Island Life: July - Dec., 2015


Vol. 17 Weekly News, Reviews, Music and Satire Sunday 2015

dasboot.gifWelcome to the second half of year 2015. 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!





Offices closed due to family issues. Reopening 2016.


NOVEMBER 29, 2015


These wild turkeys are likely to live through another Thanksgiving, as they live in Woodacre California.


As per Tradition, on the day of the 17th Annual Poodleshoot, rosy-fingered Dawn arose from the horizon's dark bed 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 reared back with her rosy fists upraised and brought them down heavily to smite Padraic 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. A great battle had been fought there between the orkish forces of GSA and the noble greensleeve battalions of EBRPD and there a tremendous victory had been won, turning thre Enemy to rout and so this season would be the occasion of much celebration.

The ceremonies 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 Izzy as soprano alla triste in the Doloroso segment. Councilperson Oddie 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 Frank in his basso triumphale reprising last year's performance in the esoteric work La Chambre à l'arrière Enfumee Boogie.

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 thoroughly nailed his role an Black Sabbath's "Land Pigs.".

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. Is theatre truely dead?"

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 Bay Guardian emitted a sort of rattle of breath, trembled in its bed, and was still for eternity.

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 Rachel Linzer of St. Charles.

Brian Kring and Toshie of Park Avenue performed upon the Mendacious Dieben and Sneaky Pete while Little Nichtnutz executed the Shoplifter with Stolen Keys.

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

Jessica was joined this year by her newlywed husband, Sean, who pounded vigorously upon the Bald Curate's Pate.

Jeannemarie Coulter contributed her skills upon the Wooden Horsie Flailing Flange with great effect and Shannon Ramsey sounded affectingly sweet on 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, as usual, by James Hargis, who also performed the Effexor Waltz.

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!" before 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, upon 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 John Kerry and Dept. of Defence Ashton Carter. Jerry brought his military issue carbine and a 1911-style sidearm, stating "I am a gun owner, I have always been a gun owner, and those who claim I want to take their guns are full of North Korean noodles."

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.

Also forming a largish contingent were all the candidates for the GOP nomination to run for President in the upcoming election.

Indeed the Poodleshoot, now into its 17th 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 jook and 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.

The Poodleshoot has run for 17 consecutive years on the Island and this year the line of GOP contenders for President moved out in a scattered line into the field and soon the air was filled with the cheery all-American sounds of winchester cracks and the crump of grenades, punctuated by the pleasant swoosh of RPG's. Far across the island, the occasional boom from the 188 given to Javier for his birthday by the Narcos of Sinaloa boomed with sonority.

Trouble ensued when around Washington Middle School the GOP contingent members began shooting at each other instead of at the preferred targets due to a terrible misunderstanding. Ben Carson blew off Trump's toupee and the Donald let loose a double shotgun blast that winged Megyn Kelly's purse. Trump denied he had aimed deliberately at the Fox News commentator.

"Honestly, Megyn, if you don't like it, I'm sorry," Trump told the anchor. "I've been very nice to you, although I could probably not be based on the way you have treated me. But I wouldn't do that. If you just took off your dress it would make me feel better."

One of the more contentious moments came when Kelly bluntly asked Trump: “When did you actually be­come a Republican?”

Trump, perhaps slightly exasperated, told the crowd: “I don’t think they like me very much.”

Clearly, the questioning got to him.

There ensued a brief exchange between Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee on entitlement reform. FBN, on the other hand, conducted a meaty melee during which a tomato or two was occasionally tossed. John Kasich came itching for a fight, and in fact produced a set of boxing gloves for the purpose in challenging Der Donald. Donald Trump pitched back with his usual high-mindedness, tossing a bare-knuckle right and a left with great zest and responding at one point to Kasich with: “I’ve built an unbelievable company worth billions and billions of dollars. I don’t have to hear from this man.”

In the bullpen, Carly Fiorina swung a medieval battle-ax with telling effect, which earned high marks from the independent judges. A melee between the Island Dog-Walker Association and the hunters took place at Crab Cove and there was much altercation amid a thrashing of impermeables and umbrellas and leashes and the Cabela's hardware. All vigorous was the fight as seen from a distance as a dust cloud arose to partially conceal the dubious contest as the fur flew and the teeth flashed.

It was then that something happened which completely turned around the entire jovial tone of the Poodleshoot: The United States was attacked by the notorious DAESS and they picked the Island to be their main beachhead foothold Omaha warfighting kind of major boots on the ground kind of mean thing. They swarmed across the water in light skiffs like beetles to take the sands of Robert Crown Memorial beach, capturing the importance locus of the restrooms right away, driving back Eugene Gallipagus who was armed only with his special .50 cal Remington Poodlegun. DAESS warriors, dressed in their habitual black scarves and hoodies with black jackets and bloomers with high heel boots -- rather chic, actually -- stomped along the disputed bicycle path, kicking over signs and wastebaskets and old ladies right and left, practicing all their stomping warfighting women hating decapitating puppy raping kidnapping ancient artifact smashing sorts of mean old nasty sorts of things and not a single kid was left with a Tickle Me Elmo for comfort in their path for they smashed up all the kids toys as well.

And they came to the cove where they ran up their flags on the basketball hoops their and showing no mercy slew a fair number of dogwalkers there and quite contrary to the rules of the poodleshoot, a few afgan hounds as well and they advanced upon the holy keg of Padraic bearing the sacred ichor of Uisce qe Bah, the Water of Life that was the official libation of the 'Shoot with the intention of destroying and stomping on that as well with only Padraic armed with his blackthorn stick and Dawn beside him armed with the weight of her tongue and the DAESS armed with scimitars that did flash in the grey gloom as if in emulation of the pall cast from the Dark Tower of Barad Dur during the Wars of the Rings.

Well now friends, this situation was serious and it seemed that all was lost as the high tide brought ever more of the nefarious DAESS, they that call themselves betimes ISIL or ISIS, besmirching the name of that holy Goddess with their foul blasphemy. And Padraic raised up his blackthorn stick to cry out, for he was fey and full of life and today was a good day, a good day to die as any other with Dawn standing beside him as the Enemy approached.

But Lo! A light did appear in the northwest, the land of Marin, from which did sally forth an noble host of hounds, all born upon the ships made by the magical woodsmiths of Woodacre. Upon these ships were the Amazons, Beatrice and Toni and they had with them the bounding anti-terrorists terrier Toto and the mighty Dakota who bounded upon the Main with a coat that shone verily of gold like the sun himself. Molly came forth with her pen, Isdradil, sharper and more bright than any sword, and Paul and Marybeth were among them bringing a company of feline warriors led by Rumsey, slaughterer of the great Lizards of Anselmo. Among them also were the Phipps Family, each armed with laser ablation devices that glittered. All of these came ashore to do battle upon the sands of Crown Beach and joining with them were the Dog Walkers who turned to side with their former enemies and the homeboys were heartened by this glad sight.

Tammy and Chad emerged from the fastness of their Park Avenue Keep and Chad wrought great destruction upon the DAESS by crushing their toes with the wheels of his chariot and bonking upon their pates with his oxygen bottles and Tammy called forth much magic for she is a Wiccan and was joined by yet another company led by Tony Savage, she of the Island Coven of Witches and they caused the DAESS to be much confused by manner of spells so the warriors saw two, ten, twenty opponents before them and so they hewed at empty air repeatedly in their confusion.

This way and that the battle raged upon the green and the holy Earth, our mother, was much abused by this treatment as the pitched battled descended into an atavistic tangle of savage tearing and rending and barking and noise and mean nasty old warfighting kinds of things down there in Crab Cove and there was not much the law could do about it because there was no violation of traffic ordinances during this epic contest save a couple DAESS did offend the eyes of Officer O'Madauen who promptly arrested them for jaywalking on a weekday and took them to jail where they were much contrite sufficient to read their Korans, which none of them had ever done before.

Still the battle raged on a day and through the night and on to the next day when a great burbling was heard and the water was rent by a visitation and the periscopes and antennae of the Iranian spy ship El Chadoor emerged from the waters offshore and there issued the sailors let by First Mate Mohammed and they fell upon the DAESS whom they loved not and the First Mate was heard to exclaim, "You know as much of Islam as I am a banana sundae you heathen dogs!"

Verily, the Enemy host bent before this onslaught from the sea as leaves of grass before a great wind and they were scattered and put utterly to rout and there was great rejoycing as the favor of battle turned and gods of Hunter Thompson and Chief Blackhawk and the true Isis, the Great Goddess, looked down with approval and blessing and all the Island Host were touched by the noodle of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and so all were blessed and their various hurts charmed back into health.

That night there was a great feast among the former enemies, consisting of the Iranian sailors, the Dog Walkers, the Island Hunters and even Patti St. John of the Bicycle Coalition, all reveling in their common victory and instead of Boshintang, the Marinites brought sprouts and arugula and sweet pomegranates and Padraic and Dawn brought out the Ahi and threw it on the Barbie so there was plenty to be had for all.

And so ended the 17th Annual Poodleshoot and BBQ in feasting and rejoycing.

Denby, bearing his lute, came across Beatrice there who sat with Toto at her feet. He laid his hand upon hers to thank her for her noble office in defence of the Island, but Toto, ever vigilant did make a most protective and convincing growl, so he quickly removed his hand and they sat and talked about a great many things, about warfighting DAESS stomping artifact smashing kinds of things and of birds and roses as well.

Little David Phipps held his laser-powered Tickle-Me-Elmo toy, rescued from DAESS, and pushed the button to cause an ablation on a satellite high above in space so that it arced a modified perihelion and descended to burn up as another shooting star.

"Again! Again! Do it again!" said Elmo.

The train ululated from far across the water as the locomotive trundled from beneath the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their 1000 watt lamps, 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 Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock and its weedy railbed and interstices of its chainlink fence, dropping slowly over the basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone burial mounds to parts unknown.

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

NOVEMBER 22, 2015


This image is a prospect looking out toward Mount Tam from the Marin hills above Fairfax. The song "When I Dream", which was performed recently by the lovely and talented Heather Masse on the Prairie Home Companion, was written by Crystal Gayle in 1975. We do hope at Island-Life that all of you and yours remain safe and warm during the holidays during this tumultuous time in the year 2015.


The next few issues will be truncated as we shut down operations to handle family issues and consequences of the Angry Elf Gang's thugs. The Annual Island-Life Poodleshoot will take place as usual, but reportage may be delayed as we man the battlements here.


So anyway, the dockwalloper that blew in earlier in the week left behind a cold front, which is not nearly so cold as other parts of the country, but because we like to avoid paying any more than we have to pay to Piggie, our public utility company, we all keep our houses colder than Methusalah's tomb, causing folks who hail from Nebraska and North Dakota to shiver in their boots when they come to visit. When the temperature outside is minus forty, you might as well crank up the thermostat to 75 or more, because what does a few more piddling degrees make when the difference is so high.

When the temperature here hovers around 45 or so under the oak trees most folks pin the temperature at a brisk 62 degrees in the parlor and tell the relations to just put on another sweater. You want to increase the central heat? That costs money! Put on another sweater and suck it up; who do you all think I am, Nelson Rockefeller or something . . . !

This is a time of great anticipation. Anticipation and pumpkin pie and lamentation among the Native Americans here, who regret not having built a high enough fence to keep out the emigrants, strengthen border patrols, establish a universal State language and create stringent legislation that would have prevented the Pilgrims from giving birth here to dilute the population.

You can just imagine how different life would be in America had the First People established a language requirement that everyone must learn Lenapi so as to earn the right to live here.

That is right. You want to live in America, well then sir, you must take on the customs and traditions of America. Things like utilizing all parts of the animal you slay for food. Honor and respect the Earth, our mother. Speak our native language of Lenapi. Things like that. And put aside those silly buckle shoes and stovepipe hats.

How different things would have turned out had the early administration possessed strength of character on the matter of immigration. Learn Lenapi or else. No multilingual ballots. Speak Lenapi.

Yes, we have our traditions, and the Island is preparing for the august and much anticipated Poodleshoot and BBQ. The Special Guest invitations have been sent six months in advance and the secret responses have arrived. Juleene, from Santa Rosa, has been engaged to prepare the pumpkin pies for the dignitary table, but more information about that and who will attend we simply do not have. We do know that Juleene is gathering all the freshest ingredients and has even gone so far as to have Lemuel haul a flatbed truck loaded with pumpkins from the farm outside Princeton-on-the-Sea down the peninsula.

A few curmudgeons might claim that all this fuss is for nothing as the dignitaries will be far too busy pressing the flesh during an election year to sit down and properly enjoy a fresh homemade pie, not excluding the fact that the current contingent of hustings stumpers consists largely of people who have no idea what an American pie really signifies.

And the truth is the best pumpkin pie you ever had in your life was not that much better than the worst pumpkin pie you had. There is not much of any magic art that can transform a mash made of brown sugar, carmel, and squash puree into something somehow rare and beautiful. Homely is as homely does.

The present day being what it is, with all the kids now collecting pre-ordered thanksgiving meals from the Safeway and the Raley's, all tidy in a box without the day long baking and slicing and stewing filling the house with heavenly smells, there are fewer and fewer of those among us who used to handle these traditional rituals. You go into the City and there are all these joints where you order a crudo that consists of a smear of pickled tuna about four inches long on a plate, or a snicker snack with sole and two halved fingerling potatoes and a fine white sauce served in something like a teaspoon and this is supposed to nourish the soul and it all costs the good host an arm and a leg and one should appreciate this fine quality and taste and it really is fine but somehow lacking in the soul department in a city that produced Jack London and Ferlingetti and Howl and Brautigan trout fishing in america and the 1916 streetcar strike and Diego Riviera's paintings in Coit Tower and where are the aunts who used to spend hours in the kitchens backing those savory pumpkin pies that were never better than the worst pumpkin pies all gone to dust layering the tincan landscape that produced the tattered sunflower that is no locomotive but a sunflower that never forgot that is you and all celebrations everywhere are about the people sitting there beside you, your family and friends who traveled far across the tincan shattered landscapes in many directions to meet there and nevermind the crudo because that is what makes a really fine wine; not the name on the bottle or the buzz or the price, but the people with whom you share the glass. Beautiful sunflower.

As it approaches midnight, Eugene packs the last of his black powder ammo for the Poodleshoot, lining up the cartridges, and Marlene sets the pies on the sill of the newly silvered winter to cool.

The moon, waxing in majesty, sailed among the throng of stars above the nighttime Island and deep shadows swelled in the doorways.The saxophone threnody of the Harlem Nocturne wafted from an open window somewhere. Denby, sitting in the Old Same Place snug, finished up his set and stepped outside for a smoke when a figure appeared on the edge of the shadows. A figure he recognized. The figure, tall, lanky, remained aloof.

He felt compelled to approach this figure, whom he recognized.

"Long time no see," he said.

"Yeah sure." She said.

He asked how she had been.

"I'm doing okay. Got everything in line. Got my dog to keep me company. Don't need nothing. Just a few small problems, but I got a handle on it."

"Yeah sure," he said.

"So how ya been," she said.

"Up and down," he said. "Some rough times, but okay now. Got a handle on it."

"Yeah sure," she said, and expelled a long, languorous jet of cigarette smoke.

"So you here by yourself," he asked.

"Don't need nobody," she said. "Got my dog. I am doing all right. And you?"

"I am doing all right. Got time to take a walk?" he asked.

"There is no more time," she said. "Not any more, not for me. But I can take a walk. What do you have in mind?"

"No plans," he said. "Plans are just a tiny prayer to Father Time."

"Yeah sure," she said. "It is what it is. Like it always was."

"It is what we make it," he said. "Otherwise it will always be nothing."

"So you say. I am doing all right," she said.

"Yeah, sure. Heard you were sick," he said.

"That is true," she said. "It sucks."

"I am sure," he said. "That does not change anything."

"Yeah sure," she said and took his hand. "Why walk when you can dance."

"Yeah sure," he said. "After all, there is no time."

And the two of them walked hand in hand under the arch into the warm shadows of the Island night.

The train ululated from far across the water as the locomotive trundled from beneath the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their 1000 watt lamps, 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 Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock and its weedy railbed and interstices of its chainlink fence, dropping slowly over the basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone burial mounds to parts unknown.

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


NOVEMBER 15, 2015


Got a real dockwalloper this week with lots of much needed rain which hopefully will turn into lots and lots of snow in the Sierra.


From our Euro desk, here comes a note from those affected in Paris. The English has been edited.

Original Post from Etats Unis:

"We’ve been hearing the news here. This is terrible. I know you’re not near the places that were attacked, but please stay safe. This seems like a very dark time."

Sent: Saturday, November 14, 2015 2:43 PM
To: xxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: Re: Paris Attacks

Dear Pxxx
Thank you so much for your attention, I feel very touched. Nobody close to me has been [directly affected] fortunately! Nevertheless in the [street where I live] a restaurant has been the theater of the attack, where eighteen persons died! I could have been one of them, it was not my time [but who knows the day or the hour]? Friendship, solidarity and love, all of us we demonstrate, are so much more stronger [to con]front this awful strategy of death. I am not scared, even if I am very sad, I prefer to continue and increase friendship it’s my strategy.


PatriciaXX 14 nov. 2015 à 01:40, Pxxxxxx <> a écrit :

We are seeing some curious reactions to the barbaric murders in Paris a day ago on the blogosphere. Seems a lot of "all lives matter" comments are cropping up with irritation that "nobody" is crying out about events in Beirut/Lebanon/Gaza/fill in the blank.

Well, the West is the West, it is not the Middle East, and our ideas and culture do stem from France, with whom we share much in common. The French, for all their faults, do not behead innocent people and then make a movie proudly about it. Nor do they subjugate women, rape children, and hid behind the skirts of innocents to use them as human shields.

Cultural relativism has its limits. At some point one needs to stand up and hold not only to one's own cultural values, traditions, language and mores as well as announce one's kinship with those with whom the bonds have been deep and long lasting.

This not to say one puts aside empathy for people unlike yourself, nor does it allow behaving atrociously to someone else with different values. Our base connection is that of species and we must never stop trying to find the mirror in the face of the Other. Yes, we abhor the cruelties visited regularly upon those with different value-sets, different religions, different languages, especially when some of our own people have been the primary agents of this violence.

Nevertheless, it is well to keep in mind that ISIS/DAESS has no fondness or desire for Palestinian rights nor any of the suffering people in Gaza. They would gladly slaughter all the inhabitants of Beirut and Syria. They are nihilistic and care for nothing and any relation to their barbarism and any other suffering anywhere in the world is specious and nonsensical.

We can empathize with the suffering of others, but do not forget our friends and our own families, which must of necessity take precedence, while also keeping in mind that a war has been declared on our own people and this war has nothing to do with promoting or destroying Islam. The barbarians who murdered people in Paris insult, defame, denigrate and foul the name of the Prophet and the name of millions of good Moslem people around the world. It should be quite obvious that ISIS/DAESS are not Islamic; they are fanatical assholes, and there is no limit to culture or religion for that category.

Oversimplifying things by lumping the demon into a category with a name will never result in victory over this version of Satan. Nor will diluting the main issue that we and our friends share a common enemy who is most definitely not anything like us.


Sorry this issue is late. We've got irons in the fire and some big changes coming up. Some in part a reaction to a resurgence of evil concocted by the Angry Elf gang. Some in response to loved ones qui habitent en Europa. Issues might be delayed while we man the battlements and make a few adjustments here and there. Have no fear -- we will never do anything like the disastrous Floating Radio debacle again.

Everyone is well -- or at least as well as such demented people as us and our staff. All limbs still attached, the ship of Island-Life still floats, and Chad and Tammy have the sails all hoisted with scarcely a luff wrinkle.


Toddled over to the Oakland Museum to see Cal Shakes put on a bare set production of Shakespeare's Tempest. This production is part of the traveling edition of Cal Shakes and features bare-stage with minimal props, no special effects, and zero lighting, a production which highlights the language of Shakespeare.

The Tempest is one of Shakespeare's last plays, written between 1610 and 1611 when we have the first record of a performance before the court of King James I (IV). We know that reports from the New World colony in Jamestown came in around 1610, and that survivors from the flagship Sea Adventure arrived unexpectedly in Jamestown after the ship disappeared during a violent storm, creating the dismal assumption that all hands had been lost, including the expedition's Admiral Sir George Sommers and the future governor of the Virginia colony, Sir Thomas Gates. In actually, the survivors arrived on the beach of Bermuda, long avoided by mariners as a reputed home for sorcerers and evil magic. Bermuda proved to be a surprisingly fertile island rife with food supplies and trees, which the sailors utilized to make pinnaces and so continue their voyage.

There was one more incident which is not usually mentioned by critics, but which almost certainly provided some background flavor to Shakespeare. Towit, this event was the infamous Gunpowder Plot of 1605, a failed assassination attempt against King James I of England and VI of Scotland by a group of provincial English Catholics led by Robert Catesby.

The plan was to blow up the House of Lords during the State Opening of England's Parliament on 5 November 1605, as the prelude to a popular revolt in the Midlands during which James's nine-year-old daughter, Princess Elizabeth, was to be installed as the Catholic head of state.

His fellow plotters were John Wright, Thomas Wintour, Thomas Percy, Guy Fawkes, Robert Keyes, Thomas Bates, Robert Wintour, Christopher Wright, John Grant, Ambrose Rookwood, Sir Everard Digby and Francis Tresham. Fawkes, who had 10 years of military experience fighting in the Spanish Netherlands in suppression of the Dutch Revolt, was given charge of the explosives.

The most famous of this figures, as we have from popular culture, was Guy Fawkes, whose image has been employed rather famously in the form of a mask that is the avatar for the Internet blackhat figures who call themselves Anonymous. A movie that riffs on this figure, who appears in the film as an antihero wearing the iconic mask image, was produced under the title, "V for Vendetta".

The plot, which featured sufficient explosives to turn the entire House of Parliament building from cellar to roof into matchsticks, was foiled and most of the conspirators captured, tortured and executed. A couple figures escaped to France, whereas Fawkes leapt from the gallows with the noose about his neck, effectively killing himself instantly, but saving himself from suffering a more brutal drawing and quartering.

Other than pursuit and capture of the directly involved conspirators, James wisely decided to withhold his hand and forgo a Catholic witchhunt and a culling of the House of Lords. Some might say this was regal magnanimity and beneficence, and it might have been some of that, however it also was a politically shrew strategy. In fact the foiling of the plot led to a long and amicable relationship between the throne and Parliament

Had this assassination attempt succeeded, a Catholic monarch would have been temporarily installed on the throne, but all of England would once again have descending into another bloody civil war like that of the Wars of the Roses, which lasted nearly half a century (officially 1455–1487, although Yorkist challenges to Lancaster continued to 1525).

So these events should be included in any discussion of a play that features shipwreck, unexpected and miraculous survival, magic, sorcerers, spirits, and colonization of a "brave new world", along with heavy discussion in what form shall the newly created state take. This late play is true theatre at Shakespeare's best, containing some of the bard's most concise poetic language, along with more music than any of the other romances.

The story concerns an enchanted island inhabited by the magician Prospero, his/her daughter Miranda and two prior residents in the form of a nature spirit named Ariel and a deformed "monster" named Caliban. Ariel's fate has been to suffer confinement within a split oak by a witch named Sycatrix, who has since died, only to be released from that prison by Prospero to become a slave to the wizard Prospero. Caliban, who is the offspring of a union between the witch and the devil, must also suffer the indignity of slavery.

One day a ship passing near the island is enchanted by Prospero, who causes a storm and subsequent apparent shipwreck. All passengers and crew on the ship are somehow rendered safe from harm and so arrive on the island in separate groups, each group believing that all the others have died, save for the King of Naples, Alonso, who searches for evidence that his son, Ferdinand, has somehow survived.

This production by Cal Shakes is unusual in casting a woman, the very capable Catherine Castellanos, as Prospero, as well as a female holding the part of wise counselor Gonzalo. Another interesting departure was the casting of the very earthy Amy Lizardo as Ariel. The troupe travels to locations far from the homebase in the woods above Orinda, and so must of necessity do without the extensive props, stage machinery, special effects and lighting traditionally employed by mainstage productions. The end result is an intense focus upon the verse of Shakespeare and actor's body language.

Castellanos had a little trouble at first warming up, but once she found her groove, she very effectively projected the imperious quality required by Prospero, who rules the magical island with an iron fist, while moving easily to tender and loving demeanor when speaking to and about her daughter, Miranda. During the scene that features the destruction of both her book of spells and her staff of power, she projected such a powerful deep sadness and regret that the entire audience was hooked into the moment.

As for Amy Lizardo, she brought a unique earthiness to her Ariel -- this was a spirit that spent much time imprisoned within an oak tree after all. And once set free from that enchantment, remains powerful enough to cause winds to howl, ships to founder, and men to lose all power of movement and thought. This is no airy fairy, but a spirit of power. Who nevertheless possesses a bit of whimsy.

In casting three principals as women, the director and actors were able to exalt certain scenes with unaffected joy and, dare we say, love, in a way that the standard casting simply does not do.

"Do you love me, master? No?" says Ariel near the end to Prospero.

After a long pause and a long look, "Dearly my delicate Ariel," answers the wizard.

The Tempest is classified as one of the Bard's romances, but it easily could have been rendered as a tragedy or some other form. We do have a couple of clowns who provide some rollicking comic relief, but the substance of the play concerns serious matters mulled and presented by a genius who, at the end of his own life, examines what makes up a good State, what is the nature of power and what is the best usage of it, what is the nature and power of art, and ultimately -- given the inexcapable fact of our mortality -- what is truly real and what is illusion.

"Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Ye all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep."
Act IV, Scene 1

Shakespeare lived on after this play was produced for another few years, and did co-write a few more items for the stage, but this play appears to be his last fully original composition, with no apparent derivative works and no co-author. It stands up as one of the Bard's finest works in being the most concise, the most poetic and the most purely theatrical packed with extraordinary verse and poetic moments. Given that the usual stage special effects and lighting are absent and the 500 year old language concerns itself heavily with themes that most occupy a man with some years of experience approaching the end of life, we tend to think it is not exactly the best production for most kids under 10 years of age, despite the presence of wizards, spirits, lively music and magic. It certainly will tug at the inner kid in some of the silver hairs out there, though.

