Island Life: July - December, 2016

Vol. 18 Weekly News, Reviews, Music and Satire Sunday 2016


Welcome to the second half of year 2016. The year's content is split into two parts to allow easier page loading for slower browsers. Each year tends to approach the equivalent of 380 typewritten pages.

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



DECEMBER 26, 2016


This week's image comes from distant Marin where a local knipsed this shy fellow peering from behind a tree in front of his house. Perhaps getting ready for Santa's midnight ride.


If you were wondering about the hubbub around 825 Taylor in the West End direction, let it be known that the 150 year old oak tree that used to grace the campus of Maya Lin Elementary was uprooted during the recent storm and now is no more. This Oak was the remainder of what had been an entire forest that spread its branches over the Island during pre-Spanish colonial days.

Hazmat hubbub in Berkeley around 7th Street on December 22nd was due to an Ammonia gas release from Bayer labs. Issue was quickly contained.

Murder, she said. You knew we could not slip by a year with things as they are and no murders on the Island. Our rate stands at about 1.33% per year, which means those left a quarter dead or more have months to go. Or we are losing a lot of midgets. Okay, all jokes aside, Donna Marie Qualls, 55, was ordered by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Larry Goodman to return to court on Jan. 5 to have a date scheduled for her trial after being charged with murder.

Qualls is accused of killing 73-year-old Emmanuel Emmett Christy at her apartment in the 700 block of Buena Vista Avenue in Alameda shortly before 10:20 a.m. on Dec. 3, 2015. Alameda police Detective Alex Keden testified that Qualls called 911 after the shooting and told a dispatcher, "I shot him. He's been hurting me and he told me to give him money."

Keden said when he went to Qualls' apartment a short time later, he found Christy lying on his right side on his bed with a gunshot wound to his left ear area. Christy was pronounced dead at the scene.

As in a lot of family disputes there is a lot of he said, she said, but this time it is all she said. Mostly, our Islanders travel over the bridges to get offed, but we cannot fault a fellow for dying in his bed, so to speak. As traffic worsens, we expect this routine will change the percentages significantly as murderers and victims find it more and more difficulte to get around and unable to afford the high rents.

California no longer has the official stamp of wierdness. Ms. J. Moos of CNN will have to look elsewhere for her coverage of the outre and the bizarre as this week comes a cropper with lunacy across the board in the Heartland.

A brief survey shows a woman in Clairsville, Ohio, really wanted some nachos. So much so, she put an ad on offering sex for $60 and some cheesy chips. She demanded them four times during one ill-fated meetup — with an undercover officer who promptly put her under arrest.

A New Jersey Police officer was under investigation for walloping a man dressed in a bunny suit who had arrived at the station to answer for an outstanding warrant. The bunny's brother caught the incident on video (of course), including the cop's delivery of at least two hearty slaps to the head. But he was so cuuuuuuute . . .

The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office (Florida) is looking for some help identifying an accused robber whose unique taste in disguises even has deputies scratching their heads trying to figure out if it’s a man or a woman.

According to the agency, the robbery in question took place at the Holiday Gas Station, 1937 U.S. 19, around 8:30 p.m. Dec. 14. A person dressed in a military-style pilot jump suit walked into the store and told the clerk to put up her hands. The robber, who also happened to have a beard drawn on with marker, then demanded cash, an email from the sheriff’s office said. The robber did not display a weapon or even imply there was one, the sheriff’s office noted.

While it’s often recommended people stop and smell the flowers, taking time out to pet cats can lead to arrest.

At least that was the case for a Boca Raton man last week who, in the middle of fleeing police, stopped by a home, asked for water and the proceeded to lay down and play with the homeowner’s cats.

All that happened after the man is accused of taking $2,000 out of a friend’s wallet following a night of partying, according to UPI. The man then crashed a Lexus into multiple vehicles, including a cop car and a fire hydrant, before he bailed into a residential area.

At that point, both the Boca Raton and Delray Beach police departments were on his tail.

The man walked up to Candace Noonan’s back sliding-glass door and let himself in, saying he was a landscaper working next door. He asked her for a glass of water and she obliged, First Coast News reported.

When she returned with the water, the man was lying down on the floor, playing with her cats.

“It was odd, very odd,” First Coast News quoted Noonan as saying.

When Noonan’s husband tried to question the man, he fled outside and tried to get away from police by diving into the Intracoastal Waterway.

The crew onboard a police boat landed the catch that resulted in an Aug. 28 trip to the Palm Beach County Jail.

Daniel Pinedo-Velapatino, 21, now faces a long list of charges, including burglary of an occupied dwelling, three counts of drug possession, three counts of assault, hit and run, and grand theft auto, among others.

The woman with the cats declined to press charges.

Alameda’s beloved Tap Dancing Christmas Trees were a part of the 90th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Thursday in New York City. The locally based dance troupe has joined the parade in years past and has always been well received.

This past week we had only six persons put on 3-day hold at Villa Fairmont, probably because all the crazy people stayed out of the rain. We saw one cat bite injury, one DOA of natural causes, a couple peeping Toms, one child cruelty issue, and quite a lot of petty thefts and burgluries, which tends to happen at this time of year. No assaults or strong arms this time around, thank heaven or His Noodliness.

That is just some of the news from around the country as we lumber, toddle and stumble to the end of a wildly inane and hair-pulling 2016.


So anyway, the Solstice passed in the penumbra of the last Supermoon of the most dolorous year of 2016, which saw DAESS stomping all over the people of the Middle East while committing heinous atrocities, the drift around the world toward right wing extremism and in this country a resurgence of the most vile, fascist tendencies this country has ever harbored, the deaths of some 25 or more brilliant lights of earth in music and the arts, the entire Arctic circle melting into the ocean and worse besides.

Nevertheless, there remain bright spots and of course the cosmos and the universe continue to revolve. Trump and his minions may have seized power, but the sun abides.

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

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

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

As Gaia turns her face toward the light, her ravined face gradually warms with measured steps, deep shadow covering the valleys of her eyes, all the world warming up under rains that will welcome the Spring and life's renewal, and everything is precisely where it needs to be right at this moment while Phoebus Apollo gallops in his low-rider at an angle to her repose, harder to see, longer by degrees in his daily journey, a sort of side-show to beat all side shows.

After the longest night of the year, the shortest day, the hours advance and second by second the light returns to the world. In the half-light of the Underworld Persephone looks up from her shattered pomegranate and waits for her time to return to her mother while above the world endures a cold season of frost upon the land.

The Annual Xmas pageant at The Church of Our Lady of Incessant Complaint went well, as the continued good relations between the Catholic parish and the Lutheran Parsonage continue such that talent is allowed to traverse minor boundaries and petty differences -- according to Reverend Nyquist, we all are worshipping at the same altar; it is just some people toy with more distractions than others while doing so.

Father Danyluk is of the mind that a few Lutherans in the choir always improve things, and a few stringers of sea bass from a successful fishing expedition is not so bad a tithe to pay so as to achieve harmony that is both spiritual and musical.

At Mr. Howitzer's the holiday party on Xmas eve went on into the early hours -- everyone was jovial about the recent elections and Dodd had to refill the punch bowl some four times until he was all out of fresh juice and mixer and wound up pouring in gallons of vodka from CVS and grapefruit juice to make up for it.

This did not matter so much and Mrs. Cribbage became quite wobbly on her high heels until she fell into the coi pond.

Because of the long school break, Ms. Morales actually caught up with her work for the semester and she and Mr. Sanchez had cookies and tea with brandy and they fell asleep together in the easy chair, Ms. Morales in his lap all curled up while the lights of the holiday tree blinked off and on.

Over at Marlene and Andre's, Martini and the crew had gone out to find a holiday tree more than a week ago and the best they could find was a sort of haphazard, lopsided, sickly and largely barren sort of thing that had been discarded from the lot located at the Presbyterian church. They had pulled their red flexible flyer wagon around to the Unitarian lot, but those trees all were potted plants like ficus and azalea, which did not sit well with the crew for its outlandishness.

So they came around to the lot and looked with longing at the tall trees that cost a fortune of many dollars. Each emptied out their pockets and all together the crew came up with something like twelve dollars and fifteen cents and there were no trees for sale which cost anywhere near that. So with tears in their eyes they turned away from the brightly lit tree lot filled with noble firs and douglas pines and the busy man running back and forth with the saw and the plastic tape and they turned to go when Jose noticed the scraggly fellow left by the dumpster, waiting to be cut up and tossed in.

Javier stood up the tree which had lost much of its foliage and they generally agreed that something could be done with it, allowing a great deal of padding and so this tree they loaded into the flexible flyer transport to be brought back to the Household.

There the tree was placed into the washbasin tree stand and bolstered with cinder blocks and soon draped with all sorts of orniments found around the house and in the garbage and by the end of the evening the Household enjoyed a proper holiday tree, good for all occasions and all faiths.

For it is not the tree that counts, but the love that went into its decoration that matters the most.

That magical night, the opossum who had dwelled for a time in the bole of a previous tree emerged from the fireplace to snarfle around the house.

From far across the water the train wail ululated in waves from the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown, 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.



DECEMBER 18, 2016


This week we provide a painting supplied by Carol, an artist living in the Gold Coast area.


Hear tell that the action folks are gathering to wish good-bye to Jim Oddie, who appears to have been an independent voice on Council. Naturally, anyone genuinely free of influence is in for a hard road, and Oddie was subject to severe mudslinging funded by deep-pocket interests. Across the board, nationally and locally, it does appear that the Bad Guys won this time.

Once again another bank was held up on Otis. And, grimly, we notch another murder on the Island with the shooting death of Antwaun Williams of Oakland. Posts on Facebook said that Williams had gone bowling at the AMF South Shore Lanes, 300 Park St. According to the posts, Williams may have been an innocent bystander caught up in a fight between others at the bowling alley.

The incident occurred in the bowling alley’s parking lot around 9 p.m. last Saturday, Nov. 20. Williams was transported to Highland Hospital in Oakland, where he later died, police said.

The Alameda Police Department received an assist from the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department whose deputies helped collect evidence at the scene. Police are investigating several cars seen leaving the scene after the shooting.

Including William’s murder last Saturday, Alameda has had 20 homicides in the last 15 years. The city averages 1.33 homicides a year. This does not include islanders who are murdered outside of city boundaries. Those number about 20 or more.


So anyway, after the recent dockwalloper here caused havoc in northern Marin and flooded a few streets here, a cold wind blew all the dark clouds away to leave frosty mornings. It was 30 or so down the peninsula and up in Marin it hovered in the valleys there around 31.

All of these numbers are in the plus digits above zero, so you folks up north can remain smug about it all. Still, for us coastal Californians this is pretty nippy, especially since most of us do not have insulation or central heating worth the name to warm up our rooms with their charming 14 foot high ceilings.

The seasonal break has begun for schools in the Bay Area and now parents everywhere have bouncing, energetic kids to handle when normally those kids would at least have homework to hold them in thrall. Andre took a walk with Little Adam looking for useful things left on the curb. Things that could be fixed up and sold again for a few dollars. They returned along the Strand, looking this time for driftwood and the elusive sand dollars, which had become smaller and smaller in recent years.

Once Andre had found sand dollars three inches in size and because they were so common he had lost them. Now, all you could find were the size of quarters.

The remains of the last Supermoon waned above as they returned. Andre commented "There's the Man in the Moon! He has been so clear lately."

"How did he get there," Little Adam said.

"He has always been there, looking down and with that mysterious face."

"O!" said Little Adam.

Back at the Household, they had bread soup to warm themselves up and they listened to the rats scurrying below the floorboards.

Because of the cold someone suggested they get Martini to go down there to see if he could fix the old heater unit.

"O I do not think that is such a good idea," Martini said. "Lets go out and steal an Xmas tree!"

condom wrappers, IUD's, sparkly C-rings, underwear

So a party was got together with mittens and scarves and the Flexible Flyer wagon and saws and Martini and Pahrump and Jose and Javier and a few others went in search of an holy tree and they found one in a lot that had been cast off and had lost most of its needles on one side and it was somewhat crooked and dirty but Martini thought it could be worked with and Pahrump felt it had soul so this sorry bedraggled thing that had been rejected was brought back to the Household and was soon ensconced in the Xmas washtub basin and decorated with all sorts of gaudy tinsel-like things, like condom wrappers, IUD's, sparkly C-rings, underwear, tinfoil, beer tabs, bottle tops, computer parts, and made-up ornaments and Filo crap. It did not look so horrible in the half light allowed in that bad abode and so even the cast offs of the world had their own cast off to celebrate the Solstice.

The usual crowd at The Old Same Place Bar was swelled by an influx of people come in to seek solace and companionship as Padraic turned on the TV above the bar to the channel covering the Electoral College events. The normally energetic bar was subdued as people nursed their Gaelic Coffees (so named because Padraic was certain no decent Irishman would sully the Water of Life with so many base ingredients as coffee, brown sugar and -- horrors! -- whipped cream.

Everyone was there to see if the Faithless Electors would rise up in rebellion, a rebellion reminiscent of that of 1776 and that there would be great protest and opera of all kinds with people shouting and history-making speeches and men dying on their swords out of honor, but they were sorely disappointed in the drama. The Electoral College possessed, collectively, no great honor and the candidate who had received far fewer votes than the opponent by some three million was appointed President.

Another appointed President. Not elected, but appointed.

That night the comet burned bright in the brief moment before its certain evaporation. But there in attendance were not only Papoon, the Slightly Mediocre Liberal Candidate, but also Babar, the Very Conservative Candidate who had actual and real ties to royalty, something for which the Conservatives have always salivated.

They were both sad and depressed and Babar said it best, "My friend, tonight, both of us and the Country are the losers here. Neither the reasonable nor the flippant have won anything. Instead we have gotten what some of my party have wished for all too much and without thinking about what it really meant."

"My slogan has always been, 'Not insane'," Papoon said. "It was the thing that made me different from all the other candidates. Lunacy has been chosen over me and not for any good reasons, and that is really depressing," Papoon added.

"Do you really think he will build a two thousand mile wall and make Mexico pay for it?" Babar said.

people will say how could you not have known

"Of course not," responded Papoon. "The wall will be far longer and higher than anything ever seen and built entirely within our own hearts." He paused. "And we will be the ones who will pay for it. In forty years time there will be another Man in The Glass Booth and another Nuremberg and people saying how could people who generated such civilized philosophy and intellect create such an evil and the fingers will point and people will say how could you not have known about the camps, the cattle trains, the extraordinary renditions, the extermination chambers?"

Both of them looked to the place where Old Schmidt used to sit. Someone had laid a wreath on his favorite barstool. His favorite expression had been, "I know nossink! Nossink! Nossingk!" So tragedy had descended to bad comedy. But Old Schmidt knew what was to happen; he had seen it take place before with a demagogue propelled by extremists seizing power and usurping the industry of any entire nation. He had tried to warn everybody, but now he was gone.

on to the Glory of the Flag's allegiance

Up on the frosty hill, Mr. Steif caressed his 1914 semiautomatic as he glared at the shut door to the Greek Orthodox temple where Wally's son, Joshua the whistleblower, had taken refuge. Soon, Mr. Steif, thought to himself, soon I will get a clear shot at him. The time is right now and I will be gone down the hill and vanish into the bureaucracy of paper and secrets, all my movements accounted for and alibis established and then it will be off to the next project in Russia. Soon, I will kill Joshua and we can move on to the Glory of the Flag's allegiance once again.

Soon, I will kill him.

Beneath the chilly waters of the Estuary the Captain of the El Chadoor observed all these things and wept.

The First Mate queried him and he responded that he wept for America.

"Why do you weep for this infidel country," asked the First Mate.

"Because I had hoped that they would help free us from the iron grip of the mullahs," said the Captain. "Now, they are just the same as everybody else."

"I will pretend I did not hear that," said the First Mate.

And so the El Chadoor pulled down its periscope and dove down and glided out through the Golden Gate to the open sea, running silent, running deep on the waning night of the last Supermoon of the year 2016.

In the window of Marlene and Andre's Household a garbage tree glittered and sparkled for all the world to see, giving cheer to any passing by and saying simply, "Here against all odds doth hope and peace abide." The frost gathered on the car windows all up and down the block and the moon, the serene moon, gazed down upon the former Empire with equanimity.

From far across the water the train wail ululated in waves from the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown, 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.



DECEMBER 11, 2016


A dockwalloper swept on through and left a brief moment of glory over Bungalow Court in the East End near Jackson Park.

There is a crack in everything; that is how the light gets in. At least according to poet Leonard Cohen.


In memory of the 36 artists who died in the recent Ghost Ship live/work space fire. The artists lived there because of the inhuman rental crisis that is destroying communities and businesses all over the Bay Area.

Cash Askew, 22, Oakland, Calif.
Jonathan Bernbaum, 34, Berkeley, Calif.
Matthew (Em) Bohlka, 33, Oakland, Calif.
Barrett Clark, 35, Oakland, Calif.
David Cline, 24, Oakland, Calif.
Micah Danemayer, 28, Oakland, Calif.
Billy Dixon, 35, Oakland, Calif.
Chelsea Dolan, 33, San Francisco, Calif.
Justin Fritz, 29, Berkeley, Calif. who lived her life as Riley Fritz
Alex Ghassan, 35, Oakland, Calif.
Nicolas Gomez-Hall, 25, Berkeley, Calif.
Michela Gregory, 20, South San Francisco, Calif.
Sara Hoda, 30, Walnut Creek, Calif.
Travis Hough, 35, Oakland, Calif.
Johnny Igaz, 34, Oakland, Calif.
Ara Jo, 29, Oakland, Calif.
Donna Kellogg, 32, Oakland, Calif.
Amanda Kershaw, 34, San Francisco, Calif.
Edmond Lapine, 34, Oakland, Calif.
Griffin Madden, 23, Berkeley, Calif.
Joseph Matlock, 36, Oakland, Calif.
Jason McCarty, 35, Oakland, Calif.
Draven McGill, 17, Dublin, Calif.
Jennifer Mendiola, 35, Oakland, Calif.
Jennifer Morris, 21, Foster City, Calif.
Vanessa Plotkin, 21, Lakewood, Calif.
Wolfgang Renner, 61, Oakland, Calif.
Hanna Ruax, 32, Helsinki, Finland
Benjamin Runnels, 32, Oakland, Calif.
Nicole Siegrist, 29, Oakland, Calif.
Michele Sylvan, 37, Oakland, Calif.
Jennifer Kiyomi Tanouye, 31, Oakland, Calif.
Alex Vega, 22, San Bruno, Calif.
Peter Wadsworth, 38, Oakland, Calif.
Nicholas Walrath, 31, Oakland, Calif.
Brandon Chase Wittenauer, 32, Hayward, Calif.


So anyway a dockwalloper moved in to saturate the place real good and then moved on, giving the impression that more was to come. The Meteorologists are saying a massive dockwalloper will smack into the Bay Area on Tuesday.

Somber was the mood everywhere. In the Old Same Place bar, Padraic, Dawn and Suzie wore black armbands for Old Schmidt who had suffered an heart attack in the bar a few nights ago.

he learned all his family had been executed

Old Schmidt had been a regular for many years, offering anecdotes and witticisms while smoking his pipe. He had been part of the little known and seldom reported German Resistance during the Third Reich, for his family had been Socialists who had fought against the early Nazi Brown Shirts in the streets before the Putsch had put Hitler in power. His father had sent him as a young boy out of the country before the final, failed assassination attempt. Friends had got him from France to Spain with the world entirely aflame. He made his way to Portugal over the mountains and from there eventually to America and Camp Richie in Maryland, where he learned all his family had been executed. He was good with his hands and always worked hard and so became by turns a carpenter, an electrician, a potter, a mechanic, a saxophone player, and a beatnik.

Propelled by rumors of wild and crazy and liberated people and the energy of Patterson New Jersey, whose namesake poem proved to be more exciting and beautiful than the actual article, he bummed Westward Ho! heading toward the rising sun of Chet Baker.

He liked San Francisco, with its unruly dockworkers and militant unionists, its working fishing fleets, its elbows on the table manners and its rough Democratic egalitarianism, and so he stayed through the end of the Beats into the Summer of Love, which he liked even better, for the pleasure of the company of Amber and Florence and Virginia and Ellie and Amy, Margaret, Yvonne, Sam, Lucy, Anna, Diane, and a couple of others whose names he had difficulty remembering amid the demonstrations, the rioting, the extraordinary music, the purple haze, the lava lamps, the smoking ganja, Black Power salute, the Panthers, the Vietnam War, the manifestoes, the joyous upheaval of it all.

Eventually, he and San Francisco changed. And Baghdad by the Bay, the City that Used to Know How, became by degrees, almost without notice, the City that Used Knowhow, callously and without heart or soul.

A City that operates on image . . . runs the risk of shattering.

A City that operates on image, instead of its Heart, like any mirror, runs the risk of shattering. Patty Hearst, then Jonestown, then Dan White, and far too many bodies to speak of and drugs ruining the high, Schmidt stood in the ruins of an apartment and looked to see how the high water mark of the Beats and the Sixties had sloshed up against the foundations of Fear and Loathing only to ebb away, leaving the line of where things had been up there on the walls where the words of the prophets had once announced the Revolution. Perhaps the same Revolution for which his own parents had once struggled and died.

He bent down to touch the cold neck of Mimi, one of the most beautiful women he had ever met, and saw she was dead. From that place he fled to the far reaches of the planet. To Mongolia, where he chatted with yaks. To Majorca. To Egypt, home of the Pyramids. To Baghdad, cradle of civilization. To China with its hanging mountains. To the Philippines and Bangkok and to the innumerable islands of Malaysia. To long-suffering and now healing Vietnam. To the Silk Road. To the tracks of the Orient Express. To the stupendous plazas of Stalingrad. To the ice mountains of Kamchatka.

And that girl, that girl you knew

Yet something always called him back and to the Bay Area he returned, as many do, looking to find something somehow lost here, some emotion, as if one could fish down in one's trousers or in a cupboard to locate that absent token from Playland by the Beach or Laughing Sal and bring it up again, shiny and new and startling again in one's palm. And that girl, that girl you knew would dance and swirl again in your arms.

But the City that Used Knowhow had tossed its own forget-me-nots into the garbage. The drinks were neon, the Embarcadero now a superb model of cleanliness, and busses loaded with tourists from places like DesMoins and South Park cruised down the Tenderloin, gawking and taking pictures of the colorful people. And even Herb Caen and the Bushman of Fisherman's Wharf had both died.

Now reduced in circumstances, he moved to the Island, which at that time was not such hot property, and possessed a few of its own charms. And so he had lived out his days, tinkering with mechanics, fixing the bikes of neighborhood kids, adjusting clocks for neighbors, puttering in a garden of fava beans, tomatoes, squash and roses.

That night, Suzie the barmaid who had never had enjoyed much luck in love herself, held Old Schmidt as they waited for the ambulance, and so the old man died in the arms of Suzi after his outburst concerning America's recent failure to keep its noble experiment going.

Old Schmidt had seen fascism. He had seen how it began with rural discontent and disinformation and misleading of simple folk with propaganda and how it led to violent struggle and pogroms and armed gangs, proceeding to seizure of the resources of an entire nation, which then are perverted in the name of hatred of otherness and foreigners and immigrants and irreligious to conduct concentration camps and use of registries to round up any sort of groups labeled as undesired.

