port of Oaktown along First Street, letting its cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the former Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, its ghost-haunted, weedy railbed, between the interstices of the chainlink fences until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off out of shadows on the edge of town past the old Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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


I don't know much when I knew less
And I was heartbroke for the first time
Drowning in my tears
I went looking for a lifeline
Trying to find some comfort
Just a simple tender touch
Searching for some little cure
That would mot cost too much

And I can hear that produce wagon on the street
I can hear that farmer singing
'Cause I cried myself to sleep

"I got bananas, and watermelon
and peaches by the pound
sweet corn, mirleton, more better than in town
I've got okra, enough to choke you
Beans of every kind
If hungry is what's eating you
I'll sell you piece of mind"
But this ain't what you came to hear me say
And I hate to disappoint you
I got no love today

I got no love today
I got no love today
No love today

I could not love to save myself
from lonesome desperation
Everything I thought was love
was worthless imitation
My concept of commitment
was to take all you could give
I thought the cheapest thrills
I loved were teaching me to live
But nothing seemed to last or see me through
Nothing but that little song
that I still sing for you


I got no love today
I got no love today
No love today

No love today
none tomorrow
not now, not forever
You can't see what comes for free
I think you're much too clever
For your own good
I will tell you what's right before your eyes
Intelligence is no defense against what this implies
In the end no one will sell you what you need
You can't buy it off the shelf
You got to grow it from the seed


I got no love today
I got no love today
No love today

words and music by Chris Smither


AUGUST 24, 2014


This week's headline is of an hibiscus which suddenly bloomed again after going dormant a while.


Big news, of course, is the 6.0 shaker we all experienced from Napa on down through the Bay Area Sunday morning around 3:20 AM. People in Napa said the quake felt "violent" and unlike anything experienced before, although here in the Bay Area most folks said it felt like 25-30 seconds of long rolling.

More than 60 aftershocks struck in the hours following the quake, according to the USGS, ranging from 0.6 to 3.6 magnitude.

Sunday's earthquake struck four miles northwest of American Canyon, six miles southwest of Napa and nine miles southeast of Sonoma, according to the USGS.

The quake was the strongest to hit the Bay Area since 1989, when a 6.9-magnitude one struck during the World Series. The Loma Prieta earthquake caused 63 deaths, 3,757 injuries and an estimated $6 billion in property damage, according to the USGS. In that quake the downtown of Santa Cruz was nearly entirely flattened.

The Northridge quake in 1994 at 4:30 a.m. measured Magnitude 6.7. Sixty people were killed, more than 7,000 injured, 20,000 homeless and more than 40,000 buildings damaged in Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange and San Bernardino Counties. Severe damage occurred in the San Fernando Valley. Estimates of damage from that quake were between 13 and 20 billion U.S. dollars

Downtown Napa's streets were a chaotic mess of tumbled brick walls, timbers and masonry. On first report we learned least two watermains ruptured spilling millions of gallons of precious water during a drought and at least six major fires erupted from broken gaslines. In total after review, we learned from Napa City officials there were approximately 50 gas line breaks and 30 water main breaks reported following the earthquake, causing some areas to have low or no water service.

The wineries certainly have been hard hit, but even though Napa has the reputation of being a mecca for the well-heeled, it has a large population of low-income and poverty-level residents who will be particularly hard hit by this disaster. Scattered power outages occurred throughout Sonoma County as well as Napa.

Just over the Carquinez Bridge Vallejo took a beating. The city of Vallejo is assessing the damage and cleaning up after Sunday morning's 6.0 earthquake. Early estimates put the damages in Vallejo at more than $5 million, but that number is expected to rise. Reports came in that Highway 37 was buckled, hampering access to wine country for the extended upcoming weekend.

As for the Bay Area, we came off fairly lightly this time. The CHP is also reporting there is no visible damage to Bay Area bridges that have been checked following the earthquake. Bridges remain open as they are being checked in more detail. The Posey Tube remains open.

In a strong local quake, the new "smart meters" are supposed to auto shutoff gas to the building, however it may take some time for gas already in the lines to dissipate. If you hear hissing or smell a powerful odor you should call PGE on the 800 #.


On the electoral front, the Sierra Club has endorsed Frank Matarresse, while the firefighters union has not, preferring arch-rival Stewart Chen and candidate Jim Oddie. Since the Democratic Club is also playing favorites, picking Chen over Matarrese, we wonder if this election is going to turn into a high schoolish taking of sides in favor of popularity . . .

Speaking of HS level behavior, the School Board race is on with the mercurial and contentious Trish Spencer opting to shoot for Mayoral office, really snubbing the Board and all her former friends, like the Alameda Education Association; see their response and Spencer's rational in the Island Sun, August 21, 2014, Vol 13, No. 47, Opinion page, page 6 . . .

On the upside, New Live @ the Library Concerts scheduled to start 9/20 at the Main with tickets (this is NOT free) for the 3 concert series starting at $90 for the three at Books Inc, the library, and


So anyway, the weather has been moody, with high fog remaining until late morning and fog rolling in early in the afternoon with breezes that knock the crabapples from the tree branches, leaving the mid part of the day to sear with temperatures that sizzle under bright cloudless skies. The tomatoes are all coming out from Mrs. Almeida's garden now, a little late due to the cooler than usual summer. People used to say about this weather when it gets sort of calm and eerie: "Looks like earthquake weather".

Sure enough we had a big shaker stir things up to remind all the people who came here to escape tornadoes and snow that there are worse things that can happen.

Dawn and Padraic were lying in bed at three AM when the rocking and rolling started rattling the crystal in the cabinet and the two of them lay there with their eyes wide open for a while, listening for sirens and falling plaster. None of that happened as the real trouble lay further north but Dawn said after a moment, "Did we just have sex?"

Padraic paused for a long while before replying, "Yes. But I am not sure I want to do that new position again." Then he rolled over and went to sleep.

Dawn lay there a while longer thinking about things before getting up to make herself some chamomile tea to calm down.

Officer O'Madhauen got himself into a bit of hot water Tuesday when he pulled over Mrs. Bridgeport on the corner of Buena Vista and Sherman. Officer O'Madhauen got out with his gun drawn and ordered everyone to come out with her hands raised. Officer Popinjay came at the car from the street side, crouched down with his gun drawn as well. Out stepped Mrs. Bridgeport with her hands raised. Officer Popinjay holstered his weapon and put her hands behind her and cuffed her at the car. When she saw Officer O'Madhauen, exclaimed, "Tommy, what the hell you doin'? You put those guns down right now -- you are scaring the kids. And you tell this punk to let go of me. I know his mother!"

Paul Bridgeport, a skinny nine year old came out of the car with his hands raised also. "Please don't shoot mommy! I promise I'll be better at algebra in school!"

Officer O'Madhauen made Popinjay release Mrs. Bridgeport. Alicia, all of seven years of age, wailed in the car. "Please don't kill us! We didn't do nothing wrong!"

Officer O'Madhauen tried to smooth things over in what clearly had been a misunderstanding. A call had come in about a car being driven at high speed running stop signs and stop lights and four men waving pistols.

"What kinda car?" Mrs. Bridgeport said. "Lemmee see that report . . .".

"Ma'am, it was verbal." Officer Popinjay said. "Green 2012 Infinity with licenseplate "EAT-ME! All four Black males about 24 years of age."

"Green Infinity!" Mrs. Bridgeport shouted incredulously. "This be a 1992 White Volvo Stationwagon and no kid in the back older than nine! What the hell wrong with your head, boy? Fool!"

"Well the call said they goin' down this way to the Tube." Popinjay said, somewhat shamefully.

The two officers tried to calm things down. Popinjay went to one side of the car and O'Madhauen went to the other side. "Now, now," Popinjay said. "Everything is going to be all right. You are not going to be arrested."

"Okay now," O'Madhauen began calmly, but then lost his patience. "Stop crying!" he barked at Alicia. Which of course sounded like an order, so it did not work.

A Nissan Sentra pulled up in the cutout to the Wind River factory. A man and a woman got out and they started taking pictures. The man took out a notebook. "Hi, I am from the Oakland Tribune. Mind if I ask a few questions . . . ?"

Later on, down at the Station, Officers Popinjay and O'Madhauen got called into the office of Chief Battalia.

"What the hell is wrong with you Officer?" Battalia asked O'Madhauen.

"We got a call about a car running stop signs with guns. Running stop signs of all things . . . "!

"I know all that. Why did you stop this particular car in the way you did?"

"Well," said Officer Popinjay, "They also allegedly ran a red light. . . ".

"The second call said the car went down Buena Vista and turned on Sherman," O'Madhauen said.

"A green Infinity carrying four Black American males all aged 24. Car bearing a distinctive license plate." Chief Battalia said and then paused. "Let me ask both of you something. What if the car had been carrying people closer to the description of the alleged perpetrators. Someone like Lionel from the Pampered Pup or Arthur, whom whom both of you have known for years, just like Mrs. Bridgeport. What if their kids had been in the backseat? Lionel has a teenage son who goes to school with my son Alvin at West End. He is about fifteen but big as a bull -- looks could be twenty-four. What would you have done?"

"Well of course we would have followed proper procedure for allegedly dangerous suspects," O'Madhauen said.

"And if they or their kids had given you any lip?" asked the Chief. "Would you employ pain compliance techniques from training or lethal force?"

"So long as they do as I say, they would not be hurt," Officer O'Madhauen said.

"Let me get this straight," said the Chief. "So long as the people in your custody do exactly as you say, and do not complain about their detention, you will not hurt or kill them."

"Yes sir."

The Chief sat for a long minute, mulling this information over.

"Officers, I consider both of you to be colossal idiots and I have no idea how you passed the academy to become police officers. Let me correct that -- you became police officers because the requirements are set quite low. Please leave my office and do not talk to the press about any of this. Go now and please, please, please try to do as little damage as possible to the citizens you are sworn to protect."

A while later the Chief came before the microphones and the cameras and said what he had to say according to a script written long before he ever entered the Academy himself.

"Ladies and gentlemen, after thorough review of the events that transpired I can find no fault in the actions of the Officers who appear to have followed proper procedure. Fortunately no one was injured in this incident. That is all I have to say. Good day to you."

The day collapsed with exhaustion into the night after three shifts of minimum wage trying to pay the bills and keep afloat. Everything sighed towards sleep and before the start of another impossible day.

In the Old Same Place Bar all the talk was about the recent shaker up in Napa and memories of the '94 quake in LA as well as where you were during the 5:05 Loma Prieta one that knocked out a piece of the Bay Bridge and brought down the Cypress at what normally would have been the height of the rush hour. Arthur had been in his van coming back from making a delivery in the City when the world started rocking under his wheels on the lower deck. There was a transport van from UC Med Center right behind him. He thought to himself, self, better get offa the freeway right away, and so he took the first exit, which dropped him in West Oakland. He heard a noise and looked back over his shoulder to see the freeway he had just been on was gone. A mile of upper deck had pancaked down onto the lower, bringing down sections of that in about two seconds.

He got out of the van he was shaking so bad although the earth had stopped moving. The van from UC was still up there.

Everybody was silent for a while before each started in with his and her stories. Pieh Pah, so called because he sat on the corner on a crate and played the Asian Pieh Pah, told about quakes in China which caused massive mudslides that engulfed entire towns. "I walk back from field. Ground started shaking real bad and then I hid for a while. Then I go along road and come to roadblock. Behind roadblock no more village. My village all gone."

So there they were, Black, White, Asian, First Peoples, all kinds all together in that bar, all connected, all feeling the pain of shock, of loss.

The TV news shifted finally to the other disaster in the making, the violence going on in and around Gaza.

The Man from Minot shook his head. "Why must we be killing each other? Why cannot we learn to get along?"

"Say it again, brother," Lionel said.

There came from far off across the water the ululation of the throughpassing train as it trundled from the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their sentry lights along First Street, letting its cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the former Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, its ghost-haunted, weedy railbed, between the interstices of the chainlink fences until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off out of shadows on the edge of town past the old Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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


AUGUST 17, 2014


You never know what will be coming down. This week's image is from Tammy, our in-house photog just chillin' with a traditional sunset image. But we never get tired of these.


The summer recess is on at Silly Hall, so at least those folks cannot do any more damage for a while. This does not mean that local concerns of note take a holiday. We see on the front page of the Sun, (Vol 13, No. 46, August 14, 2014) that the private tech buses which have caused so much acrimony in other parts of the Bay Area provoked a report what looks like an op-ed piece by Michele Ellson talking about how the buses are causing havoc on High Street, a major artery that leads to a bridge off the island.

Its good the buses take dozens of cars off the street, but these drivers are not, apparently, operating with attention to the established intermodal bus locations and typically block the street when they do their pickups.

Life could be worse, people, but this is just another flag thrown on the field which signifies that too much congestion exists now to handle the present population. Don't even think about adding more people until you can resolve this issue.

In other news, we see a KALW report reprinted in the Sun. We have been supporters of KALW, an independent station since 1939 and an NPR affiliate for a while. (Their Wednesday night Blues Hour stands in for KFOG's late night Dan Ackroyd on Sunday evening.) The KALW report concerns the anticipated sealevel rise and how the Island, barely 3 feet in elevation, will handle this. Alameda Point is expected to be under four feet of water by 2100, however there is plenty of opportunity for flooding prior to that hard date.

This is important to note. 2100 is not a fixed date at which we can arrive with all of our careful plans made real and solid with nothing left to do. Prior to that, we are sure to have lots and lots of flooding, just as we had a few years ago when the entire road to the ferry landing was left four feet underwater. Climate change does not heed schedules and workplans. People, you need to act NOW! about this stuff.

The idea of adding wetlands as a buffer is a nice start, but it does not seem like anyone is acting on the plans. A seawall, along the lines of what New Orleans has on the western edge of the Mississippi facing Metarie, looks to be the most promising of plans that actually will be acted upon.

We see Grant Marcoux will be holding his fourth iteration of the Pilgrim Faire out at his blacksmith digs August 30, with live music and booths and various artists contributing their wares. Location is 101 West Tower Avenue out on the Point. Entry is free to the event, but be prepared to contribute something, if only a purchase of a handcrafted artwork. Marcoux has defined himself as a blacksmith, which is the middle ages equivalent to our 21st century network engineer. He is a Renaissance Faire ideal of a man who totally inhabits the world of DIY with primitive raw materials. A visit to his shop is worth the time to encounter a world where things made had to be made one at a time and by order.


So anyway, High Summer remains in fifth gear, pedal to the metal and screeching around the corners at high speed. Wary parents and kids with families are starting to gather it all up, collect the backpacks and get in on theme tablet sales with pens and supplies kits to get ready for that awful day, first day at school.

Imbecilla Cupkake has been taking advantage of this time by posting herself outside Lucky's and CVS outlets with signs that beg for donations to the "Hapless Schoolchildren Fund". She has been taking the proceeds and using them to pay for her glue-sniffing porn video parties for kids at St. Abernathy parochial.

The kids love these events because they get more useful sex-ed information there than in a month of Sundays at St. Abernathy. They learn about things that their parents would never explain, not even if you asked. "Wow! So that's what happens when she does that!"

Ms. Morales has been enjoying the final days of summer, shopping for classroom supplies and fixing up the lesson plans while enjoying margaritas made by Mr. Sanchez in the backyard. After getting married she and he decided she would keep her name as she had established a presence working for the District now for over 24 years. In addition all the kids knew her by her family name. Her friends at the Filipino Cultural Center thought her to be quite modern.

As she sits at her desk, Mr. Sanchez comes up behind her and gently brushes the nape of her neck before passing on into the darkness of the house, his rustling movements cloaked by the sound of window fans and she closes her eyes and inhales the remaining traces of his manly scent.

The City Council also is celebrating summer by taking its traditional Recess. Rumors have it that while one Councilperson is relaxing by going to Sacto to try out various leather chairs in various offices at the Assembly (while the tenants are themselves on Recess), Mayor Marie and Vice Mayor Ezzy have enrolled in a crash course for Krav Maga so as to prepare for the upcoming electoral season and get fit for the general duties expected of the chief brickbat targets for the City. Krav Maga is, of course, the notoriously savage martial art defense system devised by the Israeli police department of Tel Aviv.

Denby has been handling this summer with its troubled weather and dangerous women by studiously avoiding public places, canceling going out, and generally avoiding the darts of that nasty little cherub floating about on stubby wings. One day Eros, who goes by many names came up to Denby who eyed the naked little boy with wariness.

"Human, how is it you can avoid me?"

"I can see you coming from a mile away, ya Cupid you." Denby said.

"How is this possible? I am invisible to the eyes of all mortals!"

"I am a musician," Denby said. "Only musicians can see and understand the approach of Love. We are Love's handmaidens."

"Tis fine to serve Love, but, O, must you be monkish maidens as well?" Eros said, notching his bow as a bevy of Dangerous Women walked by in their tantalizing summer dresses. "You know that gal in the Fireside Lounge was mine . . .".

"Monks or maidens, its all the same. We are devoted to the Muse," Denby said and took out his demigod swatter and so smacked the cherub good, putting his armaments into disarray, scattering his quiver contents.

"Ahk!" said Eros.

"Stupid Cupid," Denby said. "The things I do for Art . . .". And so Denby departed that place and went on his way, a free man. Free of Love, but not of memories of that woman who had hurt him so long ago, memories buried deep in rigid scars.

In the Old Same Place Bar, Pimenta Strife stalked the aisles and the brass rail looking for prey. Someone was going to get lucky to night. She had in mind that somebody would wake up delirious from ecstatic desire. Or the effects anyway. She was not a woman made for Romance novels. She was a woman made for the most extreme nightmares of Penthouse. She zeroed in on a man telling jokes to friends because his jeans looked a little too tight. This one will do. She was aiming for 1001 conquests in a year and this one looked easy.

"Hey guy! I want a seat and is your lap free tonight?" she began. Pimenta was anything but indirect. In a little while they went out together, the man's face flushed and excited.

At the end of a long, delightful day that began with high fog and passed into brilliant sunshine glancing off of the dancing waves, Toby and Tommy, who love each other very much and have so for many years, brought their sloop The Lavender Surprise gracefully up to the slip with a good deal of poise, dropping sail and cutting to motor within 20 yards for a most satisfying end to a perfect day on the Bay, proof that Love does not betray and derange everyone, but treats some lovers with tender care. Some are lucky, as this couple. Some are not. That is just the way things go, Eros reflects to himself, hovering over this modest success after the debacle with Denby.

In the offices of Island-Life, the Editor sits in the pool of light made by his desklamp. All of the staff have left for the evening, departing each to each to each's families and homes and situations. All employees with their own lives lived outside of Work, lives that had not the slightest concern for the Office and any importance here. In fact work for most people in America involved a daily plug to acquire resources to live life in the real Reality that was separate from the Job and this not-for-profit was no exception.

At the end of the day he could do nothing for them. One could be happy and satisfied with work that does something positive in the world, that tries a little bit, instead of just hawking tchotchkes and wares and vaporous "services". That satisfaction is not the same as raising a family and building a home, however. Nothing matches that.

And yet, it could be said the Editor loved his employees, all working for minimal wages. He loved them along the lines as described by Martin Luther King who talked about Eros, Caritas, and love in its various degrees. Although he took no wife, the Editor loved his people. He loved Tammy, the photographer, for her brilliant eye. He loved Sharon for her ill-timed social events. He loved Chad for his irascible nature and his coding. He even loved Denby for all his out-of-tune, off-key multimedia projects.

Out in the yard, the opossum ran along the fence, scampered across the open space from this bush to that.

In the Rectory, Sister Beatrice came in to find Father Danyluk snoring in his chair before the stone cold fireplace with the Keillor Reader in his lap. As the evenings are drifting toward cooler, she goes to fetch a wool blanket that she lays down around the sleeping priest. Tucking him in, as it were, for the night, Sister Beatrice pauses and then kisses the man lightly on the forehead before leaving the room and turning out the light, bearing her secrets away beneath her black robes.