It is another Cal Shakes production. It lasts for a couple more weekends at the Oakland Museum. And your ticket is recyclable for half off admission to the museum on any other day. Go see it. You cannot go wrong.



Set Design NINA BALL
Assistant Director JAMILA COBHAM
Stage Manager TONI OSTINI
Movement Coach KRISTA DENIO
Costume Assistant NATALIE BARSTOW
Tour Support JACOB HSEI
Composer/Music Director OLIVE MITRA


By now all of you know what happened at City Hall last Wednesday night. Lauren Do has some excellent commentary on the events that resulting in two arrests, broken bones, and blood on the stairs as enraged renters attempted to storm the Council Meeting private testimony which had been stacked with landlord representatives ( , November 6, 2015, "The Mess You Made").

The Council did pass the temporary moratoriums on no-fault evictions and rent hikes. And true to form, some landlords promptly demonstrated bad faith and violated the law with 33% rent hikes. Of course bad applies like these are sure to ensure that rent control becomes an inevitability, which is sad, as the result will almost certainly be less well considered than if these people would just chill.

We have a Tibetan Monastery on the island; can we not just get people to sit in vipassana for a bit and just relax?


So anyway that special season has come upon us when the air turns brisk and thoughts turn to traditions and season rituals. Dick and Jane go gaily scampering through the fallen leaves with ruddy cheeks and panting breath hand in hand, each dreaming of popping a few rounds into a Fifi, blasting the stuffing out of a silver-haired poo with their brand new polished thirty ought six.

Yep, that much anticipated Island event is nigh upon us once again, the Annual Island-Life Poodleshoot and BBQ.

We will be posting the official rules presently in the sidebar. For now, last year's rules are up there to give you an idea of what this dreadful celebration is all about.

Meanwhile, Denby sits up these nights with a candle he has lit for somebody each night ever since the last Noche de los Muertos. He sits on the edge of his bed with a glass of wine in the room he lets underneath the stairwell to the East End Lunatic Asylum and strums an outlaw love song. Eventually he lays the guitar aside, gets into bed and turns out the light before suddenly remembering something important.

Damn, forgot to take off the shoes again!

After he takes care of that problem, he goes back to bed and falls asleep. He will be all right in a little while.

In the Old Same Place Bar, there is a chatter and a clatter from within. Every time Padraic passes the snug where he put the new lease with its rent increase, he snarls, then sighs.

At the Marlene and Andre's household, the place has been packed, all the wanderers and lost having come home to roost as the night air turned sharp with biting wind off of the Bay. As the night eases along with a smooth stride, horns moan through the fog across the wide expanse of water and the snores of sleepers drift up from cots and sleeping bags and sofa and closet, every nook and cranny occupied. The rustling in the big ginormous habitot run goes quiet as Festus and his pals tuck in.

In the back, Marlene lies curled up against Andre, head on his shoulder, her black hair splashed out on the pillow, asleep and at peace.

Somewhere beneath the house, the old central heating unit that Mr. Howitzer paid for cheap to purchase, and cheaper still to install by the drunken Depuglia brothers emits a small flame and a shower of sparks from the failing igniter unit. There is a faint hiss from leaky gas lines dating back to 1904 and the opossum underneath takes up her babies and departs from that bad cellar, never to return.

Then, the train ululated from far across the water as the locomotive trundled from beneath the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their 1000 watt lamps, 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 Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock and its weedy railbed and interstices of its chainlink fence, dropping slowly over the basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone burial mounds to parts unknown.

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


NOVEMBER 8, 2015


You children may not remember that antiwar protest song from Nena, but since this week culminates a rather sober three-week series of meditations on death we though we would provide something a bit lighthearted to start you off.

While at a June 1982 concert by the Rolling Stones in West Berlin, Nena's guitarist Carlo Karges noticed that balloons were being released. As he watched them move toward the horizon, he noticed them shifting and changing shapes, where they looked like strange spacecraft (referred to in the German lyrics as a "UFO"). He thought about what might happen if they floated over the Berlin Wall to the Soviet sector.


Thanks to reader Chris Headley, who alerted us to a broken link to copyright rules. That problem has been rectified and the responsible staff have been consigned to the Island-Life Oubliette. The link is on the About Island-Life page.


The Island-Life staff encountered a sobering reminder of what Los Dias De Los Muertos is all about as we walked along the Fruitvale towards Fruitvale Station. Dust thou art and to dust thou shalt return.

The succeeding days will reveal what happened here. Some kind of story came to an abrupt end between the tracks. Was the man crossing during a critical passage with his hoodie up and unable to see the engine bearing down? Did this man lay his head down on the tracks to let the 12:15 end his trouble in mind? Was he a victim of murder? Is there a mother somewhere in Oaktown grieving now for the loss of her son? Did he have a lover who sat with the clock ticking, waiting for the arrival that will never now be consummated? We only know that he was found like this around One PM, leaving the story of his life punctuated by a violent end.


The annual Fruitvale Celebration of Los Dias de Los Muertos is one of the largest gatherings outside of Mexico in the world. At one time the festival extended all along International Boulevard from Downtown to the Fourties. Nowadays it is confined to Fruitvale Village around the BART station.

Here are some images from this year's Festival.

Here are Calaveras Azucar. An explanation is provided a little below.

An ofrenda by the local police departments from the Five Counties.

Everyone is remembered, regardless of position.

The Mothers of the Disappeared also remember.

You can Google the life and death of poet Victor Jara, who was murdered by a SOA sponsored junta.

Monarch butterflies feature large in this family ofrenda

Family portraits interspersed with calaveras, papiel, and marigolds.

Los Aztecas getting ready for the culminating ritual at sundown.

The family ofrendas often have a theme. This one features the spirit of the jaguar.

Figures like this are set up to remind us that beneath our fleshly covering resides our mortality. And this is perfectly all right and natural.

The ofrendas feature papiel, marigolds, and foods the person enjoyed while in life. It is thought that during Los Dias de los Muertos the veil between the worlds becomes thin, allowing the dead to pass from the other side to this one for a time.

Every year a family puts this large gold-painted skull out for strangers to write the names of their departed loved ones in memoriam. A big part of this festival is the communal sharing of grief.

Our contribution from Island-Life . . .

A bruxa, or curandera, purifies someone with sage incense.

The Aztecas gather. The rituals take many hours and last all day.

An elaborate sand painting on which the artist has worked all night to create. The work will be destroyed after sundown. Life is ephemeral. Nothing lasts forever.

The common ofrenda for all Fruitvale.

This one features a poem written in Spanish and English translation.

"Recuerden me" means "Remember me"

These five details are from the Family Samos. We talked with the mujer keeping vigil here and learned that although her daughter has come out as a lesbian, the mother still loves her and her wife very much. The panel features friends and family who all passed away in 2015. All of these people were murdered.

The Fruitvale Festival is a public display of communal grief, a mixture of sadness and laughter making fun of death's solemnities. The personal in-home rituals can be very emotional as people express themselves to intimate family members.

The Mexican version of Charon.

On one side, we see the beauty of Life...

The other side reveals memento mori . . .

Painting the mask.


We are not afraid of death. Death is part of growing up.

The generations remembered.

The Dias de Los Muertos are a mixture of Christianity and things far older.

What could be a greater affirmation of Life but music?


Bubbles can be serious business . . .

More and more Aztecas gather...

This lovely couple have the spirit. We wish them many years of happiness together.

The sound of thundering drums rolls from the plaza and echoes down the streets with compelling power. The Ritual has begun . . .

Anklets made of nut shells give emphasis as the dancers stamp their feet in unison.

The drumming becomes insistent. The dancers twirl and dip like birds.

These dances are many thousands of years old.

After the drumming and dancing has brought the people to sundown the Aztec shamans turn to the four directions, bearing smoking sage to invoke the ancestral powers residing in each place, concluding each invocation with the phrase tahui.

The little ones will remember these ancient customs and they will carry it forward. Recuerden me . . .



This issue has elements we wanted to get out ASAP, so we are pushing this out incomplete, omitting the monologue, finalization of which was delayed do to pressing family matters. The entire edition will be complete by end of Monday evening.


So anyway, Denby stumbled from the Offices after that dreadful crossing to the Other Side described last week and found his way through the aching dawn with sandpaper eyes to his room below the lunatic asylum and fell into his cot in his rented room upstairs from the lunatic asylum and there fell into a merciful dark slumber through which children ran across dark sands in bare feet.

At Marlene and Andre's household, all the residents had filtered back from wherever they had been biding there time during the warm weather as the NorCal rains set in with the first real cold of the season and the place filled up with the heat of bodes seeking refuge. The sparking light in the hallway finally flared and went out for good and the toilet crapped out, so to speak, needing Martini to get in there with his wrenches and sealing wax, because Mr. Howitzer could not be bothered to fix things. Little Adam, who was small enough, had to scamper through the understory to run wire guided by Martini so as to resupply electricity to the left side of the house and replace the burned out step-up transformer that had been bolted to the old redwood four by eight supporting the main flooring.

Andre went out to the mailbox and found a letter from Mr. Howitzer's firm -- it was another rent increase. "Dear Tenant, due to our desire to obtain maximum market value and due to increased taxes and anticipated increased operating expenses your rent will increase as of December 31 by $1225.52. Thank you for your . . .". He did not need to read further. The bad news was written on the wall.

He returned to the house and walked down the hall, his hand on the Habitot tubing which ran the length of the house above the bunkbeds there to loop about the livingroom packed with sleeping bags and humanity before returning back along the hall to make a jog through the single bedroom and so proceed then to the back and the back laundry room with its dysfunctional washer and dryer, none of which had worked for years. The tubing thrummed with the busy activity of Festus and his pals.

Our little refuge from the people and places that hate us.

"We will find a way to pay this," Andre said to himself. "No one is going to help us. We have only each other."

Rolf and Martini were in the back, seeing if they could fix the washer somehow as the price per load had gone up again at the Laundromat. Cost for gas from PiGgiE was due to rise also. Everything was going up; just not what people pulled in.

Andre told the two about the rent increase and both of them looked serious.

"We have to swallow it." Martini said. "Where else can we go? It's bad everywhere."

Rolf dropped his wrench as he tugged a too small belt they had gotten from Encinal Hardware. "Verdammte gummi!" He said and sat back in frustration. "Ja. Nirgends kein ort." He looked up at Andre.

"What's that mean?" Andre said.

"For us, there is no place on earth," said the former Oestli, who had gotten weary long ago of fleeing from one unwelcoming place to another.

"You got that right, bro," Andre said, thinking about the little community of lost misfits that were sort of his responsibility. Fifteen souls inhabiting that single bedroom cottage, because the rents had gotten obscene.

He stood at the steps to the back under the drooping awning that dripped now from the long awaited rain and stared at the ironmongery garden through which climbed the remainders of this past summer's pole beans and morning glory. He guessed he will have to put in more hours at Sacred Heart Tattoo and then scarf a few dollars more playing in the BART station and Marlene will have to get more hours at the CVS. Martini already had a full-time job as well as Tipitina and Suan, but everyone would have to start working more hours as none of them sure as hell were getting any kind of cost of living increase.

Outside the rain pelted the ironmongery, ran along the morning glories and coursed down to the cleared area beneath to puddle up here and there where they had planted fava beans that waited now to erupt into the long season of tall, green anticipation.

Occasional Quentin would just have to get his act together somehow and even Snuffles would have to go out and beg for more spare change. If everyone chipped in, they would survive. Somehow they would survive another year.

In the Old Same Place Bar, Padraic was still glowing after the visit by Michael Higgins, the current Uachtarán for the Republic. The Uachtarán had come to the States because of the kids who had died on the balcony in Berkeley. Those killed in the collapse were Olivia Burke, 21; Eoghan Culligan, 21; Niccolai Schuster, 21; Lorcan Miller, 21; and Eimear Walsh, 21, and Ashley Donohoe, 22.

So much death and so young. Kids just starting out.

Rent for one- and two-bedroom apartments at Library Gardens, 2020 Kittredge Street, ranges from $2,150 a month to $4,000. It was one of the newer complexes in Berkeley.
These were highly sought-for units.

Padraic went into the back office to sort through the mail and opened the envelope from Howitzer and Sons, LLC. "Dear Tenant, because of your excellent history of prompt payment with us we have decided to renew your lease, but with modified terms. Due to increased expenses we are unfortunately compelled to raise your monthly rent as of January 1, 2016 by an additional $3,000 for the main building and $500 for the two car parking lot. This is so that we can obtain the maximum which the market can bear. A new contract will be sent to you via certified mail for your signature agreeing to the new terms for the period of two years instead of five. We are sorry that taxes and . . .".

Shite! Three thousand dollars more! What was he to do to cover that? Charge nine dollars per highball? Now there would be no raise for Suzie, the bartender, this year. The girl would just have to make it up in tips for the Holidays.

He came out with the letter still in his hand, a deep anger simmering within him.

Suzie was just finishing serving a tray of pints to a table of Not From Heres -- dot commers taking selfies with those camera extensions. Young kids living five to a room because they were young and on an adventure and in a few years they would be gone from here back to Ohio or Virginia or from wherever they had come to savor the exotic Bay Area for a short while, leaving their space for yet other kids willing to pay $4,000 for a studio in the City, living five to a room again, because no sane soul could afford rent like that as an individual or a couple even.

"Ah, would ya hike up that skirt, girl," Padraic said. "You'd get better tips."

"Nevermind the bollocks, Padraic," Suzie said, and the man stepped back with his jaw open, astonished at this language from the sweet girl.

"Wut the . . ."!

Dawn came over and grabbed the letter from Mr. Howitzer out of Padraic's hand.

"O for Pete's sake," Dawn said, reading. "O dear, o dear, this is not good."

"It's just a song," Suzie said.

"I don't know what kind of music you are listening to," Padraic said. "A lot of screetchin' and hollarin' is all it is. Listen to the likes of Finbar Wright now. That is a man who isn't tone deaf."

"Sure enough", Suzie said. She also had gotten a rental increase, meaning she would have to either move out or get a roommate for her tiny place. The lovely couple across the hall who had been there twenty years were moving out to Sacremento where the man had family. Their rent had been jacked 50 per cent and they just could not afford it.

"When will this madness end?" Dawn said.

"Madness indeed," Padraic said, remembering this past week and the blood on the steps of City Hall after the mini-riot. A riot on the Island of all places! Not since he had seen people dropping roofslates on the heads of the Protestants in Armagh had he seen the likes of that. He knew the way some people could be. First blood had been spilled and it did not look like Wednesday night would be the end of it.

The Man from Minot came in to order a double at the rail.

"What'll it be," Suzie asked.

"Power," said the Man from Minot.

"Arthur Power coming right up," Suzie said.

"Ah, would ya have at least daycent Jamesons or Bushmills," Padraic said.

"Can't afford it, bro," said the Man from Minot. "Things are tight."

Padraic looked around the room, seeing the faces of people he had known for years and years. Old friends they were. His people. All of them feeling the pinch that began in 2001. He told Suzie to serve the Man from Minot Jamesons. Same price. Feck all. . . .

Down the boreen, in the offices of Island Life the Editor sat over his desk illuminated by the single lamp, while all the other desks sat silent and dark as the clock ticked over into the new day. He had just finished a long talk with his sister over the phone and there was now a backlog after a long talk which had lasted for hours. Well, he loved his sister; how could he not? She was a dear and had suffered a great deal. A bright star shining in this misery of a life. The one thing in his life that reminded him after coming back that we are not all just meat.

Before him sat the letter from Howitzer and Sons, LLC. "Dear Tenant. We are sorry to inform you that due to increased taxes and maintenance expenses . . .".

Crolls Restaurant, Pagano's Hardware, Boudin's Bakery, Vines, Browns Barbershop, Brown's Shoes, and so many others, all folded up and left. Old families here for generations selling their property and leaving because of the craziness that was wrecking the old neighborhoods. The Island pulsed hot with an hot infection, a fever that raged unchecked. When and where will it end? And now blood on the tiles right there before the entrance to the Council Chambers.

He thought about his hapless staff. What would happen to them if he packed it all up and moved to some place of sanity like Woodacre? What would happen to that idiot Denby, a fool who surely could never survive Reality on his own? And Festus. And Jose, that loveable, bumbling numbskull. And Rachel, the secretary, possessed of more grace than sense. He put his head in his liver-spotted hands. He had survived 'Nam for this? A vain catcher in the rye, just like at Ap Ba, trying to save everybody. He looked up and stared into the pitch black beyond.

And so the man sat with his remaining white hair flying thinly about his head in an aureole while all around him the darkness hung thick as sable drapes. Somewhere out there a like mind, somehere out there in that dark world, while he sat in the editor's chair with the desklamp pooling light in front of him, doing all for Company.

Then, the train ululated from far across the water as the locomotive trundled from beneath the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their 1000 watt lamps, 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 Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock and its weedy railbed and interstices of its chainlink fence, dropping slowly over the basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone burial mounds to parts unknown.

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


NOVEMBER 5, 2015


Blood on the second floor of Alameda City Hall outside the Council Chambers, November 4th, 2015.



Last night the City Council held a special meeting in response to pressure from several island-based renter advocacy groups on the subject of the current rental crisis.

Agenda items featured presentation of summaries of findings compiled into a report called The Alameda Rent Study, as well as formal observations from the Housing Authority representative. This was to have been followed by citizen testamony.

As some of you may know, the meeting grew emotionally heated and was interrupted after one hour of citizen speeches by a disruptive protest which lead to bloody injuries to at least one protester on the second floor of City Hall.

The Mayor announced recess due to the disruption at 7:05 PM, and subsequently first the audio, then the video stream from the chambers to the internet and four viewing locations cut out.

After the end of the recess, live streaming was restored with a change in procedures. This special meeting of the City Council lasted a total of 7 hours, 35 minutes.

This is what happened in Alameda City Hall the night of November 4, 2015.

Janet Smith-Heimer, of the private consultancy firm Bay Area Economics (BAE) began her discussion of the various studies on the city's housing and demographics, starting with a study completed in 2013. Her visual presentation never got off the ground due to technical difficulties.

She was interrupted by the Mayor who felt that, since the presentation slides referenced were not coming up and too much time was being spent on outdated data before arriving at the current report findings.

"There are a lot of people here to today, not only in this Chamber, but watching from four other locations, who we want to hear. You will have a chance to present your findings later and hopefully by then the technical difficulties [will be resolved]."

Citizens who wished to speak to the Council were limited to 60 seconds with a promised re-evaluation after "about three hours" of testimony. Citizens completed a form submitted to the City Clerk to indicate desire to speak and so speakers were called by name in order of reciept of the form. A person could cede his or her time to any desired alternative speaker.

Of the first 24 speakers, only two presented the renter point of view. All the others claimed to be "small" mom and pop landholders who were struggling to make ends meet and who had not performed no-fault evictions and who had not extorted 30 and 50% rent increases.

Among these included Marie Kane (#10), owner of Kane Reality -- one of the largest property management firms on the Island. Also Ms. Schumacher (Speaker #19), who obtained 10 cedes to get 10 minutes of talk time, and who represents a reality group that handles 3,000 units, claimed to be small property owners.

In walking over to City Hall from the Library presentation room, we began to sense a great deal of outrage building among the renters at the obvious stacking of the speaker time on behalf of realties and landowners, all of whom stated during their presentations the same party line that the Council should let the provisions of Ordinance 3131 (which calls for mediation by the Rental Review Advisory Committee, or RRAC) continue to resolve problems.

At 7:04, the live stream featured a large commotion coming from the outside corridor, the door to the Chambers was held open and the Mayor subsequently announced Recess.

Our man in the Rotunda below witnessed a number of people going up the stairs, bearing blue flyers (see photos). Once they achieved the landing, they began a deafening chanting and, apparently, a few of the protesters attempted to enter the Chambers.

An audio of the chanting can be found on Youtube here.

We did not see the actual take down of Mr. Bob Davis whom we did see standing in the middle of the crowd and nowhere near the chambers entrance. We did see the officer holding him down by pressing on Mr. Davis' neck as Mr. Davis issued muffled screams. He did not appear to struggle or resist arrest in any manner whatsoever and freely allowed his arms to be cuffed behind him while on the floor.

The entire arrest until removal was filmed by Jason Buckley who has posted the video here on Youtube. This is the video you see displayed on ABC and KTVU as well as other media outlets. The regular Channel 22 cameraman remained inside the Chambers the entire time.

There were numerous other individuals who used iPhones to capture video on the second floor.

A second man with a gray beard, identified as John Klein, was also arrested and removed to the City Jail. Hearing for both men is Friday, at 9 am in dept 107 at he Oakland Courthouse. If you go, be prepared for long lines for other court business at the security checkpoint. Our experience with these things is wear a jacket with zippable pockets in which to stash all metal objects like coins and keys. Belts must be removed and scanned on the conveyor belt.

The hallway quieted down in about 10 minutes and our normally quiet citizens made way for fire department EMT's while two police remained on the landing and at the door. The Mayor resumed the sessions with an outage lasting less than thirty minutes and with a change in procedure allowing for a more equitable 50-50 distribution of renters and property owners. Many property owners left upon this decision, including Karen Bley (speaker #22), who had the novel idea of assigning funding for relocation assistance.

There were a total of approximately 90 speakers. It is not known how many left due to the disruption.

In the end, the council adopted an urgency ordinance that would bar rent increases of 8 percent or more for the next 65 days. Landlords will also be prohibited from evicting tenants without cause during that time.

In the meantime, the council will consider changes to Alameda’s mild tenant protections. Under the current system, tenants can appeal rent increases to the city’s Rent Review Advisory Committee. The panel can mediate between the parties and issue a recommendation after hearing from both sides, but landlords are not required to comply.

This issue of rent control and the rental crisis is certainly far from being finished, no matter what the Council decides. If the Council does not act decisively, the City will almost certainly see new propositions appear on the ballot come the next election.


Scene in the library at 6:00PM.

Another viewing area in the Rotunda of City Hall. c.6:50 PM

Members of the Rental Coalition, including children, begin ascending the stairs, c.6:55 PM

More ascend the stairs, packing the hallway. Chambers are to the right.

The chanting begins and the ARC begin waving signs.

The arrest of Bob Davis

Bob Davis appeared to be in his sixties . . . .

About 15 minutes after last arrest, citizens keeping clear for EMT's to enter the chambers. By report, the Interim City Manager, Mr. Haun, was injured with a broken hip caused by a fall. As of 11/8/15 people disagree as to what caused him to fall.

Police making sure no surprises come back up the stairs. No enforcement officers were injured.

What the blue signs said.

Blood left outside the City Council Chambers. This is probably not the end of it if people like Marie Kane dig in their heels. Kane is known for high rents, hiring questionable tradesmen to do work on rental units, and for retaining the security deposits of good tenants after move-out.



NOVEMBER 1, 2015


Hopefully your Halloween was much more enjoyable than the one Richard Shindell sings about in "Are You Happy Now." The backstory to the song is actually quite funny, so if Richard ever comes up here from where he lives in Buenos Aires, be such to ask him about it.


Here's a few more images from around the Island to round out the Halloween Season. The really popular one seems to have been the Alien Spaceport shown last week. Angela Hill and Matt Hunnicut were the artists on Santa Clara who did that one.


A disarming skeleton . . .


"Keep out"?! What danger lurks for trick 'r treaters?

The devil is in the details. He is also in the shrubbery . . . .


So that is how they climb up there . . .


I thought "Flowers of Evil" was a book by Baudelaire . . . .

O now really, Harry! Don't be so lifeless at the party . . . !

Honey! I think there is some thing at the door . . .

O dear! Just look at what the groundskeeper has done to these ferns . . . !

A little detail hiding in a tree on San Antonio.

Darn it, the garden is infested with spooks again . . . .

Did not know Astair went that way. We thought Ginger Rogers killed him when he made a faux pas . . . .

Boo to you too!



So anyway, once again Denby lost the annual drawing of straws. The Editor escorted him out the door of the Island-Life Offices, cigar clenched as usual between his teeth. "Don't forget to find out who is going to become the next President of the United States," the Editor said. "If not that, at least who wins the GOP nomination."

Denby sighed.

"C'mon man! Buck up and show some leatherneck spirit! Hoo ya!"

"Boss, I am not and have been a Marine."

The Editor swished his cigar from one side of his mouth to the other. "In that case, pity for you." The man clapped Denby on the back. "Get along now, boy! And best of luck to you."

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.

From the offices he walked down to the bayside and came to the path that borders the Strand. He follow this for a ways as a moist wind caused leaves to skitter across the pavement. The street extended in both directions from the shadow of trees that hid Crab Cove to the distance hidden by a grey mist. No one else walked this path and the beach below extended silent and deserted on this night. Eventually he 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 many, many years, with scraggly weeds crowding up against lichened stones.

"Lasciate ogni speranza voi ch'entrate!"

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.

For pete's sake. 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. A dense, lightless fog hung a few yards offshore, making it appear that the water extended out beyond to Infinity.

All up and down the strand he could now see that countless 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 towards him 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.

"Hello Penny." Denby said.

"Looks like you are still a bit solid," Penny said. "Going to stay long?"

"I am kinda hoping not," Denby said.

"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 he came here, 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 and barefoot as the others, ran up, paused and stared at the two of them. She was tall and had a lanky build and possessed blue-green eyes that shone under thick eyebrows frames by black hair and straight cut bangs.

O now really!" Penny said. "Found someone new?"

The girl ran between them laughing. She too, disappeared into the darkness.

"Absolutely not!"

"O yeah? I can see stuff, y'know. I think there is someone . . .".

"She's just a friend!" Denby said emphatically. "It's been decided." He folded his arms.

"Have it your way!" Penny said, laughing.

"O for pete's sake . . .".

They came upon two men walking along the strand, deep in conversation with one another.

"O hello, Oliver!" Penny said. "I've brought you a musician!"

The bearded man named Oliver peered at Denby with his spectacles.

"Actually, I've been told recently I am a little tone deaf," Denby said.

"I don't think I know you," Oliver said with an English accent.

"We never met," Denby said.

"It really is a very odd business that all of us, to varying degrees, have music in our heads," Oliver said. "Music can lift us out of depression or move us to tears - it is a remedy, a tonic, orange juice for the ear. But for many [people], music is even more - it can provide access, even when no medication can, to movement, to speech, to life. For them, music is not a luxury, but a necessity."