This is how genocide begins. It starts entirely reasonably

That is how fascism takes root. This is how genocide begins. It starts entirely reasonably. We have this threat with which we must deal most severely. We must build a wall. We must round up the illegals and ship them via cattle cars somewhere. We must have a definitive, strong-armed, Final Solution.

One thing can be said: although Old Schmidt saw his worst nightmares return again, he did die in the arms of a beautiful girl.

Outside the bar's windows, beading with condensation, the cold winter air swept down the street. The air was laden with promise of more rain and possibly more relief of snow to the parched Sierra. So this air had a dual quality of hope for life as well as threat to those who humped along with their stolen shopping carts and their rags, seeking some shelter under a freeway overhang or church door. In the Johnson Center those tramps who had managed to secure bunks sat there before lights out and stared at one another, each wondering who among them would not survive another one to Spring. Winter means something different to these fellows.

At Marlene and Andre's Household, the shutters had been pulled tight and the drapes drawn and the company there settled in for what looked like a long, cold, wet one. Because of the obscene rental situation over fifteen people had clustered together in the one bedroom cottage held for lease by Marlene and Andre. Bunks had been nailed up in the hallway and Jose slept in the hall closet while Suan used the couch when she was not working the Crazy Horse Saloon and Occasional Quentin slept under the coffee table. Javier used a portion of the fireplace when he was not sleeping with one of his murderous lovers. He liked to choose lovers that were murderous, because of the excitement, but most people felt that this process had a limited lifetime, so to speak.

The nearly full, immense moon rose over the Bay in a sky made dramatic by dramatic, emotional clouds. The entire heavens had turned into a grand opera of striations and reefs of dense matter. But the moon resided majestic and serene and larger than ever before. Nations come and go. Governments collapse and crumble and in the desert a shattered monument stands on whose pedestal words have been writ that say, "Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!" Nothing beside remains. Round the decay of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare the lone and level sands stretch far away.

Down below in the crawlspace the rats scurry and hurry about the long dead heater assembly and vent, which was wired long ago by a nonunion electrician directly into the mains without a shunt, shutoff switch, fuse or solenoid. Every once in a great while a rat comes sniffing along and touches the wire and there is a minor explosion of sparks and smoke and squeak and the world is minus one more Norway rat.

Mr. Howitzer cannot be bothered by the trivialities of proper electrical supply that mainly serves tenant needs and wants. He has greater and larger and more personal things to consider in his daily routine. If the lights come on, then the electricity works and that is all he cares about. As for heat, let them wear sweaters and tough it out. Stiff upper lip and all that.

Another rat flares up in sparks and up above Tipitina says over the backgammon board, "What the heck was that!"

And Pahrump says he heard something as well, but nevermind. Just a rat.

From far across the water the train wail ululated in waves from the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown, 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.



DECEMBER 4, 2016


This week's image comes from Carol in the Gold Coast and is of a shot out through the 3rd floor landing balcony door. We picked this one, thinking of the Rolley Salley song "Killing the Blues" and also of lives lost recently in the art warehouse fire in Oaktown.


It should be no surprise that the format has suffered some changes and the reporting has been slim for the past year. We have not been able to cover events as often as we would like and the calendar has become defunct. And it is a strange sort of reality that says things like this venue -- variously termed over the past 20 years an e-zine or blog -- produce a singularly ephemeral effect on the world. Although readers may include journalists, celebrities, and even law enforcement officials, everything we write now and you may read -- or not -- will have probably no more lingering effect than a pebble tossed into a cataract, with a brief "klink!", followed by the white noise of everyday life.

Well,for what it is worth, let us say it anyway. Because it is the doing and the telling, not the effect, that is important.

Staff members have been threatened, subject to violence and harassment and advised by the local police to move. It became dangerous to appear in public or travel along habitual byways. This is because we offended a small-time Napoleon who lives on the Island and he has reacted with uncharitable anger and with malice. All jokes about the fictional Angry Elf Gang aside, there is a sad reality to this sort of thing and for some officials the Island has become No Country for Old Men.

When the police advise you to move, you do not argue and it is pointless to kick up a fuss. We are writers, artisans, teachers and musicians, not comic book heros or supermen and -- witness the recent national elections as well as Germany in 1932 -- sometimes the bad guys win. At least for the duration.

It may be years before the people who cause so much grief on the Island are brought to justice, and as in the case of things like Meyer Lansky -- who ordered the St. Valentines Day Massacre, may never ever be caught and tried successfully. One cannot rely on ultimate revenge or justice.

We will, however, not give up. We will not stop writing and we will continue to skewer pomposity, false sentiment, bad art, bad manners, bad politics, hubris, and everyone who misuses the Habit of Power. We will continue to labor tirelessly on behalf of those denied voice in public affairs, and those who could use a defense against cruelly, more powerful opponents. This is a war against humbuggery and facism, but we do not pick up firearms in this war, choosing instead to employ language, arts, music, humor and kindness.

Just as it is impossible to be truly great without magnaminity, a fact missing in most recent discussions about "greatness" -- whether greatness of country or your own "karass" -- we believe we must see our own face in the face of the Other, or surrender both greatness and humanity. Surrender, therefore, is not an option.


So anyway, now that the dust has settled and the smoke from the battlefield that was this year's Annual Thanksgiving Poodleshoot has cleared from the air and Sarah Palin has been sent back to her guarded Nebraska compound where GOP officials keep her safely doped up behind asbestos-line walls, things are returned to something similar to normal, or what passes for the New Norm on the Island.

Palin is kept locked up because the GOP is terribly concerned that there not be another loudmouth idiot spouting nonsense in the public sphere while cloaking themselves in the mantle of Ronald Reagan. One is enough already.

Paul Ryan is worried that somebody is going to march around with a clipboard and a checklist keeping tabs on all the ridiculous promises that got made during the elections. That poor man just wants to run the Country as if it were still sane. Ah innocence . . . .

So anyway again. Melody Minton wearily let down the drawbridge to allow traffic to pass once again and returned to her home to enjoy leftovers -- once again -- for Melody was charged, once again, with maintaining the bridge during the Holiday each year to prevent Rules violations and further bloodshed from the sometimes sanguine event.

In the Old Same Place Bar, Padraic offered up a toast.

"Here's to Emergency Room Staff, EMT's, nurses, bridge tenders, radio hosts, firemen in their firehouses and police in their cruisers made to work the 24x7 shift to cover the Holidays. First Responders get medals and plaques from time to time, but few think about these folk pushing the broom, virtual and real, every Holiday while most folks are noshing on pie and pudding. To them is the proffered paper plate covered with aluminum foil or saran wrap along with a plastic cup of non-alcoholic fizzy water, which sometimes goes the entire shift untouched. Because there is work to be done."

A few were mindful of what had recently happened in that place to Old Schmidt and the discussion began quietly among the tables of contacting kin and whether there would be a wake.

Recent rains left the Island somewhat dank with wet surfaces in some places, while bright sunshine has cut through to brighten up the long Alameda that is Central Avenue with its oaks still standing despite those who wish for their idea of sense to overwhelm beauty. In the distant hills, striations of heavy fog settle into the vales between the suddenly green hills, green after the recent rains, exhuberant and joyful, and mornings reveal magical kingdoms shrouded by unseen elvish power, waiting for the time to release.
In the hours before dawn, those hours the artisans, writers and First Responders know, a solitary planet burns with ferocity to show that She still abides despite all rumors to the contrary.

The day begins and while scattered cloud and bare tree bones announce the onset of the cold Season, bright sunshine gilds the damp walls and drys out the walkways.

At Marlene and Andre's Household all the members are scampering like hamsters to snag up seasonal work which comes around here more regularly than the changing of the leaves. UPS is hiring now and so is USPS. There are the warehouses that serve Macy's and the Big Box stores all looking for linemen and union forklift operators. For a while, life is good, or better than horrible, which is true most days of the week. Martini and Pahrump are reconditioning the old Flexible Flyer wagon that is the Household's chief transporter, so as to go fetch another somewhat questionably legal xmas tree.

Some people have expressed astonishment that such people as Marlene and Andre inhabit this Island of some 100,000 souls. Let it be known that Marlene and Andre and all of their household lived on the Island long before the sushi bars and the fantan restaurants and the hoity toity chalets and the presumptuous fern salons. They were here when the sailors roamed Webster and tattoo parlors gave the place some distinction and Roosters was not a fake imitation of a roadhouse.

The Islanders are still here, just like the original Ohlone are still here and not going to go away just so some effete palefinger visitors can enjoy their neon cocktails undisturbed by the idea of responsibility. This truth is just as true in Fairfax and Mill Valley as it is in Fremont.

Martini cobbled together a number of circuit boards destined for e-waste, wired them all together and strung them along the outside fence and porch and hooked up this assembly to house current. To give him credit he blew out the mains only twice before getting the thing to work through an old Lenovo power brick and and when it did, everyone came outside with their glasses and cups of 99 cent wine and gazed at the splendor of his LED accomplishment - the best holiday lights on the block, all blue and red and amber and blinking like insane monkeys.

So they stood there, the Household, and the fog rolled in to blanket the Bay and the foghorns sounded and people down the street started playing with their laser pointers, bouncing signals off of the clouds and signalling UFOs that some kind of intelligence remained here on earth, because for a lot of people things were seriously in doubt right about now.

Ms. Morales, the schoolteacher for Longfellow, looked out of her bedroom window and saw red rays darting up into the heavens, and she thought this is a fine thing. Finally, people are starting to try to signal something to God about what is going on down here. We really could use some help right about now as it looks like things are going to get a lot worse.

"What are you looking at?" Mr. Sanchez said. Mr. Sanchez had married Ms. Morales some three or four years ago -- it was hard to remember just when -- but he did possess some privileges still after their courtship. Such as the right to ask questions.

"People are trying to talk to god," Ms. Morales said.

"Is god giving any answer?" Mr. Sanchez said, who lost his first daughter long ago in a train accident in the Phillipines.

"I am not sure," Ms. Morales said.

"Did you expect an answer?" asked Mr. Sanchez. "You know God normally says nothing back."

"I am not sure," Ms. Morales said.

"There you go," Mr. Sanchez said. "It is all faith."

"It would be nice," said Ms. Morales. "If someone got an answer back."

"God says nothing back, but I told you so," said Mr. Sanchez.

From far across the water the faint sound of the train ululated in waves as the locomotive trundled from beneath the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown, 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 27, 2016


This fellow was photographed in Woodacre some miles north of here where the reporter indicated that an entire flock of turkeys travelled daily in front of her door, but that a week from Thanksgiving, the birds all seemed to disappear.


Save that it rained, all the news sucks and it is very likely that things will get worse. So let us go direct to the 'Shoot.



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.

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 Councilperson Izzy as soprano alla triste in the Misericordia segment and Councilperson Daysog as mezzo soprano mournful did a fair version of Iago's treacherous soliloquy, 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 en masque, performing the aria "The Hapless Burgermeister" with Councilperson Jim Oddie following in the role of Flip-Flop.

Frank Matarrese thoroughly nailed his role on Black Sabbath's "Land Pigs", but flubbed the Eroica segment which features the "Young Man Taking a Stand" soliloquy.

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. We almost were convinced Trish Spencer was really a City Mayor. Is her portion supposed to be farce or tragedy? We were confused the entire time."

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 East Bay Express got the dates wrong on its Calendar section, so they had no review.

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 Pushy Manager Organ were Carol Taylor and Rachel Linzer of St. Charles.

Brian King and Toshie of Park Avenue performed upon the Mendacious Dieben and Sneaky Pete while Little Nichtnutz executed the Shoplifter with Stolen Keys until the Tac Squad entered with fanfare and removed them for questioning.

Neal of St. Charles noodled on the Meyer Lansky Kazoo and stamped his tiny feet for percussion while The Henchmen crooned Barbershop Quartet style behind bars.

Paul Ryan (R) of Washington DC did a standup job upon the Howling Organ Stroker, while Barbara Boxer (D) wowed everyone with the Swan Song Flammable Pedalpushing Accordion with broken boards. This complemented Kristin SweetMarie Coomber (ENG) and Jessica McGowan-Vanderbeck (USA), 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.

Antimacassars and doilies were supplied, as usual, by James Hargis, who also performed the Effexor Waltz.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice performed a nice duet with Colin Powell entitled "What's 'A Matter Wich You All?"

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 home-made bazookas and modern RPG's. In short it was a jolly, fine beginning for a Poodleshoot with splendid weather.

This year, the White House representation was headed by John Podeski and Loretta Lynch. Donald Trump could not attend, although he did send as representatives David Duke, Rocky Suhayda, and Cabinet appointee Kim Jong-Un.

Vladimir Putin expressed his great disappointment in not being able to attend, however he repeated his admiration for the Electoral Appointee Mr. Trump, sending a number of Cossacks to represent for him before heading on to Miami to the SOA for Special Training in Information and Toenail Extraction.

Some expressed surprise at the International Flavor of the Poodleshoot this year, as well as its great popularity.

Indeed the Poodleshoot, now into its 18th 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 French -- 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 Koreans enjoy their kim chee with boshintang, which serves to infuriate French actresses who cannot abide the sauces.

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 which is quite touching. 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, gnoshing upon sensible pupusas and ceviche accompanied with Modelo.

People south of the border do not drink beer every day, but when they do . . . well, that is another story.

But you did not come here to read about them furriners and their furrin ways. You red-blooded Americuns came here to hear about to the most famous 18th august and most distintuished traditional Island Poodleshoot Bar-B-Que and Massacree in three part harmony amid these most distressing times in which a most ferocious hairpiece set upon a savage mouth of immensely loud proportions has seized the body politic in its teeth so as to worry and shake and punish the Democracy that used to be.

You came here to forget all that nonsense and engage in some red-blooded seriously rambunctious poodleshootin' and charcoal grilled Fifi dripping with savory Southern Dixie barbeque sauce.

Things began to get a bit wonky when Carlos Tunt IV, came around the corner at Wood Middle school and let loose a surprise blast from his modified Mossberg loaded with explosive-tipped slugs. He saw some motion and some fur and teeth and responded with gut reflex

"Pow! Pow! KerPow!"

There was a sort of flash and a smoking bundle of bloody fur shreds flew up and then down through the air, landing near the revolving playset.

Wally, an official Scorer, came over to view the kill and became immediately distraught.

"This aint no poodle!" said Wally.

Carlos begged to differ.

"It's got the breed right here on the tags," Wally said. "You gonna be fined, dude!"

"What the heck," said Carlos. "I saw motion on the field."

"Looks to be a terrier, dude!"

Several hunters ran past with a brace of bleeding Russian Blues strung up on a pole, all heading for the BBQ pit.

"I didn't mean nothin'," Carlos said.

"You just slaughtered somebody's pet; you oughta be ashamed! Look at this here mess that once was an honorable dog!"

"Aw mannnn!" Carlos said. "Give a feller a break for once."

"Carlos, you are a vile, disgusting, pernicious, deceitful, immoral, peripatetic scumbag," Wally said. " You are lower than a whorehouse toilet scrubber and worse character than an alt-Right Neo-Con which is about the same quality. And just wait until I get to listing your worse features."

"Wally, give me a break. My job don't pay, Jennie needs an operation, Rachel needs glasses. Lori needs a Bat Mitzvah. Bobby thinks he is really a girl and he wants a Bat Mitzvah too. I am about to lose my health coverage from Obamacare just when the intestinal polyps are overwhelming my esophagus and the car needs newer tires. I didn't mean to shoot the little feller. Now now, little guy . . .".

Carlos bent down to pet the lifeless carcass. "Really sorry about blowing yer snout off like that. What's yer name little feller?"
He turned over the tag still attached to the collar. "Weewee?"

"His name was Weewee?" asked Wally.

"His name was Weewee," said Carlos. "Says right here."


"Yeah. Weewee."

"Who the hell names their terrier Weewee?!" Walter said. "Throw him on the barbee and get your asshole putrid self out of my sight."

Over by Littlejohn Park a contingent of Big Property folks mixed it up with Common Renters in a melee that distracted from the main goings on as many of the Big Prop folks were also notorious poodle walkers. There was all sorts of nose-bashing, nasty name calling, rent control sorts of things and not a body was left unscarred by the apparatus of dismay and disrespect all around. Marie Kane was seen wielding a morning star all about her, causing real estate agents and clerks to flee in all directions from the deadly circle of her wrath as she strode wearing a breastplate of brass and a sturdy helm of horns and steel.

Further to the East, Batallions of Alt-Right NeoCons arose not unlike the demons arisen from the dragon's teeth sown by Jason in times of old. They were armed with megaphones and spiked clubs and water cannons and with them were the Mouth Trolls that were large lipped creatures with great mouths and gullets and teeth and tongues that wagged devilshly and they confronted the Bernies who had their organics and Truth.

But the Post-Truth Era had arrived.

And the noble Bernies were driven back and they fell in the marshes, swallowed up and the rest went into the mountains which became their homes, although their homes had been in the flatlands, valleys and farms, and in the mountains they continued their defiance against the Loud-Mouths, who initiated pogroms and purges and evil cattle cars trundling to smoking destinations as in the heathen days of old. Among them were raving Russian bears of immense size that slavered and ravened with gleaming teeth.

At Standing Rock drivers sicced ravenous poodles on human beings and the water cannons attempted to douse the homefires of the Lenapi, which in the oldest language means, The People.

And so it was that the Shoot became all of the Country and the Goddess wept to see her beloved Democracy so much abused by rude and unlovely hands.

All across the Island the bonfires of Evil lit the dancing, triumphant Trumpers with their poodles celebrating their great victories over the decent and the good.

Down by Crab Cove the Wiccans made a last desperate stand to call upon the Goddess in their hour of need. And the need of the Country, for Democracy wept. Not since 1864 had she wept such bitter tears, for her death was in the balance and life is desired by all.

On the Night of Shattered Stars, the night of mist and rain and cloud that divided the heavens, the Goddess extended her hand and those of false sentiment, the poodle walkers and the brown shirts and the false toupees were driven back and a time was allowed for a short while for the People to attend to their families and heal the wounded and help those in need.

Because if the Country is great, then great means taking care of its own. That has always been called 'Great heartedness'. Any country which cannot is not great at all. That country is a pitiful thing.

And from beneath the surface of the Estuary the periscope of El Chadoor observed all of these things. And the Captain of the Iranian spy submarine sent decades ago to spy upon the Port of Oaktown wondered, "Is this the end of the American Experiment of 400 years?"

From far across the water the faint sound of the train ululated in waves as the locomotive trundled from beneath the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown, 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 20, 2016


This week's headline photo comes from Tammy and is of a common sight in the colder climes where people set out feeders to help the local population get through the bleak midwinter. Tammy hails from Michigan where it does get cold indeed.


Upcoming shows and such include a concert by Mariah Parker's Indo Latin Jazz band at the new Freight and Salvage January 22 in the new year. Mariah is a multi-instrumentalist composer who will perform herself on the piano and the santur.

Dee Dee Bridgewater holds the nights before Thanksgiving at Yoshi's here on the warmer side of the Bay. Robert Cray will do 12/12 and 12/13 and for NYE we see the Stylistics ushering in the new year.

Locals Primus will occupy the Fox in Oakland for NYE, sailing you in on seas of cheese with maybe an elephant or two.

Tickets for Metallica at that venue on the 17th top $485, so do not expect to see us there.

Sweetwater in Marin continues to host live shows and Justin Townes Earle will show up 12/2

Steve Kimock and his band will hold forth from 12/30 through 12/31, but the NYE gig is sold out there.

We were hoping to check out Phil Lesh's Terrapin Crossroads, but the calendar for December is mostly blank, including NYE, which is generally bad business and discouraging.

Generally speaking, the Season looks bland and lackluster in this time of Post-Truth reality just before the storm of fascism hits. It is like everyone is collectively drawing artistic breadth and pulling back to take time with families before the effects of the hard storm coming begins. Not much out there save for that ridiculously priced Metallica gig and a too-large number of "tribute" bands.

In the political arena, everyone remains in a state of shock, even among Republicans, who surely and reasonably fear that a two-year radicalized President who represents the most reprehensible aspects of American bad character will lead to a nasty backlash, just as Bush caused only a short while ago.


So anyway. A set of dockwallopers pounded the marinas and rooftops, driving everyone indoors to shelter among friends and family. It has been a long, hard, vicious drought and now the sweet, blessed rain was pelting down with promise of more to come. All the shopping-cart ladies who steal from the recycling bins vanished from the streets, taking with them their stolen carts piled high with illicit bottles, leaving the ground to steam upwards in clouds between the black lamp posts with the violence of the downpour. Water sluiced along the curbs to cascade down the storm drains and collect in pools all over the Island pushing along all the detritus of Fall until everything is swept sparkling clean, taking along one last leaf left to drift, one last leaf, letting go.

Next week the Annual Island Poodleshoot and BBQ kicks off with its usual mayhem, but this time the organizers are exceptionally well prepared with Red Cross wagons, ambulances, fire extinguishers and even updated Poodleshoot rules.

Eugene has taken down his Anti-Poodle Blunderbuss, inherited from his father and started cleaning and polishing his gear, making sure the Flaying Knife is especially keen.

Mr. Terse and Mr. Spline, who very much enjoy killing things, especially if they may be helpless, cute, and intelligent to know what is happening to them, have also been preparing their personal armaments for a day they are sure shall be celebratory as well as sanguine on account of the recent elections.

In the basement of the Old Same Place Bar, Padraic and Dawn have been stirring the still mash, making barrels of Padraic's official Usc que bah, the Water of Life, and the pungent scent permeates the neighborhood for blocks in all directions.

Now DST has ended and the days start later and end earlier. Because of the weather, a sort of grey pall hangs overhead, lowers the sky. At the bus stops parents stand with a sometimes strained sense of needing to let go, watching the little ones climb aboard wearing their yellow boots.

Time will come for letting go. The Almeida clan all getting bigger with each passing year, handing down clothes officially as each year passes, one generation to the next, in a ceremony held on English Boxing Day, Gilberto giving his soccer shoes to Filiberto, who gave his pants to Alicia who handed down her nightshirt to Ana who passed on her shorts to Jorge who handed t-shirts to Yolanda who passed on her shift to Yvonne who allowed her apron to go to little Santiago who no longer was a baby any more.

Why Boxing Day? asked Mrs. Almeida, stirring the bacalhao. We are Portuguese-Americans.

"Why not Boxing Day?" said Pedro. "It is as good as any other day to say goodbye and let go of old things."

The Elder Mr. Larch moved slowly across the room to stand at the window, looking out at the wet pavement and the trees on Alameda Street. His son came for a visit and they talked. Maybe they talked about his son's business which was doing exceptionally well in these pushy times. Had something to do with curing pushy people.

Two tea cups remained on the linoleum table in the kitchen. He could not remember what they talked about. Sarah had always reminded him. She had sat right there with her hair done in a gray bun.

He had to pee and it was trouble. The light in the bathroom was crinoline white and the toilet was white.

He stood in the dining room and the picture of him wearing his uniform still stood on the piano. He and Sarah had played the piano together, with him doing the right hand and her doing the left and they added embellishments back when this old house had been packed full of life. That was after he had returned from France and survived D-Day and all that splashing through the shallow water with the machine guns going like mad. Explosions.

Sound. Toilet flush.

He stood in the foyer, but forgot for what he was going out. Never mind. Chestnut Grocery not the same since it changed hands.