There came from far off across the water the ululation of the throughpassing train as it trundled from the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their sentry lights, letting its blues cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the former Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, its ghost-haunted, weedy railbed, between the interstices of the chainlink fences until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off out of shadows on the edge of town past the old Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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


AUGUST 10, 2014


This week's photo comes from Island Lifer, Tammy, and is of her window where a workman lopped off a tree branch this winter, leaving all bare and cold. Seems things came back nicely.


Well now, well now, well now. Pushing aside the milder news about the chief School Supe Kirsten Vital splitting to be replaced pro tem by Sean McPhetridge, Ed.D., a man who has has some serious frictions with Trish Spencer, as Lauren Do says "over practically everything," we learn that Islanders are starting to savor the airborne mud that accompanies election time a bit early.

V-Day is not until November for Council seats and a surefire interesting raft of measures meant to try our patience and cost us money, but some clever soul sought fit to hire an outside poll taker firm to query people in a manner that is clearly meant to exalt incumbent Councilperson Stewart Chen while at the same time diss former Councilperson Frank Matarrese.

Like most mud slung on the hustings, this poll was larded with inaccuracies about Frank, who commented to the Sun "Sounds like a smear campaign." (Alameda Sun, Vol. 13, No. 45, August 7, 2014, Phone 'Political Poll' Raises Eyebrows, by Michele Ellson). The article effectively researches and debunks all the supposed points claimed by the poll that disparage Frank Matarrese.

Like our old friend Bernie Schwartz, who founded the Chicago branch of the AARP, used to say, "The higher you climb in public, the harder the brickbats they throw at you."

O dear.

Also in that same issue of the Sun we see that a plan for developing Seaplane Lagoon has been approved by the Silly Council, and we have no quarrel with that or most of the details. It all preserves what wants to be preserved, avoids ostentatiousness, and (given that development for $$ is going to happen anyway any how) looks to make things better looking than they are. Of course the approval happened curiously during a period when public comment was effectively excluded due to the summer vacation situation. And right after the approval the entire Silly Council went on Summer Recess. Our mainbeef resides in that developer Skidmore Owens and Merrill wants to name the new development Waterfront Town Center.

O for pete's sake.

So these wonks with the hair and perambulatory Saturday ties did not get their precious Town Centre (sic) mall to replace Southshore Mall, but must carry this bugbear everywhere they go until they get their ridiculous name pasted just anywhere just to say, "So there!" at some swanky developer's symposium in Las Vegas.

We have recently been spending time in high level meetings with lead construction foremen and an architect. We can say we find the architect sexy in a sort of feral raptor sort of way (looks beautiful, but she can tear your hand off and eat it), but developers are a lifeform that despite the best efforts to empathize and understand, always manages to display some odious attribute that makes one want to open the windows and turn on the fans to clear out the miasma in the air.

Next in line may be property management folks, but even this group contains well-meaning, angelic souls from time to time.

What is up with the "Town Center" appellation that gives these folks a jones? The kindest thing one can imagine, is that some poor dweeb in the heart of the organization has a frustrated ambition for Broadway production with all the glamour and glitz and exaltation. Hey its Big! It's Rrrrreeeeely reeeeeeelllly Big! It's bigger than Big! It's humongous! On an island barely two miles long and half a mile wide, we get a "town center" that is tucked into a corner. But it's a Town Center! And it is Big!

People who fail in Property Development, either because they are not evil enough or through incapacity, find themselves working the used car dealership circuit entirely for the erotic pleasure of the klieg light.

You may think that our persnickety POV exceeds Andy Rooney, but the Letters to the Editor put us to shame. The recent letters lambasting Walgreens for the new store anchoring Park near the bridge have a quality of irksomeness to which we must aspire.
Of course we have a number of "Drug Store" Chain Outlets sprinkled here and there for people who live here and know where they are. Take heart: with all the new development coming in, driving to any of these places will become impossible, so at least now we have a DSCO located within walking distance no matter where you live.

Besides, at least it is not another In-N-Out-Burger. . . .

Looking at the remaining summer events, now that you have rocked your standing in a crowd far from the stage kind of jones at Outside Lands, we have Treasure Island, with its own version of standing in a crowd far from the stage festival. Better things include Blues on the River up in Guernville and our house fave, Jack White, coming to own the Bill Graham Civic on Friday and Saturday 8/22-23. Saturday is Sold Out, people.

Same day, the King, as in B.B. King takes over the Warfield. If it is Blues you want and you cannot get over to Babylon, or maybe as a nightcap cocktail after BB King, you may enjoy venerable bluesmaster Charlie Musselwhite at Yoshi's on the warmer side of the Bay August 28th. It was during one of John Lee Hooker's final live public performances that we heard someone say, after the Hooker had left the stage and Musselwhite had torn into "Rough Dried Woman", "Thank god for Charlie Musselwhite!" S'truth.


The Dweeb Report indicated that after a spate of warming, we head into a dry cooling pattern. For the Sierra that means an end to the monsoons up there until something comes up from the Sea of Cortez which is likely.

We are likely to see more muggy stuff with high fog until 11 followed by hot days getting into the 90's inland. Expect a short and sharp Indian Summer in September followed by Rain-a-geddon into October and following as the predictable patterns of El Nino play themselves out.


So anyway, even as a NASA spacecraft engaged in good old-fashioned comet-jacking another Supermoon swung into view Sunday evening after a day of high fog and strange breezes. Pedro Almeida is back on the fishing lanes after his boat got some needed repairs. Along with him goes his new cabinmate, Ferryboat, who seems to be taking to the sea like a pup born to sail.

Mindful that the moon has powerful effects upon the moods of animals as inclined to be wayward as moose and elk, Wootie Canootie had taken the extra effort to not only corral his charges there at the base of the Park Street Bridge, but also to fix a collar and chain to Eunice, which he drove into the ground with a foot-long stake propelled by a good nine pound hammer so as to put an end to her wandering about town. Up to now people have not complained much about her escapes, but Wootie knows well that several hundred Canadians die each year from moose attacks, and he is not wanting to take any chances in a place where people find Opossums exotic wildlife.

As he drove the stake into the paddock, Eunice gave him an accusatory female moose look that said clearly "How could you?" but Wootie couldn't be concerned about that. He couldn't risk the notoriety of a loose moose in town getting away from the famous Canadian moose tamer. People start talking about you behind your back in this town, start saying, "That Wootie can't keep his gal in the paddock," and pretty soon bye bye reputation.

Reputation in a small town is worth more to some people than their souls. Just ask old Willy Shakes, who said "Reputation, reputation, reputation! Oh, I have lost my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial."

Other Island residents prepared for the second summer Supermoon each according to his or her fashion. Toni Savage got the coven together to hold their Wiccan rituals in celebration of the Goddess and fertility and the Pill (every Goddess aspect has both its Yin and its Yang) and general good energy stuff. Besides, a supermoon was a good reason to have a party. So Bettina and Babs from A Touch of Wonder Massage brought chips and salsa and Maria brought libations, including jugs of vodka and gin and Toni brought the candles.

At first there was some discussion about bringing chips to gathering like this, as chips were not considered exactly in harmony with nature and well-being and then of course there was the vodka. Bettina said the chips were made of quinoa and Maria said she had acai berry juice to mix with the vodka, so it turned out to be all good.

Down the Strand, a half mile from Crab Cove where the coven had gathered, a group from Marlene and Andre's Household had collected around a gallon jug of Old Man Burgundy and they were whooping and jumping up and down and, in comparison to the Wiccan group, being totally Koyaanisqatsi with their wretched life histories and their dreadful addictions and sinful flaws of lust and gluttony and general nervous foolishness in reaction to the oppressive wretchedness of their respective lives.

Occasional Quentin, so called because he occasionally slept in the House and when he did, occasionally did so underneath the coffee table, was particularly addicted to inanity to such an extent it was difficult for him to hold a conversation with a normal human being. He did, however, get along with dogs.

Ha ha, said Martini, the one who was fully employed as a sawboy out at the Veriflo factory. You are drunk, Felipe.

I am not, said Felipe.

You are too.

I most certainly am not.

You are soused to the gills, said Martini.

I am not, protested Felipe. I am pleasantly happy. As Ionesco says, I am only truly happy when intoxicated.

Ionesco was a drunkard. So was Socrates and all the rest of them, said Pahrump.

I am quite sober, said Felipe. In fact I never felt better in my life.

Prove it, said Martini. If you are sober try and walk along the top of that wall.

Felipe told them all to engage in a number of activities with kinfolk regarded as immoral in the states of Nebraska and Georgia, and that he would prove something to these gentlemen. Naturally, the inevitable happened and Felipe fell off of the low wall into the bushes just trying to climb up on top. When he finally managed to arrive on his hands and knees he remained there a long time as nightwalkers eyed him curiously from the pavement that ran along side of Shoreline Drive.

Slowly, he raised up one leg, then arduously, swaying, he slowly unbent himself to stand on the narrow wall as something similar to a man.

Everyone held their breath as he turned his head to face the moon sailing quietly beyond the shore above the Bay and he stood their, transmogrified into a statue, at one with the stone wall on which he stood and as the bright reflected light covered him with a kissing glow and his body seemed to glow as if suddenly blessed by some supernatural being, turning the bad sinner into a saint. Even the dogs, Bonkers, Wickiwup and Johnny Cash stood transfixed, amazed at the vision.

"La luna! La hermosa luna!" the man cried out before he fell over backwards into the weeds.

Yes, they were all good examples of Life out of balance, with scarcely one and a half terms of employment among the indolent lot, scruffy, ill-bred, ill-tempered, traumatized, PTSD plus dual diagnosis of all kinds of cognitive and emotional disorders, distempered, deranged, caustic, contagious, and inclined toward adjectival abuse to excess. But in the moment, happy enough howling at the new Supermoon and as fine examples of Island Life people as one would ever meet with not a single Realtor or property developer among them. Each one of them proved by simply existing there is a conservation of innocence.

Out by the College greensward, Senior Don Guadeloupe Erizo sat, as was his wont during times of full moon, to contemplate the mysteries of the universe while Dame Herrisson prepared the crepes inside their snug burrow beneath the hedges.

The dame poked her head from the hole. "Qu'est-ce que toi envisag maintenant?"

Which is question that does come up for all of us from time to time, and so worthy of consideration.

"I am regarding Mare Tranquilitis," answered the Don in Spanish, which of course as you know includes the meaning of "regard" on many levels.

"Ah! Bon!" said the Dame, who popped back into the burrow.

All of these animals understand all languages of the earth, but they do not speak them to us very often for concern of misapprehension.

Raucous cars driven by hooting students from Fremont High drove past Mr. Howitzer's mansion on Grand Street with posteriors pointed sans culottes at the mansion windows during his summer soiree.

"Bare-assed riff-raff," snapped Mr. Howitzer as he rapped his cane upon the tiles. "Dodd! Draw the curtains!"

In the Island-Life Offices, the Editor regarded the pool of light at his desk making its own mini-moon while all around the muttering darkness, the supermoon outside the window his sole company. All the news desks had shut down and all the staff gone home for the night, leaving only he, the man behind the curtain, the old man getting older and left with only memories and a few scars, themselves a form of physical memory of things which had happened long ago and far away in the land of green butterflies.

Indeed, surrounded by darkness and muttering silences, the Editor did it all for Company. Despite all odds, surrounded by the darkness, within his pool of light and the supermoon above, somewhere out there persists the Perfect Reader who is Company.

Overhead, the Supermoon, second of this summer of supermoons, sailed on with tranquil bliss while far down below, Eunice the moose grabbed hold of her chain and yanked up the spike embedded into the earth, which flipped up to ride high above her collar extending point high into the air. Carrying her chain with the spike dropping nuggets of earth, she hopped over the corral fence and so began to wander the down, providing visions of some fabulous horse-like beast with a spike emerging from its head.

In this fashion, Eunice descended towards the aurora of candlelight that was the Wicca celebration at Crab Cove. And as she stepped into the circle of dancers, seeking only female moose companionship, there came from far off across the water the ululation of the throughpassing train as it trundled from the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their sentry lights, letting its blues cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the former Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, its ghost-haunted, weedy railbed, between the interstices of the chainlink fences until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off out of shadows on the edge of town past the old Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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


AUGUST 3, 2014


This image comes from our peripatetic artist James who has been snapping images of Babylon during his rambles. This one is of a fire hydrant on California Street.

Yowza California!


Its been a while since we visited the Oaktown Art & Soul. Not since it was a free event have we strolled past Frank Ogawa Plaza for fear that this event would have fallen victim as have many promising Oaktown events to gang-banging nonsense and violence.

Happy to say, the wonderfully salt and pepper crowd kept a smooth groove and most of the emotion was in hooking up with old friends and sudden pleasurable encounters with old colleagues. Live some place long enough this does happen.

While the distinctively Afro-American flavor ruled most of the proceedings this is one venue where a White person can get away with wearing a Proud to be Black button and get away with it.

The Hip hop poppers did their breaks and the poetry slammers slammed their words and there was a BBQ throwdown in which all comers won out in some fashion.

We did a beeline for our house favorite and longtime bluesman Tommy Castro.

He does not wear a black T-shirt stretched over his muscular frame anymore and his once sporty black hair cut close to the head now flies about in gray wisps but the man who ran the "hardest working band in the Bay Area" for years still cranks out high voltage funk/blues to do James Brown proud.



So anyway, Summer suddenly happened with a day of 80 plus temps along the coast and triple digits out past Concord. The Almeida family enjoyed the unexpected wealth of Pedro taking a few days off fishing to recover from the injuries he sustained when the net hauled in a Great White that nearly killed him and did some damage to the boat.

Nick Tongzhi, the Asian man who rented the slip one over from Pedro's commercial boat paid him a cool $1,500 in cash for the fins, which Pedro knew was a blackmarket transaction, but what the heck. It would help pay for some of the damage the thing had caused thrashing around like some fishy stationwagon, for it easily had been bigger than that. Pedro could have bartered higher, but after what had happened he just wanted to get the thing off his shattered deck. Other people paid him for chunks of shark steak, so the destroyed stanchion was nearly paid for just with this fish.

"Where your dog?" asked Nick.

"Gone to the Mountain," said Pedro, their communal reference in banter to that place from which no man or dog returns.

"Ah. That is bad. He was good dog," Nick said. "I look in his eyes and see Satori. I burn incense for him."

Of course no payment can replace a devoted friend. Tugboat's body went down near the Farralones and he would never caper upon the wharf ever again in this life.

Gawpers came to stare at the famous boat which had taken a fifteen footer Great White and at the splinters and pellet holes from the shotgun and all the blood until Spiro helped Pedro hose everything down as Pedro's leg was in a cast and Spiro laid a plastic tarp to shield things until repairs could start.

Over at Boatworks, the evaluator looked things over and asked, "How the heck this happen?"

"Great White," Pedro said.

"Yeah? Heavy losses."

"Yeah. Lost a cabinmate."

"Say no more. We'll fix you up."

So the time came around, because Tugboat had been more than just a work animal around the house, that the inevitable had to be endured.

All of the Almeida clan, including the irascible Teen and the Baby with the Bottom, went over to the Island Shelter. There were plenty of breeds and hounds and pups of distinction. The teen seemed enamored of the young Weimariner. The Baby with the Bottom favored the daschund puppy. Mrs. Almeida preferred the pitbull pup, for she had defense of the chicken coop in mind.

In the far corner Pedro found a cage with a pup that had bandaged paws. When he reached in, the animal snapped at him at first, then regarded him balefully with angry eyes from the corner where it crouched on top of a towel.

"O that one," the shelter staffer said. "He was found in a crack house after a police raid. Looks like he was pretty much abused and he will need a lot of TLC. His mother died soon after she arrived because of the abuse. His name is Fairy Boat. At least that is what the linestaff named him."

Pedro sat down and looked at Fairy Boat and said, "Well how is it going to be?"

In a little while, with all the Almeidas engaged in vigorous disputation and the Baby with the Bottom having made his fame twice to the point that the kids were wanting to put him in the cage with the excitable daschunds, Pedro came walking down the path with a puppy in his arms, a puppy with bandaged legs. "Everybody, meet Ferryboat."

That night the young opossum crept along the fence and under the woodpile to the garden where he was fond of nibbling the potato plant shoots. As the waning moon arose in a crescent he looked with longing at the tomatoes, well guarded by nylon mesh. From there he ambled in young discovery up to the big house with its old woodframe windows, many open due to the recent heat wave. At the back sill, he peered in and was confronted by a woolly face who regarded him with some distrust mingled with some curiosity while all within snored asleep, enmeshed in watery dreams.

Dog meet opossum. Opossum meet dog. "Woof" went Ferryboat, and the nameless opossum snarfled, dropped down to the ground and ambled along the ivy-clad fence to such opossum destinations as make sense to opossums engaged in any activity that is not playing dead.

Having successfully defended his new territory, the young Ferryboat descended to his basket and curled up there in a satisfied sleep.

In the still of the cooling summer night, the homeboys rumbled in their sleek machines with chromed mags, purple highlights, frames lowered to less than an inch above the pavement, and hair slicked back, looking for places and people to impress now that the sideshows all were done. Barefoot girls sat on the hoods of the quietly ticking engines, sipping Red Tail from the bottle as a soft sizzle of brief rain glistened the ends of their hair just so much it was July merging into August with all the hills so far away gone golden with that imported European grass and the nightbirds calling: Summer. It is Summer.

It is the Summer of incredible things. The tomatoes in the Valley have yet to burgeon into something amazing. Once teammates were considered poisonous. It is the Summer, right now, in this moment, when the Brazilian crowd all stood to applaud the victors with honor and grace as their own hometown team went down in terrific flames before the eyes of the entire world. It is the summer when the Oaktown A's smashed one home for this underdog city. It is the summer when the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame evicted Alan Freed. It is the summer when Love came to Town. It is the Summer you will always remember. It is the summer of California's terrific and horrible drought when the entire cherry crop failed; did you know that? It is the summer of magnificence and wonder. It is the summer of four Supermoons, when anything is possible. It is the summer when the street scene is fraught with anger and recriminations and pictures of cops doing terrible things to people. It is the summer of incredible courage and cops performing courageously, but . . . just not in your town. It is the summer when Kid Viper, Golden Gloves champ, gunned his Chevy and laid down a patch half a block long downtown, nevermind the sideshow ban. It is the Summer of the Ebola virus outbreak and zombie apocalypse. It is the summer when the girl put out the bedroom light and in the loft, so soft, silence and surrender, followed by explosive knowing. It is the summer when we came to the comet instead of the otherway around. It is the Summer when you, incredibly, did something. And so, what then, did you do this summer . . . ? What is it that you will always remember? You will never ever have another chance at this very same summer of chances. Time is a spherical prison and there is no escape. Do now what you may not be allowed to do later. Bite that tomato. Drink down the juice. Right now. Do it while you can.

Marlene stepped out into the ironmongery garden with the struggling vines attempting to make something of themselves. They had been watering with recycled bath water but the lack of sun this year had hit the crops fairly hard. The tomato plants had scarcely achieved bush status knee-high when they began producing. Alone, a solitary cherry hung on a sere branch. Marlene took hold of it and it came loose easily. In the quiet of the evening the young opossum scampered along the fence and toward the area that was all protected by mesh, possibly in hope that the succulent greens there would somehow be rendered naked for consumption.

Instead the creature continued on to the next yard where oranges remained on the untended trees.

Marlene bit into the tomato and experienced all the flavors and wonder of pure nature without maturation gasses and trucking and insecticide and years of over breeding. In short, the flavor of pure tomato. No wonder things like ebola and crop rust happen upon us.

From far off across the water came the ululation of the throughpassing train as it trundled from the glowing gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their sentry lights, letting its blues cry keen across the flickering waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the old Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, its ghost-haunted, weedy railbed, between the interstices of the spectral chainlink fences until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off out of memory's shadows on the edge of town past the old Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown..