A look of surprise came over his face and he reached into his mouth and pulled out a small gold coin.

"The obolu!" Penny said.

"I say! I was rather the bad boy in my youth," Oliver said. "But I guess now all is forgiven!"

"You get to go to the landing," Penny said wistfully. "Feeling afraid?"

my predominant feeling is one of gratitude.

"I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers.

Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure."

And with that Oliver headed down the beach with energy to a dock where a single lantern shed light on a crowd of people waiting there.

"Not your time yet, Mario," Penny said to the other man.

The man shrugged and then said in a thick New York accent, "I was a politician", before ambling on down the beach to a campfire where he sat heavily.

A young man wearing a tattered Army uniform came jogging along the beach. Beside him on his left loped a woman with close-cropped blonde hair. A short Asian man wearing a tattered NVA uniform jogged on his right and his wrist was bound to the White man by a slender filligreed chain and cuffs.

"Hey Denby!" said the guy.

"Johnny. Julie," Denby said. "Where you guys running off to?"

"Going to find Raymond," Johnny said. "He is down there somewhere. Remember Raymond?"

"I sure do," Denby said. "That funeral was something. Man!"

"What happened?" Julie asked. "That was not part of my history."

"After the honor guard left the casket at the house, his mother broke it open," Denby said.

"Muther f----!" Johnny said. "How the hell she do that?"

An angry rumble rolled from out of the fog across the water.

"Best watch your language down here," Penny said. "You don't want to stay any longer than you have to."

"Those things are made of brass inside and sealed tight!" Johnny said. "You come back from 'Nam in a box through the tropic heat and your body don't look so good."

"She used her dead husband's power tools," Denby said, remembering the following day now and what happened. The woman lost her husband due to complications from getting fragged in Korea, then one son died at the racecourse. Then Raymond was next, providing point. A tripwire got him. They did not call them IED's back then. Boobytrap. And then there she was, all alone in that big empty house, staring at the framed pictures of the long line of military men, starting with her great grandfather, killed during the Indian wars. All of them getting married, siring children, then going off to die on the battlefield.

"She broke it open and when she saw it, she used rollers to wrangle the casket into the stationwagon. Drove it to the church on Sunday and drove over the curb right up to the doors. I guess the casket was too heavy so when she slid it off the tailgate, it fell and everything spilled out."

"Yeesh!" Johnny said.

"Some wars you fight because you have to," said the NVA guy. "All wars bad."

"Looks like you got a little bracelet there," Denby commented.

"He kill my brother," the NVA soldier said. "I shoot him. Now we spend long time together. Until the Crossing maybe. Or maybe longer." He stared intently into the fog offshore.

"Let's go guys," Johnny said. And the three of them jogged off down the beach.

"Miss you!" Denby called out to Julie's back.

"Too late!" She called back over her shoulder. "I called for help too late."

Denby closed his eyes and pressed one hand to his face.

"Ah, Denby." Penny said.

A bevy of little girls, all no more than six or seven, came running through the reeds up high, all playing tag with one another. One dark complexioned girl ran up to Denby with big brown saucer eyes and her brown hair tied in dreads with pink ribbons. "Geechee!" she said and ran off.

A deep chuckle came from off to the side. "Bin lang tyme sin ah spik dat Gullah!"

"How ya doin'," Denby said.

"Me, I am just waiting here like everybody else. Sure is nice you remember the islands. Writers are the memory for the people." He was dark complected and spoke with a deep voice and he stood in the shadows.

"Someone has to. I hear all the children are leaving the Gullah islands," Denby said.

The Daughters of the Dust....

"Yeah, they be selling out. Going to the Carolina mainland and leaving the one place in America where no man and no woman was a slave. The Daughters of the Dust."

"It's too bad," Denby said.

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," Denby said

The dark man laughed. "O hardly! You have your own Daughters of the Dust; your girls have provided endless amusements."

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

"Well, would have, could have more like it. All the ones who are not and never were and most likely never will be. 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."

From across the water a glimmering approached.

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

A jovial man carrying an electric guitar and playing it as he walked passed them, headed to the landing where the souls waiting to cross over moved anxiously to the edge. A tall, slender, handsome man strode along the sands with him.

"C'mon brother Julian! We gonna cross over the river Jordan for sure this time!"

"Good things don't come to those who wait. They come to those who agitate!" Julian said.

The two of them reached the landing even as the eyes of the Ferryman became clearer, burning in the mist out of which he poled his skiff.

“You only live but once, and when you're dead you're done, so let the good times roll,” said the man with the guitar before bursting into a robust song.

"I've got the key to the highway. Feel I just got to go. Gonna leave here running. Walking is most too slow . . ."!

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.

A tall man with close-cropped hair passed closely by them and he paused to raise up his arm in a familiar guesture, palm outward, thumb, forefinger and index pressed together, making a V between them and the two smaller fingers, ring and pinky.

"Live long and prosper," said the man before turning to head down to the landing as the skiff drew nearer.

"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!" Penny said.

"Papi?" she said.

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..

"I have been told I am tone-deaf with the voice . . ." Denby started, but she was already gone, and she had not been talking about music anyway. She was 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. As the street and house lights draped over the distant hills began to reappear, 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.

Perhaps because of the old angina, or something, he felt a pain in his chest. Perhaps because of the mist or something, his face was wet.

He made his way back to the island offices which now remained dark and 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 this time," 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."

And the two men sat there with their glasses filled with scotch and melting ice, the war veteran Marine and the musician, each remembering many things on the last night of Los Dias de los Muertos.

Time passed and then the train ululated from far across the water as the locomotive trundled from beneath the spectral gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their 1000 watt lamps, letting its cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the haunted 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 and its weedy railbed and interstices of its chainlink fence, dropping slowly over the basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of ghostly shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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


OCTOBER 25, 2015


This weeks headline photo comes from Island-Lifer Tammy and is titled "Beach Fennel Sunset. This was taken down at Crown Memorial Beach, which we sometimes call "The Strand".


Hopefully none of you recalls singing that song in school back in the DDR. If so, welcome to the West.

This is just to say that the 2015 Mountain Sabbatical trip notes are up along with trip report. We noticed that nobody ever followed through on 2014's experience with high altitude thunderstorms, so that will be following soon.


What is going on is that we are getting older. Your children too. The announcement of the lineup for the Bill Graham Civic for NYE does not include any members of the Grateful Dead for the first time (well maybe not exactly the 1st time) in 25-30 years. No Dead, no Ratdog, not even Dave Grisman. Phil Lesh, as you 'Heads may know, is battling cancer with, we hope, good chances of beating the thing due to early intervention.

Instead of the Dead or some version of Gov't Mule the Flaming Lips will roll into town -- more than likely inside a big plastic bubble.

As for Halloween shindigs, the Exotic Erotic Ball got moved to a Pavilion in Richmond and a date in May, so you missed it. The Fencesitters Costume Ball appears to have vaporized -- can't find any promo on this event that catered to those of us who want all the options open for dates. No word on what happened to the Hookers Ball.

For the reely beeg shews San Francisco still dominates the skyline, however here on the Warmer Side of the Bay, we do have our own fait do do.

In fact The Rock Wall Wine Company on the Island is getting to be known as the place to be seen and the hotspot to hook-up. That one is located at 2301 Monarch Street which is out on the Point. If you enter the old base via Willie Stargell keep going when the name changes to W. Midway. That will terminate at Monarch Street. Turn left and go a couple long blocks.

If weirdly glowing cocktail beverages float your boat, The Forbidden Island Tiki Lounge on Lincoln is always a fun place to go with a friend or two. The clientele tends to be lively and engaging so who knows with what werewolf you go home. And after midnight when the moon is just right, some people change change, you know . . .

The Churchward Pub is holding a costume contest at its location on Park Street just down the block from La Penca Azul.

In Oakland the Fat Lady on the edge of Jack London Square always has something on Halloween. It has a restaurant and a bar. If you go, try the fried zucchini; its to die for. And if you don't find the barmaids cute, that means you have had too much to drink.

Just about all the bars and clubs are doing something.

The Uptown District is holding an event with an interesting title. At Liminal on 3037 38th Avenue the Sadie Hawkins Halloween Ball & Poetry Brothel will take place. According to the PR the rules appear to be a bit flexible on the good side. "A dance party where the ladies invite the gentlemen! Ladies . . . you will have to keep to one each. If you do not conform to the male/female binary, make up your rules . . .!"

Doors open at 8pm for that one with an open admission fee. Pay what you can.

The Scottish Rite Temple at 1547 Lakeside Drive in Oakland will host a costume party -- indeed costumes are mandatory. This is an over 21 party titled Saints and Sinners. No weapons of any kind as part of your costume allowed.

The Fox is hosting a regular bluegrass show in the form of Greensky Bluegrass, but you never know what they might pick for a setlist. The band is known to be "grittier" than your usual BG band, and does employ effects pedals as well as a punk sensibility, according to report. They are part of the "newgrass" movement. Tickets are $27.

Berkeley, of course, will be hosting parties as well, including the Albatross Bar, a watering hole that features in-house crafted beers.

If shrieking guitars, guys howling at the mike, and guitars sporting carefully untrimmed guitar strings that wave over the black, beer-sodden floor get you hot, then the punkish Stork Club dive bar is just for you. Still at 2330 Telegraph Ave between 23rd St & 24th last we heard.

For a more **cough** family friendly experience the Hornet Museum out at the Point here on the Island will even provide a room for you and your main squeeze overnight. If you dare. The former operational aircraft carrier served in WWII and as the main retriever for the Apollo capsules prior to the use of the reusable space shuttles. And serving docents have all claimed encounters with ghosts aboard ship. On October 31, the party begins at 7:30 and runs to 1:30am. There will be a no host bar and live music. Regular tickets are $30 in advance, $35 at the door and double that for VIP tickets. Go to USS Hornet for more info.

So although some places may be holding big raves over there in Babylon, with the Castro historically putting on a flash mob kind of show consisting mainly of ordinary folks wearing finery of feathers and leather, there is no special reason to cross the Bay as we have plenty going on around here.

In the news, the High Street Bridge will close to all traffic, above and below it, M-F 9:30-6:30 through November 25th. Maybe this will get you all adjusted to how life will be like once the new developments are completed.

The Alameda Renters Coalition has sent out a press release regarding the special meeting of the City Council on the current rental crisis. It goes in part:

"Wednesday, Nov. 4, at 7:00 PM, the Alameda City Council is holding a special meeting, a public hearing, on the rent and eviction crisis in Alameda. This is a BIG DEAL and represents a win for everyone who has helped and supported ARC, and everyone who has signed the petition. This meeting is only happening because everyone is speaking up and making a difference.

The council meeting is your chance to tell the mayor and the council what is happening to our city, and how rising rents and no-fault evictions are tearing the community apart. We are losing part of what makes Alameda special and dear to us all."

It might be good to go and just listen to what people have to say.

We close this section with a bit of good news from ACT here on the Island.

"Park District to Purchase GSA Property to Expand Popular Alameda Park"

"Oct. 22, 2015 - The East Bay Regional Park District today announced it will become the owner of an important 3-acre parcel on McKay Ave in Alameda which will lead to the expansion of Crown Memorial State Beach.

The Park District’s purchase resolves an eminent domain action by the United States government against the State of California and the Park District to seize control over portions of McKay Avenue, the main access road to Crab Cove.

The Park District agreed to a purchase price of $2,182,500 for the property which formerly housed the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Board of Directors is expected to formally approve the purchase at its Nov. 3 meeting. In addition, the parties have agreed that that ownership of McKay Avenue will return to the State.

This is good news, if you are tuning in late because that parcel had been informally promised to the EBRPD, but was abruptly put up for auction, which was won by Tim Lewis Communities, a private developer who already had ties to some projects here.

Then ensued a firefight between the GSA and the EBRPD with the City caught in the middle during a strange backroom rezoning of the parcel from commercial to residential. Problem for a residential parcel is that the parcel had no sewer, no electrical, no gas suitable for residences as envisioned by TLC, which wisely backed off from the auction deal as neighbors to something they had imagined would become park howled at the prospect of having yet more neighbors filing down that narrow unimproved road in great numbers.

The GSA having a hissy fit over a EBRPD lawsuit on the issue, threatened to seize the entire street by Eminent Domain -- until they probably realized THEY would have to pay for infrastructure improvements if they did that, not the State nor the City. In any case they pursued the Eminent Domain lawsuit so as to complete this sale to TLC, which began wishing it had not won an auction. According to the ACT notice:

"The United States sued the State of California and the Park District in an eminent domain action in 2014 to acquire McKay Avenue in an attempt to complete its sale of Neptune Point to a private developer. The State Attorney General’s office, working with EBRPD attorneys and the California State Parks, fought back and argued that such action should be reserved for public benefit, not the private benefit of a residential developer. In the alternative, the State and the Park District claimed that if the United States was allowed to take McKay Avenue, the United States would need to pay $1.4 million in compensation."

In the final agreement the GSA gets some money for the parcel and avoids substantial costs that would have canceled any money it would have gotten from TLC, and the GSA saves face -- which seems to have been its primary motivation all along -- by asserting its right to dispose of its property as it sees fit, be it surplus tanks or real estate.

And the EBRPD gets to expand the shoreline facilities as it was mandated to do by a previously voter approved Proposition to do just that.

Everybody happy now?


Here are some images from front yards around the Island.


Are the ducks meant to be terrifying or our protectors?

Boo indeed.

Doorway detail.

Bad landing apparently ....

Lovely couple ...

This yard on Santa Clara always does Halloween well. This year the theme is Alien Truckstop. Or Spaceport, if you will.

Vending machine. It says in yellow, "Insert one pound flesh."

Capsule being refueled and repaired.

The detail is amazing and everything is handmade from found household objects.

Individuals waiting for the transport.

Human spacecraft appears to have had some trouble, but cleanup is underway...

Ever notice how strange people are always wandering around the airport...?

Down the way in front of a real orthodontist office. Honesty is best, we guess ....

Ghosts and gouls
And witches that drool
Vampires and bats
And howling black cats
O terrifying skulls with flapping black wings!
These are a few of my favorite things!


Okay enough is enough for now. More next week.



So anyway, leaves skittered across the street from where they had fallen from dutifully molting oaks on Santa Clara Avenue and clouds scudding across the waning moon caused shadows to flap and dance in the corners.

While the Almeida family combined their efforts to construct costumes and turn their designated "safe house for Halloween" into something frightful (but not too frightful) the Native Sons held their annual Monsters Ball at the parlor location hard by the marina. The Almeidas turned the chicken coop into a witch's haunt, using stiff cardboard painted black with a stovepipe chimney that puffed real smoke -- from a mini fog machine located inside the stack.

Mrs. Almeida would be handing out candy next Saturday dressed as a mackerel and Mr. Almeida planned to dress as a fishing rod with a little gummy worm attached to the hook. He had a little problem with entering and exiting the doorway, trying to find a way to telescope the long 7 foot rod attached to his back until Mrs. Almeida told him to just go as a stubby rod and reel and let imagination do the fill-in.

"It's not the length, dear, it is the imagination you use with it that matters," Mrs. Almeida reminded him.

Robots are the big thing this year, due largely to movies.

Gilberto, who was born long after Judy Garland had passed on, was hammering together pieces of conduit for a Tin Man costume. Filiberto was soldering -- with supervision -- a Wall-E suit. Alicia was going as a Minion, and would be watching over little Santiago, dressed as a mini-Minion. Ana was going as the fembot from Ex Machina while Ana wanted to be R2D2 but only because the costume was easier to make than that other thing with the English accent. Jorge couldn't decide between Chappie or Iron Man from the Avengers, but both of those required too much work and help from his older brothers. He eventually decided on a cobbled Transformer.

The shindig at the Native Sons of the Golden West started off quite serene. Lionel, dressed as a distinguished vampire, escorted Jacqueline who came as Morticia from the Addams Family sitcom.
The way these things go, when people actually act out their fantasies, they wind up frustrated until they can assemble a new fantasy that can never be realized, because if your fantasy becomes Reality, then that is no good, in turn because Reality is always fraught with disappointment. That's just reality, dude.

Mr. Spline came as his hero Col. Armstrong Custer, while Mr. Terse entered the door as his hero, Dwight D. Eisenhower. People thought they were a couple, but the truth is, they were both straight and pretty narrow and neither could find dates.

Besides the usual feral female cats, a schooner's worth of pirates and assorted space aliens, the hall overflowed with families from an entire block on San Antonio, each dressed as a GOP candidate for President, the Sanchez family dressed as a bag of marshmallows, the Island-life Editor as Ben Bradlee, 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 hazmat suits, which made for drinking the punch through the respirator masks a dicey proposition, and at least one premature, but hopeful, Xmas present.

Lynette and Susan came as an Harley Davidson engine and as a biker chick, respectively.
Pimenta Strife strode across the threshold in 6 inch stiletto heels and a set of angel wings with a diaphanous tunic that left little to the imagination and it was pretty obvious she had a Brazilian wax job. Instead of a date she draped the end of her barbed tail over her arm; she knew she wouldn't go home alone.

Given the eclectic mix it was inevitable that an argument would ensue, and ensue it did close to midnight, after all the guests were well lubricated.

The Harley engine got into it with Eisenhower over women's rights to choose what they want to do with their own bodies and DDE would have none of it. Donald Trump got into it, siding with Eisenhower while a woman in a Hazmat suit tried to remove her facemask to help the Harley. Bernie Sanders stood to the side and offered the comment that the problem was that corporations had a stranglehold on the throat of America.

Several of the GOP candidates began bickering among themselves about the best way to make everything and everybody Conservative and a Gerrymandered District lay down on the floor to explain how it was done and a couple marshmallows tripped over his legs and fell down too. The hazmat woman finally ripped her mask loose, saying, "Now if you don't have a uterus . . .", but she never finished as her elbow accidentally wacked a livid Ron Paul who threw a wild roundhouse punch that, true to the Tea Party Movement, missed its target by a mile, striking instead a hapless Congressman vampire, sending his false teeth flying.

Things quickly descended into a savage, atavistic brawl with costume tearing, wookie hair pulling, robotic parts sent skittering, and facemask pulling that would have any NFL referee in shock and awe. Col. Armstrong Custer stepped into the melee which grew to involve some twenty-five people. There he stood and removed his colt pistols and then discharged them at the same time while pointing to the ceiling. A little plaster fell down from above where everyone could see two neat, brand new bullet holes.

"You brought live ammo to a party! You've taken this military industrial complex thing too far!" said Dwight D. Eisenhower. "Are you crazy?!"

The door opened and a girl, about seven or eight 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 through the crowd and the heaped up bodies up to Morticia, who had stayed clear of the fray along with Lionel, and stood in front of the woman. This is what she said.

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

That made them all feel pretty sheepish. Well, of course. Late hour. Neighbors and all. It was a wonder no one had called the cops. Poor child, trying to sleep.

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 wharves with the full moon lighting everything up quite clearly.

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

Several people erupted from the hall, led by Susan B. Anthony followed closely by Colonel Custer and Dwight D. Eisenhower. They all stopped short when they all saw what happened next.

There, the little girl stepped off the edge of the wharf and, walking on the quiet water with only minor ripples spreading outward from her small feet, kept on going out across the cove 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 Eugene, who was dressed as a caddis fly nymph. Everyone else was as quiet as the grave. "Didn't something like this happen last year?" Everyone else remained as quiet as the grave.

That was when the train ululated from far across the water as the locomotive trundled from beneath the spectral gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their 1000 watt lamps, letting its cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the haunted 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 and its weedy railbed and interstices of its chainlink fence, dropping slowly over the motionless basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of ghostly shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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


OCTOBER 18, 2015


This week we have a shot of Marin's Lake Lagunitas. Normally all the verdant green here is covered with water from the far right to the far left and to the camera's foreground.

The drought persists.


Looks like folks are gearing up for fights over development here. sent us a PR about the recent proposal for a rent increase moratorium on the island. Here it is: "Wednesday, Nov. 4, at 7:00 PM, the Alameda City Council is holding a special meeting, a public hearing, on the rent and eviction crisis in Alameda. This is a BIG DEAL and represents a win for everyone who has helped and supported ARC, and everyone who has signed the petition. This meeting is only happening because everyone is speaking up and making a difference.

The council meeting is your chance to tell the mayor and the council what is happening to our city, and how rising rents and no-fault evictions are tearing the community apart. We are losing part of what makes Alameda special and dear to us all."

ACT is holding a meeting 10/21 on a specific development project. Here is the info: "Alameda Citizens Task Force October 21, 7:00, Alameda Hospital, 2nd Floor Conference Room, ACT will have its next quarterly meeting with a discussion led by Dorothy Freeman on: Northern Waterfront Community Shapes a Development. 2000 units are planned from Grand St to Park St.

Come and learn how the residents of 2100 Clement Street worked to improve the developer's plan."

The recent issue of the Island Sun ran a report on rent hikes as they happen statewide as compared to the rest of the nation, and it does appear that we are on the cutting edge of greed in a country that appears to have dropped off the moral map when it comes to rental prices. Info was drawn from Apartment List, which trends to the high end for rentals. Nevertheless, even a tad above real average is way out of line when SF 2 bedroom apartments average $4950. Clearly normal people can no way afford that, not even the much maligned Dot-commers, so what is happening is that four to eight people are letting and subletting the places, resulting in a massive population flux in some areas not equipped to handle the increased sewage, traffic, and parking demands. The article stated figures only for the larger cities and for the state as a whole, so what is happening on the Island is a matter of projection.

What is certain here is that with the Webster Barbershop closing, the closing of Vines coffeeshop and the attendant nursery, the removal of Paganos further to the West, the closure of the Park Street Bakery, the closure of Crolls, the shuttering of the Central Avenue Cinema, the closing of Brown's shoe store on Lincoln, the burn-out of Aphrodite's closet, the closure of the Silversmith curio shop on Park, the closure of Vignettes on Park, the shameful machinations of HBAI over the athletic club, plus a number of other lease-enforced closures and the rental increase crisis are all resulting in wholesale destruction of the neighborhoods here on the Island and the current administration has done nothing to address this. Our Island is being put up for sale by people who do not care for it and we need to do something about it.

Our homes are being razed about our ears all over the Bay Area, not just this Island, and the Outrage is building day by day.

This sounds so much like the conditions that informed John of Gaunt's final speech in Shakespeare we die pronouncing it. "This island is leased out!" Replace the name of England with Alameda, and you have it all.

"Light vanity, insatiate cormorant,
Consuming means, soon preys upon itself.
This royal throne of kings, this scepter'd isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall,
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this Island,
This nurse, this teeming womb of royal kings,
Fear'd by their breed and famous by their birth,
Renowned for their deeds as far from home,

This land of such dear souls, this dear dear land,
Dear for her reputation through the world,
Is now leased out, I die pronouncing it,
Like to a tenement or pelting farm:
Island, bound in with the triumphant sea
Whose rocky shore beats back the envious siege
Of watery Neptune, is now bound in with shame,
With inky blots and rotten parchment bonds:
That Island, that was wont to conquer others,
Hath made a shameful conquest of itself."

The Life and Death of Richard the Second
| Richard II | Act 2, Scene 1

On the upnote, Neal Young's annual Bridge School Benefit shall continue, this time without Pegi Young in forefront, but with the Dixie Chicks and Ben Harper sure to put in stellar performances. The Dixie Chicks upset trad Nashville radio when a member of the band dissed George Bush a while back, so we look forward to seeing these talented and uncowed women once again take center stage where they belong.

As they say, the Bushes are not really from Texas; they just bought property there.


So anyway, the wind kicked up and a proper dockwasher slushed through for a brief time, chasing all the seagulls in from the sea over the parkinglots. Saturday morning was greeted by jeweled bedewed leaves and spangled car windows. The wind continued to knock crabapples from the gnarled limbs of the twisted tree out back and web-beetle contraptions beaded up with moisture.

Beneath the Estuary surface the El Chadoor paused in its persistent quest for information as an Iranian Spy sub keeping tabs upon the Port of Oaktown. Silent and deep all was asleep and at peace.

It is the mysterious time of changlings and changes. The Ban-Sé wail about the chimney at the Old Same Place and the veil between the worlds stretches thinner and thinner, allowing passage between this world and the next. Now is the time when tiny monsters breed in the doorways and the windowsills of the Island. Now is the time when the errant breeze tosses leaves skittering across the pathways and revenants walk the land, spectral and translucent. Now is the time when the Old Ones return to greet us. Soon come Los Dias de Los Muertos -- The Days of the Dead.

Now is also the time when the Editor hosts the annual Drawing of Straws that will determine who among the Island-Lifers will be chosen to descend to that land from which no man is known to return. Save for the occasional Medieval Poet from Italy and wayward ancient Greek looking for Eurydice. Somebody always has to be different.

As per custom, all staffers were called into the offices to sit around nervously as Rachel, the AA, moved with a dancer's poise between the aisles with the cup of straws held high and each drew from the fated cup in the form of a battered derby. As each drew in turn, they nervously palmed their straw before comparing it to that of their neighbor and then sighing with relief.

Rachel came to the Messenger Desk where Festus stood next to the computer keyboard anxiously wiping his face with his paws.

"Draw," commanded the Editor.

"But boss, I am an hamster! Nobody is going to talk to me?"

"Finally a proper use of 'an'!" the Editor said.

"Excuse me?" Anne Riffleton, the Dispatcher, said.

"I mean the article," said the Editor. "Draw, Festus."

"O for pete's sake!" Festus said before diving into the hat and emerging with a straw, clearly not the short one. "There! Thank my nuts I am free and clear!"

Someone began mumbling about possible cheating.

"Never mind your privates; we have mixed company here. Next!" said the Editor.

Rachel finally came to Denby who hung down his head.

"You know how this goes," Rachel said. "C'mon and get it over with."

"Wait!" Denby said. "Sharon, the Social Events Coordinator, is not here! She's in the hospital!"

"Someone will draw as proxy," said the Editor.

"She is already pretty close to Death's door," Denby said. "It would be logical for her . . . ".

"Denby, you are a fine writer and a mediocre musician, but as a gentleman, you suck donkey doo." The Editor said.

"O for pete's sake . . . ".