His son said why don't you pickup that Spanish class at the Mastic again. See your old buds over there. But there were not so many of them alive any more. Why don't you get involved with politics? You used to like that stuff.

In the bedroom the photographs. Abu, his last dog, a terrier. Turned out to be the best dog to his surprise. Everyone should own a terrier. Devoted as hell and take no guff. Damn right.

Sarah at Heart's Desire Beach. All the urchins running with shovels.

His gold watch from the Agency on the dresser. Everybody had enjoyed the joke; gold watch for retirement as intentional cliche.

Pictures of the kids. Larry as a baby. Malphesia glowering beneath angry teenage bangs.

Picture of him with Paul when they had climbed Mount Whitney before the quota system got put into place.

Him planting a sequoia with the Park Service when he had did that.

Mr. Larch sat on the bed and watched how the lights from the neighbor's yard moved the shadows across the wall and thought about rivers he had crossed in his life.

He stood up painfully with aching joints and went out the back into the dank, cold yard with the wind stirring the bare branches of the box elder and he listened to the sounds of the night and felt the cold seeping in. A tattered skeleton left over from Halloween swung from a tree in the opposite yard. Cloud wrack passed overhead, revealing an handful of stars, gradually clearing until the night sky offered itself in all its stunning beauty like the body of a woman.

Time, he thought, to let go.

"Yoo hoo!" shouted a female voice from over the wall. "Mr. Larch, I just finished making an apple pie!"

"O for pete's sake!" said Mr. Larch with irritation.

"It's me! Lulu your neighbor! I just made some pie and it's hot!"

"I hate pie," said Mr. Larch.

"No you don't," said Lulu. "Everybody loves apple pie! And I have fresh ice cream from The Scoop! Come on over!"

Old damn busybody, thought Mr. Larch. But then he said, "What kind?"

"What kind what?"

"What kind of ice cream?"

"Raspberry!" said Lulu. "And rhubarb. It's from The Scoop on Drake!"

"Well all right then," said Mr. Larch. "I'll be over in a second." Given everything going on, now would be a good time for rhubarb pie, but he guessed he would settle for something a little different. For now.

In the Old Same Place Bar much of the talk was about the recent elections and what it all meant for Islanders. Spraypainted swastikas had appeared overnight on walls at the high school and Old Schmidt sat morose on his stool so that even his moustaches drooped and his pipe sagged. Suzie overpoured liberally so as get him to cheer up but nothing worked.

"Ja, I remember dose days," he said. "The Brown Shirts with their knifes and clubs, scaring people. Dreck! And now it all comes back again. And in America! Damals war der Fuhrer der 'Strongman' und der Trump genauso!"

He stood up. "Here in America where we come for freedom to get away from all that evil! My people fought against der Hitler; we tried to kill him and when we failed all of us died -- executed! Two thousand of us!" Old Schmidt pounded his cane on the wood floor.

"Easy, easy old man," Padraic said.

"I haf come to the end mit zis! I stand and fight Fascismus! America must rise up and resist tyranny! It has to! . . Or it dies! Ach . . . "!

Old Schmidt turned pale and clutched his chest. He began to fall backwards until Eugene jumped up to catch him in his big arms. Everyone jumped up and the room became pandemonium.

All in that room later said they felt the presence of The Adversary.

"He is having an heart attack," said Borg Rubbitsom of the massage parlor A Touch of Wonder. "Call 911!"

While Dawn called 911 the company laid out Old Schmidt on the floor. Suzie put her sweater under the man's head and knelt beside him holding his hand. Sweat beaded up on his forehead.

"You must resist, America! You must resist fuer die Kinder. Fuer die Zukunft. You must resist even if you fail; otherwise they will only remember you as ones who went along with it. For all of Time. History will not forget. Believe me, I know. . . ".

As the sirens wailed closer, Old Schmidt shuddered, coughed and breathed one time and then not again as Suzie continued to hold his hand. The sirens abruptly stopped outside and a whirlygig of lights streamed through the open door even as a shadowy form floated outwards across the threshold past the EMT's rushing in with their equipment, too late. The Adversary had left with his charge.

From far across the water the faint sound of the train ululated in waves as the locomotive trundled from beneath the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown, 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 13, 2016

[issued late due to illness]


This week we include an archival photo from our correspondant in Mexico City, a photo of an art project entitled Spirits of Guantanjuahao. Given the porosity between the worlds at this time and this time's strangeness, we think this image appropriate for the end of the Democracy experiment. An legion mourning what could have been.


Please note that the new, revised 2016 Poodleshoot rules have been posted. This time, they even have been spellchecked while sober! So enjoy. Everyone is invited.


So anyway it appears obvious that the bad guys won. There is no local news this evening because all local news has been wiped by a national disaster. The rent control measure M1 was defeated, as was the silly competing measure presented by the Big Property people.

Already across the country the American version of Brownshirts are marching with their fists raised. Improbably, Petaluma saw a contingent of folks waving Confederate flags while ignorantly threatening people who desicrate the American flag with charges of treason.

Not only did California remain part of the Union during the Civil War, but the Confederate flag is a symbol of the worst treason America ever experienced in that a group of men took up arms against the United States so as to seek its dissolution.

Meanwhile other parts of the country are seeing KKK rallies and similar scum shouting with loud triumph with some claiming the Great American Experiment is over now. Now, going forward, there will be no difference between this country and any other.

While Clinton may have been just as bad for the economy as Trump surely will be, and the likelihood of either one facing impeachment stands pretty much the same, the two of them represented very different aspects of America. Trump represents an older, deeply ingrained intolerant and mail-fisted, loudmouth, bully America which earned this country much of the animosity it faces today around the world. He is divisive and unlikely to hold a second term, or even finish the alloted four years due to his habitual criminality which the media deplorably allowed to sink beneath water he intentionally muddied with outrageous statements.

Clinton, for all her faults, was an inclusive progressive figure that allowed many different kinds of people to stand behind her. Obama is blamed for a lot of things, but being a modest man, has not trumpeted his accomplishments enough, and for all the antipathy of the Rust Belt, they forget that it was he who rescued the entire Auto Industry when it was on the point of collapse. He pretty much lifted the Nation from the worst Recession since 1939, turned around the deficit, and accomplished a great number of other things, even leaving out the Affordable Heathcare Act.

So just as in Germany of 1932, the majority stayed home from the polls on the first election day in the Spring, resulting in a failure of the goverment to form a unified majority coalition and producing a second election on November 6, which only served to destabilize the Republic -- because of that a terrible demigogue swept into power. Meanwhile the zealots and the bigots laugh and dance on the edge of the volcano even as the flames leap higher.


So anyway, a collosal supermoon rose this weekend to shine down with perfect equanimity upon the frost that clung to the tollgate, spiffy Victorians and the tumbleboard shacks, the open swards and the trees, the legless beggars and the sleek stepping from limosines. On Friday night old friends crept through the gates to take a swim in the still heated community pool as the waters rippled blue and silver from side to side.

There was a great celebratory party at Mr. Howitzer's as all the real estate magnates drove up in their European cars to hand the keys to Dodd, who handed them to the hired boy who parked the cars while Dodd saw to the food and drink and ran himself off his legs all night while the Hoity Toity misbehaved in joy at the defeat of the dreaded Rent Control Ordinance.

Up on the Hill, Mr. Steif celebrated quietly in his own way with a flask of Makers Mark in one hand and his Glock in the other, calm and confident it would not be long before he had Wally's son, the whistleblower Josua dead to rights.

At the Household of Marlene and Andre, Marlene doled out the evening ration of bread soup. They were collecting goods for the upcoming Thanksgiving feasts. Marlene and Jose would stand in the long line at the Food Bank to get free turkeys and trimmings. Pahrump and Martini and Javier would be doing banquets for the Elks, the Native Sons of the Golden West, and for the Eagles.

The nights had gone chill and now all the folks who slept outside during the summer had gathered to the old abode where Marlene and Andre kept house.

Out on the sealanes, Pedro motored his boat, El Borracho Perdido under the brilliant moon, trying to get out beyond the super swells so that he could lay down the lines. He listened to where his old favorite radio program featuring the Lutheran televanelist used to occupy the dial, but the old man had retired. Instead a group of kids carried on with something of the old format. They were good enough, but he missed that old man's stories about a mythical small town.

The new emcee sure was talented though. A bit too earnest at the moment, but time and radio will wear the edges off you. Both in the performer and in the listener. Soon, his boy Gilberto would be big enough to come along and he would appreciate this younger performers.

Pedro had to give himself pause. Gilberto had been old enough for a couple years. It was Filberto that would be old enough . . . mios dios! He had been old enough since fifteen already! How time flies. Time waits for no man but fruit flies all over -- that was a joke. You can laugh now.

Ferryboat just looked at him from the base of the wheelhouse corner.

Everybody's a critic. But the moon was large and beautiful over the magic ocean and music filled his senses.

Pedro tilted back his head and sang loudly,

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic 'til I'm gathered safely in
Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of loooooooooovvvvvvv . . . .

Tugboat began howling at this point and Pedro stopped.

"Would you please?" Pedro said.

On the mainland the moon shone down dispassionately on all. It shone on the frost bristling off the bridge stanchions at the entrance to the Island. It shone on all the winners and all the losers. It reflected in the windows of dark and silent downtown and shone on the stone bench monument To All My Dumb Friends. It danced on the rooftops of the renters and the landlords and it kissed the lips of sleeping lovers and scoundrels and children as it stole through the windowpanes all over the little American town which faced an uncertain future.

From far across the water the faint sound of the train ululated in waves 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, 2016




So anyway it is past 9pm here in the Golden State with things looking grim. The Island-life news offices are all chattering with typing and printing and phones ringing like mad.

At one point the Editor stepped out of his glass cubicle and surveyed the maniacal efforts of his staff to make sense of it all.

At the end of the night history will have been made, but then in 1932, a nasy little Austrian also made history by way of a putsch that seized control of a government. At that time nobody thought it amounted to much. A few years later and several millions dead, it proved to amount to a great deal.

Normally, the Editor looked out over the busy newsroom and felt heartened by the efforts of the Fourth Estate, excited by all the hubbub and flying paper, but this time he felt a world weariness about everything that was happening.

The clock ticked forward and the date came in and the reports got torn apart. This day would come with a new and terrible dawn, he felt afraid.

From far across the water the sound of the train ululated in waves 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 6, 2016


Had a lot of choices for headline photos this week, but really only one photo matters. This one comes from Tammy.

It is dreadful that the two opposing camps can agree only one dreadful fact, albeit for different reasons: that it is terrible that the country consists of such an high percentage of imbeciles.


Someone found and published a collection of German Nazi-era photographs that featured the homelife and domesticity of KZ Commandants with their adherents, Nazi bureaucrats with their families out on picnics, and banal family outings of Gestapo leaders. All the photos present a bland, middle-class sort of normalcy, save for the background knowledge of their subjects. In one photo, a line of wives of (KZ) concentration camp managers sit on a bank with empty bowls and spoons and mockingly disappointed expressions with the legend in German "No more blueberries!"

There is no news but News. In a few days a few Americans will determine the fate of the Country, and in far more draconian fashion than ever before. In addition to the Golden State's own 18 Propositions, we have the President and Senate and Congressional seats in contention and places like San Francisco are facing a whopping 25 additional measures on which to deliberate -- none of them trivial.

The big local front page item was about the Cessna pilot who made an emergency landing on the defunct Naval airstrip where no plane has landed since 1997. Otherwise the several small fires indicate the continued activities of the Angry Elf Gang while the fish tank club continues to meet to talk about what fish eat and do most of the day.

Yes the high school will continue to put on "The Princess Bride" and the Library will continue to celebrate its decades of service with worthwhile programs, and the quilting group will still meet to spin their yarns and the Poetry group will discuss Aristotle's aesthetics, but the truth is that after this election, this Country will never be the same again.

It has changed, in fact, already. Just the idea that half the country consists of imbeciles has become common knowledge.

Somewhere, some photographer will be lining up a group of women with empty dishware and cutlery, and the legend will be just as ghastly as it was in some other place long ago and someone will continue to argue persuasively that "extraordinary rendition" is not a problem, but part of the Solution. Like building a new Berlin Wall. Or causing several million people to disappear because of their ethnicity.


So anyway. 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 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.

After Denby struggled back to his rented room upstairs in the St. Charles Lunatic Asylum to recover from this year's Crossing during the last night of Los Dias de Los Muertos, Eugene Gallipagus took down the long box from the shelf and unpacked all the camo equipment and brushes and oils and everything that evoked the scent and memory of autumn.

Yes, that special season has come upon us when the air turns brisk with scents of apples and chimney smoke 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, leaping over babbling brook and rain-damp fallen tree, 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.

God! It is such a magical time! It is glorious America in Fall!

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.

What is the Annual PS&BBQ? Well, everyone is invited. It is a solidly American tradition and we love traditions around here.

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 dank and chill with the rains and the return of the heat-sapping fog. As the night eases along with a smooth stride, spinning its watchchain in a loping 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 of that bad abode. 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 snarfles and snuffs in the far corner away from the scurrying rats who occasionally fall victim to the poor electrics in the central heating core.

Hard by the Old Cannery, Officer O'Madhauen sits with a styrofoam cup filled with sour coffee, musing on the future and watching for red light runners. They will be coming to develop that Cannery and turn it into a warren for the Latte crowd, a slather of Yuppies scarfing raw fish and fancy neon colored drinks. None of them any like the kind that loaded munitions from those now desolate docks. Scarface Tom and Malone and James the Jerk. Guys he had hauled in fighting and cursing every step of the way when they got into the drink on Webster which sported garish strip bars and tattoo parlors back in the day. It was rougher when the Navy had been here.

Now here he was, slamming them down for stop signs and failed blinkers.

Just a couple more years to retire and he was out of all that. If the bottom had not dropped out a few years ago and he not gambled better, he would be occupying a lounge chair long since.

High in the Oaktown Hills, Mr. Steif also held a styrofoam cup of bad coffee while caressing the form of the modified pistol he kept on the seat, watching the doors of the Greek chapel across from the Mormon Temple where the whistleblower Joshua had supposedly holed up.

On Joshua, Mr. Steif had placed all the blame for Bengazi, for the failure of the Alaska pipeline, for the Global Warming concern, the supposed triumph of universal health care -- which Mr. Steif especially despised -- and the influx of immigrants tainting the American Race.

How Mr. Steif longed to kill Joshua, Wally's son. It was all due to the Sixties of course and all that terrible music. But when Il Duce, el Trump took over, he would make all of them dance on the end of a string to a different tune.

And as the star of Venus began to rise and outshine Mars, Mr. Steif dozed off in his black, armored SUV.

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.



OCTOBER 30, 2016


This week's image comes from Carol, an artist who lives in the Gold Coast. Normally she works in pen and watercolor but sometimes her eye wanders about to capture Island sites and sights. This one is of Crab Cove and has the appropriately moody feeling for the season.


By the time most of you read this, it will be all over for the screaming and the crying. The losers will be sitting at home with their families having an eggnog while perusing the hustings maps of disaster. The winners will be roistering in DC hottubs and ordering pizza and hookers by the dozen.

As for the Country, well, we generally always trend to the loser end of things at the end of the day, no matter whom you support.

The VBMs should all be in the mail if not arrived by now and Tuesday shall be a day of hollow victories when the brass ring comes round.

A brace of wharf sizzlers blew through town along with at least one dockwalloper, which ought to make some parched folks feel a little better. It is too little at the moment to turn back the drought but it is better than a kick in the teeth and we shall not complain.

We had some suspicious car fires, due no doubt to the Angry Elf Gang trying to put pressure on late payments, and a few power outages. But everything waits for the results after November 2, when we either approve rent control or delay approving rent control until the next time.

Remember this: there was blood on the stairs of City Hall due to this rental crisis matter, which simply will not go away, although some people would stop up their ears and clasp hands over their mouths. You can kill it this time, but it will just come right back. Nothing will be the same on the Island after that blood which was spilled, no matter what the election says.

Mayberry RFD's vision does not have space in its limited mythology for blood on the steps of City Hall.


So anyway, once again Denby lost the annual drawing of straws. It was a Bulwar-Lytton sort of night, dark and stormy and full of portent. The rain had been falling ever since the top of the page. Once again, for the 18th time, Denby had been selected to cross over to the Other Side.

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. "That would be a real coup for our newsroom."

Denby sighed. "Afraid I don't have the hoo-ya spirit right now."

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.

It had been raining intermittently heavily the past few days, and the pavement remained wet. He thought, with dismal feelings, this was a wretched detail to pursue. The only thing that could make it worse would be if it were raining.

As the clock struck midnight, a leaden assault of water drops pelted down, and Denby pulled up the collars of his raincoat and tucked under his impermeable rain hat.

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 wet 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 gray mist thrown up by the rain. 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.

As in years past, as he approached the Portal, the Voice bellowed to him from some echoing deep cavern.

"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 echoed in the darkness a second time, "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! 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. The rain had stopped but the sky above was filled with black cloud and boiling with red flashes of lightening and fire.

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.

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

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

Strange words in another language reverberated inside the skull: "si lunga tratta / di gente, ch'io non avrei mai creduto / che morte tanta n'avesse disfatta" echoing and echoing down long hallways of mirrors into eternity

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.

Several little girls, all between the ages of six and nine ran barefoot across the sands between them and vanished into the misty beyond.

"Well, here you are again," Penny said. "I see from recent events you are approaching closer to the Final Crossing. How is your health?"

"O, I have had a few hitches and such. Be seeing a doctor about things soon," he said.

Penny shaded her eyes as if seeing something inside something.

"That vomiting blood is no good you know," she said. "I always thought you would come here in some way more spectacular."

"There is still some time for that," Denby said. "Any idea who is going to become President of the United States?"

"Depends on the year you are talking about," Penny said. "I don't think it matters much to me, now, so why should I care?"

A little girl dressed in pinafores ran up and said "Boo!" before scampering off into the darkness.

"Some people think its important."

"O don't be so lugubrious!" Penny said laughing. "You are so geeky and inapt."

"Inept. I am told I am inept," Denby said. "And tone deaf."

"Whatever. Come along with me and meet some people!"

Down at the water's edge some people were preparing to go. His friend Michael Rubin had discovered only an hour before the obulus in his mouth and gone immediately down to the landing to wait for the Crossing. Others were holding up the golden coins they had found, the fee for the Passage.

"This seems a great exodus," Denby said.

"Yes, this year has been a year of unusual harvesting," Penny said. "How I long to go with them!"

From across the Strand came a parade of lights. They were the Lights of Earth.

First came The Greatest saying loudly "I float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. I wonder if they ever will remember me."

After him came several others all going down to the landing where the stone pier jutted out into the black river. A man came along with a skullcap and along with him was a man who bore the look of a survivor and they were talking to each other about serious things, matters of State and of entire Peoples.

Then followed a man wearing a large headress of eagle feathers and his clothes were buckskin and he held himself as a king.

There followed behind a number of writers, and then followed musicians who played their instruments as they descended to the quay.

A deep voice started singing:

Hearts of fire creates love desire
Take you high and higher to the world you belong
Hearts of fire creates love desire
High and higher to your place on the throne

The little girls who appeared out of the edge of the darkness laughed and danced in circles around him as he walked down to the stone quay.

After this royalty strode a thin White Duke. He stumbled in front of Denby and when he looked up Denby could see he had one green eye and one blue.

"You must be the man who fell to earth," Denby said and the man laughed as he arose.

"David, Any idea who is going to be the next President of the United States," Denby asked, figuring he might never get a chance to query such a person.

David paused for a moment, thinking. "I am afraid of Americans," he said and then walked on down to join the others.

Don't believe in yourself
Don't deceive with belief
Knowledge comes
with death's release

I'm not a prophet
or a stone age man
Just a mortal
with the potential of a superman
I'm living on
I'm tethered to the logic
of Homo Sapien
Can't take my eyes
from the great salvation
Of bullshit faith
If I don't explain what you ought to know
You can tell me all about it
On, the next Bardo
I'm sinking in the quicksand
of my thought
And I ain't got the power anymore

The stone quay was crowded now with former lives and from far across the black water came the glimmering of the wheels of fire that were the ferryman's eyes as he approached.

A lean man with wild hair and wire-rim glasses and who had a guitar strapped across his back. approached Denby.

"Hello Denby, said the man.

"Hello Paul," Denby said.

"We met only briefly once before," said Paul. "You ever get that poetry magazine together?"

"Well sort of. It lasted a while and then died away. Could have used that poem you read that day in the Haight."

"Ah well. Life is full of half finished sentences. If you see Chad, tell him I am sorry about the thing that happened with his girlfriend at the time."

"I guess its not serious enough a matter to keep you here any longer," Denby said. "Any hints as to the future for us is up top?"

Paul thought for a minute. "A Small Package Of Value Will Come To You Shortly," he said and grinned as he turned to descend, singing as he went.

A three girls in pinafores ran by barefoot and vanished just as suddenly into the mist.

"Everyone is leaving now," Penny said sadly. And the Ferryman's skiff approached the landing. The waiting souls handed over their obolus and stepped aboard and they were all singing in harmony.

Go take your sister then by the hand
Lead her away from this foreign land
Far away where we might laugh again
We are leaving, you don't need us

And it's a fair wind
Blowin' warm out of the south over my shoulder
Guess I'll set a course and go.

The souls had all loaded on board the skiff. So many. Hard to believe that death had undone so many. And yet the Ferryman stood there waiting, his eyes wheels of fire, when along the Strand came a man with black curly hair and wearing a purple robe that shimmered aloft behind him as he strode along.

Dig if you will the picture
Of you and I engaged in a kiss
The sweat of your body covers me
Can you my darling
Can you picture this?

Dream if you can a courtyard
An ocean of violets in bloom
Animals strike curious poses
They feel the heat
The heat between me and you

How can you just leave me standing?
Alone in a world that's so cold? (So cold)
Maybe I'm just too demanding
Maybe I'm just like my father too bold
Maybe you're just like my mother
She's never satisfied (She's never satisfied)
Why do we scream at each other
This is what it sounds like
When doves cry

The man paid his fee and took his place on the skiff with the others and the Ferryman turned his awful head with a great sweep of sparks and poled away from the stone pier.

Soon only Denby stood there on the shore with Penny, shimmering in white. "Someday I will cross to the other side. But now is not my time." She shrugged. "O well! We should dance after all this music! Come on!" Penny said, laughing. Lighting and thunder split the ragged clouds overhead.

"It is storming up there," Denby said.

"Silly! Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass. It is about learning to dance in the rain!"

Little girls came running out of the edges of the dark and they joined hands with Penny to dance around the still blazing campfire there.

"Who are these girls," Denby said.

"They are the Daughters of the Dust," said Penny. "They are the ones not yet and maybe never will be, or they were the possibilities never born. They are all yours; are they not delightful!

One lithesome girl of about ten ran up to Denby and stared up at him with big round blue eyes. "Papi!" she said, and Denby fell to his knees. But she was only vapor and quickly melted from his arms.

An iron bell began to sound and Penny broke away from her dancing.

"Time is up already," she said. "For now you cannot stay here. Looking at the way things are going, I am guessing you will be coming down soon enough. If not the Angry Elf's gang then your own health."

"Yeah, well, a lot of people thanked me for saying "fuck you" to that gangster's face."