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


JULY 27, 2014


This week's photo comes from Native Californio and artist friend, Catherine Harris.


It was the 30th anniversary of the annual Art and Wine Faire on Park Street. The annual event has proved to be so durable and popular that the commemorative glasses in which wine and beer are served at the event now fetch top dollar as memorabilia due to the date years printed on the glass.

One could not have asked for better cloud-free blue skies weather on a weekend that saw many events hosted around the Bay.

Treasure Island held its Flea Market in the middle of the Bay and many thousands flocked there on their way to our own little island.

Launched with a mission to support local artists and entrepreneurs, the Treasure Island Flea debuted Memorial Day 2011 by the Ansanelli family. Three years later the monthly event (every last full weekend) has become a Bay Area hallmark and is Northern California’s largest monthly gathering of artists, collectors, designers, crafters and food trucks. In addition the event showcases local musicians, entertainers and hosts a full bar with local wines, beers, and spirits. The event has been coined “the Festival of the Bay” and attracts an average attendance of 15,000.

Ansanelli Productions is a family run event company led by husband, wife and oldest son trio: Charles Sr., Angie, and Charlie Jr. Ansanelli. The family also runs more conventional flea markets in Oakland.

The food there is a cut above the average taco truck special you find at things like the event held at the O.Co lot. Also there was live music and we always endorse live music.

Also taking place this weekend was the Oakland Pedalfest, a celebration of all things bicycle. Instead of the usual boring array of vendors hawking tchotchkes (there was some of that as well, but happily subdued and focussed on the subject theme) the fest featured active demos, live music powered electrically "green" by folks on bicycles, stunt shows highlighting daredevils on wheels, and the ever-popular wooden velodrome with its banked Track of Death plus a lot more. Stompy Jones dished out a nice platter of big band jump 'n jive swing suitable for anyone wearing a zoot suit. Or even, y'know, cargo shorts. Everything went down on Saturday.

In other news we see again a front page article about the usurious rental situation that is fast becoming a nasty bit of business around here and which has virtually destroyed the lives of people living on the edge in SF, causing artists and musicians and people born and raised there to flee the place to come either here to the East Bay or to leave the Bay Area entirely. Which is bad, because the people who take their place are obnoxious, arrogant, selfish, pricks having too much money to be handled safely.

In the article "Rising Rents Pinch Tenants" (Michele Ellson, Alameda Sun, Vol 13, No. 43, July 24, 2014), the writer states a survey conducted by Renewed Hope indicates that Islanders are feeling pinched by rents that have skyrocketed way above the Realtor-set imaginary boundary of 25-30% of gross income. Generally, property management understands that when rents exceed 30% of the lessee's income, trouble is sure to follow.

We had a look at RenewedHope, which appears to be a local group distinct from a larger group that handles substance abuse survivors. The Url is and although some links appear dead, there are plenty of links to public documents that may prove useful to people researching the whole housing thing involving the "housing element" inclusions which have proved to be so contentious, especially with regards to the McKay Avenue project.

It's been observed by many economic wonks that gross income has not increased for most Americans over the past 15-20 years, leaving just about every middle income family unit in dire straits as out-of-state property management jacks rents with the expectation that high-income earners will bring in hefty profits at a steady rate increasing exponentially over time.

Some groups in this area blame Hi-tek companies like Google and HP and Avaya (Microsoft is located in Seattle) for bringing in an influx of yuppies who have no roots here and who don't care about what they do to the markets, but the truth is that how these people are paid does not matter as the process would pursue the natural effects of widespread greed regardless of whether Hi-Tek or BioMed was involved. There sure are a lot of sub-MD medicos running around making pots of money, but nobody points a finger at them because Hi-Tek has the media pizzaz to draw attention to itself.

Google Glass at $300 bucks a pop? Well, there you go. Thrust your wealth in people's faces why don't you. That kind of behavior used to be called "crass".

So we are back to high rents and the reasons they are jacking up. In reality, when the housing bubble burst and millions of people lost their homes, what we saw was a continuing of the avarice unabated as people who used to scalp on the housing market turned to gouging on the rental market. This led to a pressure to drive up prices, forcing owners who did NOT want to increase rents to do so for fear of retaliation from colleagues in the business.

Then again. Real estate and property combined make a weird business that operates by different "understandings" from all other businesses. For the longest time the assumption was that property value never, never, never goes down. This fueled a delusion that in real estate the rule was that you had to make a profit every week, every month, every year, continuously year in and year out.

Well, every business would like that to be reality, but the truth is expecting this and demanding it to be god-sworn truth is crazy, for no business in the world expects to do that realistically, not even Bank of America.

In reality, every business -- and this includes property ownership -- must anticipate taking a loss sometime, somehow, someway. Typically businesses hedge against lean times with insurance, with multiple ownership, with distributing ownership among partners, with thoughtful improvements, with setting aside reserve funds for emergencies, with all kinds of methods. But nobody can really DEMAND profit, and exorbitant, over the top, exponentially increasing profit from month to month. That is just not being on the same planet as everyone else selling stuff.

Where does this leave us? A large number of local property owners sticking their heads in the sand while out-of-town owners gouge for every last silver dime, secretly delighting at first that someone seems to be resolving all of their problems about "problem tenants" and complainers, and then deciding to jump on the bandwagon of greed with announcement "I am going to get mine since he got his."

The lone holdouts (we have talked to you and we have heard what you have to say) get pressured by their associations, who claim "Hey, you are holding things back for the rest of us with your 'below market rents'. Be a mensch and do the same as we are doing. Okay?"

Right now forces against the gouging are gathering in significant numbers. Some property management folks think a rent control ordinance is the worst of what can happen, but to tell the truth, looking at just how many people are very, very angry about the way things have gone, there are quite a lot of events just as thorny which can happen in the meantime leading up to that.

Eventually it will come to pass nothing benefits anybody. Small lot owners of things like Duplexes and Fourplexes would be hard hit by rent control, not to mention the In-Law owners just trying to hand onto their home with tooth and nail. Landlords would hold units open for months, or even years, for fear of getting a "bad tenant" who is difficult to evict.
The way things are going, it may take two or even three elections before it passes, but the end result looks to be inevitable, should greed continue to be the main agent in the marketplace. After all, without rent control, sky's the limit, right? After all, the present situation is untenable and cannot continue.


So anyway, Reverend Shouter of the Adelphian Iglesia del Luz de los Cajóns de Estacionamiento del Mundo held a shindig with catered food and hired musicians, and like most of the Reverend's shindigs, this one started out on Monday around 7 am and lasted all day to 10pm where everyone took a break before returning the following day, repeating this into Sunday. This overlapped the popular Park Street Fair, so the Reverend resolved any potential issues for his congregation arriving from Fremont by means of blocking off sections of the street for parking. Come the days of the Fair, no one could find parking for blocks in all directions -- The Faire started at 10 am and the Reverend's people had snapped up every available space from 7am onwards.

their religion spoke against parking garages.

Organizers at the Faire were left scratching their heads as people drove around aimlessly cursing until people got shunted to the public parking garage across from the police station. Which structure the Adelphians were supposed to use, but their religion spoke against parking garages. Indeed their religion is unusual in its disdain for things like common courtesy.

Reverend Shouter observed the chaos from his belfry and saw that all was good and so he descended and spoke a great sermon unto the multitude gathered there before they broke up to eat from the buffet and enjoy tea dancing while the Reverend Shouter tallied the take from the mandatory donations contributed at the door.

"Praise the Lord, we cleared well over $1,000 after expenses!" The reverend told Brother Sucios.

"Indeed a mighty cash till is our god," said the Brother.

"Indeed a mighty cash till is our god," said the Brother. "And all tax-free."

"Bountiful is the lord of creation," said the Reverend, who was mighty pleased to have found the Way after many dark years of laboring as an auto mechanic.

With the rollback of clouds, the Bay Area entered into a heat spell that announced the occurrence of Summertime.

California trout are known worldwide for their cunning and moody disposition.

For Eugene, this meant a segue from poodle-hunting to the more gentlemanly sport of trout fishing. California trout are known worldwide for their cunning and moody disposition. It is not unusual to find an angler crawling on his belly with his rod and creel dragging behind as he sets himself up to cast a meticulously tied fly in just such a manner that the artificial bait loops over the water surface as if alive.

Everything about trout fishing in the Sierra is as meticulous as it is ritualistic. The only fish who commands more respect and awe may possibly be the Steelhead, for which an entirely separate license must be procured.

Even the handmaking of the lures, the tying of flies, involves carefully defined, precise procedures that are handed down from father to son, mentor to mentee, guru to acolyte.

Eugene begins with diligent research into the nature, hue, and appearance of the individual bugs eaten by trout according to their moods at specific times of the year. Then there are the insect stages of life from nit to pupae, to larvae to full-grown bug. Eugene gathers natural materials as often as possible, raiding owl nests, harvesting marsh plants, combing even his own hair. While the CD player spins the music of Paco Lucia through the air, the material is carefully and artfully arranged on a bodice of cork around the number 12, number 16, number 21 hook. He keeps a few number 8's in the form of wonderfully lifelike locusts, tiger beetles, caddis flies, but for the prized Golden Trout he reserves hooks flatlanders would disdain as puny.

The hook must not be too big, or the wary trout will turn aside with a look of disdain hautiness.

Once the legs and antennae, have been attached one by one with painstaking precision, Eugene studies his meticulous work via a loupe in his kitchen, making careful notes and comparing his artwork to images in a thick tome titled An Entomological Guide to the Sexipodal Fauna Endemic to the High Sierra: A Field Reference for Scientists and Anglers.

Then, setting aside his jeweler's loupe and putting on his Vasque size 11's he drops the artwork on the kitchen floor and stomps on it in a great fury of emotion three times. Then and only then, is the masterpiece considered finished, for no art is worth anything without passion. Just like flamenco.

Into the mountains Eugene then goes each year to the same lake, hiking along the trail miles from any road, following the stream up along the old lava flows, past narrow chasms and gorges and waterfalls, until he arrives at the pristine Lake Martha on the edge of Wotan's Parking Lot and just at the base of Mount Goddard. An arm of Goddard extends south on the far shore, reflecting the multihue granite cliffs in the mirror surface. Beyond that wall tumbles the wild and remote Ionian Basin.

Cutthroats are not found in the Sierra save by accident of poor directions and bad maps

From Lake Martha the trout variation called the golden trout is thought to first have diverged. Rainbows and brookies are very fine and well worth hiding behind a boulder to hook if you can. Browns are imports and they put up a good fight. Cutthroats are not found in the Sierra save by accident of poor directions and bad maps. Walleye may be unique and a particular treat upon the palate in some regions of the country, but the golden trout, however, is prized for its extraordinary beauty and high intelligence.

You can talk to a walleye and he just might listen, but the golden trout speaks to a man's soul.

And each year, Eugene comes to this same lake in search of the one golden trout he met long ago on the trip when he accidentally fetched along a canteen filled with Padraic's mysterious home brew which has been known to cause magical visions.

all who saw him remarked there was something odd about him

On that trip as Eugene dozed beside the austere lake the California King Golden emerged its massive head and spoke to him, commanding him to observe the spiritually pure ways of the trout fisherman. And the man arose, and Lo! it was as if his being filled with light, golden light, from the radiant fish who then vanished. And he came down from the glacial plateau that is Wotan's Parkinglot and reentered the roiling crowded world of man and spoke as if transubstantiated to a being from a higher plane of existence and indeed all who saw him remarked there was something odd about him.

Father Richard Danyluk, who also knew a thing or two about transubstantiation, took a more prosaic approach in his quest for average, plain old perch and rockfish. About the most exotic take from the Cove would be a lost halibut or leopard shark.

The light ebbed and flowed as the recent hot skies yielded to the front coming up from the Sea of Cortez, crossing the Sonoran desert, passing over the little knots of parched wannabe immigrants carrying their plastic water jugs, guided by ruthless coyotes and dodging the Border Patrol, sprinkling a bit of moisture over the Judas trees before causing wisps to gather again above the Island to create mini dry thunderstorms, heat lightning with all the fans in all the apartments cranked up to push the air heavy with premonition sluggishly from room to room.

Father Danyluk reeled in one last cast and called it a day with the shadows getting longer and went off to supper prepared by Sister Incontinence, which turned out to be frozen salmon from Alaska, since the local runs have petered out due to climate change and the exuberance of the Army Corps of Engineers who sought to outdo all government agencies once upon a time in building dams from Point Reyes up to Yreka, eliminating (more or less) the danger of flooding along 900 miles of coastline, but effectively destroying the world's largest steelhead fishing industry. In the Sierra, the moody trout warily eyed the surface and listened for footsteps. No one knows really what the trout can see, and that is the truth.

Out through the Golden Gate Pedro motored his boat, El Borracho Perdido, a more real and honest fisherman than any described to this point. Getting grizzled and hoary in his age, with the kids all gravitating to more sensible and modern occupations, like software development for fruity devices and plushy wares for mini things that required a pleasant electrical socket. He had left the house without his customary shave, having too many things to do, kids pulling right and left. The teenager glowering in the corner with his iPad. Something amiss in that kid.

Well, he did not complain about that. The children were supposed to surpass their fathers and in this task most of them looked to be well on the way, including both the irascible teen and the baby Tucker with the famous bottom. In fact, some say the task of the son is to destroy the father entirely, acting out some ancient Greek formula, but this is really an artifice to create drama. Sons and fathers in the American West have enough problems without Oedipus stepping in there with his Jungs getting all Freudened.

He had only himself as he was, a simple man devoted to fishing for a living. For him it had been an occupation into which you stepped because the next step logically and by all reason was to fish because that is what you knew and that was all you were allowed to know at the time and there were no other reasonable options. He got a boat on the cheap from Spiro, and he knew how to fish from his father and his uncle and he had the equipment handed down to him, so he fished and that is how he managed to pay the bills.

So that is how Pedro, getting grizzled along the hairline along with Tugboat his trusty Labrador with the graying muzzle found themselves motoring out to the fishing grounds, nowadays defined by radar and maps at the usual hour of the wee hours of the morning for most of us landlubbers.

St. Elmo's fire danced along the rigging

Lightening played on the horizon and the front up from the Sea of Cortez brought its own electrical excitement. St. Elmo's fire danced along the rigging and gave even Tugboat an halo as if that experienced dog possessed a sudden spirituality to make Reverend Shouter envious.


And now, with the waves chopping gently on this night of waning Supermoon, the radar glowing dimly to show the schools, his beard rough, he remembered all the troubled times, all the vicissitudes that everybody experiences getting through Life and wondered what comes next, what in particular remained in store for him.

"You just may die in a moment if you do not figure out something quick . . .".

Into the early hours his net brought up something heavy and out from the bag a massive Great White started thrashing about on the deck. It was a good fifteen feet long and its great tail smashed the starboard light stanchion as it flailed caught in the ropes. Pedro stepped in with the Mossberg riot gun to put it down. The thing rolled with its eyes glaring with fury and knocked Pedro aside, sending the shotgun over to the wheelhouse. The deck yawed, Pedro's foot caught on the net, and he pitched backwards. The thing bowed and flipped and in coming down the massive head fell on him knocking out his wind and Pedro found himself pinned down staring at the massive jaws, the teeth of the beast and suddenly all values had shifted, as they had in the past under similar conditions with the simple statement, "You just may die in a moment if you do not figure out something quick or Lady Luck passes by".

Tugboat leapt upon the fish and seized it by what passes for a neck, tearing a great rent and letting loose a flood of red shark blood. The shark thrashed and tossed Tugboat aside, but this gave Pedro enough space to get out from under the animal and retrieve the gun.

splintering the gunnels and sending metal fittings scattering

The shark grabbed his right leg as he checked the gun and Tugboat leapt again to assault the creature about the eyes. Pedro fired twice into the primeval brain of the creature at close range but it refused to let him go so he shoved the barrel into its mouth along his thigh and fired again, which at least loosened the jaws enough the man could break free by prying the jaws with the gun, shooting again through the roof of its mouth. He stood and fired again at the base and after a long minute, splintering the gunnels and sending metal fittings scattering across the deck as the thing's tail thrashed about, the light finally left its eyes.

Pedro fell back against the wheelhouse with his leg bleeding while Tugboat staggered to the fore end of the boat dancing on the chop and there lay down among the ropes.

After a bit, Pedro got himself into the wheelhouse and bandaged up his torn leg because he knew he had to do that or pass out. Then he put on a fresh pair of trousers and oilskins. He went outside to find the body of Tugboat there, washed by the overspray.

Near the Farralones, as the seas quieted momentarily to a gentle swell, the ocean appeased for the moment with its small sacrefice, he let go the body of his old friend, ten years now keeping company, letting the sea take what it always wants, what it always demands in payment for a lifetime of giving up itself, making all accounts even on the ledger, harsh though it may be.

When Pedro returned early, seeing him limping up the walk along without the familiar black shadow beside him and his face all haggard, Ms. Almeida knew something had happened.

Later that day the kids wanted to know "Where's Tugboat?", but the truth was that grey-muzzled Tugboat would romp no more on the green earth. Of coral his bones were made and pearls, his eyes.

From far off across the water came the mournful ululation of the throughpassing train as it trundled from the glowing gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their sentry lights, letting its blues cry keen across the flickering waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the old Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, its ghost-haunted, weedy railbed, between the interstices of the spectral chainlink fences until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off out of memory's shadows on the edge of town past the memento mori of the old Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown..

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


JULY 20, 2014


This week's foto comes from fellow Islander and FB friend, John Curley, who possesses a talented eye for images. Kinda says it all about the Island Life here.


Things are heating up early this summer for a hot political season leading up to November's midterm elections, normally a sleeper time of little interest.

The opening of the season kicked off with an expected somnolent response from candidates seeking office, where here the brick-bat target called the Mayor's Office now opens up but with few seriously inclined to unseat Mayor Marie for the title of Chief Abuse Recipient in Silly Hall. Mayor Marie is running for reelection with not much to oppose her. Stewart Chen is running for re-election as Councilperson.

Former CP Frank Matarrese is pitching his hat in the ring along with a former aid to Rob Bonta. Lena Tam terms out, so even if Chen is no-contest, hope remains for Frank, whom we have always liked for his commonsense approach to things.

Among other positions we have seats on the contentious Health Care District Board, still viable despite the absorption of the Hospital into the County system due to interagency agreements. Among these we have the seats of Tracy Jensen, Robert Deutsch and Lynn Bratchett which determine how the indelible parcel tax will be spent.

In other news, most of the public news remains irrelevant. What we do see as relevant is the recent movement over there in Babylon to address the out-of-control rent situation that is destroying the communities over there and which is slowly, inexorably wrecking life here in the East Bay. Finally, finally, finally, some people are looking up to realize that average apartment rentals starting at $2,300 for a Studio is obscene, destructive and bad for the community in general.

It remains to be seen what comes of this minor revolt, which resembles an "anti-gouging" revolt that took place in New Orleans several years ago before the Katrina disaster derailed everything.

Just sayin', there is a precedent to what is going on.

Statewide we recently had a significant Court decision handed down regarding the Death Penalty. A federal court judge in Orange County today declared California's death penalty system unconstitutional, calling its administration so "dysfunctional" that it constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

In a 29-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, overturned the death sentence of Ernest Dewayne Jones, who was sentenced to death in Los Angeles in 1995 for the killing three years earlier of his girlfriend's mother.

"Nearly two decades later, Mr. Jones remains on California's death row, awaiting his execution, but with complete uncertainty as to when, or even whether, it will ever come," Carney wrote. "Mr. Jones is not alone. Since 1978, when the current death penalty system was adopted by California voters, over 900 people have been sentenced to death for their crimes.

"Of them, only 13 have been executed," he wrote. "For the rest, the dysfunctional administration of California's death penalty system has resulted, and will continue to result, in an inordinate and unpredictable period of delay preceding their actual execution. Indeed, for most, systemic delay has made their execution so unlikely that the death sentence carefully and deliberately imposed by the jury has been quietly transformed into one no rational jury or legislature could ever impose: life in prison, with the remote possibility of death.