"Draw!" Commanded the Editor.

Denby shrugged his shoulders in despair and reached up to draw from the hat Rachel held high. He palmed his straw and Rachel sashayed away.

The others drew from the hat and Denby opened his palm. Once again, per tradition, he had drawn the short straw for the 15th time in a row.

"Again? Again?"

The staff all gathered around him and patted him on the back with congratulations as Denby began silently weeping. "Way to go old pal," they said before walking away to mutter each to him and herself under the breath, "Gosh darn, sure glad it aint me! Poor sod. . .".

What a team was the newsroom staff.

"You got two weeks to get ready this time," the Editor said. "Leave your Last Wishes and papers with Anne."

Denby just looked at him.

"In case you don't come back," the Editor said. "You are not getting any younger my boy."

As Denby sat with his head in his hands, Festus tried to console him.

"Don't take it so hard, buddy. It's just one night in the year. You go down there, schmooze a bit with the devils -- maybe meet the Big Guy, Old Nick himself -- and come right back. Just like that Eye-talian poet with his Beatrice."

"Beatrice? My friend Beatrice?" Denby said, thinking of the lanky, dark-haired woman he knew. "She's too dotty to be a guiding muse. And I do not think she wants to be put on no damn pedestal either. Besides, I think that was Virgil." He looked at the Editor who shifted his cigar from one side of his mouth to the other.

"I aint no damn Virgil." The Editor said. "You go by yourself, as usual. We need the scoop on who wins the Presidential election."

"I went with him the time he was in the wheelchair," Jose said.

"O really," Anne said. "What was it like?" She was hoping for lurid tales of devils with pitchforks and flames and Helen of Troy with Faustus.

"It really really sucked," Jose said simply. And then he was silent.

"O well," Festus said. "So long SOHO and give my regards to Broadway. I am taking off for the night."

After all the drama, each of the staffers returned to their desks to shut down their computers and check the tasks for the next day before leaving. Denby stared into space for a while before he, too, departed for his room he rented underneath the Walnut Street Psychiatric Facility for Pathological Narcissism. As he came in the door Ms. Whale was coming out and she spoke to him. "By the way could you do something for me? Please don't look so sad; it brings me down."

Underneath the estuary waters, the First Mate and Captain observed all of these things with wonder. "What is this thing Halloween?" Asked the First Mate.

"It is like Boujloud in Morocco," said the Captain.

"What happens to the Traveler on that night? Have we ever followed him?"

The Captain shook his head. "He disappears at the seawall. The water is too shallow for us to come close on the Bay side, so we cannot follow him."

The First Mate paused, thinking about these things.

"When he comes back he looks . . . affected by whatever he sees there," The Captain said.

"I think it is good we do not follow him," the First Mate said.

"I agree," Said the Captain. "Dive!"

And with that the El Chadoor passed from the estuary out into the Bay and across the expanse under the Golden Gate to the sea-monster populated ocean beyond, running silent, running deep.

Back in the offices the Editor sat at his desk, which was lit only by the pool of light spilled from the solitary desklamp, while Irene came along with her broom to gather up the littered straws and dust. Eventually, the Editor also turned out this light, leaving the aisles in the keeping of the one who was sweeping up the ghosts of Sunday night.

The ululation of the train whispered from far across the water as the locomotive trundled from beneath the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their 1000 watt lamps, 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 and its weedy railbed and interstices of its chainlink fence, dropping slowly over the motionless basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park until the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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


OCTOBER 11, 2015


This photo was submitted by Carol of St. Charles Street as a massive cell-tower installation was being added to the existing largest G3-G4 installation in the East Bay. Said install was negotiated, prepped and installed without renter tenant notification of any kind. One day workers showed up and heavy construction began. Above people's heads.

We interviewed the Western US Division Inspector for T-Mobile and with AT&T representatives who declined to be named. They each stated they were paying the landlord about $32,000 per month for the install. On inspection, a separate electrical subpanel had been installed along with three T1 concentrators to handle the traffic. Basically, with the cell-phone G4 install, the landlord can dispense with the tenants or have everyone live entirely for free in the building.

Is not Greed an amazing thing?


This weekend saw events firing off all over the Bay Area. We had our own fancy car show thing on Park Street and numerous other municipalities had stuff showcasing their hometowns and special booths eager to capture the wandering dollars of errant travelers.

We elected to drop in on humble Lagunitas to pitch in to their annual school district fundraiser. Hey, the big boys don't need our dollars and when districts in places as affluent as Lagunitas need to hold raffles and music events you gotta know something is seriously wrong with the funding priorities in this here United States.

Don't just wave your yellow Support the Troops meaningless ribbons and your Number One foam fingers. Put your dollars where it counts and support our kids.

We just returned from the Annual Mountain Sabbatical so we are gradually looping back into what has been going on. Fortunately, this time no American Major Cities have been destroyed by natural disasters combined with Official negligence and foolishness ("Heck of a job, Brownie!") this time. Instead the House Speaker resigned over his disgust with negligence and foolishness within his own Party, and Bernie started looking better even as goofballs admitted the entire Bengazi commission was all about attacking a member of the Opposition Party.

Well, not much changed in two weeks.

Front page of the Sun carried a couple stories about the rent extortion that is destroying the communities here. Latest to fall, not on this page of the Sun, but important nonetheless, is Croll's eatery, which is being forced to move after over 100 years in its present location. Which adds to the Boudin bakery, the Pagano's hardware store, the mini-theatre on Central, the Brown Brothers shoe store, four corners of businesses at Park at Santa Clara, the Webster street Barber shop, and several dozen other businesses, each of whom had occupied space for well over half a century, as fatalities in this defacto landlord war on tenants that is wrecking our quality of life here and changing the way we live by force of dollars.

We do not care about market rents in Pleasanton or Marin or Frisco that sold its soul a long time ago. We do not live there. We live here on an Island and we care about rents rising here and here is what matters to us. Stop it now. We do not care how our town "fits in " with other California towns feeling the rental squeeze. We do not live there; we live here. We want this thing to come to a halt here and for ever after. If it begins with telling HBAI to take a flying hike then let it start here now. So be it.

Maybe if it starts here it will grow to other towns and this whole insanity will come to a grinding halt and even Marin, once a blue-collar backwater, will start to come to its senses and return to its proper Californio roots. Lagunitas, too.


So anyway, the days have been hot with sunshine after heavy, leaden fogs have burnt away. Saturday, the Island was socked in until late with dripping weather, which yielded to bright sunny skies. Not many other parts of the country experience this. In Marlene and Andre's Household, a household of some fifteen or more folks packed into a one bedroom cottage letted by Mr. Howitzer, all packed in because the obscene and usurious rents charged in the Bay Area are so extreme it has driven people to this kind of arrangement, Marlene comes out to sit for a rest on the battered steps to the porch under which Snuffles the bum has been living for some years since Javier's disastrous 50'th birthday burned a hole in the floorboards and nearly killed everyone residing inside the building.

"I do not know why I do it, this day to day, caring for 15 crazy people in this cottage," Marlene said, wiping a black whisp of dishwater strand from her forehead. "All of them helpless and foolish."

Little Adam, tossed from a car and abandoned by his former somewhat guardians, mused for a moment. "At least we love one another," said the waif.

Marlene mooned in silence a moment more, head in arms. She then regained her sense of responsibility to school the boy proper. "Yes, me lad. That is for sure. That is what makes us different. From those with the big cars."

In the Offices of the Island-life organization the Editor made ready for the annual ritual of the Drawing of Straws. This was a terrible and awesome tradition that could not be denied, for the loser of this drawing must needs pass unto that bourne from which no traveler may return. Save each year one selected Island-Lifer. Only one is allowed to go to the Other Side and report on what has transpired there and bring back news and fortune of things to come and things and people which have passed. The unlucky one who draws the shortest straw must pass to the regions of the Dead and suffer the agony of loss all over and once again.

All of the staffers from all around the world, wherever they may be, need to appear for this night of the Drawing of Straws. At the end, they all go back to their offices, each to each, to await the final days of Los Dias de los Muertos.

The Editor walked down the silent aisles of the newsroom, all the desks with their lamps and their monitors silent and dark. He, alone, had never drawn from the cup passed by Rachel, the statuesque AA. He already had seen death in his various forms as a soldier in distant Vietnam long ago. This annual visit was always given to someone else. During the witching hours.

Lately, a ghost had been visiting him at night, in this time when the veil between the worlds grows thin. A tall black man who bent to his ear to say, "Da islands be danger and lost. Bin long tyme sin ah spik dat Gullah."...

And the Editor would start awake with wild eyes. Memories packing in with a rush. The Carolina Islands far to the east, settled by Gullah freemen and women escaped from the Black Ships to dwell where where no man and no woman had been a slave. And there also inhabited the Daughters of the Dust. The Islands were being sold out by the children who did not want to live the old ways, keep the old customs. More money was to be had on the mainland. But those Islands remained with their old history. To them must the annual visitor go and visit and return, bearing witness.

On the desks the cups with their straws stood silent and glowing by faint LEDs, those constant and ephemeral symbols of our time.

The world waits the witching hour as the veil between the two worlds becomes thinner and thinner, allowing phantasms, dreams, revenants to pass easily back and forth. Then come the Days of the Dead.

The ululation of the train from far across the water as it trundled from beneath the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their 1000 watt lamps, 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 and its weedy railbed and interstices of its chainlink fence, dropping slowly over the motionless basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park until the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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


OCTOBER 04, 2015


This week we have a shot of the one lane road that comes down from North Lake with the Aspens all putting on their Fall raiment. This is the road that leads to the Lamarck/Piute trailheads and it is definitely not for the faint of heart as the edge drops a good 500 feet. Makes it exciting.


Everyone is back from the Annual Island Mountain Sabbatical. And nobody died or lost a leg! Pictures from this year's trip to Saddlebag Lake will up in a week or so along with the trip report.

In addition, we have uploaded the Monologues for 2015 from January to June, so if you missed the Wee Man, the annual Valentine's Day Massacree, or Javier's birthday, those revised stories are now available from the Stories section. Enjoy.


The 3rd Oakland Music Festival took place September 26th with its usual emphasis upon local talent. By all accounts it was a peaceful and joyous gathering in the Uptown district. Over in Babylon the 15th HSBF took place in Hellman Meadows on a gusty weekend. Highlights were Michael Franti kicking things off on Friday evening. Saturday featured Steve Earle as a favorite returnee while Justin Townes Earle held the Banjo Stage crowd in thrall. About half a million people packed the Golden Gate Park for up-and-coming bands as well as some old favorites on the 6-stage venue. Per developing tradition, the ageless Emmylou Harris appeared near the end, but this time was followed by the eclectic DeVotchKa and Dustbowl Revival.

The Oakland Art Murmur continues with several more events through this October.
Vessel Gallery will hold an artist talk October 10th, followed by Reception for its new installations. SLATE will host the 4th Annual Party Auction fundraiser for the Art Murmur on the same day at Classic Cars West, 411 26th Avenue. Here is the PR : "Oakland Art Murmur Annual Benefit Fundraiser and Art Auction features a silent art auction, delicious local food + drink, live music + DJ, and the thriving visual arts community of Oakland. This highly anticipated event provides direct and critical support for Oakland Art Murmur’s programs, projects and operations. Purchase a VIP level ticket to attend the special OAM Reception and arrive before the crowds to get a sneak peek at Oakland’s finest artwork in an intimate environment."

On the Island Encinal Hardware in the East End will celebrate 50 years of doing business October 10th with a shindig. Drop on by to say hello to brothers Michael and Philip Jaber.

Wednesday the Council will hear arguments about the Harbor Bay Club plan in the Council Chambers at 7pm. Should be a contentious meeting.

If you would rather skip all these fine events, you can still go to the CERT emergency preparedness class October 10th at 431 Stardust Place out at the Point. For information go to to get ready for the Hayward Fault Big One, due any day now.


So anyway now begins the month long orgiastic party known in the Bay Area as the Halloween Season. All the closet furries will be out of the closet and the bus is sure to be packed with more than the usual number of scandalous costumed fantasies. As the shadows get longer the walls and windows of houses become infested with gargantuan spiders and ghouls and the dark pits of doorways start breeding tiny monsters.

It is such an outlandishly fun time that even the kids get to enjoy the atmosphere as well.

Everyone is thinking about what to wear on the night of All Hallow's Eve when the Native Sons of the Golden West host their annual charity costume ball. Eugene is putting together a monkey suit while Anatoly Enigma will complement his usual daily getup of black cap, top hat and cummerbund with a set of fangs.

Kid Viper is going dressed as the Hulk so as to show off his well-developed deltoids. Pimenta Strife has not decided whether to do as a sexy nurse in a mini-shirt, a sexy cop in a mini-skirt, or a sexy Daisy Mae in daisy-dukes with some fabric removed. Or maybe she will just skip the pretense and put on a sheer negligee with six-inch stiletto heels and get right to the point.

Denby will be there, dressed as Phil Ochs, because he will be on stage for part of the event.

The best thing about fantasies, says Dr. Smoot, PsyDoc, PhD, is that they can never be realized. If they were, they would not be fantasies any more, but would turn into dull, quotidian Reality. Who want's that to happen to their dream of flying naked over the fields with two teddy bears on the back of an equally naked gymnast hanging from a parasail? You certainly would be disappointed. Not even the whipped cream would be much solace.

Dr. Smoot is going dressed entirely in white with a sort of teardrop cowl and a long, whipping tail. His companion, the fetching and extremely intelligent Dr. Felching is going as a large round ovum.

We all had an other Supermoon in a year that was packed with moons above and beyond the average. This time there was a lunar eclipse which results in a rare Blood Moon effect, an effect that raises the air and curdles the milk and results in unearthly shrieks in the night. Father Danyluk was roused to investigate one of those screams in the convent only to find it was only Sister Incontinence who found a cricket in her cowl after putting it on her head.

"Bless me, Father!" said the nun. "I've got a bug in my bonnet!"

The good father took hold of the insect between thumb and forefinger as Sister Profundity turned the corner.

"What's going on!" said Sister Profundity.

The good father held forth the cricket, which waggled its antennae.


"Bless you," said Father Danyluk. "And bless this bait which is good for fishing."

The priest returned to the rectory and put the cricket in a jar.

Out on the edge of the Community College green Don Senor Luis Guadalupe de Erizo gazed up at the heavens.

Dame Herrisson poked her head out of the burrow.

"Les étoiles sont cachés par les nuages", She said. (The stars are hidden by clouds.)


"La lune est en déclin." (The moon is waning.)


"Il n'y a rien à voir dans les cieux". (Nothing is up there.)



"Qu'est ce que tu regardes?" (What are you looking at?)

"Todo." (Everything)


"Tu es fou," said Dame Herrisson. Pause. "Mais je t'aime quand même."



"Ahhhhh! Les hommes sont fous!" Dame Herrisson said, and went back inside.


"Si." And the Don smiled. He went to the shrubbery and picked one of the last roses of summer to bring into the burrow.

As has been mentioned, all the little creatures of the earth understand every language perfectly well; normally, they choose not to speak to people for fear of being misunderstood due to the human lack of education. And of course, it is clear that human men and women quite often wind up speaking entirely different languages which adds to the confusion of miscommunication. At such times, it has been found that the language of flowers can provide, on the occasion, a sort of rough translation.

The ululation of the train from far across the water as it trundled from beneath the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their 1000 watt lamps, 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 and its weedy railbed and interstices of its chainlink fence, dropping slowly over the motionless basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park until the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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

SEPTEMBER 20, 2015


Here is a shot of a last burst of summer from a bird-of-paradise palm, just glowing with exhuberance and the swelling joy of Life.


There will be no Island-LIfe issue next week and as you see, this one is truncated. The Staff are going up late for the annual Island-Life Mountain Sabbatical, and, should sufficient survivors return, we will resume operations in October.

The ululation of the train from far across the water as it trundled from beneath the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their 1000 watt lamps, 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 and its weedy railbed and interstices of its chainlink fence, dropping slowly over the motionless basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park until the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great couple of weeks.


SEPTEMBER 13, 2015


Here is a shot of Santa Clara Avenue near Church Row. The temperature may be mild, but the trees know what to do.

The song reference is to Rolly Salley's "Killing the Blues."

Leaves were falling, just like embers
in colors, red and gold, to set us on fire,
Just like moonbeams in our eyes.

Chris Smither's version is still the best.


Thursday the City will allow residents to input on the plans to revise Central Avenue to include a bicycle lane and make intersections at Main, Pacific and Main, and Sherman at Encinal safer. The changes will involve a reduction of lanes from four to three on Central. This is the third community workshop and it will be held Sept 17 at 6:00pm at Encinal High School.

The spat between Harbor Bay Neighbors and Harbor Bay Isle Associates (sometimes referred to by the name of its founder, Ron Cowan) continues with no love lost between the two groups. HBIA wants to remove an existing athletic club and replace it with between 80 and 160 homes or a large hotel conference center. HBIA wants to place a new, larger club at North Loop Road, which is located under the flight path for Oakland International Airport.

The crux of the matter is that HBIA wants to build on every square inch they can find so as to make more money beyond rentals, property management, and the usual realtor activity. Having only seeming undesirable land good enough for a club but not for houses means HBIA feels compelled to tear something down so as to build up something bigger and more expensive. Make no mistake: HBIA is not out to provide services in some philanthropic mood. HBIA is a business and businesses exist to make money -- that is their entire purpose. If a company chooses to make money doing good for the community or divert some or all of its profits to doing good, so much the better.

Cutting through the fog mirror effects, at the end of the day if HBIA gets what they want, we get a new pricey athletic club (anyone talk about dues costs yet? And why Mariner Square cannot keep 'em coming back?) and we get 80 homes (at the low end) worth of more people, more cars, more infrastructure stress. Other than the new Club, where we sure we all would enjoy a $20/month membership, 80 new homes benefits nobody but HBIA and there resides the largest issue in advance of all the quibbles from HBN about how HBIA purchased influence in the time-honored fashion of Ron Cowan -- who is not remembered with any fondness for his previous projects by many old timers here.

Finally, we reiterate a serious query about Ron Cowan's outfit. Just why does he feel compelled to wreck the place in which he grew up instead of doing this to some other community some other place?

So what is upcoming on the Calendar? Counting Crows returning to the Shoreline. Lenny Kravitz strutted his stuff already at the Fox. You can still catch Jackie Greene, the Sacto boy, November 27. Can't wait that long? Brandi Carllile will sing about that darned horse stuck in a tree Friday, September 18.

Over in Babylon John Hiatt performed with the Taj Mahal Trio day after 9/11 at the Regency. But Gogol Bordello will perform their cosmo, multilingual "gypsy punk" November 25 at the venerable Warfield. If you go, you must start wearing purple, wearing purple. And all your sanity and wits will start to vanish.

September 26th Oakland hosts the Oakland Music Festival. We have never heard of this thing going into its third year, nor have we heard of most of the acts. Both very good reasons to go there. Here is part of the Blurb.

"Launched in 2013 as a celebration of all things Oakland, OMF is an independent showcase featuring local and international musical talent as well as local eateries, breweries and small craft distillers. Founded by a group of friends and Oakland locals, the Festival aims to foster and support both the local music, art community and the diverse food & spirit craftsmen that collectively give Oakland its distinct flavor."

Now entering its third year, the Festival will welcome an even broader range of artists and performers, including some nationally recognized acts, while still maintaining its original mission of promoting the local community. OMF looks to help channel the many efforts of the community into a unified movement, and collectively raise the City’s profile to an international stage. It truly is time Oakland got its much overdue shine."

Main entrance will be Franklin and Broadway. Way down there in the small print we recognize the band Don B and Whiskerman, whom we consider to be fabulous faves in the realm of bad dream, worse whiskey, busted barroom, desert town dust, and life gone awry sort of way.

Testify for Oaktown on the warmer side of the Bay and attend.

Rhythmix, whom we thought would be short-timer here, continues with vigor and excellent programs. They just finished up a popular Wine Women and Song, three very great things, and are in the middle of assisting the Library with a mini-jazz festival. This not deedle-bop dinner jazz but high-flight talent coming to the Island for these concerts. Miss Faye Carol will perform September 26th, followed by Ed Reed in October. Concluding the series will be none other than Maria Muldaur on November 21. Shows will be held both at Rhythmix and at the Library so check your tickets for locations carefully.

The High Holy Days are upon us. Next month ushers in the Jewish New Year of 5777, which might be a significant number once the numeral tzadiks get to work on it. Meanwhile we start the Days with Rosh Hashanah today on Sunday after sundown. You work on your traditions for about 2,500 years and your New Year takes a couple of weeks. Is no wild party in the night, but a quiet celebration with apples and honey and twist-bread and standing beside the seashore.

This year Yom Kippur is September 23rd. Sukkot is the Feast of Huts which ends the month and is sort of a mini-thanksgiving thing. It is the only festival which has one specific commandment: "thou shalt rejoice." Well okay we worded that a bit different but still.


So anyway, the Fighting Otters suffered a crushing defeat against the West End Marmots in overtime during the season opener. Coach Ronaldo Ruiz gave a speech in the locker room to the Edison kids during half time.

"Kids, we may always seem to lose in life, but remember this, the race goes not to the swift or the strong but to the . . . o heck, I forget. Nevermind. The race goes to those who have heart. So go out there and remember its not about winning goals, it is about strategy. Keep this in mind: no matter what happens on the field today, you already have won in the Boardroom years from now. The battle does not matter -- you have won the war."

This rivalry has continued between the schools for many years. The Edison Otters come from families who trend to the more income-secure members of society. They are in high tech and finance and primary care health. Their cars tend to be European imports and they own two of them. The West End kids come traditionally from families across the economic divider of Grand Street. Both mother and father work jobs full time and they own Toyotas, Hondas, and Fords. The East Enders celebrate birthdays with cake and pool parties. The West Enders celebrate with piñatas hung from the oak tree still growing out front amid a sea of asphalt.

The West End Marmots do not usually win, but this time they trounced the Otters at 72-3. As it turned out, Little Tubby Tucker -- not so little anymore -- had celebrated his birthday with friends and the cake had been a baba la rhum cake made by Marjean Espinoza who had just returned from a visit to Puerto Rico with several cases of dark rum and wonderful recipes and six pounds of potent hashish. Some of which seemed to wind up in the cake.

You are not supposed to do that on the day of the game.

Only Simon Tashkent, the Morrocan refugee kid, had not gone to the party; people thought or imagined his parents were secret terrorists or something, so he had not been invited. So he manfully placed every kick well inside the further goal line and scored the only points with field goals.

The Otters had wandered out onto the field to barely form a ragged, staggering defense line and had offered less a defense than a series of running hurdles as they fell down in front of the quarterback, who finally resorted to actually throwing the ball when his legs got tired from running all those yards. Which did not matter, as the Otter team flailed their hands in the air and failed to intercept a single throw while giving up nine interceptions of their own. Towards the end of the game the drugs and the liquor began to wear off and they stopped a final offensive within five yards of their goal line when they all lay down and burbled until the clock ran out. Otherwise it would have been even worse.

The traditions and rites of Fall involve people across the generations, across the social strata.

Pumpkins have appeared on stoops and decorations have shifted to the Next Thing in the year. You may have noticed Facebook friends appearing in bat costumes.

Pedro, piloting out toward the fishing lanes observes the change in the wind currents, the denser aqua of the chop. Salmon catch closed on the 5th. Abalone is not his concern, so that leaves some bass coming up and the seasonal migrations of halibut and mackerel. The background crackled with ship-to-shore traffic over the radio. In another week he would be able to haul in his favorite Lutheran televangelist broadcasting from the Great White North. For a couple months he had been making do with reruns. Soon, he would enjoy the real deal.

In the Old Same Place Bar the talk revolves around politics and gossip. Which must be unusual in other places given how agitated the talk goes around here.

Latreena Brown was arguing strenuously with Malice Green about the 16 Republican candidates for President.

"Kit Carson is the only one who makes sense half the time," Latreena said.

"What about Santorum?" Malice asked.

"Ugh! Too frothy!"

"Richard Perrier is the most handsome," said Malice.

"Ninny! The man just stepped out of it! Jindal is the man with looks." Retorted Latreena.

"The man looks like an angry frog! Are you blind?!" Malice said.

"I think Dan Danny has the best idea for the immigrants. Tag 'em with locating devices like they do the parolees."

"You are soft on immigration," Latreena said. "We should round 'em up and put them in camps. I hear Manzanar is still available. And there is Alcatraz."

"Idiot!" Exclaimed Malice. "Who would do the washing and pick the fruit? What a dumb idea!"

"You're yoni stinks! American college students of course!"

Malice called Latreena a word that rhymes with "bunt" and is used to refer to a portion of the female anatomy. More words were exchange with increasing heat.

"How can any stupid b--ch trust that Ronald Bump, a man who wears a tribble on his head!"

Eventually their discussion descended, as it was wont to do over the years, to violent fisticuffs, eye-gouging, kicking and hair pulling, degenerating into an atavistic table-clearing brawl until Dawn put an end to it by tossing a bucket of ice water on both of them and throwing the two out into the street.

Eventually things calmed down and the patrons began to talk about less incendiary topics.

"I hear the Angelo boy came home the other day," said Grant.

"Did he now?" Padraic said. "What did he do that for?"

"Can't find a job and the rent is too high everywhere," Said Grant.

"Aint it the truth," Padraic said. "Nobody can afford to live around here unless you are a Techie Dot Commer."

"Even they can't afford it," Grant said. "I heard from Doyle in the City they are renting one bedrooms and putting in four or five young guys just to make it."

"Four or five to a room; they can do that because they are young and it's an adventure. After a few years they all go back to Ohio or Virginia where they came from," Padraic said.

"That boy still going with that wildcat named Trixie?" Grant asked.

"I don't know about that. She always was a handful. I remember her folks being real genteel out of Florida. Other kids turned out fine, but she was a real hellion during the '60s." Padraic said.

"She was a hot potato," Grant said.

"Still as cute as a red heifer in a rose garden," Padraic said. "And as wild as a hawk flyin' over the Wicklow Hills. Padraic was inclined to colorful language.

"Here now!" Dawn said. Dawn was Padraic's wife. "Mind your pants and the Lord!"

"Well now fellas, well now gentlemen," said the Man from Minot. "There is a lot to be said that is unsaid."