Penny let out a peal of laughter. "Common sense was never your forte! They thanked you because they were too afraid to say it themselves. And for good reason!"

The iron bell clanged more insistently and the little girls danced in a circle, bare feet flashing across the sand.

"C'mon Denby. Time to go."

The two of them walked slowly up the slope towards the wall.

"I can't go any further," Penny said. "Nor can they unless released." She indicated the girls who had followed them.

"Penny, I should not have let you go," Denby said.

"O don't be so lugubrious! Silly man! Fling yourself into life while you can. Learn to dance, and above all," and here Penny sort of blushed and smiled. "Above all practice your singing. Practice a lot!"

She leaned forward to kiss him as he turned to face the Portal and he felt the wet slap of rain laden wind and suddenly he stood there all alone on the pavement with the rain pelting down and his face all wet and his chest tight as if bound by leather straps, shaking and sobbing.

He walked slowly back through the storm and let himself into the Island-Life offices where the Editor sat, waiting.

"You're wet," said the Editor.

"Sounds like a line from a rock musical," Denby said.

"So, any idea who wins the election?"

"Somehow it never came up," Denby said as he shrugged of his sodden coat and hat to hang them on the rack.

"Rather bad this time, I gather," the Editor said.

"You've been to Hell and back." Denby said. "You ought to know."

"Vietnam was a physical place long ago and it is all changed now," the Editor said as he brought out the scotch and glasses. "But yes, it was no picnic."

The two men sat there in the darkened offices, drinking seriously.

After a while, Denby said, "I just wonder how the hell am I supposed to learn how to dance with my leg all busted up the way it is."

The Editor stared at Denby. "You are a very weird fellow," he said.

"What other kind of person goes to that place year after year," Denby said.

The two remained silent after that, each thinking about the dead and the past and the future.

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from across the water where the skeletal gantries of the Port of Oaktown stood glowing with their ghastly spotlights as the infernal wail quavered across the spectral waves of the estuary, over the riprap embankments, over the haunted grasses of the Buena Vista flats, and over the twilight zone of the former Beltline railway; the sound of the train keened through the cracked brick of the defunct Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed and hellish chainlink fences as the spooky locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its mysterious journey to parts unknown and strange.

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



OCTOBER 23, 2016


This week the headline photo comes from Carol, an artist who lives on St. Charles Street in the Gold Coast.

Rather emblematic of the season.


This continues last week's elections coverage


Proposition 51 Education $9 billion in bonds for education and schools
Proposition 52 Healthcare Voter approval of changes to the hospital fee program
Proposition 53 Elections Projects that cost more than $2 billion
Proposition 54 Accountability Conditions under which legislative bills can be passed
Proposition 55 Taxes Personal income tax increases on incomes over $250,000
Proposition 56 Tobacco Increase the cigarette tax by $2.00 per pack
Proposition 57 Trials Felons convicted of non-violent crimes
Proposition 58 Education Bilingual education in public schools
Proposition 59 Campaign finance State's position on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission
Proposition 60 Movies Require the use of condoms in pornographic films
Proposition 61 Healthcare Prescription drug price regulations
Proposition 62 Death penalty Repeal the death penalty
Proposition 63 Firearms Background checks for ammunition purchases
Proposition 64 Marijuana Legalization of marijuana and hemp
Proposition 65 Environment Grocery and retail carry-out bags
Proposition 66 Death penalty Death penalty procedures
Proposition 67 Business reg Prohibition on plastic single-use carryout bags

Proposition 56 is the Tobacco tax proposal that requests $2.00 increase in taxes for the cancer-inducing drug.

A "yes" vote favors increasing the cigarette tax by $2.00 per pack, with equivalent increases on other tobacco products and electronic cigarettes.
A "no" vote opposes increasing the cigarette tax by $2.00 per pack, with equivalent increases on other tobacco products and electronic cigarettes.

Here is another Proposition which features substantial disinformation. The No people are Big Tobacco, unsurprisingly. Similar measures are on ballots in four other states.

To kibosh one lie: this initiative does not change how the 87 cent tobacco tax is allocated. Rather, the measure would add an additional $2.00 tax, bringing the total tobacco tax up the $2.87 per pack of cigarettes. It would increase the excise tax on other tobacco products equivalently. Proposition 56 would change the definition of "other tobacco products" in state law to include e-cigarettes.

Revenue from the $2.00 tax levied by Proposition 56 would be distributed through a four-step process:

Step 1: use new revenue to replace old revenue lost due to lower tobacco consumption resulting from tobacco tax increase.
Step 2: use next five percent of revenue to pay the costs of administering the tax.
Step 3: allocate $48 million to enforcing tobacco laws, $40 million to physician training to increase the number of primary care and emergency physicians in the state, $30 million towards preventing and treating dental diseases, and $400 thousand to the California State Auditor to audit funds from the new tax.
Step 4: allocate 82 percent of remaining funds towards services related to Medi-Cal, 11 percent of remaining funds towards tobacco-use prevention, 5 percent of remaining funds towards research into cancer, heart and lung diseases, and other tobacco-related diseases, and 2 percent of remaining funds towards school programs focusing on tobacco-use prevention and reduction

So people claiming it does not contribute to efforts to stop smoking are simply lying; in addition, a major deterrent to smoking shall be the effective increase in costs to maintaining the habit.

The tax never had anything to do with the schools or insurance companies. In fact we can find no reasonable objection to the Proposal.

We endorse Proposition 56. Vote yes.

Proposition 57: The California Parole for Non-Violent Criminals and Juvenile Court Trial Requirements Initiative, also known as Proposition 57, will be on the November 8, 2016, ballot in California as a combined initiated constitutional amendment and state statute.

A "yes" vote supports increasing parole and good behavior opportunities for felons convicted of nonviolent crimes and allowing judges, not prosecutors, to decide whether to try certain juveniles as adults in court.
A "no" vote opposes increasing parole and good behavior opportunities for felons convicted of nonviolent crimes and favors keeping the current system of having prosecutors decide whether to try certain juveniles as adults in court.

Proposition 58: Bilingual education in public schools

Vote yes against xenophobia.

Proposition 59: State's position on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission

This one is a no-brainer that strikes at the heart of the foolish, irresponsible, and badly legal conceit that a Corporation is the same as a Person, endowed with the same rights, same benefits, and same prerogatives as a legal citizen -- but without corresponding accountability.

You think the Death penalty or life sentences are okay? Well then. Put Enron to death and put Chevron behind bars for over 40 years, securing 100% of their income for the State. Vote yes on prop. 59.

Proposition 60: Require the use of condoms in pornographic films

This is stupid, weird, unenforceable and really a bad waste of taxpayer resources. What is going in the minds of the blue-haired people who pushed this forward? Vote no, if only for decency's sake.

Proposition 61: Prescription drug price regulations
A "yes" vote supports regulating drug prices by requiring state agencies to pay the same prices that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) pays for prescription drugs.
A "no" vote opposes this measure regulating drug prices by requiring state agencies to pay the same prices that the VA pays for prescription drugs.

This initiative was designed to restrict the amount that any state agency could pay for drugs, tying it to the price paid by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs—an organization that falls under certain state laws regarding drug price negotiations. Specifically, it would forbid state agencies to enter into any purchasing agreement with drug manufacturers unless the net cost of the drug is the same or less than that paid by the VA. The measure would apply in any case in which the state ultimately provides funding for the purchase of drugs, even if the drugs are not purchased directly by a government agency. The measure only applies to the purchasing of drugs by state agencies and does not apply to purchases made by individuals. Medicaid managed care programs would be exempt from drug price regulations required by Proposition 61

Prop 61 continues the groundswell of medical establishment reform that was partially initiated by the national Healthcare Affordability Act. It is a clearly needed set of controls on a Big Pharma industry that has for years been able to extort any amount of money from people, organizations and local governments at will. Obviously Big Pharma does not like this bill and so they have devoted multimillions to their campaign to defeat Prop 61.

The recent uproar about the price gouging over the EpiPen is one small example of how unregulated prescription pricing causes misery.

We say vote yes.

Proposition 62: Death penalty

A "yes" vote supports repealing the death penalty and making life without the possibility of parole the maximum punishment for murder.
A "no" vote opposes this measure repealing the death penalty.
There is another death penalty related measure, Proposition 66, that will appear on the November 8, 2016, ballot in California. If both measures pass, the one with the most "yes" votes would supersede the other.

The arguments pro and con have been rehashed for dozens of years, so we will not repeat most of that. We support repeal of this and other draconian penalties for the duration until inequities in the system are ironed out. It may be that the inequities will never be ironed out, but if that means a permanent moratorium on State sanctioned murder of innocent people, we are all in favor of that.

Are there some people so incorrigible, so evil, that no amount of rehab and reflection will change their mental state? Sure that is true. But killing them causes no remorse and no justice.

Let us repeat this fact: Killing an evil person who murdered somebody sweet and innocent is never ever going to bring that good person back alive. That is just a sad, inescapable fact. Vote yes.

Proposition 63: Background checks for ammunition purchases

A "yes" vote supports prohibiting the possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines and requiring certain individuals to pass a background check in order to purchase ammunition.
A "no" vote opposes this proposal to prohibit the possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines and require certain individuals to pass a background check in order to purchase ammunition.

In July 2016, California enacted legislation to regulate the sale of ammunition. The legislation requires individuals and businesses to obtain a one-year license from the California Department of Justice to sell ammunition. The legislation also requires sellers to conduct background checks of purchasers with the Department of Justice.

Proposition 63 would require individuals who wish to purchase ammunition to first obtain a permit. Dealers would be required to check this permit before selling ammunition. The measure would eliminate several exemptions to the large-capacity magazines ban and increase the penalty for possessing them. Proposition 63 would also enact a court process that attempts to ensure prohibited individuals do not continue to have firearms.

Proposition 47 of 2014 made stealing an item that is valued at less than $950 a misdemeanor. Therefore, stealing a gun valued at less than $950 is a misdemeanor. Proposition 63 would make stealing a gun, including one valued at less than $950, a felony punishable by up to three years in prison

Okay so here is a mix. Let us first say that some of us on staff own firearms and they were purchased for the purposes of deterring crime -- you can say what you think about that as being effective. Some of us on staff abhor guns and wish they were entirely banned -- you can say what you want about Amendments and Rights and stuff.

We think this Proposition is a mixed bag that contains some good stuff and some unworkable stuff. Unfortunately we do not think a one time background check is going to be effective. We actually do not think a continuously active background check per purchase will be effective either, as criminals and citizens will simply amass large armories of stealable, incendiary ammunition. It is a well-intentioned but bad idea. Citizens stacking large crates of ammo in their closets and basement just means bad news for firemen and other first responders answering an emergency call.

Eliminating large-capacity magazines will have some minor effect, but unfortunately would not have had the slightest effect on most of the mass-killings recently publicized. In looking at several gun battles in Oaktown we found that thugs supplied with 50 round magazines managed to hit not one single live person during their exchanges. Fortunately. Why? Because nutcases with 50 rounds don't bother to aim, while cops are trained weekly, and sometimes daily, to group their shots effectively. It is as simple as that.

We ARE in favor of increasing penalties for stealing weapons. Actually, we would like to send those people to Saudi Arabia where they know how to handle thieves, but that is a minor portion of this Proposition, which should have been three Propositions instead of one.

We think this Proposition, which sounds good, is really too good to be true. People can own all the guns they want, just make bullets difficult to come by. Actually a $2 cost per round might be more of a deterrent than a background check, come to think of it.

We advise voting No on Prop 63.

Proposition 64: Legalization of marijuana and hemp

A "yes" vote supports legalizing recreational marijuana for persons aged 21 years or older under state law and establishing certain sales and cultivation taxes.
A "no" vote opposes this proposal to legalize recreational marijuana under state law and to establish certain sales and cultivation taxes.

Proposition 64 would allow adults aged 21 years or older to possess and use marijuana for recreational purposes. The measure would create two new taxes, one levied on cultivation and the other on retail price. Revenue from the taxes would be spent on drug research, treatment, and enforcement, health and safety grants addressing marijuana, youth programs, and preventing environmental damage resulting from illegal marijuana production

O for Pete's sake people, it is the year 2016. EVERYBODY has smoked pot, including prosecutors, judges and cops. States that have legalized Pot have enjoyed windfalls of economic benefits. Just vote yes, along with several other states which have similar measures on their own ballots for this election.

The long-form ballot summary is as follows:
Legalizes marijuana under state law, for use by adults 21 or older.
Designates state agencies to license and regulate marijuana industry.
Imposes state excise tax of 15% on retail sales of marijuana, and state cultivation taxes on marijuana of $9.25 per ounce of flowers and $2.75 per ounce of leaves.
Exempts medical marijuana from some taxation.
Establishes packaging, labeling, advertising, and marketing standards and restrictions for marijuana products.
Prohibits marketing and advertising marijuana directly to minors.
Allows local regulation and taxation of marijuana.
Authorizes resentencing and destruction of records for prior marijuana convictions

What is attractive about this version of the Pro-pot Prop as opposed to other years, is that the bulk of the income proceeds derived from the 15% tax will be devoted to studying the effects of the new law and to establishing regulation methods to be employed by CHP and other agencies to prevent damage caused by supposedly greater numbers of people walking and driving around stoned.

We endorse this Proposition 64. Vote yes.

Propositions 65 and 67: Grocery and retail carry-out bags

A "yes" vote (Prop 65) is a vote in favor of redirecting money collected from the sale of carry-out bags by grocery or other retail stores to a special fund administered by the Wildlife Conservation Board.
A "no" vote (Prop 65) is a vote against redirecting money collected from the sale of carry-out bags by grocery or other retail stores to a special fund administered by the Wildlife Conservation Board.

Another measure relating to grocery bag consumption, Proposition 67, will appear on the November 8, 2016, ballot in California. Approval of the measure would uphold the ban on plastic grocery bags and allocate revenue from state-mandated charges on bags to grocers for covering costs and education. If both are approved, but Proposition 67 receives more "yes" votes, this allocation provision would supersede Proposition 65's allocation provision.

In 2014, the California Legislature approved and the California Governor signed Senate Bill 270 (SB 270). The bill is on the ballot as Proposition 67 due to the successful veto referendum signature drive by the American Progressive Bag Alliance (APBA). APBA is also the sponsor of Proposition 65. Proposition 67 would mandate stores to charge 10 cents for recycled, compostable and reusable grocery bags. The charge would be spent on covering costs and educating consumers.

These two items are enough to give any thinking person a headache. Add to the mix the information that all carryout bags, regardless of where the revenue goes, are loss-leaders for the stores -- they never make any money on any bags, plastic or paper. It costs stores an average of .13 - .15 cents per bag, so the concept of the stores raking in greedy profits is silly. It remains to be said where the money goes when stores do charge something for a bag.

in comparison:
Proposition 67: Plastic bag ban
A "yes" vote is a vote in favor of upholding the contested legislation banning plastic bags that was enacted by the California State Legislature under the name Senate Bill 270.
A "no" vote is a vote in favor of overturning Senate Bill 270.

So essentially, Prop 65 redirects bag money to a fund. Prop 67 bans plastic bags, and when paper bags are sold, allows the stores to keep the amounts charged. Although California would become the first state to ban the sale of plastic single-use bags, in 2015, Hawaii entered into de facto ban on non-biodegradable bags because all of its counties banned the bags. Washington, D.C. prohibited non-recyclable plastic carryout bags in 2009.

Hopefully this sorts things out. We trend to support Prop 67 and look a bit awry at Prop 65, largely because of how we see the funding flowing.

Proposition 66: Death Penalty revisions

A "yes" vote supports changing the procedures governing state court appeals and petitions that challenge death penalty convictions and sentences.
A "no" vote opposes changing the procedures governing state court appeals and petitions that challenge death penalty convictions and sentences, and would keep the current system for governing death penalty appeals and petitions.

Proposition 66 is designed to shorten the time that legal challenges to death sentences take to a maximum of five years.
There is another death penalty related measure, Proposition 62, that will appear on the November 8, 2016, ballot in California. If both measures pass, the one with the most "yes" votes would supersede the other.

As of 2016, California was one of 30 states in which the death penalty was legal.[3]

In 1972, the California Supreme Court ruled the state’s capital punishment system unconstitutional. However, in 1978, Proposition 7 reinstated the death penalty. Voters rejected an initiative to ban capital punishment, titled Proposition 34, in 2012.
Initiative design

Instead of the California Supreme Court, Proposition 66 would put trial courts in charge of initial petitions, known as habeas corpus petitions, challenging death penalty convictions. The judge who handled the original murder case would hear the habeas corpus petition, unless good cause can be shown for another judge or court. Petitions would be appealed to California Courts of Appeal, and then finally to the California Supreme Court. The measure would require the habeas corpus petition process and appeals to be completed within five years after the death sentence. Trial courts would replace the Supreme Court as the judicial body that appoints attorneys for habeas corpus petitions. Inmates on death row would be required to work, subject to state regulations, under Proposition 66. The measure would require 70 percent of earnings from work be allocated to debts owed to the inmate's victims. The state would be allowed to house death row inmates in any prison, rather than the one death row prison for men and one death row prison for women.

Californians to Mend, Not End, the Death Penalty, also known as No on Prop 62, Yes on Prop 66, is leading the campaign in support of Proposition 66. We agree the Death Penalty needs mending -- just that Prop 62 does not do the essential things that are needed to resolved the inequities inherent in the system. The best parts of the Prop are already in Prop 62. We just do not think shortening the path to executing a bad decision is the way to go. Sure, taking 20 years or lengths of time the criminal dies of old age before execution date is something of an absurdity, but perhaps it is that way because it is recognized how flawed the decision process happens to be to start with.

One thing we note that others have not: it is generally a bad idea to go mucking with legal processes so as to save money and become "more efficient." Until "guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt" becomes a reality, tampering with the execution process, which occurs at the end of the entire dog and pony show, is not going to "fix" anything, other than make some hardcore right wingers smug about "getting tough on crime."

We say vote no, but vote no with a clear head.



Measure A1 - ENDORSE YES
Alameda County Affordable Housing Bond to provide affordable local housing and prevent displacement of vulnerable populations, including low- and moderate-income households, veterans, seniors, and persons with disabilities.

The measure will require a two-thirds majority countywide to gain approval. In response to what is referred to as a severe shortage of housing that is affordable for lower income households in the county, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors voted to place the $580 million general obligation bond on the ballot.

The cost to property owners would be $14 per $100,000 assessed value.

The $580 million would be divided into two pots. In the first, $120 million would be used to fund homeowner programs, such as down payment assistance loans, and home preservation loans. To allow access for middle income homebuyers looking to purchase in high costs areas such as the Tri-Valley, this program would be available for households with incomes up to 150% of Area Median Income.

Median income in Alameda County for a family of four is $97,500, for an individual, $68,300.

The remaining $460 million would go to a rental housing development fund to support new construction and preservation of existing affordable units targeted to low income residents. It would include an innovation and opportunity fund that could be used for activities such as land and market rate unit acquisition.

No serious opposition has been expressed to this measure by anyone.

Maintains the existing Alameda Unified School District parcel tax for seven years, without increase, to maintain high-quality Alameda schools by protecting small class sizes, core academic programs, neighborhood schools, and retaining excellent teachers.

A similar measure with the same name narrowly lost in 2012. Well, it comes down to the question, do you want good schools or not? If you do, you must pay for them. End of story.

Measure C1 - ENDORSE YES
Extends the existing Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit) parcel tax at current levels to preserve essential local public transportation services, including those for youth, commuters, seniors, and people with disabilities, while keeping fares reasonable.

BART bond to keep BART safe, prevent accidents/breakdowns/delays, relieve overcrowding, reduce traffic congestion/pollution, improve earthquake safety and access for seniors/disabled by replacing and upgrading 90 miles of severely worn tracks, tunnels damaged by water intrusion, 44-year old train control systems, and other deteriorating infrastructure.


The City has three measures on the November 8, 2016 Election, as well as the following offices: Two Councilmembers, City Auditor, City Treasurer.

Running for Office:

City Council

*Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft, councilmember, Alameda
*Tony Daysog, councilmember, Alameda
Jennifer Roloff, businessperson/parent
Lena Tam, former councilmember, Alameda
Malia Vella, educator/attorney

Well, of these we suppose Marilyn we can endorse. Tony we sort of endorse if only because Roloff comes off as a nitwit. Lena Tam has been around and is capable and we endorse her whole heartedly over Tony and Jennifer. We know nothing of Malia Vella other than she sounds like she does her homework and applies herself intelligently, which Jennifer Roloff does not. We would pick Malia over Tony who has shown a bit of toadyism when it came to rent control.

City Auditor

*Kevin Kearney, city auditor, Alameda- ENDORSE
Mike McMahon, former school board member, Alameda

City Treasurer

Jeff Bratzler, financial planner
*Kevin Kennedy, city treasurer, Alameda - ENDORSE

School Board (Choose 3)

Ardella Dailey, college professor
*Gray Harris, appointed board member, Alameda
Matt Hettich, flight attendant/parent
Anne McKereghan, businessperson
Dennis Popalardo, attorney/parent
Jennifer Williams, attorney/parent

Measure K1: Utility Modernization Act- ENDORSE YES

The Utility Modernization Act (UMA) updates the existing Utility Users Tax (UUT) and confirms the annual transfer of funds from Alameda Municipal Power (AMP) to the City, which will protect core city services without raising taxes. The UMA will allow Alameda to maintain its high quality of life, including funding for police, fire and emergency response, street and sidewalk repairs, park maintenance and library services.

Measure L1: Rent Stabilization Act - Vote NO

After working with tenants and property owners for months, in November 2015 the Alameda City Council adopted a temporary moratorium on rent increases over 8% and on any action to terminate a tenancy except for "just cause". In March 2016 the City Council adopted the Rent Review, Rent Stabilization and Limitations on Evictions Ordinance, to stabilize rents and limit the grounds for terminating tenancies. In August, the City Council submitted to voters a confirmation of this ordinance, which is on the November ballot as Measure L1.

People in favor say, "let the system prove itself." It has proven itself to be unworkable. The evidence is clear that even when L1 measures have been in place, the landlords ignore them because this thing has no teeth. It does not work, it will not work, things continue to decay. We urge you to vote NO.

Measure M1: Charter Amendment to Establish Rent Control, a Rent Control Board and Regulate Termination of Tenancies -VOTE YES

Signatures gathered for a petition by the Alameda Renters Coalition were verified by the Alameda County Registrar of Voters and were more than what was required to place this measure on the ballot.

If you have not been asleep since blood was spilled on the steps of City Hall during a Council Meeting on the Rental Crisis you know what this is about. It is about the people being very angry at what has been going on with the destruction of our communities by outside landholders. The most attractive provisions of this measure involve limiting the hell-for-leather breakneck speed of causeless evictions. This version of rent control is not perfect, but it is a step in the right direction and it does provide some measures of protection for the small landholder looking to supplement income which we might not see again in succeeding measures should this one fail.

That is 18 State Propositions, four County Measures, three City Measures, several City offices and that is just Alameda this time around.

Then there is the President, Senator and re-electing our reps, who happen to be, luckily, Rob Bonta and Barbara Lee.

Take the day off, go vote, then have a drink while watching the news. Hopefully we all will not be needing several rounds to put us under when it is all over.