"As for the random few for whom execution does become a reality, they will have languished for so long on death row that their execution will serve no retributive or deterrent purpose and will be arbitrary."

Some of the blame is owed to the state's underfunded death penalty system, Carney wrote. Some inmates wait three to five years on average just for an attorney to be appointed to handle their appeal, he noted.

A state bipartisan commission "found the state's underfunding of its death penalty system to be a key source of the problem. For example, the commission noted that despite the high volume of applicants willing to represent death row inmates from the security of an agency setting, the Office of the State Public Defender's budget has been cut and its staff reduced," Carney wrote.

Orange County Supervisor Janet Nguyen, who is running for state Senate, called on lawmakers and the governor to spend more to improve the legal process for death penalty cases.

"While I strongly disagree with the decision and hope it is overturned on appeal, I urge the Legislature and the governor to immediately work to save and improve the death penalty law to protect it from future judicial edicts," Nguyen said. "Other states have figured this out, so can California."

Since 1978, 94 of the more than 900 inmates sentenced to death have died behind bars before execution could be carried out, Carney wrote. Thirty-nine inmates won appeals and were not re-sentenced to death. There are 748 inmates on Death Row awaiting execution or rulings on appeals.

"As the size of California's death row grows larger and larger, so too do the delays associated with it," Carney wrote. "Of the 748 inmates currently on California's death row, more than 40 percent, including Mr. Jones, have been there longer than 19 years. Nearly all of them are litigating the merits of their death sentence, either before the California Supreme Court or the federal courts."

Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the UC Irvine School of Law, told City News Service that Carney's ruling was a "big deal." The next step legally depends on how the state responds, Chemerinsky said.

"I assume if the governor and attorney general disagree with the ruling then they will appeal to the 9th Circuit," Chemerinsky said.

After that, the U.S. Supreme Court may take up the case, Chemerinsky said.

"I think it's a very courageous ruling based on the facts and the reality," said Chemerinsky, who argued two death penalty cases before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal when he was a professor at Duke University.

"It's a very important and well-reasoned decision," Chemerinsky said. "I think Judge Carney is right that the way the death penalty is administered in California is so arbitrary and capricious as to be unconstitutional."

Los Angeles County's former district attorney, Gil Garcetti, agreed, saying the ruling "proves that the death penalty is broken beyond repair."

"It is exorbitantly costly, unfair and serves no legitimate purpose whatsoever. The only solution is to replace the death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of parole," Garcetti said.

John Van de Kamp, former state attorney general and chairman of the bipartisan commission cited in Carney's ruling, said recommendations were made to speed up the legal process.

"We provided recommendations to improve the system, including providing funds to hire more attorneys and judges to move cases through the appeals process more quickly," Van de Kamp said. "To date, none of our recommendations have been implemented.

"The facts are overwhelming and clear: California's death penalty system is dysfunctional," he added. "The lack of any meaningful progress to implement the Commission's recommendations over the past six years adds fuel to Judge Carney's decision today."

Just saying for the record we are evenly split here on the Death Penalty issue in the Offices, with some in favor for crimes against children, and some entirely against.


Here are a few upcoming events that may not gleam bright on the radar, but which look to be interesting nonetheless.

The Peralta Hacienda in Oaktown, located off Coolidge Avenue in the Thirties, is a rare jewel of a place just chock full of historical value and staffed by quite delightfully talented people who run all sorts of entertaining fundraising events and freebies to call attention to the last vestige of Spanish colonialism in Alta California.

They will be holding various events through the summer, all of which are worth devoting a few hours of leisure towards.

August 9 & 10 at the Hacienda!
SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARK-A Midsummer's Night Dream.

Friends of Peralta Hacienda Historical Park invites you to the event of the summer. This is the 2nd year that the Vallejo Shakespeare Group brings us Shakespeare! The seating will be picnic style so bring your blankets. However, we shall have umbrellas, Easy Ups tents and chairs that will be placed on the perimeter of the stage for those who wish standard seating and shading.

Refreshments will be available.

PERALTA HACIENDA - Active Duty service members and their families enter FREE!

We shall continue with our Blue Star museum participation Wednesdays thru Sundays 2:30-5:30p: Peralta Hacienda Historical Park join other museums throughout America in welcoming our active duty service members and their families free. We offer an opportunity for the service member to tell their stories under the story horse for small groups of 15. For groups up to 36 we can schedule the service member stories to be shared in the Center for History and Community!

August 5, 2014 6 pm-8 pm
National Night Out
CommUNITY Choice Connections!

This year the Friends of Peralta Hacienda Historical Park continues with our partnering with the Oakland Police Department. We shall have a full event of free food/ and foods from around the globe. Community Meeting-7-7:30p: Cameras and ...(CORE area). Hear the . A.C.E. Camp updates. Music. Soccer. Social Service Info. Money Management. Face painting by Jennifer shall be free the first hour. Bring your Flag as we plan for United NEIGHtions (Slanting towards neighbors) Day for October 2014.

Sign up to Volunteer once a month for park clean up or in any of our many other endeavors. See your Councilman, Noel Gallo; Neighborhood Services Coordinator, Ana Martinez and meet your Problem Solving Officer! We are a Blue Star Museum. Become a Time Traveler: Become a member here and you may get in free at another museum in America. Some "Oakland Tales" books for the older children available from author, Summer Brenner. School supplies.Sign up for "Seniors @ Oakland Museum" with Mrs. Monroe.

Get information on completing StoryCorps recording of you and a dear friend or Family member. Child Safe(Nino Seguro) Kits! Scavenger Hunt the whole Six acres. Shakespeare in the Park flyers! Rent our Center for History and Community. Prizes, prizes, prizes!


So anyway, the Island Limpets faced off against their archrivals, the Babylon Stompers this week at Willie Stargell Field, and there was some hope among the faithful that the game would not be quite so dismal as historically recorded, due to being held this year on hometown turf.

The Limpets have not won a game against the Babylon team since the memorable game that took place in August of 1916 when the great Cable Car strike decimated the opposing team, when Babylon members went off to combat the workers on the line in the City, taking away all the team-members who knew a thing or two about handling a bat or similar weapon. The score for that game had ended up 9 to zip in favor of the home team and the Limpets had not won a single game since then.

In any case, old guard Islanders filed into their seats and made ready with overpriced hot dogs and bad lukewarm beer sold from the concession and their purple Limpets Roar fundraiser mugs and sat with every expectation that perhaps, this year, things would be different as they watched their team trot out onto the field with their patched uniforms, their hand-me-down gloves passed on from father to son or via donations from devoted fans, their well-worn caps and their scarred bat bags filled with American hickory and it was almost 1916 again with the sun golden on the drought-sere stubble that lined the backstop area and the undulating hills beyond you could see from the very top of the sea-green stands.

As a stadium it did not match anything like Pac Bell Park over in Babylon, but here in this arena great deeds had been done by Olympians the world shall not see again. It was hear that the great Babe Ruth had come to smack a homer so far above the fence and out of the park that nobody ever found the ball save for Mrs. Agendath who discovered this ripped up hardball among her mustard greens several months and several miles away.

Indeed, in baseball, of all the sports, there is no Time.

There is no time out, no pause from the referee in baseball. The game lasts nine innings and as long as it takes nine innings, so lasts the game.

Right from the beginning, when Flannery pitched a low inside that the Babylon leftie Barthes knocked out of the park that they were in trouble. First, Arnold, then Pater, then Ruskin landed singles, leaving it to Hulme to send it all home for a score of 3 to zip.

With Hulme on third, Babbit snagged a double as Shelly bobbled and Eliot dribbled.

With two up, Edmund Wilson loaded the bases when shortstop "Papa Hem" managed to capture the pop fly from Ken Burke. Billy Faulkner collided with John Crowe Ransome on a line drive from Northrop Frye, leaving third baseman Vidal to tag out Mailer in a rare athletic pivot and deft move before finally ending the rout at 7-0 in a hardball to second baseman Alcott.

The players boiled out of the dugouts with Coach Wimsatt Beardsley shouting, "That was intentional!" and Coach Wilde shouting, "That's fallacious and a lie!"

Thus ended the first inning and all the experienced veterans from the Limpets side proceeded to get very drunk on whiskey flasks, knowing how things would proceed from there on out.

From the very beginning the Crushers had danced onto the field with their very own hired DJ, all sporting spiffy new uniforms, brand new well oiled gloves and equipment provided gratis by loyal sponsors. Victory was theirs by right and birth and they had only arrived to claim their documents pro forma.

Their ballboy was named Roland Barthes and his family came from good people with pots of money invested in solid offshore investments. And everything they did glittered with grand success.

It was late into the Ninth, with the score something so abysmal that recording the stats caused faint hearted individuals to swoon and fade away, when the Limpits and the visitors awoke from dreamy somnolence to discover all bases loaded, Cather on first, London on second, and Crane on third with Stein up to bat.

The Crushers so wanted to make this evening a total shutout. Everyone knew the game was rigged and their victory assured and delivered by all the usual parties, but securing a shutout, well that would certainly prove something of their superiority. Of course they would win -- they had paid handsomely for that. Everybody knew it and because everybody knew it, victory was yet a bittersweet thing. But the shutout, that was another story. That became a matter of pride, and pride for folks like the Crushers and their people, that was an all-encompassing thing. It had to prove they had won not because they had paid for the game from the get go but because they were by nature, superior, better, deserving of all they got.

In the late afternoon, with the sun setting behind the hills, with the score abysmal and the count two for two, the pitcher, Poulet, accidentally tossed a lofting and dropping lob into the strikezone with Miles Ni'Gopaleen substituting for Clemons at the last moment. Before the pitch, Miles approached the batting area, took a swig from a flask in his hip pocket, and swung his Louisville slugger a few times.

Poulet kicked the dirt, pretended indifference, then snapped around as Crane scampered back from the midline to Second.

Poulet glared under his cap and Crane did a little dance beside the sack.

During this opera, Miles looked up into the stands where his fiancee, the girl of his dreams sat way up there in the throng with her pillbox hat and widows weeds, the sweet Anais Nin.

Time to focus and Miles stepped into the square in the bottom of the ninth and the count two for two, one single out standing between the Limpits and the dreadful shame of a shutout.

Poulet took his time, wound up and flubbed the pitch, intended to be a hard inside fastball. Instead the thing came from his hands with all the lethargic impulse of a felt foosball.

The ball lofted in and the bat swung and the crack of bat echoed down through over one hundred years of disappointments as the little round thing rebounded high, high, high into the sky of the summer of Supermoons as the crowd stood and roared, all craning their necks to watch this sphere arising, becoming in the history and legacy of baseball and the Island another moon unto itself, for the outfield's eyes diminishing into a pinprick in the high heavens, vanishing into story and myth and yet becoming permanent as the ball arced higher and higher into the blue heavens going black as hours passed, traveling through time and space and becoming one with Voyager, also pursuing outward a trajectory of timelessness, a journey with no ending in search of something beyond the planetary system we call home.

For what would one send an emissary, any sort of object outbound on a steadily ascending trajectory, but some indication, some sign in return that somewhere in the vast cosmos, in the vastness of timelessness, in the game without Time, some other who exists who may respond with quiet emanations, like a distant planet or a girl in a pillbox hat, "I am here. I feel the same". Every batter's effort condenses the same effort as every launch into the thing called space.

In search of something called "Love".

The rest is history.

From far off across the water came the ululation of the throughpassing train as it trundled from the glowing gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their sentry lights, letting its blues cry keen across the flickering waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the old Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, its ghost-haunted, weedy railbed, between the interstices of the spectral chainlink fences until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, and the moon-lit sandlots of age-old sandlot games, headed off out of memory's shadows on the edge of town past the field of dreams to parts unknown under the immense Supermoon.

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

JULY 13, 2014


This week's image comes from Islander, talented photographer, and FB friend, John Curley, to display one of our four "supermoons" we are due this year.


Big news, besides winners of the annual Mayor's July 4th Parade (Rhythmix Cultural Works for Best Float, and the County Sheriff for Best Equestrians and the Greer family for best mounted group) is the Silly Council's about face on the Crab Cove/McKay Avenue/Neptune Pointe (sic) zoning.

Before we forget, we are pleased to see Mark Betz is still plugging away as the Little Tramp after 30 some years of riding with his knees akimbo the entire 4 mile July 4th parade route. Take care of those knees, man.

Anyway, the Council's decision is half-smart in the face of public outrage over the sneaky way that the spit of land adjoining Crab Cove nearly got silently delivered to a developer Tim Lewis Communitied (TLC) who already has interest in other parcels on the Island.

There are no good outcomes in terms of potential lawsuits due to the messy way things went down. No matter what anyone does, the City faces litigation.

EBRPD was about to sue the City due to the frustration of its anticipation of getting the parcel to meet the requirements stipulated by voter approval to expand the local park via a measure passed in 2008.

In addition, upset voters banded together to get a measure on the ballot for November that would force the Council to rezone the property back to Open Space. The measure looked to have a very good chance of succeeding.

When federal GSA decided to unload the property, used by them as a warehouse area, Council members inexplicably rezoned the land for residential use, allowing TLC to buy the piece in a hasty auction in which EBRPD was hampered from bidding by state law.

By proactively rezoning the parcel, the Council effectively renders both the lawsuit and the ballot measure moot.

Unfortunately, the Council also added a companion measure to the rezoning ordinance that adds a provision which allows the City to suspend any ordinance that results in a lawsuit within 120 days of the Ordinance becoming effective, which essentially opens the door wide open to a lawsuit from TLC that will essentially cost them nothing.

Needless to say, the voter group Friends of Crown Beach protests the companion measure, stating this item violates State law Elections Code section 9217.

It would be nice if TLC simply punts on this one, remaining satisfied with the other projects it has going on here, but fat chance of that happening. They could always convert the land to a park and then gift it with tax-incentives to the non-profit agency.


So anyway, the weather has been schizo around here, starting out with high fog and gloomy prospects leading to brilliant stabbing sunshine amping up temps into the 80's by afternoon for a few short hours before the famous wall of fog rolls in again. This is the weather that once caused Mark Twain to wail and gnash his teeth.

Samuel Mark Twain Clemons
Said, "The weather is as sour as lemons
in wretched Northern California -
Don't ever come in summer, babe, I warn ya.

According to the Island Sun, July 10th was Island Clerihew Day. If you do not know what a Clerihew is, see above for example.

The second Supermoon of the summer appeared this weekend, accompanied by the expected dose of lunacy to go along with it. All of the regional crisis centers filled up with lines of folks acting wonkers as people all over the Bay Area took their clothes off to go strolling through the shopping mall, stood out in plazas claiming to be famous people like Jesus Christ, Cardinal Richelieu, Napoleon Bonaparte and Alexander Haig, not to mention the usual mayhem people come to accept as normal in just about every carpeted office in Babylon and Oaktown.

Tipitina was working on the 39th floor of 101 California when she and the new gal were called in to clear the tables after a meeting between the partners and the brokerage McLaughlin, Pivot and Vogel. The new gal, whose name was Sandra, stood there with her fists on her hips looking at the lines of tables covered in coffee cups, plates of half-eaten food, urns, vases, warming pans, wine decanters and breadsticks shoved into pots of cheese.

Far down below, Jaguars, Porsches and Lamborgini's departed from the private parking garage underneath the building, heading out across Market Street to SOMA and the freeway onramps.

"o god," Tipitina said. "And I gotta get a summons to court by four-thirty today."

Sandra said nothing but dragged one of the big trash barrels over to the edge of one of the cafeteria tables then walked briskly to the far end away from the barrel neatly flipping up the linen tablecloth as she did so. She then flipped up the cloth on the far side, tilted the table higher and higher and the mass of utensils, plates, glassware, decanters and warming pans slid into the barrel.

"Well 'cmon then. Lets do the others," Sandra said.

In ten minutes all the tables stood there spotless. Sandra strode past Tipitina brushing her hands. "Ok now, back to work! I aint taking out the trash. let someone else do that."

Around four-twenty Tipitina stood in the copy room listening to Myra go on about the toner needing replacement or the drum dirty on the big Konica. "You know how to change this toner out," Myra said.

Tipitina shrugged, stapling documents. In a hurry.

"You the last one using the machine," Myra said. "Ï think it is your turn."

Myra was always trying to get people to do things for her. She wanted to become a manager. Someday some other place, maybe, but not here in this office.

"I am busy right now, Myra". Tipitina sighed.

"Well la-dee-dah! Some people just too lazy and selfish thinking of themselves all the time. Don't call on Tipitina when the Big one hits. I guess they don't have no earthquakes back where you come from."

"We have hurricanes," Tipitina said.

"Well y'all can just go back where you came from . . .".

The bike messenger arrived in the door with his gortex shoulder bag and scuffed outfit. It was Nick, one of the better messengers from Express Messenger.

"Call for pickup, Ex-Mess," Nick said.

"Here ya go," Tipitina said, handing him a packet.

"ökay. sign here,"said Nick.

"You listen to me, I am talking to you," Myra said.

Tipitina rolled her eyes and Nick grinned.

"Yáll be careful on the street," Tipitina said.

"Älways," said Nick and he was out the door.

"Them biker types are all driftways scum. Come here from the East coast and wanting to live the hippie lifestyle without workin'.

"Ï think his family is from Moraga," Tipitina said.

"Moraga! Now that is real High Life Town and Country nowadays! He don't look high life to me."

"His family got forced out by the developers when it went upscale."

"That's what I thought. They probably all come from Okies. He'll never amount to nothing."

"Ï think he is studying pre-med at State."

"How come you know so much about this guy? You aint sweet on him, are you?"

"Ï eat lunch down by the Wall where they take their breaks. I talk to all of the messengers. They are nice people."

"Nice people! You call that Doing Lunch Downtown? I feel sorry for you; maybe you oughtta go back to where you came from, like I said."

Tipitina sighed. It was another full moon and difficult people acted more crazy than usual.

Out on the street, Nick hopped on his bike and took off past the woman wearing the Viking hat and a fur coat in the 80 degree heat. The Viking woman paused to let her eyes adjust long enough to observe a man wearing rags and bearing a tall wooden staff enter the Higher Grounds Cafe where a poetry reading was in progess.

"Although I see him still, the freckled faced man ascend the dun grey hill in his grey Connemara clothes . . .".

The ragged man paused in the aisle between the tables that faced the stage and rapped his stick sharply on the tiles, shouting, "Words, words, words! All they is, is just words!"

The reading poet stopped with his mouth open staring at the apparition who glared back, daring anyone to refute him.

Evening fell upon the land, or lay down like a quiet drunkard to recline over the hills draped in shadows, pensively watching as the Supermoon arose with stately grace among the wrack of fog and cloud.

Out on the edge of the Island College greensward Don Luis Guadalupe Erizo sat with his own pensive gaze staring as was his wont, at the full moon.

Out from the burrow trundled his long-time companion Dame Elouise Herrisson, who paused to look at the Don looking at the moon.

After a while, she, a master of the obvious, said, "Mssr. Philosophe, tu cherch' encore une fois à la lune.

"Si." Senor Erizo responded.

She remained wisely silent with her own thoughts, but sat a little closed to him, feeling the warmth.

And so the couple sat among the hedges as the supermoon passed overhead on a peaceful night with no sirens or screaming. Indeed it was a quiet night on the Island and no one got stabbed or shot.

From far off across the water came the ululation of the throughpassing train as it trundled from the glowing gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their sentry lights, letting its blues cry keen across the flickering waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the old Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, its ghost-haunted, weedy railbed, between the interstices of the spectral chainlink fences until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off out of shadows on the edge of town to parts unknown under the immense Supermoon.

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

JULY 6, 2014


This one comes from the Kitson family in Sunnyvale and we include it here by way of its remarkably well composed elements and strong evocative quality. Let it be known, btw, that the girl is now a sophmore at Hawaii University at Hileah.