"What do you know about it," Grant said. "You are not from around here; you are from Minot."

"I have always been from somewhere else wherever I have gone," said the Man from Minot. "Even though I have always been from Minot."

"Indeed," said Padraic. "We are all los migras. Like them folks fleein' the ISIS troubles in Syria."

"I call 'em DAESH," said Grant. "They aint no caliphate or whatever. They just stomping all over the place. They just a bunch of thugs and aint no legit."

"Sure enough," mused the Man from Minot. "Nevertheless, I sure wish I had known Trixie when she was younger. . .".

"O for Pete's sake!" Dawn said. "You men would hump an oak tree if it wore a red dress."

Meanwhile Suzie took a break and cracked open her Anthropology textbook to a different chapter located near the end of the book. "The concept of the Internal Exile did not exist in Western Culture until modern times when the rising disparities between the classes and increased automation in the workplace as well as large-scale migrations that destroyed traditional family-ties led to the phenomenon of heightened urban anomie . . .".

The section went on for some fifteen pages like that.

After reading that section, Suzie turned back to the chapter on the Bonobo with some relief.

"The Bonobo will often gather together and hold long, animated disputations among themselves about any number of subjects that in other groups would lead to displays of aggressive breast-beating as well as possible violence. But because of the Bonobo's great love for one another this never happens. Instead one tribal member will tenderly share a portion of jackfruit or mango with another and they wind up in deepest contemplation, chewing the fat, so to speak. . .".

Then came the ululation of the train from far across the water as it trundled from beneath the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their 1000 watt lamps, 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 and its weedy railbed and interstices of its chainlink fence, dropping slowly over the motionless basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park until the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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




This week's image for Labor Day is in honor of the working men and women who built America and is of the Kaiser processing plant just across the Estuary. It is ironically appropriate that the genteel patrons look through the windows of now gentrified restaurants and shops to see this sturdy factory symbol of the blue collar workingman occupying the entire view as they dine on their delicate tapas. The referenced song is an early one from Bruce Springsteen, a fellow who often still remembers through music his own humble origins as the son of a factory worker.

The island may be "developing" upscale, but a lot of sheetmetal workers and blacksmiths and machinists still live here.

Early in the morning factory whistle blows,
Man rises from bed and puts on his clothes,
Man takes his lunch, walks out in the morning light,
It's the working, the working, just the working life.

Through the mansions of fear, through the mansions of pain,
I see my daddy walking through them factory gates in the rain,
Factory takes his hearing, factory gives him life,
The working, the working, just the working life.

End of the day, factory whistle cries,
Men walk through these gates with death in their eyes.
And you just better believe, boy,
somebody's gonna get hurt tonight,
It's the working, the working, just the working life.


Most of you know that the carcass of a whale was found floating in the estuary at the base of the Mariner Square Drystack and Marina company dock. It was noticed by employees last Thursday, but the Coast Guard notified the National Marine Fisheries Service the carcass was there in the early hours of Wednesday, August 26th. That whale was towed by a joint collaboration between NOAA, the USCG and the US Army Corps of Engineers to Angel Island where a team of scientists performed a necropsy and determined the 32 foot Fin Whale was killed by blunt force, likely a ship entering the Port of Oaktown. More than likely the body was dragged into the estuary where it sank until decomposition caused it to rise and get stuck at the base of the dock.

It seems the Angry Elf gang is once again operating close to home -- probably because the guy has not held a job for half a year and needs income. AFD responded to a fire on the West End in the 1800 block of Ferry Point in the early hours of the morning. The fire, started in a cage of cardboard recycling material, spread into the adjoining structure and an adjacent building which houses Alameda Point studios, a space that is rented out to several different industrial arts companies. Tenants include woodworkers, sculptors, designers, a print shop and a number of other sole proprietors.

During the firefight, calls came in about three other different fires at Third Street and Second Street as well as the 1500 block of Encinal. Authorities are ruling the fires to be "suspicious" and possible arson.

Yeah, well, the guy lives in the West End and has a pull toward industrial arts. Go figure who failed to make payments or offer up a special "favor."

This controversy between bicyclists and pedestrians and automobiles continues in both of the weekly papers, with some attention this week devoted to pedestrians getting their heads out of their . . . well, electronics, let us say politely, and looking sharp to protect themselves.

Looking into the California Vehicle Code -- we happen to own one of the last green-cover printed copies made before all went electronic -- we see that most of the ordinances include at least one paragraph stating,

(b) This section does not relieve a pedestrian from the duty of using due care for his or her safety. No pedestrian may suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard. No pedestrian may unnecessarily stop or delay traffic while in a marked or unmarked crosswalk.

CVC, SECTION 21950(b)

or more broadly,

21954. (a) Every pedestrian upon a roadway at any point other than
within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an
intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the
roadway so near as to constitute an immediate hazard.
(b) The provisions of this section shall not relieve the driver of
a vehicle from the duty to exercise due care for the safety of any
pedestrian upon a roadway.

21955. Between adjacent intersections controlled by traffic control
signal devices or by police officers, pedestrians shall not cross
the roadway at any place except in a crosswalk.

In other words, people should not walk like idiot drones and drivers should not drive like droning idiots. Strange to say, this is a rare case when common sense has been codified. As far as the Law is concerned, for all parties concerned, DON'T DO STUPID SHIT!

Almost certainly, someone will take issue.

The Harbor Bay Athletic Club saga continues with shills and official rebuttals from the HBIA people countering the organized resistance in the form of Harbor Bay Neighbors along with the occasional innocent person with an honest opinion wandering into the crossfire. By now it has become Business Interests against Organized Resistance, which is too bad for us ordinary folks, as truth tends to fall by the wayside.

Here are some facts. The club serves a wide sector of the populace, but is primarily serving the residents of Harbor Bay. The claim that equipment and pool are outmoded is probably true. The claim that they cannot be upgraded in place is debatable as 24 Hour Fitness and other franchised clubs seem to have no problem doing exactly that while adding desired programs. The one in Oakland just did that and seems well on the way of upgrading its offerings just over the Fruitvale Bridge. We know because we went and we asked and we went back and we verified the changes. They also did upgrade their pool facilities. Nevertheless, a pool upgrade is a major land issue, depending on what you want to realistically do.

We observe that the development trend of adding more occupants to limited land areas leads to higher population density and greater strain on public facilities, including sewer, electrical, potable water, parking, and street traffic. There is also a noticeable increase in crime.

Which provides a segue to last week's PSA, which apparently has not been entered into any of the police blotters in any of the local newspapers. A man came up behind a woman of 81 years young and struck her behind the head, knocking her to the ground with sufficient force to cause injury. The thug robbed the woman of her purse with all credit cards, cash and house keys. Our man on the scene called 911 and waited until First Responders arrived, so we made sure the woman is okay. Gott sei dank!

This occurred in broad daylight, in the middle of the day, during the workweek, and at Southshore Mall.

And this sort of thing seems to be happening more frequently lately here. Gunpoint robberies at the bustop. Pistol-whipping on Park Street. Gun murders in the park. While the Realtors and developers continued to tout the Island, which had never before been considered a desirable place to live, an "oasis", a haven with close access to the destroyed City of San Francisco and Silly Cone Valley. We are convinced that this sort of thing is being caused by rental pressures leading to higher population density in advance of the increased density due to development. No idiot can afford to pony up $2,000 per month for a one bedroom, not even the slavey Dot-Commers, save for a Corporation. So real people do what is natural in response -- they double and triple up so as to amass the resources to live.

The obscene rental situation is destroying the SF Bay Area quality of life. In SF it was destroyed years ago when the artists all left due to rampant greed.


So anyway, the Canadian geese have started flocking on the high school athletic field and the broad yellow flanks of school buses maneuver the turns on these narrow streets laid out in the 1850's. Uneasy winds start blowing in the morning and at sundown, bringing the high fogs to chill the air. People are taking down the window fans and closing up at night.

Towards the West End, Bosco the pig, safe now from controlling neighbors, sniffed the air and snortled in his yard. Neighbors with control issues wanted to banish Bosco, a miniature porker weighing less than 12 pounds, claiming a city ordinance forbade the enclosure of livestock within so many feet of a dwelling. Sensible neighbors -- this is a category sometimes found in communities sometimes sensible -- raised up a petition and so rescued Bosco from the meat market. And so the controllers were left to stomp about in jackboots in their basements.

In any case, Bosco knows, by a sort of porcine wisdom, that a great change is coming.

As the day faded from skeined-over skies to nightfall and the waning moon and stars hidden by high fogs people stood in their yards looking upward, wondering about the rain, the missing rain, the longed for rain that would extinguish the wildfires and bring the boys home, the rain that would ease this long drought.

During the day, the homes stood quietly, the little ones at school, and for a brief moment of peace, all was silent and still and peaceful in the house. Little Monica rode the school bus. Little Adam pedaled home on his bike. For a brief while the Household stood shadowed and empty save for Marlene and Andre who met after the long day in the corridor and clasped each other and kissed, a couple still in love after all these years and the kids soon to come home. . . .

"How was your day," Marlene said.

"Eff all," Andre said. "How was yours?"

"Eff all," Marlene said.

"Snarffenn dee bubble de boo," Snuffles said coming through the door.

The couple remained there in a deep embrace, unembarrassed.

"Ooooooooo!" said Snuffles, who retreated to his hole in the porch that had been made during Javier's near disastrous 50th birthday celebration.

They remained a couple in love, in early September, as the leaves began to turn, all around them, everything aging, including themselves. Everything fated to change. And the kids were coming home . . .

Out on the fishing lanes Pedro eagerly tunes in the radio to get his favorite Lutheran televangelist program, which once again has returned live after what seemed like a long vacation: Pastor Rotschue's Variety Hour. While this might seem heretical, the Lutherans always had the better music than the Baptists or the wan Catholics, so Pedro had become addicted to listening to his favorite program.

As the Tishomingo Blues tune wafted through the salt air, Ferryboat perked up and issued an approving "Woof!" He could feel the change in the air and the shift in the currents. Already oysters were appearing on ice in the groceries. Soon, time for crab and cold water fish. Not yet, but soon.

In the Old Same Place Bar Suzie served the customers, the summer tourist crowd having evaporated to leave the regulars: Eugene at the rail, the Man from Minot with his beer, Denby up in the snug with his guitar, and the others scattered around the tables with their familiar candles and their familiar drinks before them. Pimenta Strife was trying to hit up on a truck driver from Bear Lake Minnesota as the Man from Minot looked on wryly, knowing how this would end up.

Suzie retreated then behind the bar to take up one of her college text books. This time, she picked up her drama textbook by Stanley Grutowski, "Towards a Bad Theatre". The chapter began, "It is better to end, contrary to belief with comedy instead of tragedy, although the reverse progression is far, far easier to do, for it is true beyond a reasonable doubt that it is the last thing that the audience will remember best. Theatre provides a catharsis, a sort of relief and false hope amid misery. In other words, although life is hideous and tragic in nature, it is better to leave the audience laughing . . .".

Suzie put this book aside to read with some relief herself about the joyful Bonobo in the jungles.

Then came the ululation of the train from far across the water as it trundled from beneath the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their 1000 watt lamps, 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 and its weedy railbed and interstices of its chainlink fence, dropping slowly over the motionless basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park until the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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


AUGUST 30, 2015


Summer has come and passed and back to school sales are the commercial rage. The shadows are grown longer and school buses have begun their rounds in the morning. Yet still here and there the brave colors of summer erupt even now, saying, "Hey! I am not done yet with this glory!"

This week's image is of a miraculous "volunteer" flower that sprang up at our sister's place in Woodacre. These heliotrope continue to flourish all over the East Bay right now -- there is a spectacular forest of them at Yolanda Landing off Sir Francis Drake Boulevard in San Anselmo. It is like Summer is saying, "I will continue to exfoliate Joy with quiet exhuberance, even in the face of the approaching Fall . . .".

The song by Robert Hunter alludes to a poem by Thomas Moore (1779-1852), who, in 1805, wrote “The Last Rose of Summer,” which goes like this:

'Tis the last rose of summer,
Left blooming all alone,
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone.
No flower of her kindred,
No rose bud is nigh,
To reflect back her blushes,
Or give sigh for sigh.

I'll not leave thee, thou lone one,
To pine on the stem;
Since the lovely are sleeping,
Go sleep thou with them;
'Thus kindly I scatter
Thy leaves o'er the bed
Where thy mates of the garden
Lie scentless and dead.

So soon may I follow
When friendships decay,
And from love's shining circle
The gems drop away!
When true hearts lie withered
And fond ones are flown
Oh! who would inhabit
This bleak world alone?

In a 1987 Rolling Stone interview, Robert Hunter had this to say, “Black Muddy River is about the perspective of age and making a decision about the necessity of living in spite of a rough time, and the ravages of anything else that's going to come at you. When I wrote it, I was writing about how I felt about being 45 years old and what I've been through. . .".

While roses are prickly ephemeral things, sunflowers are robust symbols of victory. Witness Ginsberg's Sunflower Sutra.

Sunflower Sutra

I walked on the banks of the tincan banana dock and sat down
under the huge shade of a Southern Pacific locomotive to look at the sunset over the box house hills and cry.
Jack Kerouac sat beside me on a busted rusty iron pole, companion,
we thought the same thoughts of the soul, bleak and blue and sad-eyed,
surrounded by the gnarled steel roots of trees of machinery.
The oily water on the river mirrored the red sky, sun sank on top of final Frisco peaks,
no fish in that stream, no hermit in those mounts,
just ourselves rheumy-eyed and hung-over like old bums on the riverbank, tired and wily.
Look at the Sunflower, he said, there was a dead gray shadow against the sky,
big as a man, sitting dry on top of a pile of ancient sawdust—

—I rushed up enchanted—it was my first sunflower, memories of Blake—my visions—Harlem
and Hells of the Eastern rivers, bridges clanking Joes Greasy Sandwiches, dead baby carriages, black treadless tires forgotten and unretreaded, the poem of the riverbank, condoms & pots, steel knives, nothing stainless, only the dank muck and the razor-sharp artifacts passing into the past—
and the gray Sunflower poised against the sunset,
crackly bleak and dusty with the smut and smog and smoke of olden locomotives in its eye—

corolla of bleary spikes pushed down and broken like a battered crown,
seeds fallen out of its face, soon-to-be-toothless mouth of sunny air,
sunrays obliterated on its hairy head like a dried wire spiderweb,
leaves stuck out like arms out of the stem, gestures from the sawdust root,
broke pieces of plaster fallen out of the black twigs, a dead fly in its ear,
Unholy battered old thing you were, my sunflower O my soul, I loved you then!
The grime was no man’s grime but death and human locomotives,
all that dress of dust, that veil of darkened railroad skin, that smog of cheek,
that eyelid of black mis’ry, that sooty hand or phallus or protuberance of
artificial worse-than-dirt—industrial—modern—
all that civilization spotting your crazy golden crown—

and those blear thoughts of death and dusty loveless eyes and ends and withered roots below,
in the home-pile of sand and sawdust, rubber dollar bills, skin of machinery,
the guts and innards of the weeping coughing car,
the empty lonely tincans with their rusty tongues alack,
what more could I name, the smoked ashes of some cock cigar,
the cunts of wheelbarrows and the milky breasts of cars,
wornout asses out of chairs & sphincters of dynamos—all these
entangled in your mummied roots—

and you there standing before me in the sunset, all your glory in your form!
A perfect beauty of a sunflower! a perfect excellent lovely sunflower existence!
a sweet natural eye to the new hip moon,
woke up alive and excited grasping in the sunset shadow sunrise golden monthly breeze!
How many flies buzzed round you innocent of your grime,
while you cursed the heavens of the railroad and your flower soul?
Poor dead flower? when did you forget you were a flower?
when did you look at your skin and decide you were an impotent dirty old locomotive?
the ghost of a locomotive? the specter and shade of a once powerful mad American locomotive?

You were never no locomotive, Sunflower, you were a sunflower!
And you Locomotive, you are a locomotive, forget me not!
So I grabbed up the skeleton thick sunflower and stuck it at my side like a scepter,
and deliver my sermon to my soul, and Jack’s soul too, and anyone who’ll listen,
—We’re not our skin of grime, we’re not dread bleak dusty imageless locomotives,
we’re golden sunflowers inside,
blessed by our own seed & hairy naked accomplishment-bodies
growing into mad black formal sunflowers in the sunset,
spied on by our own eyes under the shadow of the mad locomotive riverbank sunset Frisco
hilly tincan evening sitdown vision.

Berkeley, 1955


Okay as for stage and stuff, Foo Fighters are returning to Europe with Dave performing in his chair, so it will be a while before he returns to parts local. Most venues are aiming at October for the "reely big shews". We see a show called "Dead and Company" taking over the Bill Graham Civic in late December -- you had to know those greybeards would not have made the latest "final concerts" be really final. Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann and Bobby Weir will be joined by John Mayer for the two days after Curstmass. The Ohio Players will play Yoshi's Sept 9-10 as a blast from the past.

Got the 39th Russian River Jazz Festival September 12th and 13th, once again at Johnson Beach in Guernville. This one will be decidedly heavy on the Blues with Buddy Guy, Taj Mahal and Jackie Greene swelling a lineup already sparkling with Star power.

Around here, the Angry Elf gang appears to have been busy with matches and lighter fluid as a number of fires have erupted in domiciles all over the Island. Probably due to a certain resistance to cough up the "insurance".

A fire engulfed a building in the West End on Central on Friday, then another on Saturday, then another on Sunday.

Silly Hall did not engage in any sort of foolishness last week -- that is real news.

You may have noticed that major road work is happening all along 880, 580 and 101 above the San Rafael bridge. Some 8 or 9 projects are choking traffic starting from 9 pm to roughly 5 am. Several other minor projects are blocking minor roads in several districts. This includes our own Park Street bridge which is being closed from night to dawn every weekday. Then there is the next transbay block scheduled for three days in September, with neither BART nor bridge being available.

Some folks speculate that the rash of construction has to do with preparing for the upcoming El Nino consequences and fast-tracking already existing projects because of the expected Rain-ageddon. Other cynical folks say that if Trump gets elected -- in the same manner as Bush II was "elected" -- the economy will collapse and the Chinese will invade on the opportunity. We do not think the Chinese will invade as they have bigger problems and they already have enough loud-mouth assholes in their own country.

In any case, much of this construction stuff is slated to end around October.


Everyone be on the lookout for a white male described as "thin" and below average in height. This man has mugged senior citizens on the west side of Southshore Mall on the connector road between the Mall and Office Max. He is definitely violent; do not interact with him but call 911 if you see him committing any more crimes.


So anyway, we enjoyed a brief wharf wetter overnight this past week and everyone awoke to the sight of damp ground and water beads on the broadleaf palms. Then followed a day or two of heavy skies but no more rain while the 16,000 or so fires continued throughout California.

Wilmer Titrake, AMD, strolled down Park Street from his new medical offices. Wilmer is a self-professed Air Surgeon and has just set up shop on the tony downtown business district controlled by Mr. Ratto, who dearly loves the idea of a medical office raising the valuation along that three block by one block area.

Regulate your air, harmonize your air, exterminate your barking spiders, Wilmer is your man.

Silly Hall does not want nasty old practical businesses that fix motorcycles or cars anywhere near downtown. As for artists they are only useful to the extent they bring in wealthy dowagers and trust-fund babies. The doyens of Park Street prefer aroma therapy salons and air surgery clinics, which make the place seem far more wholesome to people eager to pay high rent per foot.

A wayward whale wandered into the estuary and managed to be clobbered by a big ship, and so died there within sight and scent of Jack London Square. Scientists rushed down there to examine the leviathan and have pronounced their findings. This whale sure is dead. Dead as a doornail.

Well stuff happens. Even to whales who sing a gracious tune.

Out on the baseball green of East End High the Canadian geese had gathered according to their annua custom, quite without announcement. This flock meant that the annual migration had begun and the Great North American Flyway was now thronging with avian souls travelling south in advance of the certain El Nino consequences.

As night fell and the full moon waned into gibbous, the Editor sat in front of his monitors and followed the stories of the murders in far off Roanoke, where a madman had killed a couple newsroom people doing their jobs.

The Editor unpacked his heavy Mossberg riot gun with its 12 shell capacity and laid it on his lap.

No g-d d----d fool is going to mess with my people, no way and no how, thought the Editor. Someone comes through the door and they are going to get a piece of Marine wisdom.

The barrel looked to be filled with lint -- it had not been fired for some fifteen years -- and so the Editor took out a wooden swab and leaning the weapon upright between his knees, began cleaning the device, looking down the barrel now and then to check his progress.

That was when Jose came in to see the Editor staring down into the open muzzle of a shotgun.

"Jesu Cristo!" shouted Jose. "For the sake of god, do not commit self-murder!" And with that the courageous Jose lept across the small space of the cube and crashed against the Editor, who jumped up and punched Jose in the jaw.

Jose fell back and landed on his ass unable to speak.

"La a la la aaah la ah!" said Jose.

Pahrump and Denby rushed in next after this commotion and found the Editor standing over a bleeding Jose and a shotgun upon the floor.

"Why did you kill our colleague and friend," Denby asked.

"I did not kill him," said the Editor. "He attacked me and he is foolish."

Pahrump stared down at Jose. "What the hell do you think you are DOING attacking a US Marine, you IDIOT! A US Marine and armed with a shotgun!"

"La a la la aaah la ah!" said Jose. His jaw was broken and he could not speak.

They all wound up taking Jose to the hospital and there was much confab during the entire process. Just not much intelligible from Jose.

In the hospital Jose was visited by Javier who brought along two of his cuchi-cuchi girls, who giggled and played with the O2 apparatus and other tuberous things. They were named Samba and Salsa.

"Jose why do you assault US Marines instead of adopting your true nature as a Latin Lover so as to pursue p---? Like with Samba here and Salsa."

Both girls giggled and Jose muttered "Aah a la la aaah la ah...". He fell back exhausted into his bed.

Much later on the Editor confided in Jose on his return. "I understand you were trying to save my life, worthless though it is, even though you are an incompetant boob. Therefore all is forgiven. Get back to work."

Meanwhile the moon rose with full strength during this time and Senor Don Guadalupe Erizo sat outside his burrow beneath the hedges on the border of the college green to observe the lunar changes and the atmosphere. A great change was coming and he felt sure of it.

Dame Herisson poked her head out and said, "Les crêpes sont prêtes!"

"Ah! Bueno!" He said and hurried inside. Proving once again that men and women of all species speak entirely different languages, but nevertheless manage to communicate crosswise in many instances. Not always but sometimes.

Then came the ululation of the train from far across the water as it trundled from beneath the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their burning lamps, 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 and its weedy railbed and interstices of its chainlink fence, dying slowly away until the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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


AUGUST 23, 2015


This week's image comes from Island-Lifer Tammy. And the song is for a lady who seems a little down lately.

You might not remember a sort of tattered waif of a girl who sprung upon the music scene wearing a ragged ensemble of found rags bought at the thrift store that became a fashion statement, but Cindi Lauper's "True Colors" seemed to capture the Zeitgeist of nervous anxiety and despair that pervaded the Reagan Era of Conservative triumphalism, as well as a sense of empathy for people that seemed lacking in the "Me Generation". The world at the time seemed crazy and disappointing and full of lost chances fraught with the savage insult of Horatio Alger promises that never amounted to anything other than exploitation.

You with the sad eyes
Don't be discouraged
Oh I realize
It's hard to take courage
In a world full of people
You can lose sight of it all
And the darkness inside you
Can make you feel so small

But I see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that's why I love you
So don't be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful,
Like a rainbow

Show me a smile then,
Don't be unhappy, can't remember
When I last saw you laughing
If this world makes you crazy
And you've taken all you can bear
You call me up
Because you know I'll be there

And I'll see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that's why I love you
So don't be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful,
Like a rainbow


If you were on the road to word at 7:49am last Tuesday, you did not feel a thing. Plenty of swing shift folks and others did experience the rough rocker that shook the East Bay with a 4.0 temblor, the effects of which continue to ripple, media-wise, long after. Nobody died and nothing big collapsed, but the discussion is all about the Hayward fault which regularly every 140 years kicks up the jams hard enough to severely break stuff. The last time the Hayward fault acted up was October 21, 1868, which was so bad at Richter Scale 6.8 that it was ruled the Most Severe California Earthquake Ever. Until 1906.

Of course if you are an Islander, you best know that in event of a severe quake, all connection bridges and tunnels will be automatically closed by CalTrans by policy, whether or not they have actually been physically damaged, until teams of engineers can declare safe passage. And if there has been widespread damage elsewhere, that determination may take a while.

You decided to live on an island; that is the reality, folks.

Pilgrim Soul Forge, captained primarily by Grant Marcoux, held its annual Artisan Fair at the Point this Saturday. Local artisans displayed their efforts and music was supplied by the Doggone Blues Band. We think Grant's homegrown artist support efforts are great and we encourage everyone to drop in and support industrial arts on the Island.

The Angry Elf gang has not been idle with its arson projects here. A notable victim was Angela's restaurant on Park. After a suspicious fire gutted the place September 28th, when over 8 homes and business were set aflame. Saboor Zafari is not someone who takes a hit without coming back in force and so the new Angela's will open at 1640 Park by the end of this week. Best of luck Mr. Zafari, a businessman dedicated to making things work here on the island no matter what.

The Letters to the Editor, always an entertaining page, included quite a number of letters that had nothing to do with the Island, but the greater Bay Area Metropolitan area, including Altamont and the East Bay Hills. Well, everyone has their crochets. The dispute over Ron Cowan's removal of the Harbor Bay Athletic club to a spot under the international airport's flyways in favor of his persistent quest to overpopulate the Isle there continues. As for overdevelopment on a place with limited access and limited space like an Island, the semi-humorous discussion of a pneumatic tube to transport people on and off the Island continues. The project is called "the Suckway" and would feature a tube that would abruptly shunt people in pods similar to inter-floor document chutes back in the day. Such a system would be naturally more cost effective than building another stupid bridge or another tunnel. You can just imagine the look on grandma's face when the thing propels the dear soul at Mach I through the tube to Jack London Square.

There are many innovative ideas that deal with the growing overpopulation here and the need to get off and get on an islanded place. The Suckway is just another idea that is as intelligent as any of the development schemes in progress.