So anyway, the season lapsed into ominous leaden sky days with swirling Blakean skies that threatened each moment to plunge some terrifying chiaroscuro god with his finger pointed down. Beatrice came out to find that the finches had created a terribly defomed baby with twisted legs that would never survive, which seemed a bad omen. So she drowned and buried it and removed the soiled nest from the cage.

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 Monster's Ball at the parlor location hard by the marina.

Witches are the new IT girls this year, due largely to the lack of imagination in movies. We are done with pirates, vampires, ghosts and ghostbusters, and Rocky Horror characters. Spiders remain good for decor along the walls, but nobody wants to dance with a spider any more than one would want to dance with an octopus. We do seem to have quite a lot of zombies of the brain-eating kind, which is only logical in the years after the last Bush Administration devalued gray matter to such an extent. And this election seems to be encouraging quite a lot of brainless people to emerge from the woodwork.

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 from Star Wars. 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 basic zombie with brains a la carte.

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.

Mr. Spline came as his hero Col. Armstrong Custer, while Cmdr. Stiffstik entered the door as his hero, Admiral Nimitz. People thought they were a couple, but the truth is, they were both straight and pretty narrow and neither could find dates and they thought Cmdr. Stiffstik was portraying George Patton.

Mr. Spline showed up as James Bond, but because of the way he was dressed, people thought he was Edward Munster or Lurch.

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.

Denby, dressed as a court Foole, got into the spiked punch and after five or six rounds sat weeping about having to go to Hell or someplace like it next week while Tinker Bell stood there trying to console him. She was as cute as buttons and she knew it.

"Nice hat," she said. "Why don't you come upstairs and take off your pantaloons." she said, then added, "You can keep your hat on."

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 Dwight D. 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 James Bond. 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.

"What's it like in Hell," Tinker Bell asked Denby.

"It really sucks," Denby said.

Just then the long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from across the water where the skeletal gantries of the Port of Oaktown stood eerily glowing with their multi-kilowatt sentry lights, quavered across the spectral waves of the estuary, over the riprap embankments, over the haunted grasses of the Buena Vista flats and over the twilight zone of the former Beltline railway; it moaned through the cracked brick of the defunct Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed and chainlink fences as the dark locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its mysterious journey to parts unknown.

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



OCTOBER 16, 2016


This week's photo, courtesy of I-Lifer Tammy, was a no-brainer pick from the files.

We finally got body-slammed with a good couple of dockwallopers, although we are hearing that snow is sparse up in the Sierra due to high temperatures. Nevertheless, we can take all we can get for drought-parched California at this point. This ought to be welcome for the firefighters handling the late season burns.


Daylight Saving Time ends at 2 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 6, which means you’ll want to turn your clocks back before you go to bed Saturday night, Nov. 5.

Okay so the big news, besides Mayor Trish putting her foot into it again, is going to be the same for the next four weeks - The Elections.

The Free Library held its annual sale with good attendance and that is always good news. We always scarf up some good deals trolling the cafeteria tables laden with goodies. Continuing to provide good stuff, the Library will host a viewing of the final Presidential Debate this Wednesday from 6:00-7:30PM. So if you want to come out and cheer or boo with your neighbors this is just the ticket.

This time the debate is being held in a Western state on our timezone, so don't be late.

Voting has begun here in the Golden State. VBM/absentee voters should all have gotten their packets by now.

We have quite a raft of Propositions this time around, with a now familiar pattern of competing measures that cancel each other, so some homework is in order.

There are a couple places to go to sort through the morass and get some objective opinions. We like KQED's online breakdown which tailors the info to your zip code so that you don't have to read about Marin's high density housing issues if you live in San Jose.

Another source from year to year has been the League of Women Voters who do a really slam-bang job of collecting all the spew and sorting it out for the Islanders in particular. LWV.

Those looking for more Bay Area and definitively Liberal viewpoints need only to google the defunct Bay Guardian which rises from the dead to provide a Voter Guide for 2016.

The Chronicle always supplies an opinion, which although it may be wrong, is always well organized and well-informed at The Chron.


If you do not know who is running for President, please take your meds and go back to bed.

ENDORSEMENT: Hillary Clinton, DEM.

Yes, she is not perfect and a vote for her reeks of business-as-usual, and there some items about which Republicans profess unease, namely Bengazi and the questionable e-mail server.

About that e-mail server: This sphere happens to be the main day job for one of our inhouse reporters who deals with goverment email systems all the time. This is what our main inside has said: Look. None of the administrators have the slightest clue how e-mail works and they simply do not have the time to research this stuff. They rely on staff to keep abreast of requirements. It is nonsensical to expect someone at the level of National Secretary of State to keep track of the mechanics of how their telephones and email work. Yes you do have to make sure fax machines do not spit out secure information without some controls, but you hire people who are supposed to know what they are doing and you have to trust them to do their job when you are off making deals with Saudi Arabia and making sure China is not about to invade somebody. When push comes to shove, this reliance on staff means the administrator will give them the benefit of the doubt and fall on their own sword rather than blame anyone handling the nuts and bolts of day to day operations.

Do YOU know how your email works and how it flows? Can you even name YOUR own email server? Heck, how can you expect someone who is jetting all over the world on behalf of the US to keep track of that?

A private email server is set up precisely to ensure that communications remain secure, not the other way around. Both Bush's had one so it is a bit hypocritical to point fingers at Clinton for this. There was no criminal intent. She was not sneaking around whispering to herself that she could now turn into Edward Snowden and sell all this secret information. People who accuse her of criminality have not pursued the logic the Justice Department made during its intensive investigation. There was no intent to commit a crime because the Secretary just does not know about how email works. Same as you. Same as everybody. And she preserves enough decency not to toss any of her staff upon the griddle, taking the heat and full blame if there be any.

And there is a similar process going on with the Bengazhi accusations. It is all resembling an accusation against the CEO of Ford for failing to see all the bathrooms are stocked with toilet paper.

Which comes to one reason we endorse Clinton. We look at her record because she has one. In fact Clinton has an honorable record of public service going back to the 1970's, while her opponent has none at all.

She has been in the trenches for decades while the Donald has just entered the arena capriciously by way of having a lot of money, most of which was inherited. He does have many personal attributes as a man and a person that are reprehensible -- but we are willing to put all that aside, if he only demonstrated some capacity, some capability.

Trump has never done that.

Donald Trump has not demonstrated administrative capability. He has not done well as a businessman, has failed to pay debts and failed to pay contractors for work honestly performed. Most of his ideas about the economy and immigration are not original -- they mimic the Republican Party line, so that is just a matter of whether you agree or not. He touts Trickle-Down economics, which has been proven not to work, but that again is a matter of ideology. Bad ideas or not, like the American-Mexican Wall, the ideas matter less than the ability to execute them, and to execute ideas of any stripe you have to be able to galvanize capable people and enact compromise. You have to prove you can do it and he has failed time after time, from casino ot casino, from pageant to pageant.

While Clinton might, at worst, be just business as usual, Trump would be a national disaster of proven incompetance at a time we are engaged in dubious battle with entities that have sworn to destroy us. This is NOT the time to start experimenting with Washington "outsiders" and strange fringe elements like Trump.

Can it be any clearer than that?


We have unusual riches in our choice for California's junior Senator. In both candidates we have experienced women with substantial legal and goverment experience. And to cap it with cherries, both are accomplished Women of Color.

Kamela Harris has the endorsement of most of the Democratic Party, and her name is familiar, and she has raised $10 million more in campaign funds than her opponent so she is likely to win this election. It does appear that the National Party has groomed her for the next step up.

We believe that Loretta L. Sanchez, currently U.S. House of Representatives has a long future in Golden State politics, which has gone on now a full 20 years already, but looking at the forces arrayed in this election we think she will have a hard sell to take office. We wish her well wherever she winds up in politics, as we see her as an experienced and capable person with her heart in the right place. Anyone other than Kamala Harris and we would have no hesitation supporting this person wholeheartedly. It is a logical step up, looking at her career, to move from Congresswoman to Senator; well not this time.

In any case, either candidate would do well to fill the shoes of the very capable Barbara Boxer whose worth can be seen by the enmity by which so many radical NeoCons place on her.

As for Propositions we have 18 State propositions besides the two that concern us locally. We are not going to get to all of them this time around.

Title Subject Description
Proposition 51 Education $9 billion in bonds for education and schools
Proposition 52 Healthcare Voter approval of changes to the hospital fee program
Proposition 53 Elections Projects that cost more than $2 billion
Proposition 54 Accountability Conditions under which legislative bills can be passed
Proposition 55 Taxes Personal income tax increases on incomes over $250,000
Proposition 56 Tobacco Increase the cigarette tax by $2.00 per pack
Proposition 57 Trials Felons convicted of non-violent crimes
Proposition 58 Education Bilingual education in public schools
Proposition 59 Campaign finance State's position on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission
Proposition 60 Movies- Require the use of condoms in pornographic films
Proposition 61 Healthcare Prescription drug price regulations
Proposition 62 Death penalty Repeal the death penalty
Proposition 63 Firearms Background checks for ammunition purchases
Proposition 64 Marijuana Legalization of marijuana and hemp
Proposition 65 Environment Grocery and retail carry-out bags
Proposition 66 Death penalty Death penalty procedures
Proposition 67 Business reg Prohibition on plastic single-use carryout bags

Some of these are pretty obvious. Prop 64 is pretty straightforward. If you like pot and think it should be legalized for any number of reasons, well, vote yes on 64, expecting there will be eventual Federal fallout as Marijuana remains a federally scheduled drug. If 64 should pass, the supporters understand there remains an uphill battle to carry this one forward with any seriousness. The writing is on the wall for the future in that several other states have already legalized the drug with great local economic benefits.

But lets take things in order with some endorsements.

Prop 51 floats another bond for education and schools.
A "yes" vote supports the state issuing $9 billion in bonds to fund improvement and construction of school facilities for K-12 schools and community colleges.
A "no" vote opposes the state issuing $9 billion in new debt to fund the improvement and construction of education facilities.

We were surprised to see the conservative Budget Watchdogs organization endorsing this one. In fact there are few opposers, with Governor Jerry Brown coming out against its estimated 17+ billion interest cost to the state debt. In fact all arguments against this Prop are from people who just do not like the idea of Bonds at all. No one is arguing that the schools do not need infrastructure support and that education is needing a boost in the Golden State. Antis argue that the schools would be better served by local efforts, featuring -- quel surprise! -- local bonds.

In other words, the need is there and bonds are the way to go and there is no dodging the bullet. We endorse voting yes on Proposition 51.

Prop 52 is one of those smarmy things that is proposed and supported by ugly people -- but probably will be necessary anyway. At least in the short term, for that is how Jerry Brown first imagined the schema.

It concerns the hospital fee program that helps fund medicare.

A "yes" vote supports requiring voter approval to change the dedicated use of certain fees from hospitals used to draw matching federal money and fund Medi-Cal services. The initiative was also designed to require a two-thirds majority vote of the California Legislature to end the hospital fee program.
A "no" vote opposes this initiative, allowing the legislature to change, extend, or eliminate the hospital fee program with a majority vote.

Nothing about health care is simple these days. A minor change here produces ripple effects that develop into a tsunami over there. This is largely due to the changes caused by the Affordable Health Care Act, called by its detractors "Obamacare."

Health Care was prior to the act a national disgrace and a slow motion train wreck headed towards certain disaster. The system had not been working for a very long time and it was getting worse and all the primary care providers knew it. Existing Medicare provided a ready-made structure for organized health care to be put into place. The big cajuna in this issue has always been the answer to the question "who is going to pay for this new coverage?"

The hospitals, faced now with the requirement to serve people they used to send away to die, got stuck with the edict to cover medical covered patients, who typically have less resources to pay for all the additional bells and whistles required in hospital care. So Jerry Brown requested a temporary imposition of a fee to hospitals to help pay for this with the idea that the system would eventually sort itself out.

As it turned out, people that used to be sent away to die now got served and lived and the system never circled back for a means to pay for them beyond Medicare, which is one of those things some people in Washington call "entitlements", as if calling something a bad name will make it go away.

As it stands now, the hospitals are asking to keep the formerly onerous fee system so as to avoid getting stuck with paying the full medical bill for indigents. They are concerned that without the fee system, a more painful process will be instituted. Like making them pay out of their profits to care for medicare patients. Obviously they don't want that, so they are coming out in force to support keeping the fee.

We still do not have an alternative to the fee system, as byzantine as it is, and most sane people in the system understand this. That is why the vast majority of folks involved with health care support the Proposition 52, even though it involves a state constitutional amendment. Without getting into even more tedious details, let us just Endorse Proposition 52 and get on to the next one.

Proposition 53 is another squirrely one written, endorsed and promoted by a minority interest -- in this case, just one person. Dean Cortopassi.

A "yes" vote supports requiring voter approval before the state could issue more than $2 billion in public infrastructure bonds that would require an increase in taxes or fees for repayment.
A "no" vote opposes this measure requiring voter approval before the state could issue more than $2 billion in public infrastructure bonds that would require an increase in taxes or fees for repayment

One would think that any sort of oversight is a good idea, but wait. Why the number $2 billion in bonds? And why is just one person authoring this? And wussup with the libertarian back support? Turns out Dean Cortopassi dislikes the current Governor and has issues with a couple of Jerry Brown's pet projects which involve, guess what, exactly 2 billion in bonds each.

Okay so you dislike the Peripheral Canal and the idea of a trans-California high-speed train and you do not like the idea of improving the water retention infrastructure. But really.

The Proposition wants to attack bonds that generate revenue for the State, which seems counterproductive. Because these bonds are for projects that pay for themselves, no voter approval is required, which makes sense.

There is enough wierdness in this to make us want to stand back. Some of the language seems designed to foist disaster preparedness upon the local municipalities we find really objectionable.

We recommend voting no on this silliness even though the concept as expressed is a good one.

California Proposition 54, the Public Display of Legislative Bills Prior to Vote proposition.
A "yes" vote supports prohibiting the legislature from passing any bill until it has been in print and published on the Internet for 72 hours prior to the vote.
A "no" vote opposes this measure prohibiting the legislature from passing any bill until it has been in print and published on the Internet for 72 hours prior to the vote.

This one is another ugly monkey in the litter. Just one person, named Charles Munger, has written, proposed, pushed for and funded this Proposition. His motives are entirely mercenary. He believes because he has money he should have more say in government. Nevertheless this idea is not so bad. What is the harm of publishing what you plan to do some hours in advance?

Well it does cost some money and for sure cranks and fools will be slowing the legislative process for some bills as they grab the published literature, however it still is generally a good move toward daylighting dark governmental processes.

As for "lobbyists" taking advantage, we tend to think that if those vultures do not know about legislation a good month in advance already they have not been doing their jobs.

We say Yes.

Proposition 55, is on the November 8, 2016, ballot in California as an initiated constitutional amendment.
A "yes" vote supports extending the personal income tax increases on incomes over $250,000 approved in 2012 for 12 years in order to fund education and healthcare.
A "no" vote opposes extending the personal income tax increases on incomes over $250,000 approved in 2012 for 12 years, allowing the tax increase to expire in 2019.

About 89 percent of revenue from the tax increase would go towards K-12 schools and 11 percent to state community colleges. An additional $2 billion would be allocated in certain years to Medi-Cal and other health programs

This basically preserves an existing tax approved in 2012 and affects people making over a quarter mil a year. Those folks aint hurtin' and the revenue tops 6 billion per year. We endorse Prop 55 whole heartedly.

We will return next week with a continuation of this discussion and the rest of the Propositions.


So anyway now is the time of creeping mists over the hills and morning streets latticed with strange elongated shadows. Creatures scuttle into corners and leaves skitter across the road although no wind is blowing. Colors of the world shift to reds, browns, auburns. Winds kick up after dusk and the Ban Se roam around the trees, stirring the leaves with their long hair as they glide invisibly between the branches. They come moaning around the chimney and cause all sorts of mischief. At dusk the shadows extend long across the road and the air is full of whispers, faint muttering. Dark doorways breed tiny monsters that scuttle from one place to another. Now is the time when the veil between the worlds gets thinner, allowing some souls to pass back and forth, and so conduct strange enterprise. Revenants appear and Shades speak from beyond, and the Dead walk among us once more.

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 tradition, 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 finally came to Denby who hung down his head.

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

Again, as per Tradition, Denby drew again the shortest straw. It has been so for 18 years running, that this man would always draw the shortest straw. Those of you who know the Way of the World, know that this has been ever so for some people. Strive as they might, the rules of Law dictate that some folks lives shall roll easy. Others, not at all. And the shortest straw always seems to come to the same people, time after time. That is just the way it is.

"Again? Me? 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."

After a while, no one else was left in the newsroom, save for the Editor and Denby.

"I expect this time you shall get some idea of how the elections are going to do," said the Editor. "Assuming you return alive of course.

"I don't think so," Denby said. "The Dead are not so concerned about elections."

"Well," said the Editor, puffing on his cigar. "See what you can get. Los Dias de Los Muertos, the Days of the Dead, are soon upon us."

"Sure boss," Denby said, with resignation."Sure."

As per Tradition, the Crossing would take place on October 31st. And all wondered just how it would be this time. The 18th time that Denby has crossed over to the Other Side, the Land of the Dead.

Just then the howl of the throughpassing train ululated from across the water where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stood glowing with their multi-kilowatt sentry lights, quavered across the starlit waves of the estuary, over the riprap embankments, over the moon-silvered grasses of the Buena Vista flats and over the open spaces of the former Beltline railway; it moaned through the cracked brick of the defunct Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed and chainlink fences as the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its journey to parts unknown.

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


OCTOBER 9, 2016


This week's image comes from Tammy and is of the Oaktown cranes across the Estuary with a bit of our own industrial effort tossed into the foreground. Sometimes it is easy to forget this is an Island, it's livelihood depended upon the water for hundreds of years and its roots are deeply blue-collar.

This is California.


For those of you wanting to have a dispassionate view of things for this upcoming election - seems a vainglorious wish! -- we refer you to the Island League of Women Voters, which has been organizing public assemblies for viewing inaugurations and debates for a while. You can view their nonpartisan website at There you can drill down to look at the analyses pro and con for the upcoming City initiatives as well as the national elections.

We have been consistently impressed by the nonpartisan, informative approach from the LWV and urge everyone to check them out.

As for event items, nothing really matters much until the election. There is a Rental Crisis and people are fighting over it and the signs appear in the papers and in the way people talk.

Just for kicks we went up to Marin County's San Anselmo where we found the same sort of processes going on there that are wrecking the communities here. Of course Marin does have a few more wacky twists on the story, but essentially the town is losing old businesses right and left and has been unable to attract new ones entirely because of this rental thing going on.

We went to one business where we found tacked to the display windows numerous neighbor pleas to City Council to allow a yoga studio to install itself there, even though permits had been denied. The would-be business is stuck in the two-year interim by contract into paying over $4,100 per month. In the meantime there are two rental units going for $2000+ in what looked like a dilapidated knock-down.

How had this situation come about? The previous business, a bicycle repair shop, had found itself breaking even year after year after ten years -- due to the high rental situation. Ultimately, the owners "aged out"; it came time to retire. An option to continue in some form existed, but nobody in the family could see a way to selflessly continue a losing enterprise. So they closed up shop.


So anyway, summer left its long tenure in favor of autumn in a mood, have chunking hissy fits these past few days and leaving the evenings cooling off with skeins of cloud snagging bright incarnadine splashes against fields of deep azure. Mornings begin as usual: the sun crashes through the bent and broken blinds like an old drunk, reeling and sobbing with a head like a brick until some water splash restores a semblance of unwilling sentience.

Now the kids are safely back in school, safe until the next hysterical Shelter-in-Place blares from the clarions of the IPD as part of the New Norm, the adults are free to roam about and get into trouble, just like they did when they were kids -- by playing hooky, cheating, stealing petty amounts of stuff, and cursing like sailors.

Officer Popinjay has been put on high alert on reports of "suspicious evil clowns" appearing at the edge of the woods, which has some people very concerned. For one, no one has actually found a clown to be performing in any sort of "evil" manner, unless it be that Bobo -- who has been running unsuccessfully for Mayor in every election since 1984 -- may have tied on a few balloons too many. His slogan "Put a real Clown in the White House" seems innocuous enough.

For another thing, we have had no woods to speak of on the Island for several hundred years, so these reports may be suspect. Nevertheless, anxiety, paranoia and nervous jumping up and down are the new normal these days, so the Officer has been out there with his car all loaded up with every form of weapon from the department arsenal, ready to deal with any clown or pack of them silly enough to try to take him on.

He was over at Jefferson Park near the old Cannery where there are a few basketball courts as well as enough trees to maybe count for a woods thick enough to hide an evil clown if he were skinny enough. It is not enough of an offense to arrest somebody for running around wearing a frizzy wig, baggy pants and bad makeup -- if that were the case half of the kids today would be cooling behind bars. But if any discernible clown were seen by the Officer he would be sure to do something about it. So long as it did nothing against the Department's new anti-profiling rules. He would have to read up on that stuff again.

Life sure got difficult for the beat cop from the days he and the boys would just beat 'em up and haul them in and slap them with resisting arrest while figuring out something good to just charge them with to justify the trouble.

Nowadays you couldn't even haul them in for acting crazy. So Officer Popinjay was in a quandary about what to do if and when he caught some clown looking evil and acting crazy. He supposed he would just have to shoot him. That's the ticket . . . .

Several seagulls orbiting the playground came down to peck at something on the basketball court and the Officer eyed them.

Soon enough tiny monsters will leap from doorways to scamper across the road. Goblins will gibber and squeak and howl as vampires will flock in black clouds to sap the life out of the decent hardworking man. Golems will march with terrifying, inexorable determination. The unsuspecting soul will be set upon entering the local grocery. Yes, Election Time is upon us.

Also, in addition to that terrifying period of American Life, we will enjoy the month-long party orgy of fantastic fabulation and role-playing that constitutes the Halloween season.

Up the hill beneath the Mormon Temple and across from the Greek Orthodox Chapel where Wally's son, Joshua had allegedly holed up after turning whistleblower over the Mayor's office clandestine WC eavesdropping program of supposedly friendly municipalities, Cmdr. Stiffstik sat in his black SUV nursing a chai latte and alternately eyeing his loaded 45 pistol on the seat and the door of the chapel. People were talking about granting this treasonous ungrateful un-American hippie pinko LGBTwhateveragainstgodandnature some kind of pardon, which severely ran Stiffstik's bristles the wrong way. O how he longed to pop a cap into that wretched East Bay hottubber punk. A cap to make him hurt real bad and mess up his hair and another one to finish him off. "Go ahead, make my week," he would say.

But the door remained silent and dark and Cmdr Stiffstik sat and fumed.

Meanwhile, Joshua was returning along secret underground passageways made years ago by the Latter Day Saints so as to provide means of escape should the people who expressed to value freedom of religion not value their own so much. Joshua did not spend all his time inside the chapel but soon learned about the ways under the metropolitan area that interconnected all of the Bay area in a vast network that had taken two hundred years to expand, often with tunnels coming out onto BART stations with official-looking doors marked "utility closet" and "denizen access". That night Joshua had dined at La Val's Pizza after taking in a show by Cal Shakes of the Tempest.