We are back from the Island-Life Mountain Sabbatical,this time with no loss of life or limb. Give us a few days and we will have the trip report up with photos in the Camping section.

Island-Life Stories has been updated to wrap up 2013, including the account of the ever-popular Thanksgiving Poodleshoot.

Summer season is upon us, with lots of exiting stuff happening at the 21 Galleries and Vessel in Oaktown, including SLATE. We see David Grey coming to the downtown Fox with tix sold out fast as we told you would happen. Rumors are there will be a second show to meet demand.

Got the A's against the Giants over at Park. Nosebleed tix go for a neat $99 bucks for the Battle of the Bay this time.

We were out of town for the Annual Mayor's July 4th Parade, so we don't have reports on that one, but we did see the vaqueros arrive with their splendid horses. First parade we have missed in 20 years.


So anyway, July opened up here with days of high fog blotting the blue sky until midafternoon, when the sun's battalions fought through with spears of sunshine for a brief reprieve until the late afternoon's prevailing winds shifted allowing the dense formations of fog to march inland once again.

Babylon remained cool on the 4th, but the Island warmed up during the 9k race, which, because the course was limited by our boundaries, involved two circuits, looping around the South Shore Center, cutting down Shoreline to Crab Cove, wending in squiggles through Washington Park, knocking out past the former low rent apartments vacated during the time an out-of-town developer from Texas tried to convert them surreptitiously into luxury condos without telling the Council.

Something about the high walls, the security system and especially the Olympic swimming pools (two of them) tipped off even our usually somnolent leaders, who reacted to public outrage by collectively putting their foot down. Since our Council seldom engages in ostentation they voted to have Councilperson Frank to do it for them. Put his foot down, that is. In a big meeting with the developers around the old Oak Meeting Table in room 109. Or was it 209? In any case Frank sat there and said, "I am afraid I am going to have to put my foot down."

"You are going to put your foot down are y'all?" said the Texas developers. "Our lovely Caterpillar trucks remain waiting."

"Yes indeed, I am putting my foot down firmly and decisively and . . . and collectively. We shall not be shilly-shallied."

"O you shall not be shilly-shallied shall y'all? Are you sure? The svelte engines of our lovely Caterpillar trucks stand at idle."

"Indeed surer than . . . well since ever I was sure about things. This was supposed to be a rehab job for the people we want to stay living in the West End. This was supposed to be a facelift job for low income so we can satisfy the State we are pleasant and nice about things. Your lovely trucks may be employed to transport lovely waste to the dump."

"Well I say."

"Well you say, "you say", I see."

"Yes indeedee, I say and you know it."

"I see you say, "you say", I see and I see you say, "you know it", but nevertheless I must simply put my foot down."

"Indeedee this will cost you dear, and you know it, I say. Our lovely Caterpillar trucks stand anxiously waiting."

"O come off your Texas high horse! This is not a Villanelle. Get back to the plans and play right and we'll get you slots, prime slots at the Golf Course. But I still must put my foot down."

"Well that is not good enough. Not unless you let us plow down the greens and let us build 10 story high-rises with condos fit for kings all tiled in Carrera and gilt bathrooms with titanium bidets for each. We also would like to build a cell tower on the corner where that girl Jesse now operates nothing more than a lemonade stand for part of the year on a valuable patch of grass. Our Catepillar trucks idle with amorous pneumatics at the ready."

"We do not do bidets here. That is a French word they use over across the water in Babylon. They may aspire to Minneapolis, but we remain solidly St. Paul over here. No bidets. And the lemonade stand stays. I have put my foot down."

Our lovely Caterpillar trucks stand with tremulous exhaust . . .

"For pete's sake we have evicted the former tenants most successfully without any more trouble than a briefcase of empty promises to give first choice on coming back (hahahahahaha!) and no lawsuits! Our lovely Caterpillar trucks stand with tremulous exhaust and demure anticipation."

"No more adjectives. And no more condos."

"In that case, frankly my dear, we do not give a damn and be damned to you and your urchins. Good bye and good day!"

So the upshot of that meeting was the developer group abruptly abandoned the entire project after evicting 1002 individuals and so left town with the place still a wreck and uninhabitable. Drug dealers, finding no more business there, moved on over to the Washington Apartment complex where they committed murder and larceny and sins of the flesh as in the old neighborhood.

Frank, for all his pains, lost his bid for reelection the following year.

chipped beef, an excellent dish, perfectly serviceable to solidly mortar any fireplace

In any case, the 9k runners scooted up past the weedy former airfield to do a circuit there a couple times so that Eugene could count them and keep them honest, before they ran over to the Estuary Main street past the Ferry Landing and down the newer parkway named after the ballplayer Willie Stargell, zigzagging among the old Navy housing and over the hump of dirt and broken concrete next to the new Target and then through the chainlink gate and over the Posey Tube entrance, pausing to pay the troll standing there with a cardboad sign, to course behind Mariner Square and the inexplicably surviving Pasta Pelican, which has been serving atrocious noodle dishes since 1965. Harrington, the infamous critic for the Contra Costa Times, once said, "I found the chipped beef an excellent dish, perfectly serviceable to solidly mortar any fireplace or retaining wall with odors evocative of skunk cabbage and quik-dry concrete . . .".

From there the runners coursed across the Buena Vista flats and the Jean Sweeny Open Space Preserve where the old Beltline used to run. They blitzed past the Old Cannery. From there they took a jaunt around the Wind River parking lot, largely to find a way to add meters to a course running out of space to add up to 9k, and thence along the old rail tracks all the way from Paru to Park and the base of the 23rd street bridge in view of the tiki bar that had been torched by the Angry Elf gang.

Then it was a sortee into the tony East End past the decrepit GOP headquarters and so swinging through the neighborhoods to round about the Disputed Bicycle Bridge, seen of many an historic confrontation, back to Shoreline and so to repeat the entire thing one more time before the runners collapsed on Park outside Juanita's restaurant and Jacqueline's hair salon.

The winner this year was Hieronymous "Toto" Tanganyika, from Uganda in 195 minutes, 34 seconds.

Now, people may wonder why it takes a world class runner capable of completing the Boston marathon in less than 2 hours won a 9k race with such a time as 195 minutes and nevermind the change on a course that varies no more than three inches in elevation along its entire length, and which, in fact, broke all course records. The previous record had been 4 hours, 32 minutes, 16 seconds.

The hardest part of the course involved playing charades with a chosen jury for two questions (movies: Maltese Falcon and Medical:shingles), and then performing the comedy routine "Slowly I turn, step by step" for the Shoreline Resthome for Alzheimer's Patients well enough to make at least 75% of the audience laugh.

The audience, being what it was, could be employed repeatedly without compromising the race, but it did help getting ahead early on this one.

a difference between imaginatively capturing dollars as opposed to . . .capturing the imagination

Mr. Tanganyika did so well on this one, that ACT offered the man a job for the upcoming season to become part of its troupe performing Ibsen, Shaw and bits of Classical French drama, but Toto wisely refused, saying, "There is a difference between imaginatively capturing dollars as opposed to economically capturing the imagination."

At the end of the day, the winner strode across the finish line, breaking that reddish yarn "tape" with a great smile.

Afterward the parade began on Park Street with the Elder Sons of Many Foreign Wars, marching proudly in their battle fatigues, followed by the long array of politicians, each ensconced in a vintage open car and waving at the hoi polloi who had scant choice among them to choose for the office, the way it plays out in reality. After these obligatory things, including the horse-drawn carriage bearing the Mayor piloted by Fred with his white beard looking for all the world like a figure from some other holiday.

"Look daddy! There's Santa Claus driving Mayor Marie in his sleigh!"

There follows rank after rank of church groups, Scouts on bicycles, Eagles and BPOE, Falun Gong with their great big Lotus float and reverent hands, marching bands from all the schools, especially Encinal with its proud high stepping baton twirlers, testifying for the West End (GO JETS!)

Along come the various businesses, including Mark's Life and Casualty (wrecked car with slogan "You never expect the Unexpected", the Lost Weekend Lounge (Richard Burton look-alike swilling a martini with an Elizabeth Taylor,

Reverend Bauer's group comes by with an armada of girls dressed in short leather miniskirts and high leather boots and the slogan, "In California, it feels GOOD to be Lutheran!"

They have some competition from the Universalist Second Baptist Church which features Sister Rosetta belting out a sincere "Statesboro Blues" that makes the windchimes in the Encinal Hardware start to ring.

Then come the vaqueros with their high-stepping ponies and the vintage World War stuff on trailers and finally, as per tradition, the Little Tramp motoring along on a minibike with his knees akimbo.

Later people retreat to the Wind River lot and the estuary behind Target as night sinks down on the Nation's birthday. She has been abused and battered by foreign powers and by powerful politicians and scandal and all sorts of mean nasty sorts of things, this Columbia, but people still want to come here, risking life and everything across the Sonora desert and the treacherous pirate infested seas of the Malay ocean amid the idea that, dammit, the government has no right to tell me what I can do.

Which in itself is a kind of original idea, not popular in a lot of other places and still under experiment.

Then the rocket's red glare and the boom and the Ahhhh! and the whizzing bam bam and the Ohhhhh! while all the old Nammies take to the Old Same Place Bar to get away from these awful reminders of things too real: tracers arcing over the Delta and the phosphorus and the 188's all going off at once, deafening the ears.

In the dark alleys and doorways and sheltered places the teenagers met with one another to carry out their own secret, erotic rebellions. Fists and . . . other appendages raised against the tyranny of Ms. Dudgeon with her sour rules.

And after all was done, all the sparklers done sparking, and all the whizbangs exploded, a peppery scent of gunpowder and cordite drifted on the air as the certain fog descended to blanket all. Leaving Park Street with its teenagers courting, the street in the keeping of the one who was sweeping up the dreams of July the Fourth, 2014.

Then, from far off across the water came the ululation of the throughpassing train as it trundled from where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stand glowing with their sentry lights, letting its blues cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the old Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, quavering among its ghosts and its weedy railbed, moaning between the interstices of the chainlink fences until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off out of shadows on the edge of town to parts unknown.

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


JUNE 15, 2013


Photo is of an hibiscus bloom in a backyard garden box. This plant remains well shaded and seems to do well elevated in nonnative sandy soil that has been heavily remediated with Home Depot mulch.


There will be no Island-life issue next week due to the resumption of the annual Island-Life mountain sabbatical. Since staffers nearly died the last time we did such a thing, this year the big expedition has been split into two manageable parts.

It does appear that a vindictive neighbor has stolen precious equipment, such as the all-important H2O filtration system, along with a titanium cookset so we have had to go shopping for the crew. If anyone meets a certain A.N., formerly of Alameda,in Frisco, do kick the bi-otch in the leg and demand she return what she took.

We have brought more of the Island-Life stories up to date, now including the months of October and November, 2013, which of course includes the two episodes that most people actually return specifically to read -- to wit, the annual Island Poodleshoot, and the annual Night Crossing over to the anteroom for Heaven and Hell, done traditionally by Denby and hosted by the gatekeeper, Penny. Enjoy.


In preparation for the annual Sabbatical we have been reclusive as hermits for the past few weeks. That does not mean things have not been happening. Like the Primary Elections.

As far as the elections went, around here most folks treated it like a sleeper. All the big measures and office changes are slated for this coming November and no major changes were expected in any of the local contests as far as party contenders.

What came clear was that Rob Bonta has the DCC sewn up and is on track for even higher office, so look to see him fighting the GOP for his present office and then aiming his gunsights even higher afterward, for the boy has ambition and it does appear he is being groomed for parts yet to play.

On the Island, Tam terms out as councilperson so look to see an array of contenders for her spot, including the person of Frank Matarrese, whom we always have liked for his practical, realistic, non-influenced approach.

Also he has shifted from pro-development to a more measured line in adding housing units here, and we like that.

As mentioned in a recent Sun Commentary, we wish we had a Mayor who says much and does little, coupled with a City Manager that says little and does much. There is still a chance for that, but we do not like the some 3,500 housing units now on the boards (not including McKay Avenue and a few other locations under discussion adding another couple thousand units).

Another open slot is the Health Care District board slot vacated by Jordan Battani, who resigned under protest. This slot has less import than before the merger with the County system, but still has some sway in administering the funds collected by the indestructible property tax that was supposed to rescue the financially ailing Hospital.

This upcoming election will feature some interesting bond measures, including another $180 million school bond to fund renovations as well as a measure that seeks to close the loophole that allowed the McKay Avenue property get put up for auction. Best pay attention.

We had a sand castle competition, and for the first year in a decade failed to attend. Shame on us, as we heard the Hobbiton display was magnificent. Also, we missed out on East Bay Open Studios, which also is a shame, along with the June First Fridays, which always showcases some exciting work. We know Vessel, Photo and 25 Studios put on a fantastic set of openings.

Hopefully, we shall return from the annual Sabbatical renewed and entirely intact and ready to launch into the world of progressive art once again.

Although developers and politicos appear to have the upper hand at present in deciding the fate of the Island, now with a census-counted population of over 70,000 inhabitants that is soon and suddenly to increase, some energy and momentum exists to counteract foolishness and traffic congestion.

From Friends of Crown Beach we have this PR:

"To continue our fundraising efforts and celebrate our successes, Friends of Crown Beach will be hosting a home-cooked Italian feast with antipasto, lasagna, chicken, salad, veggies, garlic bread and beverages.

Dinner will be hosted by our star signature gatherer, Maria Dominguez, in the lovely garden setting of her historical Victorian home.

Following dinner there will be a showing of Rebels With a Cause, a film about a battle over land led by a group of ordinary citizens, that stopped development and preserved open space, resulting in the establishment of Point Reyes National Seashore and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

We have two dates from which you may choose:

Saturday June 21st - 6pm dinner and 8pm the film

Sunday June 22nd - 6pm dinner and 8pm the film

~~ Cost - $35.00 per person; Reservations are required ~~

To reserve your spot, please email Gretchen Lipow at with your name, the number of guests and your preferred date. We will acknowledge receipt and send you the address of this event.

With your confirmation, payment can be made online via credit card or PayPal, at -- or via cash or check at the door.

For further information, please contact Joyce at 510/521-8003.

To learn more about our campaign’s status, visit:


So anyway, this weekend the Island suffered Father's Day and many of those who admitted to being Fathers suffered as well.

Those who had fathers that were both living and not reprehensible did the usual father's day activities. Mr. Howitzer, although not to his knowledge a father, and lacking a living exemplar holding that status, nevertheless held a garden party on Sunday, inviting people from his sphere of influence.

The Blathers arrived with the senior Blathers from both sides of the family. The Cribbages brought Mr. Cribbage, Grand Pere, and of course there was the very elderly Mr. Dudgeon, fetched from the Retired Mariners Home.

Dodd had the Depuglia brothers build a temporary ramp out of plywood so Mr. Dudgeon's wheelchair could be brought up on the deck.

Mr. Trumpet, Amelia Blather's dad, thought all of Mr. Howitzer's estate to be very fine, but he wanted to know where were all the dancing girls. "What kind of party among men is it without floozies? You gotta have booze and floozies if you want a decent party. Who is that man there?" He waved his cane at Dodd, who was setting out the tapas trays. Mr. Howitzer said that was his manservant, Dodd.

"Dodd, you look careworn. Perk up and get me a gin and tonic in a highboy. Go easy on the tonic my boy. I have a right to live high on the backs of the hoi polloi now that I am retired. After all it was me that gave all those weasels their jobs at the Trumpet Works back in the day. Then they go about setting up these gosh darned unions, the ingrates. Fetch me a tall one, boy!"

"These kids today . . .", began Mr. Dudgeon. "They don't know what work even means." He rapped his cane firmly upon the boards of the deck.

"Now, now," said his nurse, Ms. Primm.

Dodd sighed and dutifully went to fetch the drink orders.

Over at the Household, times being hard and the wallets thin everybody who had dads had to look to themselves to occupy the day. Suan, who could afford it due to her job at the Crazy Horse Saloon, took her dad out to brunch at Kincaids with a nice view of the marina. Tipitina and her father went and got drunk at the Lucky 13 on Park Street.

Father's Day, being something of a lesser entity than Mother's Day, allowed Andre to get off easy with an hour of ball catch with little Adam before heading out to the Exploratorium together for a fun few hours observing lasers and the ever popular dissection of a cow's eye.

Out on the Cove, Father Danyluk gave not much thought to the day as he tossed his line again and again, other than to idly consider the topic for the next sermon, but as the line went taut and the rod bent, thought better of the idea as one more suited to consideration than actuality for himself. The Heavenly Father and all that bosh. Praise god, he might have to invite his friend Pastor Nyquist for dinner if his luck with stripers continued today , , , ,

In the Old Same Place Bar all the men who had endured badly cooked breakfasts and tawdry gifts of ties, stickpins, and cologne that would never be used and hardware knickknacks of more curiosity than use collected at the brass rail to ease their pains. Fatherhood, after all, is not one of those estates that earns a lot of respect by Nature or anyone else for that matter. So you had a hand, so to speak, in making something. It's not like you carried this thing around for nine months and then went through a wracking several hours of partuition. Most of the time, you were standing around, pretty much as you stood around for the next 18 years, pacing back and forth and writing check after check for expenses. The viagra and cialis are for those who just have not figured out that Nature has done with them. Their part is finished, so now go sit down.

As night fades through the fog draped alleyways and dripping box elders of the Island, the Editor wraps up the half-way point of the year's issues, updating the last year's stories and doing a bit of nip and tuck here and there, as any doting parent would do for their child.

Island-life has become a large, unruly child now approaching 16 years of age, which every parent should know is a time of trouble and exhileration.

Box elder bugs and moths bang against the window glass as he looks out into the yard on this cool summer night. "I have brought into the world such a thing now strange to me, thankless, angry, and foreign, and yet my legacy to remain of all I have done on earth. Is this not what it means to be a father in this time?

Then, from far off across the water came the ululation of the throughpassing train as it trundled from where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stand glowing with their sentry lights, letting its blues cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the old Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, quavering among its ghosts and its weedy railbed, moaning between the interstices of the chainlink fences until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off out of shadows on the edge of town to parts unknown.

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


JUNE 8, 2014


  This week trumpet flowers, which emerge all over the island. Like NorCal Spring -- beautiful, effulgent, dangerous.


The latest flap has nothing to do with what Silly Hall is doing or not doing about anything important. Lincoln Street remains torn up in front of the IPD parking lot, cell phone service remains execrable, the old Carnegie building remains untenanted and rents keep on rising even as slavering gangs of Developers swarm the island like Gengis Khan looking for any open space to despoil and into which pack yet more junk and bodies that will add to traffic and parking problems.

What we have is an uproar among the Catholics due to an edict handed down by the private school board which demands that all teachers, cleric and laity alike, sign a "Morality Clause" amendment to the employment contract, promising to be good little boys and girls in school and out. Seems the Bishop is concerned that things like Social Media and the rear seats of automobiles lead to wanton Un-Catholic behavior: nude selfies, abortions, secular humanism, and wet t-shirt contests, o my.

In other news ACtransit is starting a program July 1 that will feature Day Passes that provide a rider unlimited travel on any regular line for $5. Also in a rare move in these skin-flinty times, the 31 day pass will have a price reduction.

There are a few other niceties offered by the sometime beleagered transit authority, so check out www and look at the Clipper Card changes.

We did do the first Island report on the upcoming 880 overpass changes planned by Caltrans, which will affect traffic taking the 23rd Avenue and 29th Avenue overpasses coming and going, but it seems only now that construction is immanent are people sitting up to take notice. Jim Strehlow made some interesting points in his recent Sun Commentary (Traffic Congestion Built into Design).

The sum total of all the projects that have moved past design phase already amounts to a net increase in Island population of some 18% in the next two years, which is not inconsiderable, especially considering things still on the drawing board will add an additional 2% - 5% worth of bodies and vehicular traffic. There is no study of any kind looking at the resulting traffic congestion with anything approaching optimism.