So anyway the high fogs are signaling a change upcoming in the seasons. August is barely struggling along to a hot end while the mornings are packed with overcast skies due to high fog that yields to the Indian summer time we all know. Ducks and doves have started forming chevrons that circle about the old box elder and the potato plants that thrived so well under the hot sun have started to yellow. A high wind kicks up around sunset and the light and shadows among the trees look different than they did a month before. Ants have invaded the house and all of Nature knows that a great change is coming.

Fall is when changes come around. Such has always been the case for Denby. He had a conversation with a woman he had desired for over 30 years - it was one of those things in which the two people by circumstance drifted close and then, by chance drifted apart again because of circumstance. Distance played apart - they had always lived in two cities remote from one another -- entanglements played a part (they had always had troublesome connections), and reticence had played a part -- both of them become through experience too shy to be bold enough to seize the day.

One time he had kissed her and she had looked at him and said in surprise, "What the heck are you DOING?"

Maybe she had regretted saying that immediately afterward, but it sorta killed the mood for the moment.

And then again, she had been raised in an aristocratic East Coast family where everyone had been compelled to speak French at the dinner table, while he had been raised up in a family with no money and had to work through school in pizza parlors and animal shelters scooping shit off of the walls of kennels. And so there was this sense of never feeling up to her level all the time. He was a poor boy and she had diamonds on the soles of her shoes.

This is a common story.

In their last conversation after a wedding among friends she had said things that called forth memories of his own entanglements and of people who had died. Neither of them were getting any younger and the past was heavy with the freight of loss.

His own past included Julie, her slim form clad in runner's togs, eyes bright with sunshine and sky before her suicide. And Penny, her hair glowing yellow in the field with llamas up in Marin where he had experienced so many changes. Friends found her sitting upright in bed with a cup of coffee, dead of a heartattack. He took a long walk along the Strand, remembering these things, even while she took a long walk up north along her own beach with her dog, remembering her own past disconnected from his.

At one time his life had streaked along like a crazy bullet train, until odds and enemies had thrown enough chocks under the wheels to cause a number of catastrophic derailments and he had turned overly cautious in all things. After motorcycle wrecks and miscarriages and abortions and playing loose with a Brooklyn drug dealer, he finally bumped to a near stop to look around. In retrospect, it was a wonder he had survived all that.

And then you find yourself after thirty or forty years standing amid the smoking wreckage of a career or a marriage or a life and wonder what ever happened to Althea during this time. When it turns out she had suffered her own sequence of disasters, just like everybody else on the planet. Live long enough and everybody winds up in the same pine box.

While between them friends, associates, lovers, formed a galaxy above, binding everyone around this axis, a milky way of Desire, these Lights of Earth, and the two of them continued to orbit around the axis, two planets approaching nearer at times, then drifting apart.

That last meeting had gone perfunctory and without any great resolve and now he saw the future. Him wearing a greatcoat and a fedora, sitting on a park bench in Union Square with a paper bag of bread crumbs and the pigeons all around. Around his feet the scattered brown leaves of autumn rustling over the round toes of his brown shoes. Thinking about the One that Got Away.

I told Althea
I'm a roving son -
that I was born to be a bachelor -
Althea told me: OK that's fine -
So now I'm out trying to catch her

He had been incredibly stupid that time with her, remembering the conversation. And with that he found himself once again in the familiar, dark oubliette, trying to pull out to the sunlight above with the chanting echoing in his dreams, "Deshi deshi basara basara", only to fall down into that pit time and time again.

Years ago he started falling into that deep hole where figures moved around in a circle through the gloomy half-light, mumbling to themselves and dragging heavy tails through garbage. None of them looked up; what was the point of looking up? Sometimes he stayed there for days.

He roused himself and picked up the Tacoma and, lovingly, caressed her smooth, brown neck. He kissed the headstock. Everyone makes mistakes and he had made more than a few while riding the crazy train. Best not to dwell and get stupid maudlin. Time enough to act old later. The way up was through the work.

The chords rang out. He was in open D, so he sang after the harmonics and rundown,

All my life I've been a traveling man
Said, all my life I've been a traveling man
Staying alone and doing the best I can

And after a while he was up and out of the oubliette, this time without drinking or drugs, and so he could toss down a rope for the others remaining below and then walk towards the lighted city under the stars where his friends lived, good people and true, the Lights of Earth.

Then came the ululation of the train from far across the water as it trundled from beneath the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their burning lamps, 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 and its weedy railbed and interstices of its chainlink fence, dying slowly away until the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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

AUGUST 16, 2015


There are no lack of songs referencing the chickadee songbird, but one of the most famous was written by Cindy Walker, a prolific American songwriter, as well as a country music singer and dancer who died in March of 2006. In a short time after her demise this talented artist is all but forgotten save for deep aficionados of CW music while songs like "Cherokee Maiden" have been made famous by the likes of Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson.

In 1952 Hank Snow had a hit with her "The Gold Rush is Over" and in 1955 Webb Pierce had success with "I Don't Care".

Another Walker song was "Blue Canadian Rockies" recorded by Gene Autry (which featured in Autry’s 1952 movie of the same name). The song was revived in 1968 by The Byrds on their influential country-rock album Sweetheart of the Rodeo. In 1955 Eddy Arnold pitched Walker the theme and the song-title for "You Don't Know Me" when they met during a WSM deejay convention in Nashville. Walker then wrote the song based on Arnold's idea. It has been described as “a beautifully symmetrical and poignant portrait of a love not to be”.

"You Don't Know Me" has been recorded by numerous artists over the years, most successfully by Jerry Vale (1956); Lenny Welch (1960); Ray Charles (1962); and Elvis Presley (1967). "Anna Marie", was a hit for Jim Reeves in 1957 and the beginning of another productive artist-writer association which culminated in "This is It" (1965) and "Distant Drums" (a posthumous hit for Reeves). "Distant Drums" remained at No.1 on the British charts for five weeks in 1966.

Reeves recorded many of Walker's compositions, she often wrote specifically for him and offered him the right of first refusal of her tracks. "Distant Drums" was originally recorded by Reeves as a demo, simply because he loved the song.

In 1961 Eddy Arnold had a minor hit with Walker’s "Jim, I Wore a Tie Today", a moving song about the death of a cowboy. Cindy Walker wrote the song "Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream)", which was recorded by Roy Orbison (who also recorded a version of "Distant Drums").

Walker's song "In The Misty Moonlight" was a hit for both Jerry Wallace (1964) and Dean Martin (1967) as well as being recorded by Jim Reeves. "Heaven Says Hello" (recorded by Sonny James) and "You Are My Treasure" (Jack Greene) were hits in 1968, both written by Walker.

In 1970 Walker became a charter member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. In 1981 Mickey Gilley's version of "You Don't Know Me" was a hit in the country charts. A year later Walker had her last major hit with Ricky Skaggs’ reworking of "I Don't Care"

It has been estimated that more than 500 of Walker’s songs have been recorded and that her songs made the top-forty charts (country or pop) more than 400 times. All of her songs were composed upon a pink-trimmed manual typewriter, with many composed while living with her mother, Oree Walker, who helped set up the melodies to the lyrics.

In September 1997 Walker was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame (together with Harlan Howard, another songwriter). Harlan Howard described Walker as "the greatest living songwriter of country music". Her acceptance speech, done entirely in rhyme, was followed by a standing ovation and Walker left the stage in tears after softly blowing a kiss.

If it were not for the women, gentlemen, if it were not for the women . . . .


The West End got a bit unsettled by a rash of hot prowl burglaries that featured a sexual assault upon a minor. Surveillance video helped nab the perp, who is also a teenager under the age of 18. After police posted the videos, the teen realized that he would be recognized and so turned himself in Tuesday night.

The IPD is seeking to connect the man, now held at Juvie, to seven or more burglaries that occurred during the day as well as the sexual assault.

Since the victim and the perpetrator are underage juveniles, names have not been released to the public.

Rhythmix, which keeps on cranking strong after a strong start, will be hosting a celebration of Wine, Women and Song, all of which are really great things. This time around for the repeat performance takes place August 22. People who want to encourage the arts on the Island in any serious way are urged to go and support Rhythmix in all they do, as well as the Popups/Autobody gallery on Park, which just held an opening on Friday which we were unfortunately unable to attend.

The Summer Season is winding up far too quickly as time dashed on with the speed of Hermes and his winged sandals. Leon Russell will be dropping in to Yoshi's from August 17-18 with rumors that this tour may be the last. Just don't talk about him when he is gone.

The Regency is losing luster with a lackluster lineup that does not light up until September, while the Warfield does not feature anything until Rancid blasts from the past on the first day of the new year. Erykah Badu does occupy August 29th for a show that should be well worth your time, and Ben Folds takes over 9/16, so wuzup with the TV props, guys? We think we can live without American Idol on August 23. TV is sooooo 20th Century, if you know what I mean . . . .

Could be that the City that Used to Know How is letting the brain drain due to usurious rents destroy the once vibrant artistic community. Nowadays, it seems everyone who plays there actually lives somewhere else.

On the warmer side of the Bay, Franz Ferdinand, whom we caught at a NSSN show a couple of years back, will do the Fox in October on the 15th, while Grace Potter blew the roof off this past Saturday. Keep checking the schedule, guys, as the booking agent for this venue has all the top acts on tap.


It may seem hot right now. In fact, it really IS hot right now. All signs that point to confirming the Dweeb report on the upcoming Rainageddon heading this way from coast to coast. Now we hear reports that the venerable Farmer's Almanac has weighed in with its own prognostications. Sounds like a cold and blustery winter is in store for every place that sometimes gets snow. This time, snow is a certain factor and there will be lots of it.

In California, all those areas burning out of control are going to experience landslides aplenty when the rains hit, so best secure your sump pumps and sandbags and whatever you got now, for by December it is very likely that the El Nino conditions well underway now will produce quite a lot of wet stuff.

Unfortunately, the drought has been so extended, so severe, that no matter how much snow pounds the high Sierra, we are unlikely to climb out of the bad conditions we suffer right now.


So anyway, the Bay Area got body slammed by a heat wave that shut down just about everything taking place out of doors as temps rocketed into triple digits in the Valley and into the 90's along the coast. Marin phoned in with cancellations saying, "No way dude! Here it is pure misery!"

As Mssr. Soleil drove his flaming chariot higher in the sky, the Island broiled in shimmering waves, a flat griddle surrounded by a hot sea that offered no relief. To the north, the smoky reek from the Lake and Trinity County fires failed to block the sun, turned everything under that pall into a simmering hothouse. Somewhere up there the flicker of burning sought out more things to destroy like a fiery Eye searching from an evil tower.

About as innocent of evil as can be, Bonkers and Wickiwup lay plotzed on the porch, panting, while Johnny Cash ran down to the beach to jump into the tepid water there and shake himself in the manner of the shaggy dog he was. Everyone in the Household save Marlene and Andre had gone in search of shade and whatever breeze there might be at the Cove.

People are saying in the Old Same Place Bar that the El Nino is going to bring on a ferocious tempest of rain and all hell breaking loose. Padraic has opened all the doors and windows and had fans pushing the heavy air around. They all took turns going to the back to fetch things from the walk-in cooler. The AC had died and so between rushes, Suzie put a plastic bag with ice on her head while Angus McMayhem flirted with her. Angus flirted hopefully with everybody that could wear a skirt. Suzie just happened to be in front of him at the time.

"Let's go out back and I'll show you what's in my sporran," Angus said. Some Scotsmen are genteel and subtle. Angus was not one of them.

"Are you crazy? It's too feckin hot to kanoodle!" Suzie said.

Dawn guffawed. "Angus, go stand in the cooler a while."

"I'll go if Suzie goes," Angus said.

"Sure, be right along after I serve this gentleman his Guinness," Suzie said coyly.

Angus followed Dawn to the back and after he entered the walk-in refrigerator Dawn closed and locked the door from the outside.

"Hey!" Angus said. "It's dark in here!"

"There's a lightswitch. Find it and look at your brethren."

Angus found the lightswitch and turned to face the wall where rashers, trotters, and pork ribs hung from hooks. "Dawn, when are ye gonna let me out of here?"

"When you learn yourself to be a gentleman," Dawn said, and turned to go back to the bar where everyone was laughing until the tears ran down.

"O for Pete's sake!" Angus said and sat heavily on an upturned plastic bucket.

"We are needing to get in here to fetch the soda cylinders," Padraic said.

"That's when we let him out," Dawn said.

At the air conditioned parlor for the Native Sons of the Golden West the political debate among the Conservative Party candidates for President of the Rotarian Club was in full swing. The parlor was packed, as every standing member had come to attend, not that they were so concerned about politics, but this hall was one of the few air conditioned rooms on the Island. Also, for some reason, all the members of the Club were contending for just two open positions: President and Eagles Liaison.

Perhaps because of the extensive line-up civility had departed the spirited exchanges.


"You are overly loud and you don't know noodles!" Said Jack Shrubb. "Furthermore your hair is a danger to the public!"


"I would like to call attention to the misogynist comments made by some of the candidates . . .". Karin Durina began.


"I would like to say something reasonable," Kit Carson began.

"Ninny!" said Tim "Red" Cross.

"What we need is some Jersey toughness around here," started Dan Danny. "The present Administration clearly does not care about losing the illegals in the Club."

"Ah lose some weight," snarled Mike Wallabee.

"None of y'all gave a rat's ass concern about mah home neighborhood durin' the big flooding a few years back," said Robert Janedoll. "As a community organization we need to see to the Community's welfare."

"Socialist! Socialist!" exclaimed Rand Pete.

"On that subject," said Rick Frothystuf, "I believe that abortion should only be performed in the extreme case of liberal welfare mothers. And the Club should not have to pay for it ever."

Scott Trotter next weighed in with his comments. "Disband all unions. They are bad for the Island."

"The present Administration clearly does not care about Cuba," Marco Polo said. "I believe our official beverage should become the Cuba Libre."

"Fool! You are as bad as Mr. Bump!" Scott Trotter said.


"Whom you know quite well," Ms. Durina said.

"FAT COW!" Shouted Mr. Bump.

"Oooooo . . . . You imperfect ass!" Ms. Durina stamped her foot so hard her heel broke.

"Jackass!" Lindy Cracker said to Mr. Bump.

The disputation went on well into the night until it descended into a free-for-all brawl that descended even further into savage, atavistic melee which had to be broken up by David Phipps and his father wielding one million volt taser batons.

At the end of the day it was up to Jose and Pahrump to sweep up the shattered glass, toss out the broken chairs and mop the blood off of the floors. George Souvlaki had broken Nick Perrier's nose when the latter had claimed Souvlaki possessed Democrat tendencies and harbored a secret love for poodles. Running out of verbal insults for the first time in his life, Mr. Bump had responded to Randy Peter calling him a sissy by biting the man on the neck hard enough to tear the skin and burst a vein.

This was just the first of three more debates and the Quasi Liberal Party was showing no signs of better behavior for its own series amid the on-going infighting between Bernie Beans, Joe Bidet and Helen Bent.

After the mess had finally been cleaned up the guys leaned on their mops and brooms just like Homer described the warriors leaning on their spears during the siege of Troy. Above the scene of battle the peaceful stars glittered in broad array above the quietly clinking boatmasts in the marina.

"The light of those stars takes so long to reach eyes on the earth that many of those suns had already winked out forever, shrinking into themselves to become either cold stones or the void of black holes", Pahrump said. "By the time the light of our own sun passes the steadily outgoing Voyager to arrive some place where slimy creatures scan the skies, this election, all the ballots, these candidates, and perhaps this Country will have ceased to matter any more than bee pee on cigarette paper".

"You got some perspective, amigo", Jose said. "I think it comes from growin' up on the Piute Rez."

"Piute just means 'not Ute.' Nothing I can do about that," Pahrump said. "Someday you gotta show me that desueno you inherited."

"Why's that?"

"Might be worth something. Says you are supposed to own a whole lotta land up here from your great great grandfather."

"It aint worth a single god damned dime," Jose said. "It's worth about as much as a BIA treaty."

Pahrump tilted his head back and laughed up to the stars who also laughed in their twinkling.

Then came the ululation of the train from far across the water as it trundled from beneath the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their burning lamps, 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 and its weedy railbed and interstices of its chainlink fence, dying slowly away until the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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

AUGUST 9, 2015


One advantage to naturally sandy soil -- potatoes grow well here on the Island. Gardeners can keep the ground moist during the drought with cover-ups like cardboard or plastic trash bags and using kitchen "grey water."

Yukon gold potato plants yield a white flower while the reds display something like these.


It may be summer but life continues here on the Island. The latest old business to put up a Closed sign forever is the 80 year old Brown Brothers shoe store on Lincoln. The store began life in Oakland but has been at the Lincoln location since 1981. The 4th generation owner, Jim Brown, has turned 74 and has decided to sling a golf club bag over his should and head off to retirement.

AFD is sending a crew from Bay Farm Station # 4 to help with the firefight at the Mad River Complex fire in Trinity County. As of August 6th, the MRC featured seven fires involving 13,557 acres and was just 8% contained.

Recent complaints about the pedestrian hazards at the new Shoreline bikeway prompted the Sun to post a Rules of the Road clarification. There have been a number of near misses as pedestrians exit cars and cross the road and the bikeway without noticing bikers blazing along the path with no stop signs at high speed.

Our local Coast Guard got into national news by way of the cutter Stratton, based at Coast Guard Island, captured a semi-sub loaded with 16,000 pounds of cocaine worth $181 million dollars in the largest seizure ever recorded in CG history. The interdiction occurred about 200 miles south of Mexico in the Pacific. Not bad work, fellas!

The Letters to the Editor continue to supply debate on both sides of the Harbor Bay athletic club move, with someone indicating that the proposed site of the replacement club sits right under the the Oakland airport runway 28L main flight path for take-offs and landings. This area is classified as a "Zone 3 safety area" and the State Airport Land Use Planning Handbook specifically prohibits group sport activity in such a zone because of the danger.

On the other hand, the superintendent of Crosspoint High School really likes the idea of the neighborhood getting a new club.

You would know that we would host at least one contrarian, and the Letters section features one person warning of the risk of recently vaccinated kids due to "viral shedding", which apparently means that a newly vaccinated kid will be supposedly distributing live viruses until, we dunno, the vaccine does what it is supposed to do. Still, we wonder if the weakened virus in vaccines that do employ a live virus will be a serious threat in such diluted form. And few vaccines employ a "live virus" anyway. In a slant note, you may not know that things like steripens, which are used to sanitize drinking water, do not actually kill the cryptospordia and giardia cysts -- they render the critters unable to reproduce, which has the same effect. So you swallow some bugs, but they can't hurt you.

So of course we went to the CDC and found information going back to 2008 on this anti-vaxxer misinformation schtick. To quote: "Vaccine shedding” is a double barreled myth in that transmission is assumed to occur ipso facto. Shedding is not transmission. Period. Yet denial of vaccine efficacy requires internalization of some whacky stuff. Including the erroneous belief that viral shedding follows MMR vaccination. Yet worse is the myth that inactivated vaccines pose the risk of infection due to “vaccine shedding”. Pertussis often brings out the malicious side of anti-vaxxers. DTaP is inactivated. Indeed the pertussis component is acellular. . . In conclusion it’s clear that “vaccine shedding” is a nonsense phrase. The lack of accounts of children transmitting viruses to younger siblings and friends after vaccination is a dead giveaway." Article citation.

This article is one of the more readable texts. There are a plethora of pseudo-scientific things out there claiming "studies have found" dangerous viral shedding -- the only problem is that these "studies" are never cited. You go to reputable organs like the CDC, WHO, JAMA, Lancet, the Oxford Journals Journal of Infectious Diseases, and other bona fide agencies where studies are seriously vetted before publication and you will always find the view held that vaccination provides vastly larger benefits than risks. To repeat and to quote, " Since the risk of vaccine transmission and subsequent vaccine-derived disease with the current vaccines is much less than the risk of wildtype [rotavirus] disease in immunocompromised contacts, vaccination should be encouraged." Citation NIH.

In other words, do not drink the cool aid produced by messianic partisans.


So anyway, the fellow said, "Language is a virus from outer space." Burroughs really was slapping at Chomsky's Psycho-Linguistics, but most people believe the fellow was just being oblique about personal visions while high on hallucinogens. Maybe he was as well. You can never entirely trust thost guys who kill their wives by accident and Burroughs knew this tragic fact better than anyone else. Who can say for sure what it all means? Words are sneaky and devious and language just might be a virus that will send all the anti-vaxxers scampering to their medieval oasis where no one speaks and they use leeches to cure stuff.

At Longfellow, Ms. Morales ( who has kept her maiden name at work after marrying Mr. Sanchez so as to avoid confusing the kids) struggles daily to impart the nuances and felicities of Emily Dickenson and Shakespeare to the upper Middle School classes who reel under the wildly sanitized State history with Algebra to boot.

What is language after all, but just another object for trade.

"To be or not to be. Who would be quiet and face the proud man in costume who dissed him wifout taking up his arms, his Glock 9 piece with some homeboys in da hood behind him and putting an end to these troubles? Not me man! Yeah, to die. That sorta thing rubs me the wrong way, dude. To sleep and dream and whats dreams gonna do for you, man? You gonna hafta wake up someday . . .", Raymondo recites in class. He is rewriting Shakespeare for the 'Hood, and Ms. Morales encourages him, for at least this one is actually reading the text instead of running to Cliff Notes to pass the test.

What is language after all, but just another object for trade.

Every morning Mr. Cribbage gets up and after his breakfast of champions, featuring a muffin and coffee, he boards the O Express that will take him to Babylon across the Bay and to the offices of Ness, Haman, Gadol, and Pritikin, a marketing firm which has stood at the corner of Kearney and Market ever since 1952, when Arnold Ness first setup shop with an handful of graphic designers and created the campaign for Mrs. Wright's Automats that took the West Coast by storm. "Don't Be Wrong tonight! Be Wright at Wright's Automat!"

We want to capture the Millennial market now.

Now they had a new client in the form of Marvin of Marvin's Merkins on the Island and the meeting had not gone well. "What is the meaning of "Put a merkin in your firkin? Firkins are old style. It is obvious how you need our services. We want to capture the Millennial market now. How about 'Be seen twerkin' in your merkin! You'll be smirkin' all the way . . .".

Marvin didn't like it. He was insistent on catering to his old client base, many who now were octogenarian Conservatives.

"Are we talking granny porn here?" Mr. Dudgeon said...

"Are we talking granny porn here?" Mr. Dudgeon said, putting his fists on the table as he stood. "If so, we might have an LA angle that might provide some tie-ins . . .".

"Can we maybe use a Trump endorsement at this stage," Ms. Blight said at the end of the table.

"O god, the visuals . . . ", said Dudgeon. "Twenty-five years in marketing and this is the first idea that has caused my gorge to rise. . . ".

"I was thinking more along the lines of some language," Blight said. "You know. Trump-language. Really loud and brassy and self-important."

A few floors down, the meeting between the Konica reps and the Blathers takes place in Conference Room B. The Konica rep starts off by saying," How are you?"

"I'm good! How are you!" Mr. Blather says enthusiastically.

"I'm fantastic! I am superlative and extraordinary!" says the Konica rep. "Now as for these upgrades we have in mind . . . ".

"Why did you do this thing?" Eugene said aloud...

Down the street at 101 California, Eugene sat in front of three computer screens, working on code for a program to handle electronic health records. He was having troubles with the user-friendly interface which steadfastly refused to be friendly. He was arguing now with the original developer who had long since left the scene after abandoning this project to the world and the company which sold the software package. "Why did you do this thing?" Eugene said aloud. "Why did you do this module this way?" And in answer the code leapt up on the screen in windows with its own kind of response, speaking a language that was totally digital.

At 16th, the result was cacophany...

Later, Marvin exited the building and walked down towards the Mission to cleanse his ears. He took the subterranean Muni to 16th and came out amid a welter of drums and about 34 Spanish dialects chattering all at once while the buskers played violins, guitars, pie-pahs and just about anything that under ideal circumstances would produce something similar to music, which some understand as the universal language. At 16th, the result was cacophany, delightful, but individually incomprehensible while adding up to something that could only be summarized as 16th and Mission on a typical day. Thoth used to play there on the plaza, but standing half naked, wearing a loincloth and furred boots while performing flawless Brahms just failed communicate or to attract enough attention to himself, so he moved to New York City.

On that flight a couple of teenagers sitting next to one another flipped up the blocking armrest and threw a blanket over themselves to pass the six hours from SF to NYC kanoodling. Thoth saw them and gave a thumbs up, speaking a language that was totally digital. As were they.

Meanwhile, the Cribbages were having a fight in their house. "The problem with you is that you just don't listen!"

"Well I told you that mother was coming for the weekend!"

"Weekend! And it turns into weeks!"

"Well how can someone expect only two days for such a long trip from Hyannis Port? You should have understood what it means for a woman of her age to travel!"

Over at Marlene and Andre's the couple moves about the small cottage while the others are out in the good weather, picking up fallen shoes, vacuuming, making the bed, doing the dishes that never end, fixing the broken things, all soundlessly, without comment. At one point they meet in the room with the coffeetable under which Quentin will sleep when the weather turns bad again and their fingertips touch in a mock Vulcan salute to the craziness of this life. They look into each other's eyes, speaking a language totally digital.

Out beyond the Golden Gate the whales are migrating...

From where does language come? From what place originates COBOL, FORTRAN or C++? Down at Seaworld a technician named Samantha puts a microphone into the water and begins to "talk" to dolphins, who although they may have no special concerns about quarks, mesons, supernova and other things outside of their sensory apparatus, nevertheless have much to say about the relationships between beings and things. And some kind of Spirit that is akin to what we know as god. Out beyond the Golden Gate the whales are migrating and singing age-old songs, or simply chanting the repetitious harmonies that make up the universe with a higher mathematics that transcends functions and religion, a kind of recursion that is far too complex for humans to directly apprehend, which we are still trying to understand.

In the Old Same Place as night falls, the chatter turns to politics and sports, the male bonding via the understood and the commonly accepted values which say simply, "I am okay and you are okay and we agree not to kill each other. Let's have a beer."