Being a hunted outlaw was for Joshua only an occasional inconvenience. He did have to appear at the chapel now and then and shine a light through the windows so that Cmdr Stiffstik and Mr. Steif would continue to believe he had taken up sanctuary there. Every week, those members of Berkeley's Alpha Tau sorority that still claimed to be virgins would come wearing robes of white and leave baskets of bread and fruit and cheese as offerings. He suspected that more than a few were no longer virgins, but you know, it is the thought that counts.

Pahrump, Denby, and Jose sat in the NSGW hall amid the tattered bunting and torn signs left by the debates of just a few hours previously. They had been busy all night fetching and carrying for the delegates and the candidates and they were beat to hell and still had the hall to neaten up. Denby stood up wearily to get the mop. Jose got the broom and began shoving piles of trash to the side.

A bevy of Mills Girls on one of their infamous Night Out escapades peered in on a swing by in their convertible. "There's no guys in here," one of them said and they left, chattering among themselves like birds.

"They aint gonna have nothing to do with the likes of us, bro." Jose said.

"Fo' shizzle," Pahrump said, still lying on his back and looking up at the ceiling.

"It's been quite a night," Denby said. "I never seen such bad behavior in adults. One of these days, civility will come riding back on a white horse with feathers."

"Fo' shizzle," Pahrump said.

"It's the Bobo against the Babu," Jose said.

"Everyone should get naked and slap each other with noodles and mud," Pahrump said. "Be more dignified."

"Who is going to win the Most Fiercest Swizzle-stick?" Jose said.

"I have no idea who is gonna win," Denby said.

"It don't matter much who wins," Pahrump said. "We is the ones that always lose."

"Fo' shizzle," Denby said.

"You can't say that," Jose said. "You be White."

"After tonight, I am embarrassed," Denby said. "Fo' shizzle."

"Fo' sho'." Pahrump said.

Just then the howl of the throughpassing train ululated from across the water where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stood glowing with their multi-kilowatt sentry lights, quavered across the starlit waves of the estuary, over the riprap embankments, over the moon-silvered grasses of the Buena Vista flats and over the open spaces of the former Beltline railway; it moaned through the cracked brick of the defunct Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed and chainlink fences as the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its journey to parts unknown.

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



OCTOBER 2, 2016


This image comes from FB friend Stan, who has been following the progress of a particular family that has been visiting his back yard for a while. Family started as a rather heavy female, a male and a couple of skunks. Here is Stan's backyard now-a-days.

Another Californian Dynasty . . .


The Rental Crisis continues in the news, as we expected it would. An open letter in the Sun from a combined group of interdenominational clerics has protested the nasty evictions taking place at 470 Central Avenue, with the ministers stating, "t is our belief that the Holy One in Whom we all believe and call by different names stands with the residents at 470 Central Ave. who are threatened with the loss of their homes and communities. And we stand with them in the Name of the Holy One to call for the restoration of justice and compassion here and now."

The leaders of faith include representatives from the Jewish, Buddhist, Catholic, Baptist and other Congregational communities.

A pointed letter to the Editor, a bit more sober than most, asks that people pay some attention to the local ballot issues that are being overshadowed by the national debates going on. The writer (Nik Dehejia) mentions Measure A1 (Affordable Housing), Measure B1 (Alameda Unified School District), Measure C1 (AC Transit), Measure K1 (City of Alameda Utility Users Tax) and Measure RR (BART). These are likely to affect property tax increases going forward.

The Angry Elf gang was at it again this past week. Seems somebody couldn't keep up their payments from the closed John Patrick's Bar. Firefighters contained a blaze begun "in a pile of debris" behind the bar, which also ignited three automobiles shortly before 8 AM. That is the third major blaze ignited behind a business "in a pile of debris" in three years in that immediate vicinity near the now abandoned Ron Goode Toyota dealership.


So anyway, the summer let us go after a punishing heat wave, to allow the fog advance in legion through the Golden Gate and over the hills, pushed by an insistent wind, eager to be on its way. As dusk fell, the Bann Se madly stirred the tree branches and the buckeye leaves left withered by the long summer drought.

Sensing a change coming up, wildlife has been on the move, and all down Snoffish Valley Road the raccoons have been advancing in packs which disappear by magic as the coyotes gallop quickly up and over the ridge. A solitary hare sniffs before bounding away into the high grass, silvered by moonlight. Then come the deer, stepping with curiosity along this way with some inexperienced indecision regarding the occasional automobile. An automobile seldom possesses the obvious rapaciousness of a coyote, so automobiles remain problems that need some deliberation from the perspective of the deer. And so they will stand there in the middle of the intersection looking at you with some objectivity and scientific detachment.

Now is the time of gray advancement, of subtle changes. Trees turn color, but retain their leaves. Days remain bright, but sweaters come out in the evening. Mosquitos have not been nearly so pestiferous of late. Kids are in school all the time and work chugs along with the regular rhythm of set things from morning to night. Pumpkins started appearing on doorsteps. It's getting time to make cream soups and stuffed squash and hot dish casseroles. These things are the only things that have ever required bizarre ingredients like cheddar cheese soup, a canned thing that seemingly has no purpose other than to be put into a substantially unhealthy, fattening, cholesterol-building casserole loaded with a half stick of butter and oily tuna in a bowl that often is leavened by canned peas and topped with crushed potato chips, perhaps so as to deliberately insult the memory of Julia Childs and every lactose-intolerant vegan in Northern Marin.

If you think about it, our parents ate stuff that certainly cut years off of their lives what with all the trans fats and sugars, carcinogenic emulsifiers, and old country habits. Certainly a miracle they lived, despite the doctor's best advice, into their 90's drinking whiskey and smoking like fiends, while you, yes you, sad sack of unfit lard whipped by a personal trainer who knows better than you, you struggle with acid reflux, paunchy gut, poor momentum, atrial fibrillation, cirrhosis, gallstones, arterial plaque, lousy circulation, gluten poisoning, and GMO confusions to top it all . . . .

Juanita stood in the kitchen wringing her hands. Someone had made off with that recipe she had concocted for the time when the Norwegian Bachelor Farmers had come looking for their lost Pastor Inquist. She had modified this recipe by adding jalapenos, which had resulted in a somewhat greenish tint, but the men had thanked her and taken off back to their homelands, each bearing a waxed box of the stuff, which somehow began to appear all over town in the darndest places, as if many of those Norwegians had inadvertently left their take-away behind. Behind, as behind bushes, behind statues, behind fountains . . .

Now this fellow from Detroit, a Mr. Jack Peppermint of the rock group, the Peppermint Stripes, was coming to town and she wanted to impress. She had never been to Detroit before, but she had heard it was just like her own hometown of Sineloa, a place which had seen better times and which hosted a people who worked with their hands in factories and where people lived simply and well enough when they could, a place without airs about itself and she thought she would make something along the lines of what she imagined they had up there or over there in that part of the country. She saw herself delivering this casserole to the back doors where they admitted the caterers to such important venues like the Fitzgerald Theatre in famous Minneapolis and just leaving there with a note. Por los amigos; please share.

Now the recipe had gone dios mio anywhere and that Jose was all to blame with his running around and mixing with that malo hombre Javier.

"Jose!" Juanita shouted. "Tu pinche malo joven . . . " Juanita began, using the sweetest affectionate endearments of which she could conceive, for of course although a factory girl by birth, she was well brought up by her honest and decent abuelita.

Denby made his way past the Jim Kitson Park with its bronze statue dedicated to Corrupted Endeavor, to the Old Same Place Bar where he earned a few pesos a night playing Old School to an indifferent crowd of boozers. In the back room, Dawn sat peeling the potatoes and he stood there for a moment watching her.

"Well boy, have you never seen someone peeling the potatoes? Grab a peeler then and pitch in if you aint so dainty."

"My Oma used to peel the potatoes," Denby said.

"Did she now?" Dawn said.

"That's right. And I wondered why she peeled the best part off, the part they say has all the nutrients now, but it was for the folks in the Big House to have potatoes with no skins on them. Because they were fine."

"That is the way it is among those people," Dawn said.

"She used to sit there and peel the potatoes and she would eat the peels as she went along."

"I know this story, my boy." Dawn said.

"During the War . . . there was not enough. During the War she had to peel for the Big House and for her and the family not enough to live . . .".

"Aye me laddie. That is called the Way of the World. It has always been so. Come on now, let's get everything ready for the show tonight."

"Such a 'show'. It is only another night of drinks and some music for people to forget their troubles for a while."

"It may be there is no other life," Dawn said. "Come along now . . ." .

Just then the howl of the throughpassing train ululated from across the water where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stood glowing with their multi-kilowatt sentry lights, quavered across the starlit waves of the estuary, over the riprap embankments, over the moon-silvered grasses of the Buena Vista flats and over the open spaces of the former Beltline railway; it moaned through the cracked brick of the defunct Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed and chainlink fences as the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its journey to parts unknown.

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



SEPTEMBER 25, 2016


This week we have a photo from Tammy of a "donut tree", a sort of landscaping curiousity particular to this island where the power utility shares space with the Corporate Yard folks.


Ron Cowan does not have a name that resonates with pleasure among many old-timers here, and recently his real estate development outfit has pursued several quite obnoxious lines out at Harbor Bay Isle, however we owe his unusual commute to jump-starting the renewal of the ferry service that dominated cross-bay traffic for over 100 years until trains got put across the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate was completed.

Those bridges killed the enormous ferry system which had existed up until bridges kiboshed the slower trans-bay intercourse. But in 1989, Ron Cowan was flying in his usual helicopter commute from Marin County to the Island when the infamous 5:05 Loma Prieta earthquake snipped the Bay Bridge and dropped a mile-long section of the Cypress Freeway in the East Bay.

Cowan worked with Bill Lockyer (D - Cal. Senate), Willie Brown, and Don Perata to create the Water Transit Authority that now oversees the extended ferry system which today carries more than 2 million passengers to and from five cities and which also forms a substantial part of the emergency response system to disaster.

In recognition of his efforts, last Thursday, the Water Emergency Transportation Administration (WETA) broke ground at Alameda Point for its $49.5 million Central Bay Operations and Maintenance Facility and named the facility after Ron Cowan.


It is no surprise that the Letters to the Editor feature a number of irate-in-advance protestations about the rent control initiative to appear on November's ballot. It is interesting that the anti-initiative letters begin with phrases like "we had planned on " and "we took a calculated risk". Well, some sympathy can go to people who stretched their means to purchase something that turned out, in all reality, to be unaffordable. Of course people want to own their own home -- look how lousy it is to be a renter in these parts -- so it can be somewhat excused that people engaged in a little rose-tinted viewing when looking at a future that counted as an inflexible line item income that would not only provide substantial income, but also help pay off mortgage costs and still provide for retirement set-by (all on the basis of a single unit).

But you know, "calculated risk" features the key noun "risk" and as it so happened, things got economically sucky all around. You can blame Liberals and you can blame intransigent Republicans, but who is to blame is entirely beside the point that the average joe is worse off than before Ronnie Raygun rehabilitated a bunch of criminals indicted under Nixon's regime and a bunch of Democrats failed to keep it in their pants to our cost.

It now costs $8,000 and more to move -- we just saw several households do it -- so if you evict somebody as part of your personal economic plan, it stands to reason that somebody needs to pay the cost to be the boss. The renters do not have that money -- if they did, they would own their own homes. And it is all too common, and becoming the rule, that landlords are "retaining" 100 of the security deposits, adding further cost to the expensive proposition of shunting services and belongings to another place which certainly will demand yet another unrecoverable "deposit."

Look. We have sympathy for anybody trying to make it in these times, and there is no crime in owning property. There is also no crime in making decisions based on calculated risk. But we assume this calculation -- because it IS calculated -- includes the options to recover should the investment NOT payout, not achieve favorable outcome. Right now, we have that scenario precisely.

And the big elephant in the room about which no one on either side is speaking, is that Rent Control is neither the big problem nor the panacea. Things are going to be bad no matter what happens in November, and Rent Control is the least problem about which the small holders should be concerned. As for the relocation costs, we are sorry but we cannot sympathize with someone who is treating tenants with Baronial indifference on eviction simply because that is the most convenient thing for the landlord to do. Use people for months or years to pay your expenses and then turn them out on the street to fend for themselves and have them pay their own costs to desperately find a place to live in a heated market.

Some have said, "if you are so foolish as to live in a place you cannot afford, then you deserve your pain."

Well, that statement applies to both landholders as well as renters. If the house costs too much, just refuse to pay the price. It is as simple as that. Anything said about people living beyond their means about renters goes back the other way. While in the middle of all this, the Big Property people, the management companies and realty firms from out of state -- and a couple residing here -- continue to make big bucks no matter who loses. Win or lose, they will always get the commission.

At some point, people just need to stand up and say collectively, "This costs too much. I refuse to pay." That is when things will change as they did during the Prop 13 revolution. It might not be for the better, but things certainly would change.


So anyway, things had started cooling properly when suddenly we all got body-slammed by an end-of-summer heatwave that steadily rose through the weekend, which had folks scurrying to the Strand to cool off. Now that school is back in session and we have no holidays for a long stretch into the formal Horror Days of Winter, life routinizes. Larry Larch gets up each morning at 5 to do his morning jog, read the NYT and have his Noah' s Bagel before trotting off to the office. Tipitina rouses herself in the Household to trundle out of her rented cot to pedal over to the ferry and ride across to Babylon for another day at the office. Martini heads out in the early hours on the back of Pahrump's scooter for his commute to the Veriflo factory in Richmond where he worked as a sawboy, cutting the immense 30 foot alloy ingots into workable four pound chunks.

As is customary with him, The Editor arises from his narrow cot and cranks out 25 good ones with his chin touching the floor on each rep, followed by 100 crunches. Then the 5 mile run out along the Strand, around the base of the disputed Bicycle Bridge, out to Mount Trashmore and back along the Estuary before the sun comes up. 15 more good ones, remembering the days when he could crack out easily 100, and then a shower and the day begins, but with a new ache around his sternum.

Before going to the Offices, the Editor looks out from The Point at the shrouded Golden Gate and the misty headlands to the north. Musing, he asks for help to tell the story of an ingenious man of many devices, one who was never at a loss. He wandered far after the fall of Saigon. He visited many cities in his travels and learned there the ways of different men. He suffered many woes in his heart upon the sea, seeking to save his own life and the return of his comrades. Yet even so he saved not his comrades, though he desired it sore, for through their own blind folly they perished — fools, who devoured the kine of Helios Hyperion; but he took from them the day of their returning. Although he longed for peace he was kept on an Island by the goddess Calypso for many years.

These things The Editor thought while gazing across the water at the distant, misty Headlands. He breathed the air of Autumn, the Season of Changes. And as the seasons revolved, the year came in which the gods had ordained that he should return home, and all the gods pitied him save Poseidon who continued to rage unceasingly.

He entered his office and touched the long object that leaned against the wall: crossword puzzle answer, canoe propeller, boat propulsion, sturdy flat-blade thing. Soon it would be time to shoulder this thing and walk with it until he came to the place where no one knew its name or its use.

It was coming to the time that he must leave Calypso's Island.

As the day's temperature rose higher to break all records for the hottest September day ever recorded, people fled the burning streets, although some herded their little ones to pools and other water sources. Even the bandit lemonade stands stood empty as the land baked and kids looked for things to occupy themselves when running around proved too treacherous.

"It's hotter 'n a witch's titties" said Jimmy. They were sitting up in the Parkinson's tree that overhung the yard. It was okay to climb in that tree because this part overhung their part of the property so it wasn't trespassing.

"How you know about that?" said Jonas.

"It's what people say," said Jimmy.

"I bet you know all about witches and their titties," said Jonas.

"I do not," said Jonas. "It's what people say."

"You like to feel 'em up, dontcha?" said Jonas. "All wrinkly and baggy and stuff. That's disgusting."

"It's hot enough to boil an egg," Jimmy said.

"Hot enough to fry an egg you dumbass!"

"I aint no dumbass. Let's go get an egg and put it out on the curb and watch it."

In a little while Mrs. Moreno came out the back, shouting. "Hey! Somebody left the refridgerator door wide open! And the eggs are all gone!"

"O for pete's sake!" Jimmy said. "We better go hide. . .".

Time on the Island that forgot Time nevertheless advanced to bring long shadows and sun spearing the eyes of people still driving in the late afternoon. Moms stepped out on their porches all over the Gold Coast area to call their kids in for supper. It might be fajitas and frijoles. There might be rice and beans. But there would be no huevos, that evening or in the morning.

Mr. Cribbage paused in his driveway, noticing something over on the curb as he unloaded his golf clubs and so walked over in his plus-fours to stare down, puzzled, at a fried egg sitting there quite nonchalantly, with no sign of egg shells around it. He looked up at the trees. Darned blue jays, probably. They are known to be nest robbers. He then went in for the first of several gin rickeys.

Mr. Howitzer sat at his desk in his study attending to property matters until he came to the reciepts for the house on Otis, the one occupied by that punk and his squalid family. Looked like the rent had not been raised in a while and he really would be a fool in this market not to get every penny he could out of that place. Thank heaven it was all income for he refused to put a single dirty sou into maintenance. So much the better. He would pop them another thousand for the cottage and they could pay it or move out. Simple as that and best to do before that darned rent control got passed. That it would pass, he had no doubt, for he knew Kane realty as the prime mover against it and he knew Kane to be a miserable incompetant boob who had botched things right and left, although he did admire somewhat her viciousness. He set the papers aside to deal with on the morrow. About a thousand more felt about right and he could always jack it up again in six months or so. Maybe three.

After all, there was no rent control as of yet.

At Marlene and Andre's the Household members, living in the house owned by Mr. Howitzer, all were sprawled outside in various states of limpid undress until the evening winds shifted around to bring cooling air to the land. Andre came out to strum his guitar on the deck beside the hole created some years ago on Javier's fiftieth birthday when the house had nearly burned down. Mr. Howitzer had never put in smoke alarms or sprinkler systems so everyone would have died that night had not the four impromptue firemen not fought until dawn to get the thing under control.

"Helllllllo. I've waited for you," sang Andre softly. "Waited everlong."

Marlene came out wearing her black tee and cutoffs and leaned against the post, her long black hair flowing like midnight. Rolph lay in a lounge chair down below facing the Bay. Martini came around the side after dinking in the ironmongery garden until it was too dark to see. Pahrump finished fiddling with his scooter and Javier brought out the inevitable three gallon jug of wine. Snuffles the bum soon joined him. Piedro had his book, lit by a cap light fastened to the bill of his Oakland A's souvenir. Tipitina, born in the deep south, wore a simple long dress after work and talked quietly with Sarah and Marsha. Suan had gone to work at the Crazy Horse, where she figured she had only a couple more years left doing the pole thing there.

Looking out Andre noticed that almost everyone was there on a late September evening. He knew their stories, how each one had been damaged and descended sometimes in fire sometimes in rain to dwell there in that Household. And then, there was Marlene, her figure now a silhouette created by the crescent moon. Her hair dark as midnight.

Andre downtuned the bass and strummed a 3/4 time.

Xavier brought out the switchbroom and swept out a place on the deck so he could sit down there.

Come a little bit closer
Hear what I have to say
Just like children sleepin'
We could dream this night away.

As the fragile human beings continued their lives up above the rats scurried through the understory of the old house, flitting through the frayed wiring and the fallen insulation and the rusting central heating unit, which although it had not been used in a long time, still had live connections to the mains, connections which had been installed without relays or switches in the days before codes and inspections. And of course Mr. Howitzer was a fond patron of that thing called euphemistically "deferred maintenance."

One rat paused to sniff the corpse of a fellow who had made the bad mistake of chewing at the insulation leading to the still live igniter. Something had happened here. Something was about to happen again. The rat reached out tentatively to touch the bright copper made shiny by a ray of moonlight.

"What was that?" Marsha said.

"What was what?" Tipitina said.

"I thought I heard some animal cry out." Marsha said.

Just then the howl of the throughpassing train ululated from across the water where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stood glowing with their multi-kilowatt sentry lights, quavered across the starlit waves of the estuary, over the riprap embankments, over the moon-silvered grasses of the Buena Vista flats and over the open spaces of the former Beltline railway; it moaned through the cracked brick of the defunct Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed and chainlink fences as the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its journey to parts unknown.

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



SEPTEMBER 18, 2016


We looked about and found nobody on staff had taken recent pics of the moon. Heavens! Indeed, heavens. We are shocked, simply shocked. So here is an image taken of the 2015 "blood moon" over the trees in Bishop at an elevation of 4800 feet on the far side of the Sierra during the last Island-Life Mountain Sabbatical.


There was a recent power outage in Oaktown across the water, but due to our independent power company grid, Islanders barely noticed. The area affected runs from just west of Interstate 980 to Broadway, and north to south from 16th to 11th streets. Power was back on end of Friday evening.

While a certain bankcruptcy that affected a major Asian shipper put a kibosh on deliveries and Port income, another service identified as Calco-C announced that a weekly stop of vessels coming from Asia would increase cargo volume at the port by as much as 30,000 20-foot containers per year. This will certainly boost the area economy by a significant factor.

The new service is operated by Tokyo-based K Line, Taiwan-based Wan Hai Lines and Pacific International Lines from Singapore. The three ocean carriers deploy seven ships for the service. Each ship is capable of carrying between 8,000 and 9,000 20-foot containers, according to port officials.

The weekly arrivals at the port's Oakland International Container Terminal are scheduled to begin on Nov. 6 and should result in a boost of hiring for longshoremen.

Friday was Mexican Independence Day, which is not exactly the day that Mexico achieved definitive independence (that occured ten years later in 1821) but this is the day that the revolution led by Father Hidalgo and co-conspirators Ignacio Allende and Juan Aldama began in the town of Dolores by ringing the church bell as a call to arms.

This date is significant to California, for as of this date, Mexico, already diffidently interested in the northern department of Alta California, completely abandoned its territory as it struggled to organize itself as a new nation, leaving the California department as a defacto independent state until the Mexican-American war of 1846.


Looking at October we see Richard Shindell has a new Cd out and is coming to the West Coast to promote it! Yay! Richard Shindell left the USA to live in South American when the Great Pretender George Bush was appointed by his father's friends to be President and so has been sorely missed around here. He will be appearing at the Freight October 6th. Expect this one to sell out.

Also showing up for a rare appearance will be Chris Smither, a singer/songwriter who just seems to get better and better with age. He will be skirting the NorCal district, appearing at the Sebastopol Community Cultural Center on Saturday, October 8th, and then the next night in Santa Cruz at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center before heading north to Point Arena for a date on the 11th. Smither just might be the only musician out there writing stuff as good -- or better -- than Bob Dylan, and we do not say that lightly.

Also showing up to blow your doors off, the inheritor of BB King's Lucille, none other than Robert Cray who will occupy Yoshi's on the warmer side of the Bay December 12-13th. Definitely expect this one to sell out quickly.

At the Oakland Fox, we have those cute-as-the-dickens-pair Tegan and Sarah performing October 1st. In November, Joan Baez will provide a blast from the past on the 6th and 7th.

The Paramount goes high style with Wynton Marsalis on September 29th, followed by Men of Soul and then Toni Braxton, each demanding an evening that requires some dress-up so better put aside those tattered blue-jeans to show some R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

Bob Weir looks to be getting his old bones out of Marin to pop up here and there in the East Bay, so look for him in unusual places. Which oughta suit the old Deadhead just fine.