Looking at the dollars involved it is clear that the financial pressures for development are extraordinarily ferocious. We talked with a private property owner of estuary fronting real estate and learned that the man had plans for ten and twenty story highrises near the Kaiser Center, but that "regretfully" he would not see those projects realized in his lifetime.

One has to wonder at the nature of someone who sets something in motion which will surely wreck the community, but with dubious pleasure post mortem. That is the kind of person involved in these projects.


So anyway birthdays are inexplicably a big thing around here in NorCal. for most people these things are somewhat pleasurable to annoying, but for Javier each year things blow up, get shot, burned, get beat up and/or savagely abused and humiliated. Typically the thing to which these events happen turns out to be Javier's friend Jose.

The day and time to party came around with Javier looking for Jose while carrying a bottle of Reposado Patron, but Jose was no where to be found. In fact Jose had hidden himself in the Unitarian Chapel where Reverend Lisa Freethought held services. Jose had never heard of a Unitarian church, but this being the Bay Area anything was possible and as Unitarians have nothing against comfort, this was one of the few churches with air conditioning on a day that was hot as blazes.

He imagined he had it pretty good holed up there in the dimly lit place with a gallon bottle of jug wine for company, figuring when the time came he would just stretch out in one of the pews. He heard a noise of the door opening and people coming in, so he diverted himself to the lavatory and parked himself in one of the stalls.

A few people came in to use the urinals and the extra stall.

By the increasing noise and then the obvious organ music it became clear that a June wedding had begun and so he was trapped in the toilet. Jose made himself as comfortable as possible with his jug, tucked up his feet on the jon with the seat down and so whiled away the hours. After a brief interval the motion sensor cut the lights, leaving him in the dark.

Meanwhile, in the little chapel things had begun as most traditional weddings do: with a knock down drag out feud between the Fiersteins and the Patakis. It was bad enough that Sophie was getting hitched to a goyische nebbishe like that Spiro. But their entire family consisted of metal workers and blacksmiths and shipping clerks and traveling minstrels. A bunch of gypsies with no culture that lot. Oy! My little girl, my little girl, said Sophie's bubbe.

Of course Harvey did not give consent, said Mrs. Fierstein. The whole thing is crazy; the boy has no prospects, none at all. Not even a situation! Not a single doctor among them and we come from good people and the boy and girl threatening to run off to Las Vegas. Such a scandal is that! Doesn't even know how to make yontif proper. These kinds of mixed marriages never work. It will all end in tears, I promise you.

This probably should not have been said in front of Mrs. Bunion, Spiro's great aunt.

So with all the acrimony getting decided on where to be wed became a Great Issue. Standing in the courthouse with the Commissioner was out of the question. So it was decided they would have two weddings. No. Make that three weddings. Because as it turned out in Alameda you still had to go to the Courthouse as it turned out the only man on the Island who had filed the papers to be an official agent of the County for Marriage for the month of June happened to be Jason Arrabiata, he of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Oy gevalt! That would not do at all.

Now it may seem curious to non-islanders that clergy like Reverend Bauer and Rebbi Mendelnusse would put off such important paperwork, but the truth is that in the County, a laic must put in forms and fees to be a representative for each and every wedding seperately, as the forms officially deputized the clergyman only for any one twenty-four hour period, with some exceptions allowing for 72 hours on a Holiday. As a consequence, most parsimonious clergy filed all the paperwork for June in late August so as to save on fee costs, back dating every wedding on the papers and saving on the tithes.

As it was, on a certain day in September one would find Rebbi Mendelnusse, Mustapha Omer Kemal, Pastor Nyquist, Pastor Bland, Rev. Howler (La Luz de Mundo de Occupado Parking Space), Pastor Bland (Presbyterian), Pastor Nance Haughtboy (Methodist), Father Rich Danyluk (Church of Our Lady of Incessant Complaint), Reverend Rectumrod (1st Baptist Church of the Insurrection) all in the offices of the County filing papers and paying fees and exchanging items from packed lunches while waiting for the clerk to call each one back to the window, for that is the way the County does things -- make people stand in line, file stuff, then wait more time to be called for verdicts and decisions and stamps of approval.

"You want a knish," offered the Rebbi.

"I got some aebelskivver," said Pastor Rasmussen, from the Oofta Bettya Kirke that catered to the Swedish racing team which had remained behind on the Island after the last America's Cup Race. They had lost badly and lost a sailor or two in the process, but heck, the Island is a darned good place to park a boat and mourn your fallen colleagues.

California is like that -- people come here for one reason and when the reason fades those people wind up staying on a bit longer until they look up and suddenly years have passed and a church packed with their children and grand children has grown up about their ears and they have become part of history without trying.

So anyway, to get back to the story. The Fiersteins held a proper ceremony with a tent and smashing the champagne flute -- one of the set used for regular guests -- and there was all kinds of kletzmer, which irritated the sensibilities of the Patakis who had decided to attend. There is, surprisingly, no Orthodox church on the island, the Greeks having focussed their scant numbers and resources to the chapel up the hill, the same chapel where Wally's son had taken refuge after blowing the whistle on the clandestine Mayor's wiretapping program.

With FBI, NSA, TSA and the FTB all swarming the place, they had to look elsewhere for a wedding, deciding on the politically and religiously neutral Unitarian Church

So there was Jose dozing in the dark in the men's lavatory when a bridesmaid fell into his lap with a squeak.

The lights burst on and there was this woman with dark hair and tattoos of flowering lianas up her bare arms, wearing a bridesmaids dress saying, "O, sorry! I thought this stall was empty!"

Jose asked the girl what she was doing in the mensroom, so of course she told him in whispers, the situation becoming compromising as people, men mostly, came and went and did their business at the urinals.

The main ceremony done, the bridesmaid, whose name was Eliza, had fled the bouquet-tossing scene, due largely to the weariness from the incessant "when are you going to get married" litany from the aunts. The uncles. The nieces. The godmothers. The god-awful everybody on her nerves. No she did not like Kostos. No she did not have a crush on Peter. No, she had plans for Saturday, please, please stop! She was an artist she was doing great work, she had no time for dating, her life was filled enough without romantic drama and endless scenes -- like the last time -- and she had decided to become a Quirkyalone to put an end to it all.

So she fled the highly operatic bouquet toss. Did he understand the frustration she felt?

Frustration was one emotion with which Jose could identify.

Sorry about the interruption, but it was dark, and no legs visible under the stall and she had never been in a men's room and thought maybe you had to put a quarter in there to open the door, so there she was.

From this angle her face reminded Jose a bit of Audrey Hepburn, but he put that image out of his mind. His own life was insufficiently organized to deal with women of any kind.

Well so there they were and now to get out of the place -- she could come back to the Household and be sheltered for a short while -- but she had promised to secure the silver salver holding the reception crumpets and wedding fantods. Could he help with that?

So Jose found himself sneaking into the reception in the annex, pretending to be a banquet waiter and making off with the salver under his shirt while Eliza mingled minimally and then waited outside.

Several Grand Aunts saw them leave together and nodded sagely before doing high fives.

"I certainly hope this one is a good Jewish boy," Olga said.

"He stole the silver plate," said Ruth.

"That, my dear girl," said Olga, "Means only we have a lever to use."

"I was born in twenty-five and you were born in twenty-eight. You have no reason to speak to me that way," said Ruth.

When Jose and Eliza got to the Household, Javier's birthday party had moved from the sagging porch across the road to the beach and they were all whooping and hollaring and Suan had several of her co-workers from the Crazy Horse there doing pole dances with the aid of janitor brooms and closet dowels. Underwear and rags fluttered on the drying line hooked to the ironmongery garden out back.

Jose was a bit shamefaced about the look of things, being a good boy from Sinaloa who had been raised well by a decent abuelita, but Eliza looked at the sagging porch and the hole from which Snuffles poked up his shaggy head and the general chaos on the beach and then took off her shoes, saying, "I LIKE this!"

So they went down to the party on the beach where Javier was doing the hat dance with Fannie Fast (not her real name) and who should show up but Carmelita, Javier's last, most recent infatuation.

Javier took an eyeful of Eliza and Jose together and only wanted to make someone new feel welcome, especially considering the retentiveness of Jose. "So Jose! You have someone new! Who is this now?"

Jose, a good boy from Sinaloa, was shy, reclusive, and not so tremendous with women, often given to despair and inaction, whereas Javier had decided to inhabit the body and spirit of the hot-blooded Latin with a ferocious vengeance. This meant, unfortunately, that his choice in women often overpowered his limited abilities such that the trauma unit at Highland had come to list Javier as a Code entirely unto itself.

Code Red means get the defib. Code Blue, means fetch the ventilator. Code Javier - o dear, better get the saline and serum type AB+ on the double! Load the cart with gauze and wadding!

It is impressive when one individual caused an entire protocol to be generated in a major metropolitan Trauma Center, but Javier was like that.

Carmelita took one look at the beautiful Eliza between the two men and grabbed up one of the long janitor brooms and unscrewing the brush ran at Javier, who, like his nature and luck managed to dodge the thrust by throwing himself to the ground. Carmelita wheeled about and lashed a bayonet she kept strapped to her thigh (Javier's women all were like this) and charged at Jose, ramming his chest with full force enough to send him off his feet. The horrified Eliza, seeing her friend laid low and possibly murdered threw herself upon the Carmelita with the fury of Athena, the warrior goddess, arms and fists windmilling crazier than Don Quixote.

Jose, groaning in pain, removed the dented silver salver that had saved his life from under his torn shirt and tossed it aside.

That is when Officer O'Madhauen showed up with the Island riot squad behind, all lights and sirens going.

"Ladies! And I use that term loosely, cease your violence immediately, and do not attempt to violate the traffic ordinances of this city!" Office O'Madhauen said with a stentorian voice.

In answer, Carmelita swung her lance at Javier, clipping him on the skull and sending a good part of his scalp and blood spattering on the driftwood. Thus occupied, this left her open for Eliza to thwack her solidly in the jaw with a powerful right cross, knocking Carmelita down for the count amid the patter of tear gas canisters.

"Eff, I love a good party," Eliza said as the riot squad descended the slope through clouds of toxic gas with batons and plastic come-a-longs with which they bound up those guests who had not boosted out of that bad scene at first notice.

All this was observed from the periscope of the El Chadoor, the Iranian spy submarine that had been sent to keep tabs on the Port activities and Island Life in particular.

"You know," the Captain said, as he flipped up the periscope handles and ordered the sub to depart. "I will never understand this birthday thing in America, its operatic expectancy, its mulifarious disappointments."

"Much better to seek the abnegation of desire. Therein lies true happiness," said Abdul, the First Mate.

"That is nearly Buddhist in thought," said the Captain, amazed. "It is very near apostasy!"

"Perhaps, but it is true that it is Buddhist in origin," said Abdul. "But even the Prophet would approve. After all, it was Suiliman that first came down the road before the Prophet."

The Captain pondered these things as the spy sub left the estuary, passed out into the Bay, and thence under the Golden Gate to run silent, run deep to the open ocean.

Then, from far off across the water came the ululation of the throughpassing train as it trundled from where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stand glowing with their sentry lights, letting its blues cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the old Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, quavering among its ghosts and its weedy railbed, moaning between the interstices of the chainlink fences until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off out of shadows on the edge of town to parts unknown.

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


JUNE 1, 2014


This week's headline photo comes from Tammy and is of the last full moon we had a few weeks ago.


Took a toddle to neighboring San Leandro to snag the 105th annual Cherry Festival, which embodied much of what has gone right and much of what has gone wrong in NorCal over the past 100 years or so.

Like most of the open air summer festival events this one featured music, overpriced food booths, a bit of historiana, some good music and some terribly derivative music and a carefully cultivated sense of small town feel in the middle of an urban metropolis of some 8 million people.

That may sound cynical, but look at what there is by comparison: the pallid and spiritless Newark which hosts nothing, does nothing, and remains stolidly devoted to linoleum tile shops and maintenance of all that is bland.

Also, they came up with this nifty little item in the form of "Get Fit" Stations. Each was manned by a personal trainer of sorts.

By contrast to other municipalities we learned that San Leandro hosts the only East Bay creek that runs open air without cover from its origins to the sea. Now that is a great thing of which to be proud.

The first festival was held in 1909 to celebrate the then prodigious cherry production crop which fueled the town of some 4,000 inhabitants. Over the course of time, as is true for much of NorCal, including the fruit orchards that gave Fruitvale its name and the more recent orange groves that lined the freeway of 101 from South City down to San Jose, the greed of land rush put all those magnificent orchards to the sword such that barely an handful of cherry trees survive within municipal city limits.

Well, it is what it is, and the yen for a good party remains among Northern Californios, hence the cherry festival continues even though the local farming industry exists no more.

The land that became San Leandro started life as Ohlone territory. After the Spanish conquest, Don Luis Peralta was granted via desueno all the coastal land from Rancho San Pablo down to the lands owned by Mission San Jose, which then ended, more or less, along the present Fremont boundary.

When the Don passed away, his lands were subdivided among his four surviving sons, with Ignacio taking the southern part that included San Leandro. There he built an adobe in the 1800's, which collapsed during the Hayward earthquake of 1868. Ygnacio had a daughter, named Ludovina, for whom he built a house, most of which still stands, in 1901.

The house, continuously lived in by members of the Peralta family until 1929, saw various improvements, including the brilliant tiles imported from Spain which tell the story of Don Quixote and which still decorate the exterior walls.

The house served as a rest home and a hospital until 1971 when John and Barbara Brooks purchased the property so as to donate it to the City.

Many of the Letters to the Editor concerned themselves with the various power ploys and machinations going on right now in the face of an obvious land rush here that is coupled with wretched greed that cares not a fig for the quality of life that will suffer once a number of these projects are completed. There also continues a cause celebre among some to bring recycling bins to Park Street - an idea that may be good in theory but expensive in practice. This will involve some social control in getting people to stuff the green bins with the right green and the blue with the right glass and plastic.

Pleas to help save the historic bench in Jackson Park continue. You can log on to and search for Save the Bench for information. June 12th is the deadline for when the R&P people decided the fate of the damaged landmark.

The dispute over climate change continues, notwithstanding our learning in San Leandro that the entire California cherry crop has failed this year because of it. That's right, this year's output is less than 24% of what it should be, which means that a multi-million dollar agri-business industry has tanked due to weather. Well, you can always blend together some junk science and GMO's to make a sweet sauce for your ice cream. Sprinkle a handful of Bushisms as topping.


So anyway, Jose stepped out onto the porch of the Household and greeted the dun gray skies of morning. The fog banks have begun rolling in to keep a high profile, which happens at the turn of every season. Fog in late May meant searing scorchers later in summer. But for now, all was cool and quiet.

the graduates unloaded all the college detritus

Change in seasons meant graduations and changes in the lives of many people Graduations meant the season had also arrived for lucrative dumpster diving. Each year the outgoing class at UCB made their goodbyes to the Bay Area and tearfully departed for to return to those far distant lands from which they had come years ago, to Trinidad, Tobago, Brazil, Ecuador, Egypt, China, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Illinois, Arizona, and the Land of 10,000 Lakes, exotic Wisconsin. Before returning to their far off hometowns, the graduates unloaded all the college detritus that would be too arduous or expensive to tote back to brownstones in New York, over the covered bridges of Pennsylvania, and around the Horn to Oman.

UCB dumpsters held the best booty

Hence it was that post-graduation UCB dumpsters held the best booty: down comforters, scads of futons, pillows, stereo systems, TV sets, microwaves, small refrigerators, jeans, jackets, sweaters, blouses, boots and shoes, boot trees, Monopoly boards, umbrellas, bell jars, fantods, stone frogs, cups, dishes, silverware, dishwashers, loofahs, Frisbees, Tesla coils, baskets of every description, original art and kitsch, bicycle parts, bicycles, gym sets including free weights and benches, and much more besides, all worthless to the relatively soon-to-be post-student loan investment banker biologist CPA types but of immense value to those people will little or nothing to start inhabiting the Gray Markets of the world.

Sather Gate, home of Free Speech and, in a way, the Free Market

That is why when Pahrump came around with his scooter, Jose climbed aboard with the House Flexible Flyer wagon strapped to his back like a tortoise shell and off to regions beyond the Sather Gate, home of Free Speech and, in a way, the Free Market. Martini followed after them on a bicycle he had assembled from found parts. It had a pink girl's frame, tasseled handlebar grips, a seat that had once been a barstool, brakes of indifferent utility, and a larger front wheel than the rear supporting ape-hanger handlebars.

All of the local universities with residences for students go through this reflexive period just before and following the nervous last rites of bureaucracy involving robes and tassels, ex-matriculation forms, and final meetings with friends, who became suddenly overnight colleagues in a profession. Those of the higher order need go through the paper, processing and payment for copies of those perfect bound tomes, one for the library and one for parents, and another for someone Special, and five to keep on the shelf as if those months of researching the persistent generational genomic markers seen through erotic behaviors of the Drosophila , the watery manifestations of Anna Livia Plurabelle as seen through archetypal imagos of ancient feminine power, and the significance of the Treaty of Westphalia, 1648, in helping to codify post Magna Carta English law could now be put aside, done with forever and never to be troubled at two in the morning by a possible trick question in the third hour of one's pitiful oral defense in front of stern Dr. Zimmerman, he the one they call "The Hammer of God".

What is left after all the drama and tedium and the long march up the aisle to the beat of execrable music is a sort of aimless shuffling in suddenly bare rooms, once packed with life and adventures and now looking so . . . blandly institutional. A dust bunny sits forlorn by the baseboard. You look out the window and see the view you have seen through the changes and wait for some Big Moment to arrive, like a golden stream from the heavens accompanied by a chorus of angels, all looking like Emma Thompson and singing in A minor. But nothing like this happens. You see two tramps loading a Flexible Flyer Wagon with stuff pulled from the dumpster. Someone calls, it is time to go, and as you leave, you close the door behind you.

Joshua has taken the refuge of the hunted whistleblower

Up in the hills, across from the Greek Orthodox church, Mr. Terse observed a monarch butterfly flippy-floppy loop and dip to land on a convenient twig a few yards from the window of his car and he idly speculates about popping the fellow with his holstered 9mm Luger pistol, but decides to preserve relative anonymity in this neighborhood while continuing his watch on the doors of the chapel where Wally's son, Joshua has taken the refuge of the hunted whistleblower, chased by the ATF, the TSA, the FBI, the NSA and the California FTB for outing the Mayor's clandestine eavesdropping programs which had been gathering information from various agencies by way of bugged toilet stalls.

It was a dirty program, one that stank to high heaven after Joshua got the papers published by Wiki-Leaks. Naturally, the Pee Tardy Party folks were incensed and called for blood. So Joshua had to take a quick boat in the dead of night, traversing secret covered waterways traveling upstream along the path of the long unseen Sausal Creek until he got to the Chapel and there claimed sanctuary. The authorities found him there easily enough for he gave a press conference in the apse, declaring, "Shall we not live free and crap in privacy? Shall we not pinkle without fear of prying? Is nothing sacred in this land any more? Ladies and gentlemen! Four score and hella more years ago our forefathers and foremothers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the principle that all men shall poop in peace!"

The speech stirred many to call Joshua an hero. Mr. Terse had the opinion Joshua was a traitor and he would have liked nothing better than to put a 9mm bullet square between the boy's eyes. After due process of course. In fact, Mr. Terse had retired from the Services ten years ago -- he took on the current assignment of helping keep watch over the church entirely out of a sense of patriotic duty and a sense of camaraderie with his sometime friend Mr. Spline, who indeed still was employed some nebulous shadowy Agency so secret no one knew its acronym. "It's a division of DIS. I can't tell you any more than that," snapped Mr. Spline.

OK fine.