In the Island-life offices, the Editor moves down the aisles, shutting down computers that stream in the news from all over the world in a dense chatter of information. When we were children, as yet without tongues to speak, was not the world far simpler and what drove into us this need to chatter at one another and yet still miss the mark so badly so often? I need wawa. I need poopoo. I need ma-ma. I need . . . . Is not the language imperative more a measure of need than design?

"Words! Words! Words! All they is, is words!"

At a poetry reading in the City a man with a tall staff had marched in, wearing rags and an attitude and he had shouted, "Words! Words! Words! All they is, is words!" The poet at the mike had handled it fairly well. "This is an open mike, but you have to put your name on the list if you want to say something." It is true. If you want to say something and also be attended to, you have to first put your name on a list.

The Editor was an editor, simply a vehicle for processing the throughput generated by others. Not unlike the Prophet who was commanded to "recite", processing the intense streams of information coming from some Other Place. He was nothing in the None, Gimel, Hay, Shin.

a child's toy consisting of two balls swinging around a common axis

He went out upon the deck and observed the stars, stars he had observed with his sister a few days ago while taking a trip up north to attend someone's wedding. Orion waltzed in his usual way with his belt and his scabbard over the pines. The dragon pursued Andromeda and the Scorpion held his stinger aloft. After the reception and all the ceremony, his sister had stood there on that deck, slim and elegant and beautiful and he had indicated with his finger the Milky Way above the pine trees and she had seen. And they, brother and sister, stood there with some momentary connection after so many years of drifting apart and then back together and apart again and back together like a child's toy consisting of two balls swinging around a common axis yet never kissing together, in a way that was for the moment totally digital. For a brief moment he held her and all the past flowed beneath them as if they were star travellers on a journey, and she said, "We have only the Now."

For just that moment of Now they bonded, no longer two spheres orbiting at a distance, all the family stuff held underfoot as foundations, all the recriminations and insults and disappointments placed into the past. Just brother and sister speaking the unspoken language of the heart.

Having returned to the Island, which is -- according to scientific reports destined to start sinking soon -- the Editor stood on the deck of the Offices and observed the same constellation of Orion tumbling over the Veteran's Memorial Hall he had observed with his sister, whom he had come with difficulty over the course of time, and she certainly was difficult, to love.

He stood on that deck beneath the box elder and the bird of paradise palm and realized that it does not matter from what place language originates. What matters is from where the coal of Love ignites. And that it does succeed. Sometimes.

Then came the ululation of the train from far across the water as it trundled from beneath the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their burning 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 and its weedy railbed and interstices of its chainlink fence until the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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


AUGUST 2, 2015


Hopefully not for this little guy left straggling behind his brothers and sisters. Denby was taking a walk to the garage when someone hissed at him in the dark from behind the ivy-clad fence. Being hissed at is nothing unusual for Denby so he responded as he usually does by tossing a casual "Eff you" towards the fence as he opened the door.

Which action turned on the motion sensor light inside. To reveal this guy who had some hissing of his own to do. Playing dead in opossums is an involuntary autonomic response to perceived threat and nobody has ever perceived Denby as a serious threat ever. So said opossum remained alert and only moderately concerned, waiting for Denby to clear out of the way so that mom could come and get him.


Hope everyone enjoyed the BART transbay closures this weekend. Which should prep everybody for the longer closure expected September 5-7.

Tix on sale Monday for live@the library concert series, featuring top notch jazz artists playing on site and at Rhythmix. Series includes the Fay Carole Quintet September 26th and Maria Muldaur November 21st. Tickets are available at Books Inc. on Park Street, Deweys Friends Cafe in the Library and online at

The Sun publishers will speak at the California Historical Society on Thursday at 6PM on the connections between the famous Pan Pacific Exhibition of 1915 and the historic Neptune Beach. The CHS headquarters is located at 678 Misssion Street in San Francisco. To learn more, visit www.californiahistorical

In an interesting turn of events, the City Council began looking at two new Rent Ordinances that seek to give some power to the presently toothless Rent Review Advisory Committee and to give some structure regarding rent review. It is no secret that rental "market rates" have gone through the roof with some absentee landlords jacking rents 50 to 80%, forcing move-outs while the general level of rent demand has become exorbitant and well beyond the means of most normally employed people.

This situation is happening all over the Bay Area, which has led the City of Richmond to pass an ordinance tying rent increases to the rise of the Consumer Price Index, which last rose about 2.3%.

After so much hand-wringing and finagling to get the VA to place a clinic and columbium out at the Point, the project appears headed for federal holdup as the budget proposal that includes VA apportions originated in the Obamba Administration, and the bill is headed for the extremely divided Senate after the bill's budget was slashed in half by an highly antagonistic and partisan House.

At issue is the response to the $1 billion dollar cost overrun to build a facility in Aurora, CO. Future projects exceeding $220 million will automatically go now to the Army Corps of Engineers for oversight. Our Island project is under that amount, but the budget slashed by the House means the Secretary who controls the VA will have to evaluate whether to continue with some projects at all.

There was an interesting exchange of letters to the Editor in the Sun, in which the first letter writer proposed construction of a new bridge to carry the increase in traffic that new development certainly will engender. This week the letter writer proposed that instead of another bridge, something of questionable value to the folks who currently live on the far side where this thing would terminate at some cost, we build a new Ferry Terminal on the Oakland side and set up a new commuter ferry service.

What is interesting about both letters is the acknowledgment that currently the traffic is lousy and with increased development, the traffic will become far, far worse. Certainly not anything like a fanciful "one car total" increase over ten years. And the curious reasoning in City planners -- who admittedly are no longer in office -- that first we build up and shovel people in, THEN we plan on how to move them about. Apparently by means of population control of which only Aldous Huxley could have created.

How to make sure everyone who manages to live on the island also works here and seldom leaves? Give them Soma. That'll work.


Last Dweeb report was dated Thursday 07/30/15 at 5:02PM by Howard. All those moody skies we saw here translated into some hefty thunderstorms in the Sierra, with more coming on. Now if this sort of thing continues into the cold season, we should see some snow accumulation to slow the progress of the drought. Bear in mind that we would need two solid years of Snowmageddon for the Sierra to rebuild the snowpack it had before the drought. So drought is the New Reality for the duration.

Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency across the state due to the wildfires burning across the state, according to the governor’s office.

The drought and extreme weather have been heavy contributors to the wildfires and declaring a state of emergency allows additional firefighting resources to be devoted to the Golden State. Which lately is looking a little charred, rather than golden.

California's largest wildfire is spreading quickly, consuming 54,000 acres in three counties and staying active throughout the night -- a time when firefighters typically make progress, a state fire official said Sunday.

The Rocky Fire was only 5% contained Sunday and was feeding on the state's drought to grow actively, said Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire.

The wildfire was burning in Lake, Yolo and Colusa counties northwest of Sacramento. More than 12,100 people in more than 5,100 structures were under some type of evacuation order or advisory as of Sunday afternoon.

The Rocky Fire was one of two dozen wildfires burning in California on Sunday. More than 8,000 firefighters were involved statewide,

The fires vary in size. The White Fire in Santa Barbara County is about 50 acres, and the deadly Frog Fire, which killed Firefighter David Ruhl, has consumed at least 3,900 acres since it was spotted Thursday and is just 4% contained. The recently snuffed-out Lake Fire in San Bernardino County burned more than 31,000 acres before it was contained.

Cal Fire says most of the fires are more than 60% contained. However, the land damage has been substantial in some cases. Fires in Southern California's San Bernardino County and Northern California's Alpine County have incinerated nearly 50,000 acres.

You may have heard the South El Monte area is under a boil water advisory due to detection of E. Coli during normal testing procedures a single hydrant in the area. That advisory has since been lifted. More information may be obtained online at

If you are wondering about the taste of EBMUD products here, you are not alone and you are not imagining things. EBMUD reported that due to lowering of reservoir levels, again something due to drought conditions, they have been forced to employ different outflow points. EBMUD insists the water is still safe to drink.

People may want to invest in a faucet aquafilter for drinking water, such as the ones made by Pur.

The First Friday artparty in Oaktown has become famous, internationally so, and to the detriment of the artists and the galleries that initiated the program. In response people who are more concerned with aesthetics and thought and form than boom box shouting and twerking to the latest pop craze have set up a few events designed to be more subdued, if not less exciting. We now have the 2nd Friday Estuary Artwalk which includes venues like our own Popups, which will be hosting a shindig with music as part of that event. K Gallery in Rhythmix will also be taking part.

The original designers of the First Fridays events now hold a Third Thursday, which uses the 24 Gallery Building on 24th as the epicenter for a variety of fun and interesting art shenanigans. Given the anticipated wet weather coming in a couple months, we suggest not putting off a visit if you want to talk with intelligent, interesting people and see provocative creations.


So anyway, the days begin with a leaden high fog along the coast, but with a certain warmth to the air, promising great things for later on. The squirrels do their usual mad antics, running along the Old Fence and leaping from the avocado tree to the box elder and from there to the crab apple tree hung with wind chimes so as to make the thing somehow useful. Once the squirrels have destroyed something in a furiously haphazard fashion: a planter box, a nicely sown bit of garden, a bird's nest, they rest for a while with some satisfaction. Then the overhead cover strips apart and the air heats up and Summer emerges once again in all her shining glory on a clamshell, tossed by waves of emotion amid the bloody foam.

the new millennium's version of avian human mutation

At the bend of shore where the Strand cuts in to the Cove there is a jut of land where the sailboarder house sits. Offshore the newly hatched sailboarders carefully guide their craft back and forth behind the billow of sail while the more courageous and expert pilot their thin boards over this calm part of the Bay, pulled by kites of bright colors, while above them the parasailers go gliding on updrafts, the new millennium's version of avian human mutation, products of decades of GMO and marketing crossbreeds involving Wheaties and Powerbars and genetically altered wheat.

The chattering temporary cubicles in offices all across the land, cubicles designed by a man who intended the office cubicle to be only a momentary blip in the life of the office, now sit dark and silent as the millennials refuse to go to work. Why should I go to work? Work should come to me. After all, I am the one that is important. I make the business go and I can make it go anywhere and from anywhere, be it a coffeehouse or a friend's sofa or a boardroom or my my own kitchen table. There is no more Office! I AM the office and I take my always-connected devices with me wherever I go. The savage capitalists want me to be on call 24x7? Okay I can do that and put the rest of the time in on my iPad from my toilet to show what I think of them and still get the job done. Excuse me while I do a selfie from my throne.

The millennials are here and changing life all around them. Perhaps there is hope for us after all.

the parable about the man from Samhara

The subject of the sermon this Sunday at the Allgood Unitarian Ministry was the parable about the man from Samhara who paused to help someone on the road. Unfortunately the air conditioner cut out and the heat became oppressive in the Chapel. Reverend Freethought had to strip down to a tank top and shorts with her Unitarian surplice, which definitely focussed the attention of some of the men, but probably not in a way any of the sacred texts had intended. Seeing that she might be about to lose some of her flock, the Reverend took the congregation outside, saying that we must spread the Word. There was not much space out front on Santa Clara -- the Unitarians did not have a parking lot, so the Reverend kept on leading with about fifteen to twenty Unitarians following along behind as she continued to preach. They turned the corner on Park and passing the newspaper kiosks with their loud headlines about fracking with clean water in drought-ridden California went in to the cool white space of Tuckers where everyone got an ice cream cone or a ice cream bar.

Little Tubby Tinker let drop a wrapper from his bar and was admonished by the Reverend. And man was given Dominion over the Earth; so it is given also that he take care of it as well.

She leaned over and slowly licked the man's biceps...

Kid Viper cruised by in his open convertible, a pristine 1968 Corvette, his arm around Pimenta Strife and his radio playing an old ZZ Top cassette tape. There were not many people on the Island who still owned a stash of tape cassettes. Fewer still who would, knowing Pimenta, pick her up and take her for a ride. She leaned over and slowly licked the man's biceps with her hand on his thigh. Pimenta was the sort of gal who could not sit still for even a minute. Not her style. She had a tattoo that went "Lust 2.0" on a place only privileged persons and gynecologists were allowed to see.

Some people just don't appreciate what the Creator has made...

Passing this couple, heading north, Percy Worthington-Boughsplatt piloted his immaculate, two-toned, beige and white,1939 Mandeville-Brot Coupe, complete with running boards and natural leather upholstery. In the passenger seat sat the lovely Madeline, wearing her fetching pillbox hat, feather boa and high heels. From the windows of Tuckers, little Tubby stared with an open mouth until his mother clapped her hands over his eyes. Some people just don't appreciate what the Creator has made, but the Berkeley Explicit Players mean to change all that.

The same line snaked from Ole's Breakfast Cafe that had been there for half a century. No one had aged although they all had been standing there for years, waiting for a seat. Some thought they were actors hired to stand there every Sunday and the menu item of chicken and waffles was a myth.

Down Santa Clara, back toward the Allgood Ministry, skaters did their usual dances on the railings and steps of the closed City Department of Recreation while waiting for the bus to take them out to the concrete "comal" griddle of the official skatepark. millennials practicing gyrations and spins that will, in other form, become necessary later in dealing with the corporate world. The bus arrived and they got on and they all passed Our Lady of Incessant Complaint as the services ended there and Father Danyluk put aside his colorful vestments to pick up a fishing pole and so head to the Cove to see what he could catch.

At Marlene and Andre's, good weather has sent all the residents out to the Strand or other locations to seek work. Jose and Javier have gone over to the designated Dayworker place in Fruitvale with Pahrump, who managed to get all three over without serious incident on his 150 cc scooter. The thing labored a bit, but they got there okay. A truck driven by Dodd for Mr. Howitzer picked them up.

"I say, any of you chaps speak English? Mon Espanole esta a bit, uh, mauvaise sondage et affreuse and perhaps somewhat malo loco."

"No problemo, pops," Javier said. "We three be good."

"Capital! Hop right in."

And off they went to stack and place chimney stone for the day at one of Mr. Howitzer's buildings.

And so a typical summer weekend day passed on the Island from overcast skies to bright sunshine and then, by degrees slipping the way Time tends to do each day, to a dimming of the light. Fog glided over the far hills of Babylon and somehow magically appeared on the top of Grizzly Peak Boulevard above Oaktown. A gentle breeze shook the crabapple tree and the box elder, sending spinners and lumpy fruit to earth in occasional hail. Lights flicked on at the Old Same Place Bar where folks went from the Q Cafe to continue their gossip and talk about politics and the wretched decisions and indecisions made by Silly Hall. Inside, a chatter and a clatter from within while outside the cars shushed by quietly.

"Les crêpes sont prêtes."

The moon, which had been Blue the previous night behind a nimbus of high fog, waned gibbous. Out by the Community College Senor Don Guadeloupe Erizo gazed up and pondered the mysteries of the Universe beside the hedge where he kept home with Dame Herrison, who poked her head out of the burrow to say, "Les crêpes sont prêtes". The Don, who like all small animals understands every natural language, nodded. The Don also refrained from speaking to humans, for fear of misunderstanding, as humans could be extremely dense sometimes. Just look at what happened to Mr. Ed. And of course, natively speaking Spanish, he spoke a language like all males that was entirely different from that chosen by the female. The two genders communicate typically like travelers in a foreign country, speaking with hand and foot as some would say.

Down by Grand and Buena Vista Officer O'Madhauen parks his Crown Vic and turns off the lights to wait for speeders, red light runners, people returning in a wavering manner from the bars of Babylon.

By the garage, a little opossum pauses, hisses good night, then scrambles under the woodpile, engaged in his own journey as all the world revolves and everyone continues to travel, each by their own means, with some passing across the border to the land of Dreams.

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 moonlit towers, 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 and its weedy railbed and the interstices of its chainlink fence until the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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

JULY 26, 2015


A blooming peony inside the Bungalow Court, captured by Tammy. Says as there is as much to say about summertime.


This weekend was jam-packed with events all over the place. Jack London Square hosted its popular Pedalfest, a two day bicycle extravaganza where the Pennyfarthing holds forth once again among the trick bikes and the modern "safety bicycle", so called because of the innovation of equal-sized, pneumatic tires along with brakes.

Berkeley held its annual Kite Festival over at the Marina, while San Rafael held and actual circus near downtown. The Island put on its annual Art and Wine festival, now somewhere in its 35th year.

With gorgeous skies bluer than a Dutchman's pants and all these events, no excuse not to get outside.

We skipped all that and headed up through heavy traffic to Marin for a birthday get-together among old friends.

Closer to home we note a rise in home burglaries, perhaps due to more open windows as the weather gets warmer, however the majority of the crimes appear to occur between the hours of 7PM and midnight according to the APD. Call 510-337-8340 NOT 911 if you see suspicious people. Call 911 only if you witness an actual crime.

The rate of 5150's on the island remains unabated at well over 14 people per week being sent on three-day hold to the Pavilion. It's crazy, sure it is.

Certainly in response to several high-profile cases that have hit national news, the Department is proactively discussing body cameras for its officers. The cameras can have benefits for the public as well as for crimefighters in that video can help provide positive evidence of criminal activity as well as positive ID. Not sure it would have helped the Officer who was murdered during a routine traffic stop recently in San Leandro, but it certainly would have shown automobile, plates and possibly the shooter's face for subsequent prosecution.

As for the Letters to the Editor, we see the page dominated by the Harbor Bay athletic club controversy, where Ron Cowan's realtor group wants to tear down the existing popular club in favor of new pricey homes, while placing the club replacement somewhere else. Presumably that elsewhere is less inviting for residential real estate development.

Actually, what is needed out there -- according to office workers there -- is a sprinkling of lunchtime eateries. At the moment, it is all brownbag or phone it in for delivery. Which makes us wonder what the intended new homeowners/residents are going to do for local services and if this demand will not cause yet more development. Worth thinking about.

Willie Nelson was here at the Greek with Alison Kraus on the 23rd. Jackson Browne does the Loadout on the 15th of August, followed by Block Party on 9/11. Lenny Kravitz will strut his stuff on the 13th but you will have to wait for that little miss dynamo Florence with her Machine on October 21st and 22nd. That gal proves size does not matter when it comes to power.

Sara Watkins will haul her family to the Watkins Family Hour for two nights at the Freight in Berkeley October 14-15th. Fiona Apple and Tom Brosseau will be joining in for two evenings of what is likely to be very good music.

As for the brand new Fox, the can't miss booking agent must still be there. Jason Isbell takes over August 11 with his extraordinarily fine lyrics, which are probably better than anyone else out there right now. The former Drive By Trucker left that southern rock band to clean himself up and present sparklingly intelligent songs that can alternatively rock like hell or wail from the same hot place. Don't know if he is planning an acoustic or an electric show or a combo of both.

Speaking of hot, Grace Potter just might blow out the speakers on Saturday, August 15th. Dianna Krall brings on the jazz the night after. Jill Scott needs two nights to satisfy her fans August 21 and 22.

You will have to wait until September 9th for Mike Ness to powerhouse his Social Distortion from SoCal. Miss that and you still have Brandi Carlile the following week on the 18th. Better yet, see and hear them all if you can.

Adam is bringing the Counting Crows to the Concord Pavilion September 20th.

Joe Bonemassa will light up his incendiary take on the Blues at the Shoreline in Mountain View August 20th. Dave Matthews will bring his entire band to the same place on 9/11, while the Foo Fighters will take the 16th. Hope Dave is off pain meds and out of a cast by then. Having been there ourselves, we do know what Level 10 pain is all about. You may know that Dave Grohl fell and seriously broke a leg bone during the European tour. Trouper that he is, he returned to the stage to finish the show from a chair, which had to hurt, and has done subsequent shows in a sort of "throne" he built for himself. That tibia was not just fractured, looking at the x-rays, but was clean broken through.

Heck, we couldn't even walk for a month, and here is this guy out in front of thousands of people performing in a chair barely a couple weeks after the incident. Go out and lend the man some support.

That's it and if you don't like the music, go out and make some of your own.


That recent spate of indecisive weather here was due to the remnants of hurricane Dolores, which did dump a bit of rain on parched SoCal up as high as San Luis Obispo. The Dweeber, Howard, said a drying trend is coming through with weather turning hot. We have seen forecasts of up to 105 for Oakland coming midweek, but believe the moderate 80-85 is more realistic. Still could go into the triples in the Valley on the other side of Altamont Pass, though. Anyone planning on visiting the Eastern Sierra better plan on 105 degrees in Bishop.


So anyway, the major election is yet more than a year away, but already the political fighting and mud slinging has begun with a ferocity not seen since Senator Preston Brooks beat Senator Charles Sumner with a cane. Or the infamous floor brawl started by Pennsylvania Republican Galusha Grow and South Carolina Democrat Laurence Keitt in 1858, which wound up involving 30 Senators in a melee of punching and wig tearing.

Here on the Island we have our local race between Babar (Conservative Party), Papoon (Not Insane Party, the reorganized Somewhat Liberal If It Don't Offend Party), and Joe Bob Bingle (Pee Tardy) and the newly added Grumpy Party spearheaded by I. Rascible Jones.

Things have livened up in recent months as the conventional two party system now has four and in the two major parties that have traditionally battled with one another for total thought control we have upstart contenders. Within the Conservative Party a well-heeled magnate in the imported women's lingerie industry named Donald Bump has tossed his hat in the ring, quite loudly as it seems, with a great number of incendiary remarks, and to add to that mix, we have Beanie Sandman popping out of the woodwork to challenge Papoon from the far Left, which everyone had demonized in a Guy Falks sort of way, but no one very seriously considered an actual, living, breathing sort of entity.

The upcoming debates should be lively, especially as no candidate's camp can seem to agree with any other camp on a date, a place or a time agreeable to all.

Politics can be dull, drab and largely the province of some people getting people to do things they otherwise would not do, and stopping other people from doing stuff they would prefer to continue. People who get elected have brickbats and offal thrown at them and are supposed to smile and enjoy that while preserving the knowledge they could splat the brickbat and offal throwers like a bug against a windshield immediately had they a mind, but they'll settle for ruining their lives at a distance and that is supposed to be satisfaction enough.

In any case the next few months are likely to provide a great deal of entertainment, even as they fail to resolve the major issues of the world.

The weather has been gorgeous the past few days after a spate of overcast skies and threatening thunderstorms that ultimately held off.

The dragon-boat rowers have been practicing in the estuary, along with the racing crews and the solitary paddleboard folks who set out on bare feet and a surfboard and oars to explore the reaches of the shoreline, standing upright on their narrow planks. While standing at the Fruitvale bridge one can watch them come out from the marina area and pass under towards the Port gangways and cranes and the far flat extensions of the former Base airfield that kiss the broadening of the Bay itself.

As night descended through a miasma of heat and incoming fog, sweepers passed down Park Street to clean up the weekend party mess and a guy in black pants and black jacket and stained white shirt came out from Los Cubaneros to clean up his portion of the sidewalk. At the 51A busstop right in front of the newspaper kiosk that somebody built way back before WWII to pass on the news, a man wearing a peacoat asks strangers for a welcome 25 cents for busfare or coffee or a package of Kents.

Officer O'Madhauen cruises down looking for speeders, redlight runners, lane dodgers -- the usual riffraff -- and turns down Central to locate his usual spot by the old Cannery, there to wait behind the stoplight no one considers with a styrofoam cup of coffee and his radar atuned.

Out on Snoffish Road the teenagers from Encinal are racing the teens from posh East End High in their magnificent hopped up lowriders, but nobody in authority pays attention this hot summer night and nobody flames out and so they all go get ice cream at Dreyers on Park or hamburgers from that all night joint in Oaktown where Grand and Lakeshore meet.

The night creeps softly on soft paws to circle around the Island-Life offices, arching its back and purring quietly before laying its heavy dark head upon its paws and falling asleep. This night there are no sirens rending the air above the town and no screams of pain. It was a quiet night on the island and nobody go shot and nobody got stabbed. The Editor quietly closed the doors upon the burgeoning moon that swelled above the Veteran's Hall.

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 moonlit towers, 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, and its chainlink fence interstices until the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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


JULY 19, 2015


This week is an old shot done by Island-Lifer Tammy who has been problem-solving how to set-up a cat-proof feeder within view of her window.

There are a lot of songs out there featuring hummingbirds, from a little-known gem by Jimmy Page, Seals and Crofts, Jeff Tweedy, and even one by Katy Perry. Best one we have heard recently is by Tom McRae.


Parks and parking were big on the agendas this week. The Jean Sweeney Open Space preserve, which was to get $2 million from Tim Lewis Communities just got another $2 million from the California Dept. of Parks and Rec to help landscape the former Beltline railbed and add a playground, picnic areas, and trails. The 22 acre park extends from Sherman to Constitution Way.

The Main Street Ferry Terminal will likely get its auxiliary parking lot paved and expanded finally once a dog park in the vicinity gets moved. Funding for moving the dog park is still a pending matter, however. With all the construction on the Bay Bridge and general increase in driving hassles, many more people have been opting for the ferry access to the City as part of the daily commute. WETA has tried to engage AC Transit to reinstitute the 50 line that served the terminal, but AC Transit claimed that when the service was in place, nobody used it and in a remarkably unrelated statement, said WETA does not charge for parking at the terminal.

In 2009, when the 50 line last ran out there, the ferry carried 350 passengers a day on an hourly schedule. At present, the ferry carries 1,800 passengers a day on a 30 minute schedule.

Now we see that the EIR's preposterous claims of a net increase of one car during rush hour by 2035 are based on the assumption that people will come and go from the Island by boat and canoe.

The Letters to the Editor are packed with notes for and against the removal of the Harbor Bay Athletic Club. Basically Ron Cowan's group wants to move the club somewhere else so as to build more pricey homes on the land. Most people agree the Club could use a few renovations, so the pro-movers see an opportunity for someone else to pay for upgrades at a new location. The anti-movers see more development causing more congestion and why not renovate the existing structures in place. After all, you do not need a new location to swap out old treadmills for new ones, nor do you need another location to institute new programs like pilates, yoga, and spin classes.

Even the Island Gerbil has a couple letters about the Club. Both the Sun and the Gerbil have a couple rants as well, which always adds an entertainment quality to the page. One writer complained about "excessive shrieking" during women's tennis matches. Well, thanks for that; we had not known it was a problem and we will inform Serena Williams ASAP about the issue, although we are not sure what this has to do with the Island.