The Fall highlights seem to lift up mature performers for the mature crowd. So go dig into your old ducktail wardrobe and kick out the jams to keep hizzoner Rock 'n Roll alive.

To paraphrase a somewhat famous radio DJ, if you don't like the music, go out and make some of your own.


So anyway, what we hope is the final heat wave rippled through parts of the Bay Area, spiking temps into the high nineties just a couple miles from the coast and into the triple digits inland. Naturally, people are saying that this weather is all unnatural and all George Bush's fault for ignoring the climate change stuff, which is probably untrue, but as the cuss was such an ignorant, irritating smirker lacking in all common sense in other avenues, it is hard to avoid pinning any and all such ill manefestations on the wimp. According to some people he caused the 911 disaster, the ebola outbreak, climate change, junk science, the oil problem, the bad economy, the financial meltdown and the destruction of New Orleans, and really, only the latter issue can probably be fully laid on him and his stupid hirelings.

Due to recent events, Lieut. Steif and Sgt. Terse have been patrolling the Island, peering into trashcans and dumpsters with guns drawn, while Mr. Spline continues to keep an eye on Joshua, who is allegedly holed up in the Greek Orthodox church after blowing the whistle on a number of formerly clandestine municipal evesdropping operations. Some folks have been looking at lobbying for a pardon for Joshua, largely because all of this secret operative sneaky stuff costs money and he really is a good boy scout at heart, albeit somewhat impish. News of this sort makes Mr. Spline furious as he would dearly love to shoot Joshua for the crime of being unAmerican and unafraid.

Meanwhile the elections fast approach and the Conservative Party has split into the Definitively Conservative Party, with Babar as its champion, and the Radical Shrieking Conservatives, spearheaded by Ronald Rump, who maintains that only by shouting louder than everybody else can one succeed.

The Somewhat Vaguely Liberal Democratic National Consortium, with Papoon running on the age-old platform "Not Insane!" has been nonplussed by the vitriol expelled by the RSC candidate.

Many people have expressed concern unthinking nonsense has become the order of the day, but they have been shouted down. A debate is supposed to occur between the RSC candidate and the SVLDNC but nobody wants to be moderator between an hysterical egotist and a miniature squirrel.

At the Household of Marlene and Andre, all the residents have started to gather together again after the long, hot summer. Regardless of foreign adventures with their inevitable consequences and political posturing and all the kool aid that seems flowing from barrels these days to encourage idiocy and blind devotion to stuff and nonsense, people still need to get by and latterly, the folks in the Household have lost patience with Motivational Speaker kool aid and with poltical shenanigans and all the fear mongering that always leads to the inevitable War.

Everybody gathered around for a satisfying meal of bread soup prepared by Marlene. Because after Obama had rescued the country from impending economic disaster, the corporations were flush with money; so things worked as they usually do -- nobody got paid any more than usual, but a lot of free cheese seemed to appear everywhere, just like back in the day of Ronnie Raygun. That meant there was plenty of parmesan and Asiago for the soup this time.

Of course Mohammed who lived down the street with his kid Ephren, got dragged away one day by Rump's Brownshirts and put into a cattle car, but the State remained feeling safe and good about itself.

No matter who gets elected, it is always the quality of the soup that matters. Because somebody always gets dragged off in a cattle car to disappear in smoke and ashes. "Arbeit macht Frei" has not changed as the motto in this new world order.

"Where's my daddy," asked Ephren.

"We don't know," Andre said. "Maybe District 9."

"You can stay with us," Marlene said.

"It's cool, man." Little Adam said. "I'll show you how to make a flic-knife."

"Now Adam," said Marlene.

"Okay," said Ephren.

After the dinner was over, the kitchen cleaned up and the inhabitants of the Household largely retired, Andre sat out on the porch with the Tacoma and softly played Workingman's Blues #2.

"Whatever shall we do in these times," Marlene said, coming out with the dishtowel still in her hands.

"Same as we folks have done for 5,000 years. Stand upon the palm of the indifferent god holding us up, waiting and watching," said Andre, "And hoping for some small mercy. We can do nothing else."

The howl of the throughpassing train ululated from across the water where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stood glowing with their multi-kilowatt sentry lights, quavered across the starlit waves of the estuary, over the riprap embankments, over the moon-silvered grasses of the Buena Vista flats and over the open spaces of the former Beltline railway; it moaned through the cracked brick of the defunct Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed and chainlink fences as the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its journey to parts unknown.

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



SEPTEMBER 11, 2016


This week's image comes from artist Carol Taylor who likes to take pics on her daily walks about town. Here we see a maple turning colors in front of an Edwardian house in the Gold Coast area.


A touch of the flu knocked down the majority of the staff these past two weeks, but we are slowly coming back on the mend. There have been a few staff changes, a few relocations, and some Life changes as well. We should be back in the saddle in no time soon.


Seems Mayor Trish has gotten herself in hot water again, a now familiar scenario for the increasingly controversial Mayor who was elected on the wave of change sentiment that swept all the old guard from power a few years ago. The City charter calls for a City Hall to be governed substantially by the City Manager, with the Mayor fulfilling mostly a swing vote position as well as public representative presence for the City, however the idea that the Mayor should provide leadership in times of trouble persists and the option for the Mayor to provide substantial directional guidance does exist. In the past some mayors have succeeded in guiding the Island successfully through large civic projects, such as the beach expansion that produced the lagoon, so it has been quite disappointing to observe how the woman elected on a platform of "moderate considered growth" has dropped the ball and sometimes goofed badly in public representation.

Some may remember that in June of 2015 Trish Spencer managed to insult foreign dignitaries and the entire Filipino community with culturally obtuse comments. One can take issue with a casual comment about eating rice, but the truth is, when you prepare to meet officials visiting from a foreign country, one had best show respect by being prepared with at least a brief prepared speech that at least addresses easily researched aspects of national and cultural pride instead of resorting to off-the-cuff silliness. The Filipino visit and her unconscious verbal manhandling of the Fire Department tend to convey a picture of an airhead who does not take her job seriously.

The latest flap is over the botched interviews where the Mayor had the opportunity to really shine by listing all the good qualities the Island possesses. Instead of being the Island's prime booster, the Mayor hemmed and hawed on reasons to love the Island and then said the schools were a mess and then, to cap it with icing and cake, started laughing about how deplorable the schools are.

We do not believe Trish Spencer is a bigot or against the Fire Department or has serious objections to teachers. We do observe that she steadfastly refuses to think about what she says and that because of that lack of preparedness, the most public representative of the City often comes off as a fool, which certainly detracts from those times when she does make perfect sense.

She did make a telling statement a few months ago in response to some people in a Council Meeting by saying, "You know, this is no small town any more; this is a city."

Indeed when we first witnessed the police letting loose the dogs on a man just half a block off Park Street, witnessed guys shooting craps in the driveway, witnessed savage assault and battery in the neighborhood, and a number of other observances, we more than realized that the Island has 80,000 inhabitants soon to expand easily and quickly by another 20,000. This fact may have been what caused Trish Spencer to essentially give up. She seems to have said, "Well, you guys are so head-in-the-clouds foolish, I can do nothing but laugh about the situation!"

Well, the woman still has a job to fill, no matter how badly paid, and the City still has good things going for it, even though the Mayor has trouble recalling them. The Island is not yet a lost cause and there is time to get to work on the problems while keeping the good stuff in place.


So anyway, the days have been sunshiny but cool with mysterious breezes at dusk. At dusk the ramparts of the pogonip come rolling over the hills of distant Babylon and before anyone can notice, the top of Grizzly Peak is also fortified with a thick cover of mist. We had a momentary burst of heat, but the fog coming in this way announces the change in seasons. People crossing the bridges pass from a gray overhead ceiling through the Twilight Zone mid-span where anything can happen.

Bosco the pig came out to snuffle curiously the changed air of the Gold Coast, and observed how a leaf detached in the breeze to swirl in the air, before shuffling back into his hovel. It is what it is. Nothing a pig can do about it.

The leaf danced in the air above the telephone lines and went down the block to where Officer Rumsbum, no longer even an imitation officer guarding the parkinglot of City College or protecting the basement floor of Macy's in his retirement, stood with his hands clasped behind his back, stiffly at ease with his cordless phone in his backpocket on the fire escape of the building he had inherited as the son of the previous live-in manager. He did not get paid for the position, but he did enjoy having the run of the place and telling people what to do.

A Toyota pulled up in front of the building and started to park in the narrow space between the two garage entrances.

"No parking! shouted Rumsbum.

The driver leaned out of the window and looked up. "Whaaa?!"

"No parking!" Rumsbum took out his phone and displayed it. "You're gonna get towed!"

"O for Pete's sake," said the driver, who nevertheless departed.

Rumsbum had thought about moving after his retirement to Tennessee where he had kinfolk; it was cheaper there. But he had been living in the same room for 48 years, the same room he had shared with his mother before she passed away due to cirrhosis. He liked being in charge here. And the people were nice; they always did what they were told. And in a few minutes he would move his truck from down the street to the now empty space between the garages in front. Life was good.

The leaf sailed past a squirrel who scampered along the lines to the pole where he leapt across to the lines passing in front of the empty storefront where Pagano's Hardware used to be and a tree hung over close enough to be safe haven from the Cooper's hawk that just then circled overhead before heading southeast.

The hawk noticed activity down there near Otis and swooped down to have a better look, but it was only Martini fussing in the ironmongery garden at Marlene and Andre's place.

He finished checking on the bean plants and sat down to have a cigarette. Andre came out to join him on the steps.

Martini asked howzitgoin.

Feelin' old, Andre said. Hard work, low pay, mouths to feed.

Just you wait, Martini said. Give it enough time and you will surely feel old for real.

Tell me about it.

I remember when they pushed that 580 connector right through the heart of Oaktown. My daddy fought them right up until the end and in the end they just took the house by way of eminent domain. Heck I can remember when this land we are sitting on was all water.

That was Mayor whatsisname filled all this in. Made the lagoon, Andre said.

Yeah, old whatsisname is right. Got people so mad they set his car on fire.

He kill himself?

No, you're thinking of Mayor Ralph. Mayor Ralph had nothing to do with it.

The two of them sat for a moment, thinking about massive construction projects, demolition, and solitary midnight despair while a bee clambered over the broad face of an autumn sunflower in the garden.

You ever married? Andre asked, thinking about his own problems.

O that is a story, Martini said. I could tell you the story all about how I met my first love at the county fair and how it never panned out and I could tell you about a French exchange student I knew one summer, then there was Diane of course -- can't forget that one -- and I could tell you about Elizabeth . . . how for years . . .

Martini paused and looked down, looking like the saddest man in the world.

It's okay, Andre said.

The truth is, said Martini, I have been graced by the presence of beautiful women, shining from inside to out. And how it ended does not matter so much as I was gifted by knowing a few precious souls who gifted me with their light for a short while. Let me tell you I had a vision the other day when I was in the City. I saw a man sitting in Vesuvio's with a cup. He was obviously from Tuscany -- I could tell. He wore a beret over hair gone silver and a mantello and he had a walking stick leaning up on the table and he sat there looking out the window, not seeing me but remembering something because there was a faint smile on his lips.

I want to be that man someday, Martini said. I think the story ends better that way. For me anyway.

The bee on the sunflower arose heavily and bumbled off over the fence, passing a late monarch butterfly that dodged and dipped until it wandered through Lincoln Park and over the green bench dedicated "To all my dumb friends" and then fluttered past the front of Chad and Tammy's bungalow where she stood chatting as the dusk light faded with an old friend come to visit from far off Marin County where people can afford to take things like aroma therapy seriously.

In New York City, on Christopher Street where the trees grow in a line surrounded by cobblestones, a woman walking alone past a line of political posters, featuring the angry face of a demagogue with an open mouth, heard the sound of a plane overhead and looked up into the night sky. It was an American Airlines jumbo jet leaving New York for San Francisco and she thought to herself, "It's been fifteen years now. What was normal now feels sometimes strange and what we used to take for abnormal we take as a matter of fact." She put her head down and descended into the subway.

Far away across the continent packed tightly with the masonry of States scored and lined by the work of harvesters and combines, sat the Editor at his desk, lit by the circle of the desklamp. There had been a nasty flu going around which knocked people out with nausea, water poop, coughing and general misery. The entire office had gotten it and now everyone was coming back, tentatively, with pockets stuffed with Kleenex and ricola lozenges.

After coming back from HIS war, the one that took place in hot, sweaty jungles instead of hot, sweaty deserts, he had been convinced people are just meat. Now he knew better; looking at all the trash bins piled high with tissue paper, he knew for certain people are bags of mucus. Back in the day of knee-britches the kids would dare one another with the most ridiculous dare-you-cross-the-line things. Back before anyone had ever met or seen a real communist, they all knew that Communism was a real bad thing because of the way the Folks talked about it. So the dare came down: would you allow yourself to be forced to join the Communists by stepping up on a dais and swearing on a stack of bibles, or would you rather piss on your grandma's grave and drink a quart of camel snot. While standing neck deep in a vat of donkey poop. No! Worse! Bear poop! Neck deep in liquid bear poop while drinking camel snot.

Kids that age know about poop. It can be said they have not left that age so far behind which featured all kinds of smelly messes and so they know what IS and what's SNOT.

All these childhood memories surge back with a vengeance. Sometimes these memories surged up the front and sometimes they impelled out the back. That's just the way it is. As the Counting Crows said, "The price of a memory is the memory of the sorrow it brings."

Back in the day, when he was three years into his time at Poly High in the City they had all gone to Playland at the Beach to take the rides and scoff at Laughing Sal, the animated fortune teller who had seemed so fearsome when they were younger.

When they were younger! They were older but not so much older than they all are now.

He knew that Rachel was in the park somewhere and he fantasized about what he would do if he ran into her. The Rachel that worked in the newsroom had the same name and was a decent enough person, but this earlier Rachel had short hair, hair like corn silk and eyes that were cornflower blue and she was already on the varsity teams for soccer and cross country and she wrote deep, incisive, biting articles for the school newspaper which contained very few if any proofing errors and he imagined running into her at the rides where she would say something like, "These rides are puerile. Lets go somewhere else." She liked words like puerile -- she had been AP 4 in English.

He went over and did not see her and so got on the whirl-a-gig thing, which turned out to be unfortunate as something he had eaten, either the hot dog or the cotton candy started doing a sort of slow simmer inside him when he got off and he sort of staggered along the midway until he came to the shooting thing and there she was and he forgot how he felt, although he did feel sort of hot and flushed and she was so overjoyed to see him, or so it seemed, and she said, "This stuff is so juvenile. Lets take a walk. You look like you could use some fresh air."

So they went down to the ocean beach and she actually put her hand in his, this girl he had watched for so long and they walked in the dark a long ways toward the Cliff House lights and she said, "I really like you. You are not like the others; you really get me."

She turned her face up and was standing very close, their bodies touching and the surf was going and the stars above and the salt wind and her lips were deliciously full and they both were young and filled with life and he felt very hot and something clearly was about to happen.

That is when he threw up.

Much later, after his recovery from pneumonia, and after his father -- a third generation Californian Baptist of the Hellfire variety -- had put him through a rigorous physical regimen meant to toughen his soul and save his body -- or vice versa -- he graduated from high school and she went on to Northwestern University in Illinois and so he joined the U.S. Marines. Not long after that they closed Poly High and tore down the old high school buildings.

A moth banged onto the screen window from somewhere up above in the darkness.

Somewhere out there, beyond the curtains of muttering dark night, with the eyes all around, somewhere out there was a like mind. Somewhere out there was another Creator of a different sort, also longing in his or her heart. And so he sat at his desk with his remaining white hair flying about his head in an aureole, lit by the pool spilled by the desklamp, persisting after all these years, doing all for Company.

The moth remained on the screen and he saw clearly it was a Sphinx. It was still warm enough to keep the windows open, but autumn was coming on and soon it would be chill. He stood up after putting the Issue to bed and stretched his old bones. It was coming on autumn, a chill breeze came through the window, and the hour was late. He wondered what would become of this newsroom after he was gone. At the end of the day, that which remains is all we have ever done up to the point our building collapses around us. That which we have done. And that which abides yet still.

The howl of the throughpassing train ululated from across the water where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stood glowing with their multi-kilowatt sentry lights, quavered across the starlit waves of the estuary, over the riprap embankments, over the moon-silvered grasses of the Buena Vista flats and over the open spaces of the former Beltline railway; it moaned through the cracked brick of the defunct Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed and chainlink fences as the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its journey to parts unknown.

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


AUGUST 21, 2016


This week we have a portrait in sepia by Island-Lifer Carol, who lives in the Barbary Coast section of the Island.


School is back in session this upcoming week in all districts. Our own Charter schools started a week earlier, but the throngs begin Monday. So be mindful of the little monsters crossing the road in the AM and at dusk.

News about the Island rent control initiative is spreading wider around the Bay where other areas are starting to get restive on the same subject. It is no joke that the current situation is a Bay area-wide crisis with people getting evicted and uncaring landlords running wild over law and people's rights.

Frank Bette Art Center, closed for these past three months, reopened after some needed structural renovations to the old building.

FB is a place for older art, but the hot Autobody gallery, sometimes called "Popups", on Park near the bridge has been going great guns for contemporary work, partnering with other galleries over the estuary in the "Jingletown" area for ProArts events. It is always worth a visit up the narrow stairs.

Island-Life will shut down for a couple of weeks to allow staffers time to re-orient their moonbeam antennae, recharge emotional batteries, heal from various wounds, and restock the cognitive fridges with Fat Tire. See all of you guys in the Fall.


So anyway, Little Adam was to start up school again and everybody in the Household of Marlene and Andre chipped in to help out the youngster who had endured such a bad start in life. Marlene got him a new used backpack and Suan and Tipitina sewed on glitterstars to make it stand out. Martini got Adama solar powered calculator and Jose gave him an important book called "How to Defuse Aggression and Deal with Difficult People", which everyone agreed was just the thing for learning how to deal with all kinds of personalities encountered in California Middle School on up to High. Javier gave him a couple narrow-rule theme books and Snuffles gave him a pencil that had been hardly used.

The night before the First Day, Andre sat down with Little Adam in the livingroom dormatory where five or more people slept at night and had a talk.

"Now when you go to school know that the learning is mostly about dealing with both the System and with people in it. The people have no choice, so please remember to keep your knife in your pocket. You want to be the winner in all this and remember the idea in all fights is to be able to walk away and go to work without gauze bandages and stitches and stuff. The other guy has no job and can afford to fight and lose, but not you. You gotta remember you be better stuff, unnerstan? You gets the job and you gets paid next day for workin' but not if you got a cut on top of your head that make you look like a fool. Don't go looking for the fight."

"I know that Broderick be there," says Little Adam. "I beat his Juvie ass for sure soon as we meet up."

"No you not fight him," said Andre. "You already won without a punch. He is going to Juvie and then to State House and will never raise no family or hold a job but be complaining his whole life about things. He is gonna bounce from school to school getting ousted each time he fights and never make any friends.

"You gonna do right and make Marlene and me proud of you. The whole war is already over and won and you don't have to throw any punches. You know at the start you won already and he can feel it and he just wants to drag you down."

"O maynnnnnnnnn . . .". Adam said, flopping down on the couch that was Suan's bed when she was able to sleep at all. She worked the Crazy Horse on the pole as a dancer and did not get much sleep time at all. That seemed true for most of them theater types.

"Adam, just remember this: Two people fighting means something went wrong, something failed along the line. You see two people fighting and you see a sign of failure. Don't be part of failure. You want to succeed."

And then Adam said something that made the old punk's heart melt to all the extent that it could.

"Ok dad."

And so Andre sent Adam off to brush his teeth and get ready for bed and at the end of the long day, he stood over him, the surrogate father who had never enjoyed a decent father in his own life, his arms entwined with tattoos there in the half light as Little Adam drifted off to dreamland. He and Marlene could not have children of their own because of the damage inflicted by their own parents, but this one would survive. Yes, this one would succeed despite all obstacles and every setback.

The howl of the throughpassing train ululated from across the water where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stood glowing with their multi-kilowatt sentry lights, quavered across the starlit waves of the estuary, over the riprap embankments, over the moon-silvered grasses of the Buena Vista flats and over the open spaces of the former Beltline railway; it moaned through the cracked brick of the defunct Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed and chainlink fences as the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its journey to parts unknown.

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



AUGUST 14, 2016


A while ago we reported on the saga of the Jackson Park bench, first constructed and left unfinished in 1926 by the widow of a man who loved animals, and then about the destruction of the bench during violent storms a couple years ago.

It took some citizen involvement to have the bench restored, as there were grumps who wanted the thing entirely removed, due to the danger of it being a locus for illegal activity.


Now really people. Fortunately whimsy and good sense prevailed and so here we present the bench in its restored glory along with its double entendre logo.


Drove by this past week and we noticed the SWAT team raiding a house in the 2000 block on Park Avenue in the same block as Jackson Park. Seems members of the Angry Elf gang had been using the house as a haven for collecting stolen credit cards, bank account numbers, and general fenced stolen goods as well as blackmail material and extortion as well as arson info.

You never really know your neighbors, do you.

On more upbeat news which impacts the Economy -- a subject that which was once a hot button topic during electoral season -- we see that the Port of Oaktown had Busiest Month in a Decade and that export volume increased for the sixth time in seven months. Holiday shipping has not yet started, according to a port official.

Last month the port handled the equivalent of 223,619 20-foot cargo containers - the most since it handled 227,996 20-foot containers in August 2006.

Cargo volume has gone up across the board and may signal a spike in the upcoming peak shipping season, port officials said.

"These numbers are encouraging and with holiday shipments set to commence, this could be the start of something good," Port of Oakland maritime director John Driscoll said in a statement.

Well now and welladay. From near universal financial collapse during the Bush Administration, we turned around to this during the Obama Administration.

Can you say "Thank you"? We knew you could.

Drive slow: school in session. Students in Alameda Unified School District head back to school on August 22, so everybody mark your calendars for when the little urchins start scampering across the roads to catch the bus.

Glad to hear that the spurious Agit-Prop initiative sponsored by Big Property failed to get valid signatures for its repressive measure. ARC is still looking for contributions to help fund the ongoing effort to fight Big Money and get something done about the rental crisis. You can have a look at what is going on and contribute by going to ARC .


So anyway. Pedro headed out toward the sealanes and the fishing areas, bouncing along the chop in his cabin of the commercial boat El Borracho Perdido, plexiglass windows dashing the spray to either side. Out there, beyond the Golden Gate, the swells grew calmer in this season before the storms of autumn and the boat rolled up and down with its lines thrown out and the panoply of stars marching overhead. The time became devoted to work, to doing the things one needed to do. Lines needed retrieval. The hold needed tending. The sudden burst of incoming wealth needed sheparding with the tools of the trade - the gaff, the rake, the spear . . . . The Perseids began launching arrows across the heavens to assault once again Orion's head. And the Milky Way spun out its age old stories, waiting for the next genius storyteller to arrive. Pedro hauled about . . . .

Out in the Valley, Sanchez bucked and rolled with the ridges of ploughed earth as he sat in his iHarvester cabin, chaffs of straw stuff tossing against the windowpanes as he came to the turnrow. Out beyond the waves of planted grain undulated beneath the breeze to the furthest hill under the moonlight and with the fog rolling in, those hills islanded themselves as the denser air settled around their banks. With the dry heat and this pernicious drought, he had found ploughing in early morning and early evening worked the best to keep the dust settled. It was rotation time to keep this field fallow for a season, much as he hated to do it, but giving the earth a kind of rest.