He heard a noise upslope and slunk down in his seat to take a look over his shoulder without being obvious. A man with a large nose and wild black hair flowing underneath a bicycle helmet came down the hill on a scooter towing a red Flexible Flyer Wagon piled high with what looked like industrial trash. On top of the pile sat an Hispanic male about twenty-two years of age and wearing what looked like a colander for a hat. Behind them a pudgy Italianate man drove a pink girl's bicycle with a TV set and a statue of the Venus de Milo perched between the high handlebars.

Mr. Terse's cell phone rang with its usual tone -- The Battle Hymn of the Republic. "This is Terse. Hello?"

It was Mr. Spline calling to ask about the status.

"I think I just saw Don Quixote and Sancho Panza drive by on a scooter," Mr. Terse said.

There was the sound of rustling papers over the line. "I don't find those names in the code sheet," said Mr. Spline . . . .

The Man from Minot was standing morosely outside the Old Same Place Bar talking to Eugene about how the Bay Area had lost a lot of its charm recently. Everything had gotten so expensive it was getting harder to live. Everywhere you looked, people in a bad mood all the time, running their little games.

A new crescent moon hung over everything with the dim outline of its dark face promising more to come later.

It aint like it used to be, Eugene said. That's for sure. He was born and raised in Antioch.

The rents have gotten obscene, said the Man from Minot.

And then there's the property taxes, one after another, Padraic chimed in. Whatever happened to Prop 13?

And the homeless -- gosh darned everywhere nowadays. Eugene said. Ever since that Reagan emptied the mental hospitals onto the street. It's not like it used to be.

I don't know how it used to be, said the Man from Minot, but it sure has gotten worse. Its like all the whimsy has fled the place for cheaper rent. I dunno, I just dunno.

There was a little beep beep and they heard someone calling out "Howdy Padre!"

Then they saw Father Danyluk walking down the street and something after him which soon passed. "Howdy boys!"

The group of men stared as Pahrump drove by slowly on his scooter, towing the red wagon with Jose sitting on top holding down the load.

Behind them pedaled the puffing Martini with his porcelain replica of the Venus.

You was sayin' somethin' about the whimsy, Padraic said.

The men returned to the bar after Denby started playing again and the old men talked of old times and the way it used to be. It was a quiet night after that with gentle fog rolling in to the sounds of breeze and nightbirds calling and a peace pervaded the Island. No sirens ripped the night, no one got stabbed and no one got shot.

There's an evenin' haze settlin' over town
Starlight by the edge of the creek
The buyin' power of the proletariat's gone down
Money's gettin' shallow and weak

Well, the place I love best is a sweet memory
It's a new path that we trod
They say low wages are a reality
If we want to compete abroad

When Martini and the others got back to the Household with their haul, some expressed disappointment at the things brought in.

"What the hay! How you going to unload that Venus statue?" Tipitina asked Martini.

"I am not going to sell her. I am going to keep here right here. This house needs a little love brought in here."

Marlene laughed and had to agree.

Then, from far off across the water came the ululating howl of the throughpassing train as it trundled from where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stand glowing with their sentry lights, letting its blues cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the old Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, quavering among its ghosts and its weedy railbed, moaning between the interstices of the chainlink fences until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off out of shadows on the edge of town to parts unknown.

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

MAY 25, 2014


This week's headline photo comes from facebook friend, Cheryl Cole, who is a bit of a sailor girl and expert knot tier.


Remember we reported on a sparsely-attending meeting a few weeks ago in which CalTrans presented plans to revamp the 23rd Avenue and 29th Avenue overpasses? The Sun finally got around to presenting a front page item on the subject. This work will last over five years and will significantly impact access to and from the Island during the period of construction.

Got a lot of fun stuff coming up, especially during the demarcation line for Summer on the Weekend of June 6th. ProArts will host the East Bay Open Studios for the 40th time, which ought to be enjoyable for all, as so many good artisans have fled the exhorbitant rents in Babylon to come here.

We will be having the annual sand castle competition at the Cove again that weekend.

Bassist wunderkind Victor Wooten will take over Yoshi's June 5th, which is a Tuesday, but the man is well worth a post-holiday midweek concert. Local boy and self-taught musician Victor has won a Grammy five times, which outta tell you something.

10,000 Maniacs are coming to Yoshi's Oakland June 20th. Mary Ramsey now does vocals for that group. Nathalie Merchant left in 1993.

That darling of the Lilith Festival, Dar Williams, will be performing at the GAMH in Babylon June 4th.

We hear that Live 105's BFD is coming up at the Concord Pavilion. Given the current flavor of Alternative has allowed tight ensemble singing combined with an accent on melody over the thrash/crash/bash core post-punk stuff, we would suggest snagging tickets while the listening is good. There are some really good bands out there now and the members already know how to play their instruments.

Also at the Pavilion, Lionel Richie. Here is the PR: Lionel Richie in Concert, With Special Guest CeeLo Green Concord Pavilion (Concord, CA), June 1, show start 7:30pm. Pop folks will recognized CeeLo as half of the Gnarles Barkley duo. And of course, after getting his start in Motown as part of the Commodores, singer-songwriter Lionel Richie became one of the most successful male solo artists of the 1980s, with hits like "Truly," the Caribbean-flavored "All Night Long," "Endless Love" with Diana Ross, "Hello" and "Say You, Say Me," which also won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe. Richie's concerts tend to become giant sing-alongs, so brush up on your lyrics.

June 14 and 15 brings back the very popular Pirate Festival at the Vallejo Waterfront Park. Alas and Arrrrg, admittance is now a sawbuck for adults, but buccaneers under 12 allowed free. Again, due to a bad incident, no scurvy dogs allowed. Or even non-scurvy dogs. The event, which earned Vallejo an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records, is still well worth attending, with ship to shore cannon battles, participatory fencing demonstrations, elaborate costumes, turkey legs and grog. Always lots of grog.

Also, from talented musician and friend Laura Boytz, we have the following interesting curiosities:

Saturday, May 31: Ramana Vieira and Ensemble perform Fado and Fado-inspired music at San Leandro Cherry Festival from 3:30-4:15 p.m. on the Cherry Blossom Stage, downtown San Leandro. Another free community festival -- come get your Fado on for free.

[ed. note: Fado is a Portugese folk style which traditionally involves a bluesy feeling.]

Friday, May 30 in San Mateo and Saturday, May 31 in Redwood City, 7:30 p.m. both nights: The New Millennium Chamber Orchestra performs a summer concert featuring Vivaldi's "Summer," dance suites by Beethoven, Britten, Ravel, and Respighi, and a new work by local composer Trevor Lloyd.


So anyway, there got to be almost a fist fight in the Household when Sara wanted the house radio to stay tuned to KPOO while the impatient Suan wanted to get away from that old school stuff in favor of KALW because the last of Smiley and West was going to be on at that time and West was going to be signing off. You can have your poo poo after that, and so she switched the dial.

Nevertheless, Martini wanted to hear the other NPR station that had all the money, (sniffed Suan), which got Javier and Adam involved. Adam wanted to listen to Live 105, if anyone cared, and Javier wanted Easy Listening.

When the dial landed amid argumentation on KCBS everyone learned that another shooter had gone nuts, this time in Santa Barbara, of all places, and the announcer mournfully listed the names of the dead and wounded, so everyone pause for a brief moment before starting up the argument again.

"What's wrong with Fleetwood Mac," said Javier.

This after Denby had gotten mostly done with Rosalie Howarth and the Acoustic Sunrise, so he was miffed at not hearing the end of that Irish guy singing "Love is a Monsoon".

He stomped out in great disgust with everybody shouting at one another and a lowrider cruising down the strip blasting Ice T and Snoop Dogg and Hoody Boyz be Panderin Poodlez, into everybody's homes and garages. And this was distressin' the Citizens.

Another sunny day on the Island had begun.

James went bopping down to the busstop to catch the O Express into the City to take more pictures of The Cuttlefish tag. James had more pictures of the Cuttlefish tag than anyone and he hoped to turn his collection into an exhibit and his earphones channeled Radio Berkeley playing a reprise of a Joe Frick piece until the midspan under a lightly cloud-striated sky that eventually yielded to the most immense ocean of light turquoise for the day and radio silence to James.

Down on the surface of the Bay, Toby and Tommy's Lavendar Surprise scudded before the light winds, the ship to shore crackling with event. Some kayaker had gotten drunk and lost in the sloughs.

"Oooo!" said Tommy and Toby together. "Sloshed in the sloughs!"

That is when Tommy put on the Abba tape, "Dancing Queen", and started doing the shimmy on the quarterdeck making all the people drinking mojitos down below decks come on up, so let us depart quickly and mercifully from that scene.

Pahrump, Jose, and Xavier found the dial tuned to the news station at the Parlor of the Native Sons of the Golden West where they had gone to clean up after the Spring Fling and they listened to the latest hand-wringing over Putin's ambitions, the search for the lost airliner in the Indian Ocean, and the latest terrible news about the shooting in Santa Barbara, all of these things being of terrible interest and problematic, but nevertheless entirely explainable. For that, lets go to you, Dan, for an in depth report . . .

The Iglesia de los Loco Diablo de Occupado Parking Spaces held a grand shindig with devotees blocking off large segments of the city curbs for blocks all around their Church of Dementia. The Grand Poobah arrived in a limosine paid for by his flock's donations and Telemundo appeared with microphones to do running interviews as he waved fat, ring encrusted fingers at the bothersome radio papparazzi.

In the City, called to work on the holiday by a boss whom everyone called "dedicated", Marsha turns up the radio to full volume -- nobody else was in the office anyway -- as she works to cobble the report together for Monday, so that it can be torn apart and reassembled in time for Tuesday. It was Live 105, the Alternative Station of course. "Hey people this is the DJ with No Name and I got two tickets with backstage passes to BFD! Yeah! I am stoked! Just be caller number ten and tell me which member of Bush has a wooden leg. By now everybody knows what happened in Santa Barbara Friday and I know, IT SUCKS! Our thoughts go out to the families down there. Ok, here's Bush with 'Everything Zen' . . . ! Call now and be number 10 . . . !"

The day subsided towards evening and Ms. Almeida listened to KMBX, since there was no station broadcasting in Portuguese, the old transistor appliance with its aluminum antenna stuck out to the side at an angle perched on the windowsill above the sink as she did the dishes. The waning moon looks on as she sings along with the folk song melody.

No se como decirte
No se como explicarte
Que aqui no hay remedio
De lo que siento yo
De lo que siento yo

In the half-light of the Old Same Place Bar someone drops quarters into the jukebox and the first song is an old Lynyrd Skynyrd, "Saturday Night Special". All the regulars remain hunched over and no one dances. This night is one devoted to Serious Drinking and personal reminiscences, old companions come and gone.

Eugene watched a box elder bug come from out of nowhere to circle high, then descend above the bar to pause briefly before succumbing to fumes, thence to drop into his beer glass and die. Eugene blinked and looked down at the creature in his glass for a good while before getting a napkin to fish it out.

"Memento mori," Eugene said before taking a sip. Dawn stared at him, mouth wide open.

Out by the old Cannery in the cutout, Officer O'Madhauen sits sipping coffee, listening to the PB radio, hearing other sounds after a long, busy policeman's day. It was a day that included driving to some citizen's home with Ray from OPD to request someone to come down and make "an identification." The place had been rancid with the smells of beans cooking and the sounds of someone practicing mariachi guitar. Those kinds of days were four Pepcid days.

Los besos que me diste mi amor
Son los que me estan matando
Ya las lagrimas me estan secando
Con mi pistola y mi corazon
Y aqui siempre paso la vida con
La pistola y el corazon

The moon, well past the last quarter, waned with adventure towards the New opaque moon before starting all over. The splendid striations of vermilion and azure violently contending with the burnished brass and gold of a troubled sunset had long since collapsed into the exhausted horizon.

Near Fruitvale Station a woman wearing a shawl pauses before a memorial where a framed photograph of a boy about eight or nine leans up against the concrete surrounded by flowers. The woman bends to lay down a wreath and stands up again to remain motionless. Silently, she weaps.

La luna me dice una cosa
Las estrellas me dicen otra
Y la luz del dia me canta
Esta triste cancion
Esta triste cancion

A citizen blew through a red light, clear as blazes, but for once Officer O'Madhauen sat there staring into the pit of that place only First Responders know, remembering that scene when the abuelta rent her scarf with a cry as the two men with belts heavy with gear stood there with bad news, the little plastic radio plainting a tinny cry.

No se como amarte
No se como abrasarte
Porque no se me deja
Dolor que tengo yo
El dolor que tengo yo

But now, the dim leds of the console and the various dashboard instruments barely lit the world enough for discernment. They were designed to be so. The radio crackled with basic communication.
The Officer sipped his coffee.

Out on the chop beyond the Golden Gate Pedro piloted his boat with his trusty labrador beside, both listening to their favorite program, after shifting over from the one dedicated to music to the one that carried his favorite televangelist.

"And now, once again, the Radio is your Friend . . . ! scritch . . . scree . . . sqwawk . . . schnick!"

"Iiiiiiiii hear that old piano, down the avenue! I smell the magnolia. I look around for you . . .".

In the dimly lit cabin, Pedro motors out to the fishing lanes, the season for crab all done and now time for other catch, another season, a man at work, riding his machine just as any farmer would do on the open plains, driving his harvester in the wee hours of dawn across the undulating fields, both with radios tuned to the latest whatever. Barn or fishouse, factory or threshing room, the radio abides as quiet constant companion, broadcasting news or rock and roll like the old field callers to the ones who once picked cotton or grapes, sending the call and response that brought you to the long awaited turn-row, where you got to set down your sack for a brief moment. Like any friend, it provides an estimate of the weather and you trust that as much as you would trust the limits of your friend with all his or her gossip.

Lately the news has been all about what happened in Santa Barbara. Another boy gone off with a gun to shoot people he knew. What had the world come to?

Esta noche tan oscura con sus
Sombras tan tranquilos
Y el viento me sige cantando
Este humilde cancion
Este humilde cancion

Yet despite all the world's confusion that quiet voice of reason speaking in the darkness, filling the swells with sound and sense. And the beautiful woman on his show singing the impossibility of time in the old Dylan song, the one that teases with "if only" over and over again. The radio tearing at the heart. The way only friends are allowed to do.

If today was not a crooked highway
If tonight was not a crooked trail
If tomorrow wasn't such a long time
Then lonesome would mean nothing to you at all

The Editor moved stolidly through the offices on this Memorial Day weekend, all the staffers glad to be taking a break. He moved to silence a radio that still played on the desk of one of the reporters. Someone had left their monitor on displaying the news from CNN.


Damn fools wasting electricity. He turned off the monitor and the desklamp and went out to the back after everything was shut up and sat heavily in the lawn chair on the deck, songs of the day running through his head.

Raindogs howl for the century
A million dollars at stake
As you search for your demi-god
And you fake we're the Saint
There's no sex in your violence
There's no sex in your violence
Try to see it once my way
Everything Zen
Everything Zen
I don't think so

He groaned and rubbed his eyes. He took another hit from his scotch and soda and dozed off there. He found himself moving through waist-high grass and a sloshy underfoot with his squad, once again flashing back to that day. There was an open space and woods beyond that. When they got to the edge, Sam moved forward on point and they were midway through that clearing when the incoming brought him down. Everybody got down and Rafael got on the radio while the guys out on the left and right let loose with their 50 cals. Sam was hit but still alive and the Editor could hear him calling out something. Nobody could tell from where it was coming and that is when Johnny stood up and charged forward against all common sense. The Editor woke abruptly to the banging of someone tossing rubbish into the dumpster in front of La Iglesia de La Luz del Mundo de Malduror with the opossum scurrying along the night fence and all the bugs from the box elder flocking.

He went back to his cubicle and poured another stiff one over rocks. Time to go fishing in the next few weeks. Definitely time to go and think about thinks. And remember everything.

Los besos que me diste mi amor
Son los que me estan matando
Ya las lagrimas me estan secando
Con mi pistola y mi corazon
Y aqui siempre paso la vida con
La pistola y el corazon

From far off across the water came the ululating howl of the throughpassing train as it trundled from where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stand glowing with their sentry lights, letting its blues cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, quavering through the cracked brick of the old Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading docks, its ghosts and its weedy railbed, moaning between the interstices of the chainlink fences as the locomotive click-clacked 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.

(songs reference are "La pistola y el Corazon" by Los Lobos, "Everything Zen" by Bush, "Tomorrow is a Long Time", by Bob Dylan.)

I don’t know how to tell you,
don’t know how to explain
that there is no remedy
for what I feel inside,
for what I feel inside

The moon tells me one thing,
the stars tell me another,
and the light of day sings me
this sad, sad song,
this sad, sad song

The kisses you gave me, my love,
are the ones that will kill me,
and the tears I’ve cried are drying
with my pistol and my heart,
and my life here goes by
with the pistol and the heart

I don’t know how to love you,
don’t know how to embrace you,
because this pain I feel,
this pain I feel
won’t leave me alone

The night is so dark
with its quiet shadows,
and the wind keeps singing
this humble song,
this humble song

The kisses you gave me, my love,
are the ones that will kill me,
and the tears I’ve cried are drying
with my pistol and my heart,
and my life here goes by
with the pistol and the heart

MAY 18, 2014


This week the headline photo is of several islanders passing the time on a late Saturday afternoon, engaged in camaraderie and a bit of illicit gambling in a neighbor's driveway.

As we experience the first trickles of the Developer's deluge caused by several multi-thousand dweller-units going up suddenly at once, the former Mayberry RFD experience of this town has begun to change. Click on the still to see the Youtube video of this scene and what the homeowner did about men shooting craps in his front yard.


Last week was Bike to Work Day, and cyclists all over enjoyed Energizer Stations staffed by lovely people enthused by all things bikes. We came across the Fruitvale station where a charming lady handed our man a bag of goodies -- everything good in it including the bag itself, which serves as a practical replacement for disposable plastic.

The first of many development projects just opened up, albeit this one more benign than most. Capon Villa, a19 household project designed to house developmentally disabled adults is located on Santa Clara a stone's throw from Silly Hall.

The letters to the Editor have been substantially about global warming deniers conflicting with climate change proponents, with the deniers generally getting the worst of it in terms of offering rationally argued points of view. Since when did the weather get so emotional? O yeah, back during the junk science days of the Bush Error.

At the Fox in Oaktown we note things heating up again for the summer season:

Coheed and Cambria coming 9/7/14 Cage the Elephan 5/20. Devo appears, minus one founding member, 6/28

Yoshi's Oakland hosts Mark Hummel's Blues Survivors, 5/21. Self-taught bassist wunderkind Victor Wooten pops in 6/8/14.

The Kate Wolf Music festival happens 6/27-29 with of course some amazing people. Like Joan Baez, Los Lobos, Indigo Girls, Jackie Greene among others.


So anyway, a big wind has been causing week-long trofs of weather in a rollercoaster of fluctuations from triple digit heat waves to the sort of chilly stuff about which Mark Twain had complained. It is pretty disconcerting and with the unearthly breezes blowing warm Maeve stood out in front of Jacqueline's salon taking a break in the area reserved for those die-hard smokers, joined by Frederika.

"It's earthquake weather, sure enough," said Maeve.

"Ya sure," said Frederika, who hailed originally from Bismark, N.D.

The Island has one of the strictest anti-smoking ordinances around, so that there are few places one can light up anymore, save for your car and a bare handful of posted areas, well fenced off and close in proximity to the dog pooping fields at the park. The Ordinance is as strict as any Catholic list of prohibitions, and just like the religious dogma, is liberally ignored or attended, depending the convenience, the mood, or the hour with the only major difference in that no smoker has ever been allowed to get off scot free with a string of Hail Mary's.

Now that the weather has improved without at least the threat of death by lightening or pneumonia, the smokers no longer huddle under found roof shelters and plastic tarps or underneath picnic tables in designated areas.