In another letter one writer compares the Island to the Titanic in a somewhat rubberized metaphor in that the unsafe streets lacking four-way stop signs and speed bumps at blind intersections are icebergs waiting to snatch our little home and sink it. Or something. Get those minivans blocking line of sight off the corners! Paint them red -- the corners, we mean! Better yet, ban all mini-vans and SUVs everywhere! Well, everyone has their opinions. Probably addressing specific streets and specific corners at Silly Hall will gain more traction than a general alarmist rant. Just sayin' . . .

Willie Stargell was born somewhere else, but went to school here and there are some who still have fond memories of the Pirates All Star baseball player. There will be a baseball monument dedication event Saturday, July 25th from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM at Alameda Landing. See Stargell for details.

Speaking of baseball, did not the Oakland A's royally spank the Twins Sunday afternoon? The resulting score of 14-1 looked more like one for another sport. The slight consolation to Minnesota is that the nine innings went by faster than a Jesse Chavez fastball. The pitcher for the Twins, though should have kept his frustration in check; trying to deliberately bean four A's batters around the 7th Inning is generally considered poor sportsmanship.


So anyway, the Summer heat rolled in to spike the temperatures all over the place just ahead of the remnants of the Mexican hurricane Dolores, which clouded up the skies a bit and led to some threats of thunderstorms around here. The weatherman first said all clear for the weekend, then revised that to 20% chance of thunder the following day, which worsened -- or bettered for those longing for rain -- to 30% mid-day while still everything held off, everything held up there in expectation as if the Heavens held its breath.

Which made with the heat for quite a lot of bad-tempered people. It really put a lot of people off, this sense of expectation lasting for so long, people who have no truck with equivocation of any kind. People used to getting things done, preferably by other people who can be controlled efficiently. If you have a like to rain then rain, dammit. Enough of this nonsense. Say your piece and get out. Crazy weather!

The Depuglias got into a fenderbender on Central Avenue with Mr. Cribbage. Tom Depuglia had no idea how it happened, but he was in the truck yelling at his fool brother for something stupid he did -- can't remember what it was about now -- and then when he turned his head there was this Mercedes SUV coming out of nowhere in a place it had no right to be and he swung the wheel one way while the fool in the SUV swung the other and there was this crunch and a moment of silence. Then the sound of a piece of something falling off of the SUV to the ground.

Thank god for solid American Ford construction of a truck.

Anyway Tom got out and it was Mr. Cribbage who stated flatly "You ran into me!"

"I beg to differ, dude!" Tom's brother, Tim, said, balling up his fists.

"Ignorant brute," said Mr. Cribbage, somewhat unwisely. "We wealthy gave you your jobs so that you could have the cash to buy things like your truck."

"We both is sole proprietor partnership," said Tom. We got no jobs and no bosses."

If the cops had not come around the corner things might have turned out different and the Depuglias would have sent Mr. Cribbage home with a black eye or something worse to remember.

The Postman has been making his daily rounds on time, but because of recent Security issues, some deliveries have been delayed. The Pope has been making some radical statements lately, and so Father Danyluk has been pacing about the Inbox for the Rectory, looking for missives from Rome that present yet another set of posers for his next sermon. The Church had moved from an Ultraconservative position to a more active, liberal one on many issues, which made the current times quite exciting and his debates with his friend and associate, the Lutheran Pastor Nyquist have been stirring his blood like it had not been stirred in years.

And once again, Drat!, the newsletter from the Holy See was late again.

Out on the high seas, working the fishing lanes, Pedro has the radio tuned to his favorite program, the Lutheran televangelist Pastor Rotschue Variety Hour. But the radio season had ended in some mysterious fashion unknown to Pedro, an humble fisherman, who knew nothing of syndication rights and seasonal contracts and the business of entertainment that roped in quite a bit more than most people consider "that's entertainment". So the frustrated Pedro was left with these canned reruns for the duration until the magic moment of the New Season began again.

He supposed the good pastor had reasons to take a vacation now and then after 40 years or so of working the airwaves, so it was in terms of a vacation that Pedro considered this silence. And there were those adorable girls, innocent, sweet, with sweet, sweet voices (returned from the can in rerun) that helped pass the time. One week it was Nellie. This week it was Sarah. And so the old boat's engines thrummed as Pedro worked the nets and Ferryboat provided the company with barks and yips as the silver catch thrashed upon the deck. Deftly Ferryboat caught a small albacore in his mouth and carried it to the hold to drop it down below. I'm helping!

Beneath the surface of the Estuary, the Iranian spy submarine El Chadoor drifted with engines stilled, the Captain gazing with equanimity at the Port with its glaring spotlights and motionless container cranes waiting for the daylight to awaken from machine dreams. Until the First Mate spoke to him.

"Captain, any word on just why we were not commanded to join the Fleet on maneuvers in the Atlantic?"

The Captain paused and thought carefully before answering. All of them now shared the same worries, the same anxieties that Teheran had forgotten them. Nearly two decades ago the El Chadoor had been sent to keep tabs on the activities at one of the largest container ports in the world, but time had passed. Periodic reports had been dutifully filed. Supplies continued at the set times and rendezvous locations, but there had been a singular lack of feedback. Crew rotations began to occur at longer and longer intervals. The rotation had grown now from six months steadily over time to two years. There was rumor the rotation would extend to five. The Captain himself had now been in command of this vessel for 18 years, with only brief vacations. He feared deep inside that his mission had fallen through the cracks of administrative bureaucracy and that the original admirals who had commissioned this project had retired, leaving behind few notes for their successors and this mission now passed administratively from inbox to inbox back at Central Command with no one having the slightest idea how to bring it to a close for the original intent had never been defined.

It had always been "Keep tabs on the Infidels. Take careful notes about everything." No one now knew what meant success. No one knew because of that, what meant failure. And nobody wanted to be left holding the bag if failure was determined as a result.

The Captain spoke and in doing so, turned the truth a little bit for he was a wise commander and had led for many years now. "It was said our mission is so important that we must participate here in these waters we know so well in support of the Revolutionary Government. I obtain daily reports in confirmation of this."

This last part was a bit of a fabrication, but they did say to remain on post and continue the mission. With their aging El Chadoor submarine running technology now that was well over twenty years old. This last part no one in Teheran mentioned, but it did concern the Captain a great deal, for every year, as each year passed, new vessels were built, new means to detect them invented. New technologies came into play. Could it be that now the vessel was so old it passed underneath the detection systems designed to locate far more sophisticated equipment?

"Of course it is true we have hope the recent treaty means peace shall result and not what seemed to be disastrous war. It remains to wait for what the American Congress shall do, but even so, there is hope two natural allies may unite against common enemies above the acrimony of petty national differences."

Somewhere in a far distant Scottish loch, an animal that was either a big catfish or an antediluvian relic from some prehistoric time surfaced and startled yet another photographing tourist before diving down into the stygian concealment of that ancient place.

The Captain gave the command to dive and the El Chadoor glided out of the estuary into the Bay and then out through the Golden Gate, running silent, running deep, hoping Peace would outwit all the national leaders.

In the Island-Life offices the Editor moved from desk to desk turning out desklamps, computer screens, deskfans, before returning to his glassed cubicle. Since all the rest of the office had gone dark, the effect was of being in a small room draped with sable curtains. The past few weeks the Editor had suffered dreams of being back in Vietnam, sloshing through rice paddies and swishing through green foliage paths erupting with green butterflies, feeling this sense of all the time something really bad was about to happen.

He stepped out onto the deck and looked at the unruly sky and sniffed the air. Earthquake weather they used to call it. He then stepped back inside.

At times he longed in vain for sweet sleep to dissolve the casket of cares and memories and the sense of dread. He wished to be like himself as he was in some halycon time before he consumed the forbidden fruit of knowledge. Knowledge that we all really are just meat. He wished he were like other people. But he was not and so he reached for the bottle and took a pill and headed for the bare mattress he could call his own. Running silent, running deep, he passed then under the Golden Gate to the ocean beyond.

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 moonlit towers, 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, and its chainlink fence interstices until the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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


JULY 12, 2015


This week we present a photo of lush summer burgeoning with dripping sap and sexiness. This is a Bird-of-paradise palm that suddenly erupted in someone's backyard after the recent rains.


We dared post a comment to Lauren Do's blog which featured a critique of Mayor Trish and a load of OTT comments. Here is our comment:

"Man, did this discussion go seriously Off Topic and off the rails to Oz! Thought this was about Trish Spencer’s effectiveness as Mayor and not about Presidential debates.

Well, we noted a few weeks ago in that the Mayor had a problem building consensus, and that this problem would have serious political fallout for her, and consequently for us who live here. We need someone to put the brakes on development so that each project can be analyzed rationally without any more nonsensical reports like the EIR, which John Knox White tried vaingloriously to defend. We also like JKW, even though we think he was seriously wrong about the EIR. We do like the Mayor and we think her Council is an improvement over Gilmore, but better than lousy destructive and being likable is not enough to earn our vote again.

And people, please stick to the topic without riding your favorite hobbyhorses and denigrating the other posters with snide comments. Everybody here has good reasons for their opinions and their feelings."

Here are the first responses to that comment:

“No wonder you feel stupid. You talk like a damn fool.”

Comment by jack — July 11, 2015 @ 6:34 PM

“You’re about as wise an old man as a tree stump.”

Comment by jack — July 11, 2015 @ 7:03 PM

Well, no wonder only idiots get into the comments area for these things. Rational people are scared off and discouraged by shrill ranting and red-faced denunciation. We certainly will not venture forth with any sort of reasoned comment in this forum again and we doubt anyone else of sense and sensibility will as well. Which leaves the field to galloping assholes.

So anyway, on to news about the Island.

The Council approved the Site A development project, which was part of the discussion on Lauren Do's blog about Spencer. This project has been pretty much a done deal since before Mayor Trish took office, given that the City would have faced massive lawsuits after Gilmore and Company had approved so much of this. That said, the project at least modified itself due to public input and the plan calls for $100 million in parks and infrastructure improvements, plus a bundle of cash towards rehabilitation of an existing 100,000 foot structure for light industrial use as well as $10 million toward a new ferry terminal. The project calls for 800 apartments, townhouses and condos as well as 600,000 square feet of commercial space. It is this commercial space that the EIR had relied upon for its job creation portion of its traffic analysis.

The seals at the current semi-submerged floating dock at the Point that is planned for removal due to construction of new WETA ferry maintenance facilities will be relocated by means of a new haul-out that will be located closer to Crown Memorial Beach. The old dock definitely will be demolished, but the big question is whether the notoriously shy harbor seals that frequent that area and Fisherman's wharf will use the new haul-out. Either way, progress is progress and the seals must go.

Where they go seems to be largely a function of what is happening generally with dislocation of habitat on the Island. It seems much of what is happening is a result of money drive, greed, and a destructive development mentality, as well as a sentiment that states effectively, "We don't care what happens to you. Go f--- off."


The City will embark upon a big road resurfacing campaign this month and the project will continue through the summer into September. Looks like the central Gold Coast will be affected, with Lincoln Street from Grand to Sherman and all cross streets affected. This means traffic is going to be gnarly in that area. Signage is supposed to be in place 72 hours in advance of affected streets. Please make a note of it.

The Mayor's July 4th Parade did happen and it did include horses that were not part of the Sheriff's department in at least one entry. They were not Percherons, but that is perfectly fine. Okay, enough of that.

Eleven people detained on 5150 this past week, which means it was relatively quiet, but we had a scad of burglaries and six public intoxication reports. Suspicious fire, probably due to the Angry Elf gang, and at least one cat bite report fill out the picture here. Somebody locate that nasty kitty and get that feline under control ASAP!


So anyway. We had a couple days of wharf sizzlers here to help quench the savage drought that is choking the Golden State. They were enough to ease the backyard gardens with our withered tomatoes subsisting on "gray water", but not enough to significantly ease the reservoirs. With the warmer than normal Bay ocean temps and Howard reporting from Mammoth on thunderstorms happening in the Sierra, we can say the effects of El Nino are pronounced enough that we can expect some real dockwallopers come the Fall.

July 12th is, as everyone should know, Orangemen's Day in the northern Counties where the Battle of the Boyne is commemorated. Not so much in the Republic, which has scant love for William of Orange and his Bloody Mary. In the Old Same Place Bar Padraic and Dawn make studious efforts to ignore the day, going so far as to forget to have a certain citrus fruit on hand for the muddled Manhattans.

"We'll use grapes and maraschinos and lemons instead. Nobody needs all that sugar in them," Padraic says.

This only poses a serious problem should someone want a tequila sunrise or a mimosa. He always suggests the patron should rather have a mojito or a julep.

Padraic, for all his Irish Republicanism, remains somewhat liberal on the matter of That Other Religion, which amazes Suzie, the bartender and he always speaks cordially and with respect to Pastor Nyquist whenever he drops in.

"Ah, the Lutherans are a better sort of Protestant, to be sure." Padraic says. "And with a name like his, he can't have much of the English in him."

"We are all children of God," Dawn said.

Indeed, words of the wise. Would that more people who practice their religion kept that fact in mind.

Most people on the Island trend toward the gentler side of tolerance with the general idea that if somebody was that much of an idiot to hold a foolish opinion, then the schools had failed and there was nothing to be done to improve his inbred ignorance. Harry Blitz, our only openly avowed skinhead fascist tried to hold a meeting of his National Front group. From where he had collected them, god only knows, for there are precious few of that sort around here and even our token Minister of Doom and Hate, Howard Camping, held all his meetings over in Oaktown near the airport in that area where strange gatherings of all kinds have been known to happen for years. The old pest finally passed away in 2013 and nobody misses him.

Maybe Blitz culled the remainders of that man's congregation and that of Reverend Rectumrod, but in any case the meeting did not go well. When Festus heard library resources were going to be employed to promote National Socialism and Lyndon Larouche, he got all his hamster pals together and they scampered into the Free Library, bearing miniature rainbow flags and they ran about the feet of the assembled, causing them great dismay and much grief by way of biting their ankles, those that did not wear jackboots. They jumped into their jodhpurs and they ran across the buffet and they ran up the mike to sing "The Internationale" in high pitched voices and so made of the planned White Power meeting a total fiasco with people fleeing from the place in a great rout.

Larry Larch was out delivering several service dogs to the Blogging Bayport headquarters -- where it seems his PPA services have come under high demand -- when he pulled up astonished to see a gaggle of brownshirts weeping and screaming as they ran from the Free Library to the sounds of Die Internationale as sung by a hundred Disney characters named Chip 'n Dale.

"Wach auf Verdammte dieser Errrrrrrrrdah!"

Larry's PPA is Pushy People Anonymous, an outfit that tries to revise obnoxious behavior by means of group therapy and service dogs trained to recognize arrogance and pushiness. When the dog senses the client getting rude, in line or the movie theater or a restaurant or a public forum, the animal bites them. It all goes by the theory of Aversive Conditioning. There is a tremendous amount of psychology behind it and it is all about retraining the neural pathways that produce bad behavior. The first step towards rehabilitation of a person manifesting bad behavior is acknowledgment of their problem before putting their fate into the hands of an Higher Power. The group therapy meetings can be quite emotional.

A large man wearing a plaid shirt stands up in front of everyone in the room and says, "Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Jack and I have a confession to make. I . . . am a jerk . . .".

Larry's NorCal chapter of the national PPA is very popular. There is a chapter in Beverly Hills next to the Betty White Clinic. Some of the Gabors have been clients, but none of the Kardashians have ever been enrolled. Yet.

Summer has begun on the Island and the Strand was thronged by sailboarders all dashing this way and that with their colorful parachutes like so many exotic birds. They all wear full bodysuits of rubber, not so much for the cold, but because the shallow mudflats breed a kind of water parasite, which is our version here of the blackfly that plagues other parts of the country. The thing burrows into the skin and then dies, for it is a kind of aqueous chigger that wants to burrow into fish for any kind of success. This thing is not so bright, for most people are not really fish, but nevertheless it causes a rage of an itching, stinging rash if people do not wash themselves well after getting wet with Bay water.

And so the day passed with summer traditions at the beach and the shadows grew long all along the seawall until the sun pulled down beyond the hills of distant Babylon in striations of gold, azure and vermilion, sending most of the beachgoers away to wherever beachgoers go after finishing up with going to the beach. The lights winked on one by one along the newly developed streets of San Bruno Mountain.

On a quietly cooling evening at the close of summer, the high fog began its age-old roll through the Golden Gate, creeping over the hills in battalions of Tolkein ghosts. Ms. Morales sat at her table preparing lesson plans for the coming year at Longfellow Middle School.

Officer O'Madhauen sat in his cruiser in that wide space on Sherman where it crosses Buena Vista beside the Old Cannery, sipping his Styrofoam coffee and watching for a yellow light dodger.

Up in the Greek temple, Joshua bedded down for the night next to the altar, after a humble meal and preparing to spirit out in the next week so as to board a plane for Venezuela, there to taste the bitter bread of exile and enforced expatriotism for the rest of his life for the crime of whistleblowing on the corrupt Security Service, which had practiced illegal music downloading, wiretapping, drug smuggling, and perverse consort with poodles. The moon, bella luna, stroked his brown head to sleep through the stained glass windows.

Outside and across the street, Mr. Strict sat in his SUV with his Colt .45 ready beside him, reading his Soldier of Fortune magazine and making notes on where to send money for eavesdropping equipment and the Special Survival Tool (with hook).

In the Old Same Place Bar, the clink of glasses tinkled with the splash of water behind the bar as Suzie performed the Sisyphian task of washing bar glassware and Denby trickled his guitar arpeggios next to the snug where Eugene planned his next trout expedition.

Down Snoffish Valley Road, the kids ran a few drag races point to point, but because the cops never came and nobody interesting showed up and it was all lame, they went to get Ben & Jerry's ice cream. So nobody crashed and nobody went to the hospital or to jail.

The Editor paused after doing what he had to do. He then went about the place turning off lights, shutting down machines left on. All the staffers had left for the night and he was left alone in the offices by himself. Earl would not come by to empty the trash until morning and tonight was Darlene's night off this time of month. He sat then in front of the computer monitor, doing what he had been doing each week for the past eighteen years, quite alone. Doing all for Company.

It was a quiet night on the island. People slept well, those who slept, and those who did not passed the time with equanimity. It was a quiet night and no one got stabbed and no one got shot.

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 moonlit towers, 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, and its chainlink fence interstices until the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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


JULY 5, 2015


This week we have a photo of an art-car project parked on Park Avenue behind the main drag. Should give teachers and harassed admin assistants an idea what to do with all those expended art supplies.

We like that the car model is a Mercedes no less.

Here is a close-up of the hood.



First item of business here is the Mayor's 39th annual July 4th Parade, which went off with scarcely a hitch or a ripple it was so well orchestrated and organized. In fact we were left with a sad sense of nostalgia for the wilder days of the parade when the quixotic and the unusual were characteristic of this "biggest small town parade in America." There were no 30 foot long iron dragons spitting fire and no strange Chinese sects with immense lotus blossoms, and no renegade floats inserting themselves illegally into the route. It was all quite tame and predictable and somewhat lacking in energy for all of that.

We have managed by a great deal of effort to turn ourselves into an average place with no special distinction other than being a small town with a parade that looks just like everyone else, with the Kiwanis and the Elks and Sons of Knute parading along with the local insurance company float and the local realtor float and the local Ministry of this and that following the usual high school baton twirlers and the Baptists sitting up there in their dour costumes on a flat-bed truck and the Catholic church sending a chaste assembly of trumpet players on the same.

This year everyone galloped through at break-neck pace with scarcely time enough for a photo as the few horses galloped and the entire thing that used to stretch from nine to four was entirely over and barricades removed by noon. In fact, checking out the line-up, we found precious few of the caballeros that used to prance down the street with gorgeous saddles and well-equipped vaqueros sporting marvelous mustaches. None of that this time. Instead we found entry after entry of bland businesses driving sedate sedans and convertibles. Why did this year feature the NRA, but not the Poet Laureate for the City for the first time in many years?

The Chinese School and the Lutherans with their high-stepping boot-girls were conspicuously absent this year, although we did get Trader Joes and Emo's Automotive Repair and Rico's Tires and Bayside Real Estate. No sign of the Filipino community. None of the Jewish Chabad. Same for the Islamic community. So we have to wonder if this parade really reflected in any seriousness the diverse nature of who we are.

It just seems that if you want to celebrate a rebellion, you may want to allow a piece of that in your parade. Just saying.

In other news we see with some smugness that a tempest is brewing regarding the latest "sister city" business with the Philippine town of Dumagurete. Well-intentioned folks appear to have gotten excited and traveled here to sign official documents without the official sanction of the Philippine governments.

You know, we have moved urgently and pleadingly for sister city status with a certain town in upstate Minnesota without effect. A town that although small, is nevertheless significant to many, a town that time has forgot, not unlike our own. A town that -- darn I need a third component to complete the grammar -- a town that contains colorful characters similar to our own, a town in which all the women are strong and all the men good looking and all the children above average. Which ought to sound familiar.

We are not saying anyone is foolish, but just that we offered an option about a place a tad better than some subtropical island where they fry up mosquitos big as birds to make fajitas.

Meanwhile a bunch of people who do not live here and do not want to, also want to put scads of more people on the island, without regard to traffic or quality of life here. How crazy is that?



So anyway, we had a few hot ones that reminded everybody that Summer has begun. Temps rocketed to triple digits briefly before settling beneath the high fog to more moderate weather. Other than a smattering of swamp coolers Island residences are singularly lacking in air conditioning. Seeking to escape the heat Eugene went down to the Strand where a lot of other folks had gone. The water there, however, had receded on the ebb tide leaving acres of steaming sand flats in front of the sizzling beach. As he walked back along the new disputed bicycle lanes toward the trees he passed Alvin, a senior at Encinal, wrestling with Marietta, also a senior at the same high school.

They had been playing soccer with friends on the green above the baseball diamond, but the heat had terminated that activity, sending most of the teens off to the park benches under the treebreak there, while a couple others went into the high stand of bunchgrass which emitted a great deal of hidden rustling and laughing after that, followed by silence, and possibly some laying supine on a blanket while staring up into the blue heavens.

Alvin, a letter athlete, wound up pinning Marietta, but only after experiencing some difficulty. "Loser has to kiss the winner wherever he says," said Alvin.

"So where?" Marietta asked.

Alvin whispered something in Marietta's ear and her face flushed and she hit him and broke free. They glared at one another face to face on their knees a moment. "Best two out of three!" said the girl. And then she launched herself at him, knocking the teen backwards.

Across from Washington Park a couple younger kids had put up a lemonade stand. Fifty cents a cup for freshly squeezed juice and ice. Eugene paid for his drink and took a swallow and gagged. "How much sugar you put in this?"

The one kid looked at his female companion and said, "O Betsy! We forgot the sugar!"

Cruising down 8th Kid Viper, the semipro boxer, piloted his red convertible to a berth near the hang-glider shed on the edge of the park. He got out and leaned against his car with mirrored sunglasses and beefy arms folded across his impressive chest, posing for the girls who looked at him and whispered to one another and giggled. The Viper smiled beneath his sunglasses.

"That lady's got no clothes on!"

Passing this scene went Percy Worthington Boughsplatt in his two-toned 1929 Mandeville-Brot coupe, spiffy as always in his dustcap and beige waistcoat with Madeline beside him, wearing as appropriate for the weather a fetching pillbox hat, a blue neck choker and tango shoes. As a member of the Berkeley Explicit Players, this completed the entirety of her ensemble and as Percy drove past them, Mrs. Cribbage clapped her hands over the eyes of her astonished husband, entirely scandalized, while little Tubby Tucker stood nearby and pointed with a chubby finger and laughed and laughed.

"That lady's got no clothes on!"

Madeline smiled and waved and they drove on.

Sunday the 39th Annual Mayor's Parade started out across from City Hall with a wail of sirens and lots of horn tooting. The usual politicians in open cars was followed by the mounted sheriffs and the Marine color guard. Waylon's kung fu academy went after that with the kids doing high kicks and spins while twirling their flashing swords. Borg and Brunhilde and Betty waved from the flatbed trailer hung with bunting and pinwheels as the Touch of Wonder Massage Parlor entry.

The various churches all had entries, carefully separated from one another by squads of horses so as to avoid religious disputation. Father Danyluk held a fishing rod on the float for Our Lady of Incessant Complaint while the altarboys dressed as fish circled the float on bicycles.

Pastor Nyquist lead the choir and band on the Emmanual Lutheran entry, while Pastor Freethought led her band on the Unitarian float dressed as Elvis. The Unitarians, of course, mostly sang rock and roll and Pete Seeger songs.

Jason Arrabiata sat on an immense plate of spaghetti that was made of ductwork and inflated exercise balls painted to look like meatballs.

It was Tom's idea to get a real deer

The Depuglia brothers smeared themselves with dirt and put leaves in their hair and built the facsimile of a stone-age camp on the back of their truck. It was Tom's idea to get a real deer and spit the carcass over a fake fire. It all looked very authentic, save for the cans of beer they pulled out of the "woodpile", but not many people could figure what it had to do with the Fourth of July and the deer began to attract flies after a few hours in the hot sun.

"PPA: Be nice and No Bite!"

Bear rode his 1962 panhead motorcycle with Susan perched on the back wearing a Viking helmet with horns followed by Larry Larch and his colleague Ms. Light as part of the Pushy People Anonymous float, which was decorated to look like a big schnauzer. Several service animals gamboled on the back of this under the sign which read, "PPA: Be nice and No Bite!" Larry founded PPA some years ago to resolve the high incidence of rude and obnoxious behavior in NorCal. The program features group therapy and a service dog that can sense arrogant selfishness. If the client pushes out of line, for example, the dog nips the person to enforce good behavior.

the night advanced on quiet cat feet

It was a grand parade and everyone who was anyone on the Island made at least a short appearance and fog rolled back in as the sun set and the traditional barrage of small explosives went off all over the Bay Area. Long about two AM the last firecrackers exploded in a series, followed by blessed silence and the night advanced on quiet cat feet, crept twice around the house, curled up and went to sleep and all was peaceful, making it a quiet night on the Island and nobody got shot and nobody 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 moonlit towers, 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, and its chainlink fence interstices until the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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






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