This is the time of fruitions, of long-banked embers bursting forth, of leafy buds and graduations. All the seniors, knowing the end of their incarceration is nigh, slump with insouciance these final days, foot dragging to the brink of Life and change. On Park Street, our three block downtown, all the moppet dogs trundle on leashes past the sausage dogs and the baby pit bulls, guiding their owners with free abandon, pausing for quick, sociable butt sniffing.

Woof! Sniff! Hello sniff! Sniff, sniff! Huff! Pant, pant. Butt sniff! whatsthat? Sniff, again. Wuff!

Yes, Spring has come to the Bay Area. All the tables at Pauls Produce heaped with mounds of oranges, grapes, melons, cassavas, mangoes, squash as green as rainforest, and in the bright sunlight shining fiercely tangerine the glowing fiery habanero.

Tommy and Toby have washed off the decks and trimmed the sails of the Lavender Surprise to take her out for weekend jaunts on the Bay with friends who otherwise would not be able to enjoy such excursions. Not everything is harsh and deplorable on the Island and not everyone who has money misuses their resources to afflict their fellow man. Tacking around Angel Island on a 20 degree list before a hard wind they pass the ponderous bulk of Mr. Howitzer's yacht, the Milton Friedman.

It being a fine day and the season well underway just after a full moon with its tides and also a time to reflect upon subtleties of the Albigensian Heresy, Father Danyluk took to the estuary with his creel and his pole. He thought of all the secular entertainments, fishing remained among the best, for this activity remained close to the work of sustenance for body and soul. It was not lost on him that the Big Man had looked with favor upon men who made their living from the sea, and had been a bit of a sailor himself. As a result he took a great deal of delight in the saltwater tackle, the bright spoonlures and bloodworms. Because these things of the world had been blessed by being used in an holy occupation, they helped feed the body and he, Father Danyluk, inhaled the salt air with zest thinking good, pure thoughts on account of it, they were good and so not all of matter was evil and the body was not evil and so there you Manicheans.

I say, Father Danyluk said to himself as he threw out the first cast, this is going to make a jolly good sermon. . . .

Pastor Nyquist preferred the simplicity of the dry fly and the casting pole, the quiet plash of creeks meandering under overhangs of bough and bank. He was one who loved the dark mysteries of eddies and cutouts where the brookie and the fat browns like to congregate. Indeed while out breathing the good fresh air, he needed no church, no pulpit, no accouterments that became distractions, occupations in themselves. The architraves made by oak and willow were cathedral enough for him and he was satisfied in the moment to preach to the finches who heeded him and his words as well as any congregation he ever drove to tears with tendentiousness.

He looked up and closed his eyes beneath the caress of warm sun on his face, his eyelids glowing, with not even words now between him and some other divine presence.

Something tugged his line and he came back to the world . . ..

Down Snoffish Valley Road the teens leaned against their cars drinking Fat Tire and Anchor Steam. The girls sat on the hoods still warm from drag racing that long straightway. All poised in these eroding weeks on the edge of Life itself, when after graduation the world will open up suddenly like a skiff popping out of the mouth of a river to the vast fecund delta burgeoning with wildlife and color and the rush of the ocean of possibilities. Sharon is going to Mills while Matt is going to Stanford. Jake is going to work for his dad and maybe take over the business someday and Jason is taking the summer to travel to Asia. Sally, his vanishing girlfriend begins to look even now translucent as this Spring day fades, for she has got accepted at the Sorbonne and so off to Europe she will go, and they may never see one another ever again.

The bittersweet Shadenfreude of beginnings and endings and youth and Spring with its promises and disappointments.

As the day pulls back, ebbs with rivulets of color and light to the spectacular horizon of golds and blues and the fog bank rolling over the hills of distant Babylon City with its rusty Golden Gate, the regulars collect in the eddy of the Old Same Place Bar to listen to Denby playing songs by Reverend Gary Davis and Blind Blake.

I got them hesitating stockings,
Got them hesitating shoes
Now I got me a hesitating woman
Making me sing them hesitating blues
Tell me how long do I have to wait
Do I get it now honey?
How long must I hesitate?

Suzie serves up the highballs, the shots, the mixers, while Dawn handles the tap and Padraic mumbles about the kitchen, slings the ice, hauls and hooks up the canisters. It is a good night and he does not have to grab some unruly drunk by the scruff of the neck to toss him out. Everything burbles along with a quiet hum of chatter and clatter of dishware. No sirens tear up the night on this Spring evening.

In the Offices, the Editor swings his cigar from one side of his mouth to the other and takes a hit, causing the end to glow cherry-red in the dim light of the remaining desklamps. All the staff gone home, leaving himself alone with the machines purring. Spring was the most Dangerous Season, but this time it looked like bad romance would pass him by, thank god. He poured himself a couple fingers of scotch and walked out to the back to look at the moon, just beginning to wane after a full Wednesday night. In the dark small creatures scuttled through the grass near the woodpile. From the street beyond, the occasional car shushed down the way. Not a single siren wavered across the sleeping rooftops. It was a quiet night on the Island and nobody got shot or stabbed.

Then, from far off across the water came the ululating howl of the throughpassing train as it trundled from where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stand glowing with their sentry lights, letting its blues cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, quavering through the cracked brick of the old Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading docks, its ghosts and its weedy railbed, moaning between the interstices of the chainlink fences as the locomotive click-clacked 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.


May 11, 2014


The golden poppy became the state flower in 1903 by decree of legislature. Los Altos teacher Leila France wrote the words to the song and melody in 1917.

There was a time when the poppy song was taught to every grammar school child in the state. Even today, when you are with a group of Californians of a certain age and start singing that little ditty, the others will join in the chorus.

"Poppies, golden poppies, gleaming in the sun,

Closing up at evening, when the day is done.

Pride of California, flower of our state.

Growing from the mountains to the Golden Gate . . .".


This weekend Park Street held its annual Spring Faire with music stages and the usual perps vending kitsch and house siding with a sprinkle of clowns and decent art among the lot.

What is an American faire without the corndog?

Serious clown ....

Boy in the bubble . . .

At the end of the day, the bottom line is what counts. No joking about that . . .

You may know the June Primary Elections are coming up, leading to November elections for major offices in the State. That is the one which will host a number of Propositions, among them the Crab cove ballot measure just recently gathered enough signatures for November's ballot. The Measure seeks to establish the City's position that the McKay Avenue property should be dedicated to East Bay Regional Parks instead of housing for the wealthy.

We will have a look at the two measures to be voted on in June a bit later.

The Hospital is set for the May 22 takeover by the County system that includes Highland as well as John George. Another local hospital which shared some of our economic woes has already been absorbed into the system and that was San Leandro. Unfortunately the $298 parcel tax that was supposed to rescue the hospital, remains in place. The hospital faced multimillion dollar earthquake retrofitting costs on top of a well of red ink that just kept getting deeper with each year despite heroic efforts to stay afloat.

As part of a quirky East Bay tradition, Piedmont High School bird callers appeared on Late Night with David Letterman for the 18th time. Seniors Jasmine Nadim, Sami Barney and Katie Cummins, the first-place winners, performed the mating call of Egretta thula, the snowy egret. Seniors Gabe Bolo, Eli Nash and James Clifford, the second-place finishers, performed Podiceps grisegena, the red-necked grebe. And the third-place finishers, juniors Elliot Gordon and Walter Le Duy, did Nymphicus ghollandicus, the cockatiel.

These students were the winners of the 48th Piedmont High School Bird Calling Contest. Top winner takes home the Leonard J. Waxdeck Trophy named in honor of the popular Biology teacher who started the contest.

The bird calling contest began in 1963 as a class project in Waxdeck's biology class after one of his students asked him, "Wax, can we do something to liven things up here?"

The first competition, held in Waxdeck's classroom at lunchtime, drew only a handful of spectators. But its popularity mushroomed, and it had to be moved to the school's Alan J. Harvey Theater, where it quickly became wildly popular to people outside the school community..

In 1976, Johnny Carson began hosting the bird callers on his show for the next 16 years.

Carson retired in 1992, and Waxdeck died from a heart attack two years later. It looked like the bird calling contest had run its course.

The students were turned down by Jay Leno, Carson's successor, but Letterman, who adored Carson, was glad to have them on his show, and so the tradition continued. It is not known if the more consciously urbane Steven Colbert will re-invite the bird-callers back.

The Letters to the Editor featured a particularly shrill blast from someone who decries the fact that scientists are being listened to nowadays -- perhaps with a wistful longing for the time of George Bush's Junk Science and We Make Our Own Reality theorists.

The man argues that since the major climate zones of the world have not essentially changed from being what they are, there is therefore no evidence for climate change.

In a more preposterous statement, the man asserts that there has been no discernible change in California climate. Um, now what is the Salton Sea and where did it come from? And how about deAnza's expedition having to use spear butts to pound holes in thick ice for the horses to drink water -- in Monterey. In March.



So anyway. It came around to Mother's Day and all the gals who had mothers with whom they were still on speaking terms took their mothers out to Mama's Royal Cafe for Brunch. The guys split up, with Denby getting a ride on Pahrump's scooter to visit his mom at Napa State Hospital where she had been living for the past 18 years since trying to brain a highway patrolman with a genuine Remington sculpture. Mancini visited the Chapel of the Chimes in Oaktown, and Jose Skyped his mother in Sonora using a library computer.

As usual, Mr. Howitzer took a bunch of flowers and a pellet gun to visit Colma. The flowers he laid on his mother's grave. The gun he used to shoot at crows.

Andre and his band did a daytime Mother's Day special show at Roosters, taking with him Occasional Quentin as drummer. Quentin's family all had died in that terrible ferry accident described elsewhere in these pages.

As a result the place was suddenly empty on the weekend, with Adam knocking about with no one to play mumblety-peg or shoot craps for gummi worms and jujubees. Adam plotzed on the couch with huff. Javier, whose mother, abuelta, cousins and anyone of near blood had disowned him long ago due to his scandalous behaviors, asked Adam what was the matter.

Adam said he was bored. He was a boy who left much meaningful content hanging in the air like a fine mist that soon disperses.

Everyone out dealing with their mothers, Amigo.

Yeah well. So what.

And you? What about your mother?

She be in Pelican Bay for cuttin' up somebody during a drug deal, Adam said.

Now how do you know all this a boy your age? I thought you was abandoned.

Marlene found out when she and Andre got the custody from CPS. That skanky 304:they aint never gonna let her out. That's fine by me.

You shouldn't say that, amigo. Even my own mother -- its not her fault I went so bad. After all, she raised you.

She didn't raise nothing but blisters from doing the crack. Marlene raise me.

Well I guess she is your mother then, amigo. For now.

I guess you right about that.

Well what are you gonna do about it?

Do about it? What can I do? I got no bones, man. No way to bake the cake.

Javier paused in thought. It is a trouble, I admit. What is she doing now?

I dunno.

Well go and see, amigo! Say happy mother's day man! She feed you, she clothe you, she got you away from your mean stepdad who didn't want you anyway. Even got you going to school man, so you won't be no illiterati, know what I mean?

You joanin' me? You clownin' on me, pal?

No, friend, I am not joaning you. Go on over there and say something to Marlene. Show some appreciation.

S'okay then. Adam stood up and slapped his pants as if to shake loose the dust.

So what you going to say, amigo?

I dunno. I figure something.

Adam found Marlene in the room using a heavy needle and thread to repair clothing. Her jet black hair fell down around her shoulders to blend with her black t-shirt, tattoos of oleander, trumpet vines snaking up her bare arms. Perched on her nose a pair of reading glasses.

Adam stood a while in the doorway until Marlene said without looking up, "Everything all right Adam?"

"Hi mom," Adam said.

In a little while, Javier watched as the two of them, the girl with the ruined womb who would never have children of her own and the boy who never had a childhood walked out together in great seriousness to the Strand where the dragon kites soared and danced above the tourmaline waves, under a hot sun caressed by soothing breezes.

We are taking a walk, Adam said seriously.

In the empty house, Javier rolled a blunt and contemplated the face inside a silver locket he kept in his waistcoat. Even after all these years and all the recriminations and rejections he still carried that face. The woman whose job it had been to spit him out into the world only to call him a puta-chasing degenerate, a worthless perdador.

Piedro showed up with a bottle of jug wine and the two of them went down to the Cove to drink from paper cups and watch the Citizens in their well-kept cargo shorts and their Teva sandals conduct their BBQ's while all their clean-cut children ran about in a sugar-fueled madness, their mothers placid or incensed as the case might be, sat at picnic tables as the light began to fade on the day.

By this time, Marlene and Adam would have returned from their little Mother's Day walk.

Javier raised his cup and offered a toast. "To all the Mothers, all the mothers of all different kinds, good and bad. Somebody has to keep the human race going."

To all the Mothers, including Mother Earth, said Piedro.

A wet salty breeze kissed them both, los dos perdadors.

From far across the water where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stand glowing with their sentry lights, the long howl of the throughpassing train ululated across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, keened through the cracked brick of the old Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading docks, its ghosts and its weedy railbed, moaned between the interstices of the chainlink fences as the locomotive click-clacked 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.

MAY 4, 2014


This week's photo is of the same tree depicted last week, but will just a few weeks of time difference. Sort of reminds one of a few passages in a famous Russian novel.


Things have been pretty quiet around here, what with suddenly moderate dry weather propelling folks and families out to the open spaces. Oaktown has had its own reasons for settling the simmer.

Several gun battles took place last week, along with an attempted suicide bridge jumper, who had intended to leap from the 23rd Street overpass before being physically restrained. In unrelated events, gang members fired on a house on Coolidge Avenue Wednesday. The house is across the street from the Fred Finch Youth Center and diagonally across from the Bret Harte School, but the shooting took place at 10 pm, well after school hours, so no children were endangered.

Police responding to a shots fired call found themselves targets as the gang fired on police while fleeing down Coolidge. At School Street the SUV was stopped by police action and four alleged assailants in an SUV were apprehended. Several guns were seized along with a 50 shot clip.

Fortunately, given the amount of firepower employed, no one was hurt this time.

Possibly as a result of these and other gun-involved events, Cinco de Mayo celebrations were subdued in the East Bay.

Just because you are a nonprofit school does not make you warm and fuzzy, as we learned from the NEA charter school, whose governing Board fired the top administrator and the COO over the vocal protests from students, parents and faculty. Maafi Gueye was put on administrative leave April 17, but widespread protests against that action seem to have pushed the Board to outright dismissal of her and Chief Financial Officer Lina Miura April 24th.

Officials with the NEA learning center are not commenting on the terminations, citing employee confidentially.

People know by now that the DOJ is seeking to seize Mckay Avenue via Eminent Domain on behalf of the GSA which sought to unload property served by the avenue on auction. The street property is owned by East Bay Parks and Rec. which had expected to obtain the old federal storage area so as to bolster the Crab Cove facility nearby, and to obey the wishes of the citizens who voted to expand the shoreline park area.

Just about everyone is vocally against both the seizure and the results of the auction in which Tim Lewis Properties offered the highest bid. By "just about everybody" we do not exaggerate, as the numerous large coalitions against this smoky back room deal can tot up over half a million souls.

We understand the GSA wants the right to dispose of property in a way that serves its own interests in these economically challenged, Tea Party infused, times, but not at the expense of wrecking small communities like ours.

May 8th, Thursday, is Bike to Work Day, so Cage drivers be on the lookout for heavier than usual bicycle traffic. And you bikers, please act as courteous ambassadors to pedestrians and Cagers alike. We know Babylon across the water is developing an attitude problem that does not help us who travel by bike regularly, sharing the road with equanimity and peace. In other words, don't be a$$hole$ even to recognized jerks.


So anyway, all the congregation at Emmanuel Lutheran are a buzz with gossip and rumors that Pastor Nyquist might be leaving the Island where he had been preaching for a number of long years. People are saying that he might be heading up to a new opportunity in Minnesota where it was said by people in the know that the pastor there had departed on a mission to bring the simplicity of Luther to the Italians in Rome.

People should have known that the entire story held more hot air than the Graf Zeppelin. Bringing Californian-style Lutheranism to a place like Minnesota is like bringing sushi to a vegetarian potluck. People might appreciate the color, but they simply would not take it in. Pastor Nyquist was known for having bolstered the ranks of the converted by creating the Lutheran Cheerleaders, a collection of attractive women got up in thigh-high leather boots and short skirts. Their entry in the annual Mayor's July 4th Parade never failed to attract attention. Which probably was exactly the point.

Some said Pastor Nyquist was just envious of the attention Pastor Bauer got when he paid his sick calls on a gleaming Harley Davidson.

Some speculate the curious occurrence of two Pastors for one island City came about out of concern by the Synod that besides 20 or 30 other churches serving a town of our stature, we are possessed by a Catholic Bishopric Cathedral as well as a church with attached middle school.

This rumor all came about after Pastor Nyquist gave a talk at UCB Extension titled, "The Intense Religious Spirituality of Samuel Beckett." Nyquist claimed that every work of Beckett's was a failed meditation in which he sought to strip away all the frippery between himself and god. What this had to do with Minnesota is anyone's guess. Maybe people thought Pastor Nyquist had begun overreaching himself. Putting on airs.

Father Danyluk had his Knights of Carumba, a sort of Mariachi order of Catholics, who generally enjoyed lots of costume bedecked with brocade and geegaws and more rules and regulations about what not to do on any given day of the week than you could shake a stick at.

As for reading material, Danyluk was a Joycean, which figures.

On a small island gossip reigns as Supreme Commander and Pastor Nyquist eventually was forced to issue a lengthy sermon on the lilies of the field, they that sow not nor go disco dancing. That and "neighbor take the log out of thine own eye".

Furthermore if there was a correspondence between himself and the Roman Mission, that was a matter for the Synod and you people mind your own peas and carrots.

Well it was a long speech and one filled with many allusions and words that shamed a few people who had been talking and so people were really glad when, as a prelude for the organ breaking in, Caroline got the Lutheran Cheerleaders to stand up and chant, "Way to go, Luther Bro'!" and "Ein fester Berg ist uns're Gott! We love our Lord an aweful lot!"

As for the Knights of Carumba, that order came about, as did most of Catholicism, during the Middle Ages when a small island in the Mediterranean had been threatened by the naval armies of Anabaptism led by Don Miguel de Loco. The island was besieged and the people had no bread to eat. The desperation grew such that the people were forced to kill and cook their housecats. King Felipe saw the people losing heart and so he commanded members of his personal guard to pick up instruments so as to distract the people. This they did and while performing a spy brought news of this to Don Miguel aboard his warship who was so intrigued he stole onto the island so as to hear for himself this new kind of blues music.

The story goes he was so beguiled that he remained for three days before lifting the blockade and sailing away. Others say that he sat enchanted for so long the navy of Torquemada arrived to destroy the besiegers and capture Don Miguel.

Eventually the Spanish branch of pre-Lutheranism was stamped out by putting people into iron cages and heating them up until the person inside died horribly. The cages and contents then were hung from the town cathedral belfry as a warning and so that is why you seldom hear about Spanish Lutherans.

In any case in honor of the great service his men had done, King Felipe had the order of the Knights of Carumba created and so for hundreds of years they have performed their secret and public rituals. Nowadays, this order sustains itself in many parts of the world by means of selling pardons, the last Catholic entity to still continue this practice. Father Danyluk dislikes this method of fundraising, which stirs up bad feelings about old times, and so he has put Sister Incontinence in charge of helping them out with bake sales and concerts.

On a breezy evening of cloud scudded skies Father Danyluk stepped out into the courtyard and sniffed the air. The seasons had changed. The trees were budding, the insect life swarmed, the blood stirred. Soon it would be time for trout fishing. By god it was time to haul out the old rig and check the flies. The black ant. The caddis. The nymph. The woolybugger. Time to fish was at hand!

From far across the water where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stand glowing with their sentry lights, the long howl of the throughpassing train ululated across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, keened through the cracked brick of the old Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading docks, its ghosts and its weedy railbed, moaned between the interstices of the chainlink fences as the locomotive click-clacked 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.




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