He paused, letting the tractor idle, having come around to the turn-row, and he watched the first streaks of the last of the Perseids from within the cab, where sometimes he felt as he imagined how the ancient mariners felt, looking out over the rolling landscape and waves like hills vanishing off to the big sky horizon of indigo and stars.

Out on Snoffish Valley Road the high fog had begin to steal the day's warmth and the girls wore sweaters and hugged themselves above their daisy dukes, while the guys did one peal out after another, smoking rubber to get one last summer's heat in before it all shut down. Jason had his 454 Camaro hybrid and Roscoe had his hopped up Mustang something or other and it was all hang on St. Christopher through the smoke and the oil, buckle down the rumble seat and let the radiator boil. The racers all returned to the circle and everything got quiet for a while with people talking about school and work and stuff. Diane, wearing Bobby Brooks, leaned on the warm hood of Jack's Valiant and sipped a warm beer in the still soft summer night while a Bob Seger CD played from someone's console somewhere out in the darkness. Overhead a shooting star did its thing and the night was left hanging like a blanket with holes punched in it.

In a loft upstairs, Diane lay with Jack and refused everthing, but did not leave, and so surrendered in the last hours of that summer night. From outside a stranger could see the girl's arm reach up to turn out the bedroom light. Down on Snoffish Valley Road the racers set to make one last run for the night as the last Perseids went mad overhead in showers of sparks.

In her snug bed, Ms. Morales rested her head on Mr. Sanchez and remembered the scent of the fresh heirloom she had picked that day, which had spurted juice over her and his arm. The tomato plants all looked about done for this year, although all hanging heavy with fruit. The room brightened briefly with the light of an asteroid falling to earth.

We are so elemental, she thought to herself as she drifted to sleep. We are all ephemeral scent and essence and momentary lights of earth. The scent of tomatos in summertime. . . .

Out on the sealanes, Pedro hauled in the nets and the lines, fresh catch flopping into the hold. The way the sea swelled and the way the fog hung about told him that soon, it would be time to drop crab pots again. The news was about how the old Drakes Estero oyster farm was returning to its natural state. But the crab. The crab would abide. In some form or other.

The howl of the throughpassing train ululated from across the water where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stood glowing with their multi-kilowatt sentry lights, quavered across the starlit waves of the estuary, over the riprap embankments, over the moon-silvered grasses of the Buena Vista flats and over the open spaces of the former Beltline railway; it moaned through the cracked brick of the defunct Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed and chainlink fences as the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its journey to parts unknown.

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



AUGUST 7, 2016


Nothing speaks about the ephemeral nature of life and joy than the sweet strawberry of summer. This image is courtesy of Chris Lindberg.


The latest distraction is the Olympics, which now, more than ever, matters very little. The robbery, the violence, the uncertain security that envelopes the Olympic village this time, the Zika mosquito pestilence, and the general disruption of the world makes this Olympics seem very unnecessary. The entire Russian Paraolympic team was disqualified from contention due to drug doping and daily we hear of nasty injuries and violence against athletes due to the wildly foolish idea of hosting such an enterprise as the Olympics in a Third World developing country where it seems the leaders are more endowed with hubris than sense.

Meanwhile the US presidential election contest remains a joke, a run-off between a criminal supported by the desperate and a fool supported by the lunatic fringe of American idiocy.

Here at home, the obscene Rental Crisis continues to devour bodies and souls. It has already produced some blood and by the intransigent looks of the Big Property people, it certainly will spurt gallons more before this is over. It is not going to "settle down" and people are not "going to get used to it," any more than people get used to getting kicked in the balls. Threats and use of officialized terror will not work any more than it did for former President Pervez Musharraf.

The renters on the Island are furious about what is happening and even if this election fails to produce rent control, it is inevitable that one day it will pass with certainty, like it or not. Good legislation or not. It is very likely that this sentiment will spread beyond the borders of the Island, as other Bay Area counties are feeling desperately squeezed by the greed of absentee landlords.

Meanwhile some landowners stick their heads in the sand, pretending the old Baronial rights of peonage still apply, continuing to violate tenant rights in direct and flagrant violation of State laws, entering premises without notice, conducting harassing visitations, jacking rents well over 35% at will, evicting without due cause, destroying tenant property, illegally harvesting deposits, and generally acting like civility and law do not apply to them in the slightest.

Only recently we heard one landowner say to a tenant who complained about the destruction of their hard-worked garden and out-of-code electrical plugs, "If you don't like it, MOVE."

That is right. Force people to move when you are stealing their deposits, costing them thousands of dollars to escape you so as to go over to somebody else who will steal your deposit.

Sounds like such a deal. At some point you are compelled to stand and fight, back against the wall.


So anyway, the recent heat wave yielded to a pattern of cool air and dappled skies in late afternoon. The fog returned to drape the golden hills in the morning and cloak the trees where the hawk continued to cree-cree. At dusk, earnest fawns went about their business and adolescent deer stood in the intersections, trying to puzzle the meaning of it all as drivers cruised slowly past, also wondering what this all means. Ears of corn remain on sale at Paul's Produce at two for a dollar, so that means the Fall is yet a ways off.

Teachers are talking about how their summer season came to an end on the 15th, when the real work began again with seriousness and so the more serious among them are looking forward to that time.

An old Irish tune lilted across the Island in the form of a Grateful Dead song, although few remember that the tune is copped from the traditional "Aislean an Oigfear" going back now some five centuries, but first translated in 1792 by Edward Bunting and set in verse by Thomas Moore in 1805 in Kilkenny.

So there is some truth to the old saying that the best of the English was wrought by the Irish

When the last rose of summer pricks my finger
And the hot sun chills me to the bone
When I can't hear the song for the singer
And I can't tell my pillow from a stone

I will walk alone by the black muddy river
And sing me a song of my own
I will walk alone by the black muddy river
And sing me a song of my own

As night fell along the Strand the strands of Pegasus began to gallop to the West and the new crescent moon set with the flaming Jupiter for company. Across the water the skyline of Babylon burned with usual ferocity as the City's soul consumed its soul in lights of neon and halogen, producing a new Hell that did not require death or travel to get to. As night advanced across the land with engulfing shadows of strangulating fear and the sun became ever more a distant memory of freedom and light and warmth that once was the rule, the stars emerged in their age-old patterns of majesty. Some things do not change.

Kathy, returning from walking the dog, pointed out Andromeda, chained to her rock, before going inside. Denby remained out there, looking until he found Pegasus. All the world was aflame out there beyond the horizon, in DC and Idaho and Kandahar and Babylon and Rio de Janeiro with violence and shouting, and the two immense front runners went at each other like the Greeks and the Trojans, but in a short while, in a few days, the Perseids would begin; still, it was yet difficult to find from where they would emerge. Taurus marched argumentatively to the West and Beatrice called from inside the house about a problem with the voicemail system, so he left the dark to enter the light, leaving the gods to argue among themselves in the heavens.

In the offices of Island-Life, the Editor hunched over his desk, his remaining white hair flying about his head in an aureole lit by the lamp. A timer stood on the desk, placed there by Jose some hours previously before going out. The Editor continued to work . . . .

In a dank basement, the Angry Elf lit a candle in front of his shrine to his idol, Meyer Lansky, and renewed his singular vows not to kill anyone again this year while plotting new ways to hurt people he imagined have dissed him in some way. He picked up the revolver at the center of the shrine and caressed the barrel. The revolver was said to have belonged to Bugsy Malone. Angry Elf contemplated the next punishment fire his gang would light to get even with somebody falling behind on payments. He smiled and replaced the gun between the candles.

At the open space where Sherman and Buena Vista come together, Office O'Madhauen sipped his Styrofoam coffee, waiting for speeding scofflaws and red-light runners. A brief flash of a comet or shooting star lit up the cruiser, then all was dark once more.

Piedro stepped out of the office of Express Mess in South City to look at the light show taking place overhead while his colleague, Xavier, cleaned his Glock 9 and the lights of the Island across the water went dark with people retiring for the night. There had been no need for a weapon while working in the dispatcher office of a courier service, but you never know. Some people want to be ready for anything.

On the Strand, Pahrump and Snuffles and Jose and Javier all fell asleep on the sand among the bulrushes with the empty five gallon jug at their feet, and their dreaming eyelids were crisscrossed by the streaking stars, causing visions of a more better world free of anxiety, free of homelessness, free of stupidity -- foolish and unrealistic visions, but visions of possibility nevertheless.

In his apartment, the Amazing Anatolia Enigma put aside his cape and his top hat and his cane and fed his rabbit Chechesque, before stepping out on the balcony to observe a far more awesome magic show than he ever could devise.

Out on the sealanes, Pedro minded the lines while overhead the Hunter pinwheeled amid a flurry of shiny, startling arrows. He glanced at the dark radio face, and wished that someone was still there to accompany his lonely hours. Perhaps in October things would change for the better. Ferryboat went "Woof!" to remind him he was not entirely alone for all that.

In Marlene and Andre's Household, the sleepless Marlene got out of bed, leaving her sleeping mate there and walking past the zonked Little Adam, she went down the hall past the snoring people in the the bunks to the bathroom where she did her business without turning on the light.

As she came out a sleepy voice said, "Who zat?" And she said, "Shh. It's just me. Marlene."

"O . . . ! Zzzzzzzzzz . . . .".

Rather than disturb anyone else in that household of shattered lives, misfits, and ne'er do wells, Marlene went out the back through the kitchen and stood in the back area near the ironmongery garden that Martini had welded together for the pole beans and the vine squashes, which now clambered quite high. The garden planted with corn, beans, tubers, root veggies and herbs helped supplement their visits to the food bank, as the collective living there had little money and no one could afford the obscene rents now charged by the landlords everywhere. So fifteen lives had found each other and sufficient space to get out of the weather in that one bedroom cottage. Life was often wretched and packed with horror, but in this place, each had found like-minded souls. Beneath the floorboards, the wharf rats scurried back and forth around the shell of the old central heating furnace.

As the Girl with the Ruined Womb stood in the garden, flashes of light from falling stars began to illuminate the yard and she looked up in wonder. She felt a presence behind her and Andre sang quietly into her ear.

When you wish upon a star
Matters not who you are . . . .

The punk boy from Oaktown put his arms around her and held her as the stars fell around them.

And the Editor continued to work in his windowless cubicle deep within the offices of Island-Life, as the timer continued to tick.
Before leaving for the night, Jose had asked if the Editor was going to watch the big show tonight.

"TeeVee? No time for that nonsense," said the Editor.

"No amigo. It's the sky. Something special."

"Hrrmmph . . . ". The Editor wished his cigar from one side of his mouth to the other. "What is it?"

Jose went out and returned with the digital timer. "When it goes off, take a break and go outside. You will see." The boy then left.

So there the Editor sat, his remaining white hair flying about his head in an aureole lit by the pool of the desklamp while all around hung the blank darkness. Somewhere out there beyond the light was a like mind, seeking Company. Somewhere out there in that ocean of pitch black nothingness was a sympathetic consciousness. There he sat, constructing his meditations, one failure after another, working hour after hour, doing all for Company.

The alarm shocked him into the next moment.

He reached out and silenced the thing and sat a moment, staring into the void. He then got up and moved down the aisles of silent desks and dark computer screens to the back door, which he opened to step out on the deck and there he stood looking at the Old Fence and the trees, still in the windless summer night. Something flared from above and he looked up and stood with his jaw open as the heavens began the show. And there he stood for more than an hour with his hands on the railing, looking up. The Perseids had begun.

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

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

'Tis the last rose of summer,
Left blooming alone;
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone;
No flower of her kindred,
No rosebud 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?

Thomas Moore

JULY 31, 2016


A few weeks ago we enjoyed a "strawberry moon" and we have several images on file for that event, but did not get around to posting any of them. So to emend the error of our ways here is an image of the moon knipsed by Tammy over Bungalow Court on the Island.

Line reference above is to "Calling the Moon" by Dar Williams.


You will note the new and improved masthead with staff images, done courtesy of Beatrice, who is an artist that lives in Marin. Beatrice used to earn a living as an illustrator and carpenter. She is the one who painted the Fairfax "Scoop" Ice Cream Parlor sign some forty-five years ago. She also created the paper mache cow that stands above the register.


Lots of development issues resolved last week in a trend that will see the Island changing its face radically for generations to come.

It looks like Francis Collins finally has the green light for his Boatworks project. That parcel has been the site of industrial manufacturing from 1909 to 2002 when the Pacific Coast Engineering Company closed its doors.

For the past few years, Collins has been busy cleaning up the heavily contaminated site of industrial pollutants.

The plans call for 182 residential units built on 9.48 acres. as well as open space that includes both a community green and a concrete pier on the Oakland Estuary.

In other action at the meeting on July 25th, the City Planning Board approved Site A’s design review application. The design in question involves surface materials, street trees, as well as street lights for Site A and the rest of Alameda Point. The board gave Park Esquina a unanimous nod to proceed with its project at Park Street and Blanding Avenue.

Board members also approved Kevin Lam’s plan for a 7,100-square-foot building on the West End near the intersection of Lincoln Avenue and Webster Street.

Three down and fifteen more projects to go. . .

Since we have the elections process inexorably underway, we note that our rent control initiative is making headlines in other parts of the Bay Area. An attempt by Big Property to shove through an initiative that orders the Council to avoid meddling in rent issues appears to have stalled due to questionable signatures (at least 6,461 signatures need to be validated by the ROV, and this does not look like it will happen by the deadline).

These kinds of tactics are not surprising coming from people who are overly used to skirting the law in practice.

The renter-friendly ordinance this initiative was intended to counteract was approved to be on the November ballot on July 6. The renters’ measure, sponsored by the Alameda Renters Coalition, would cap annual increases at 65 percent of the change in the Consumer Price Index for the previous year. It would also create a five-member rent control board to enforce the regulations.


So anyway the recent heat "dome" we have endured gave way to the usual fogs and evening sea to shore breezes, leading to clear spangled skies scored by the scratch of falling stars. The days proceded in a lively march of teenagers and pickup trucks rattling down Snoffish Valley Road, en route to pick up girls for hanging out, for swimming, for all kinds of things only teenagers can remember.

Down on the Strand, the Almeida family enjoyed a rare holiday together in a birthday party for Santiago as Pedro took a small break before pushing to the end of crab season in August. And Santiago, well, of course was an entire year older and this was an important thing. This year the crab season started late when the Fisheries people closed the opener in November due to toxic algae. He was hearing that razor clams were also on the short list due to high domoic acid content around Humboldt and Del Norte.

What was the world coming to. Poison crabs and poison clams of all things and a man has gotta work to live and they won't let him work.

Little Santiago started yelling; he had let loose his birthday balloon and the thing now soared aloft past the trees over the inlet.

O well. Let it go Santiago. Only grief comes from too much attachment to things that fly away. The crab shall return next year. And the clams. And the corn shall again pierce the intense blue sky of Minnesotta, ignorant of everything we consider important for ourselves. He tilted his hat and let the sun caress his weather-beaten, sea-battered body.

Denby stood outside, thinking of somebody and the heavy sky was a blanket with bullet holes punched in it.

He looked up at the sky, recalling the news release that Jack White's 3rd Man Records had just sent a turntable into space, playing Carl Sagan's "A Glorious Dawn" sextet the entire time until the balloon lifting this cargo burst at an altitude over 98,000 above the earth.

In a few thousand, or perhaps a few thousand years, long after the extinction of the human race, radio waves from that transmission will reach strange creatures living in a distant galaxy and they will wonder even as the battered, space-riddled Voyager drifts into their solar system, bearing a disk on which is recorded, among other things in other languages, Dark was the Night by Blind Willie Johnson.

He paused, breathing in the night air, cool after the long heat in the Valley where he had spent the day. Somewhere a garage band practiced in fits and starts. Crickets rubbed their hindlegs and somewhere else somebody practiced the horn. Music filled the night and made everything worthwhile the way music always does. Soon, it would be time to go to bed, but not after doing a bit of reading by lamplight. Perhaps some Paul Bowles.

At the Household of Marlene and Andre, Little Adam was put to bed and those members who did not work graveyard shifts or weekends had all tucked into their bunks and sleeping bags. Snuffles Johnson snored in his hole and Occasional Quentin stretched out beneath the coffee table. The bunks in the hallway were all filled up with silent, dark bodies. Marlene sat up late with the light of the lamp and the old Singer machine humming as she darned socks, fixed shirts, tried to keep the tack and raft of this household presentable and afloat for just a little while longer during the desperate times of the Rental Crisis.

Below the decks, around the decrepit heater unit, the rats began to scurry this way and that, getting ready for the night of foraging. One rat paused to sniff at the dessicated carcass of his brother who had been electrocuted by the bad wiring job going to the central heating control unit. Beneath the carcass there was a little glow and the delectible odor of fried rat. But this time, the rat moved on and left his brother. Time to investigate that later. And the little glow grew ever so slowly and inexorably beneath the rat that was beneath the house owned by the landlord Mr. Howitzer, who refused to pay for a properly wired and renovated central control unit.

To Mr. Howitzer, the tenants were just so many lab rats, useful only as a subsidy for the property maintenance.

Denby tucked into his book, lit by an Upstart Crow reading lamp he had filched many years ago while doing construction. Now Upstart Crow no longer existed, but he still owned the book lamp. The book was about a Western world traveler remembering Tangier and the Arabic world.

"I relish the idea that in the night, all around me in my sleep, sorcery is burrowing its invisible tunnels in every direction, from thousands of senders to thousands of unsuspecting recipients. Spells are being cast, poison is running its course; souls are being dispossessed of parasitic pseudo-consciousnesses that lurk in the unguarded recesses of the mind. There is drumming out there most nights. It never awakens me; I hear the drums and incorporate them into my dream like the nightly cries of the muezzins. Even if in the dream I am in New York, the first Allah, akbar! effaces the backdrop and carries whatever comes next to North Africa, and the dream goes on."

Out on her Gold Coast veranda, Ms. Morales stood looking at Orion tumbling over the Mastic Senior Center. The Summer Session had taken a break and now there was nothing to do save for preparing for what started in September; an endless, unpaid cycle. What was the future. In the future, the world would implode and creatures like Ronald Rump would ramp about with their shouting mouths and all the stars would fall and be overwhelmed.

A bright streak lit the heavens and startled her into exclaiming, "O!"

Soon the Perseids would begin to astonish the August sky.

Mr. Sanchez emerged from the shadows behind her.

"Un problema?" Mr. Sanchez asked.

"Only a shooting star," she said. "Una estrella fugaz."

"O! Did you make a wish?"

"Tal vez. Maybe."

"Somos como las estrellas, misterioso y brillante y se han ido rápidamente," he said. "We shine for a while and then are gone."

"I did not know I had married a poet," she said.

"Of course you did," he said. "That is why you married me." And then he clasped her in his arms as all the stars fell.

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

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


JULY 24, 2016


This week's headline photo comes courtesy of Tammy and is of a local resident termed Mr. Nutcakes.

As for the headline itself, we were deluged with ideas, from the obvious Squirrel Nut Zippers band to Primus, White Stripes and Fleet Foxes, all of whom have referenced the daffy fellow that acts totally crazy all the time and gets away with it. Save for the occasional roadkill mishap.

Finally we decided on a song best known as one written by Utah Phillips and covered by Joan Baez, among many others. The full text of the lyric goes, somewhat cynically by a lovelorn fellow as follows:

Now the nights are so long, Lord sorrow runs deep
And nothing is worse than a night without sleep
I'll walk out alone and look at the sky
Too empty to sing, too lonesome to cry

If the ladies were blackbirds and the ladies were thrushes
I'd lie there for hours in the chilly cold marshes
If the ladies were squirrel's with high bushy tails
I'd fill up my shotgun with rock salt and nails

Well, we don't wish any harm on Mr. Nutcakes. No certainly not. For one, he aint no poodle . . .


Word has it that the Angry Elf gang has been at it again. Suspicious fire broke out 12:13 am, Wednesday, July 20, when AFD responded to a report of a fire at Allsafe Self-Storage at 1 Singleton Ave. Firefighters arrived on scene to find heavy smoke and fire coming from inside a single-story row of 32 connected storage units. They pulled several hose lines and attacked the fire and used saws and tools to force entry and ventilate the building.

Flammable material in the storage units fed the fire. Firefighters managed to knock the fire down by 1:15 am. and fully extinguish the blaze by 3 a.m. They were able to confine the fire to seven units, which all sustained severe damage. The remaining 25 units sustained minor to severe heat and smoke damage. The fire destroyed or damaged ATV’s, motorcycles and automobiles stored in the units. There were no reports of injuries. A total of 39 firefighters responded to the fire.

On the Rental Crisis front, it is interesting that citizens in other counties are sitting up and taking notice of what is happening here. Someone in far off Marin recently called attention to our notice about the two rent control items on the ballot this coming November.

This is likely to be a very hot electoral season.

Interesting also was the Letter to the Editor about the proposed hotel on Harbor Bay and the rerouting planned for the Bay Shore Trail -- apparently through the parking garage. Seems the letter writer is more than usually informed and well researched on the issues. And as we last recall it was the Ron Cowan outfit that was proposing such an hotel out at Harbor Bay.

We just wonder why Ron Cowan wants to ruin his home town and not somebody else's in all of his projects. Ron, wussup with that dude?

Police blotter reports ten people detained for 5150 psychiatric evaluation at John George. Crazies, we got 'em. There is a slew of burglaries, but we expect San Leandro Police or Oaktown will collect the perps as we have no detective department. So wanna come here and buy some property?

We do, however, actively demonstrate that we love our police. That is in fond hopes that they will not kill somebody or watch another one of us die over the course of two hours so as to prove a point in the budget. As they have done in the past.

Fond hopes indeed. We are not like other cities; we pay our police not to kill us.


So anyway, recent days have been filled with animal portents. Deer galloping across the road, foxes appearing on the edge of parking lots, raccoons lumbering up the tree trunks, hawks crying and displaying themselves with sudden abandon.

All around the Island-Life Offices the high pitch cree-cree of a lone hawk searching for a mate echoed through the lonely trees.

Over at the Native Sons of the Golden West, the Severely Conservative Convention ended a couple days ago after Ronald Rump obtained the nod for the SC candidacy for the Presidency of the Bums after a bitterly fought primary election. The AC failed during this massive heat wave and all the delegates flung sweat as they spoke and gestured. As part of his concession speech, former candidate Ned "Red" Cross refused to endorse the party's nominee due to the acrimonious nature of the Primary contest.

"I lost, I guess. And looking at what we get, I guess all of us lost. Certainly we did lose civility during this contest."

Sound of boos and "Up yer Rump!" chants from the partisan gallery.

"But I tell ya, we agreed, we all agreed, if you remember way back in Elementary, there is one rule we all gotta obey . . . ".

More boos and calls for an abolishment of all rules and regulation, especially for debates and political parties that have the most money at hand.

"But I swear the main golden rule of all still stands. No mothers! You can kick and punch like a girl, Except if you are Rhonda Rousey. You can use loogies and wedgies, but no mothers! Aint it true? Moms are sacred! No mothers man!"

From the side Ronald Rump responded to the concession speech with his usual grace, magnanimity, and generosity large as elephants.


Some felt the Bronx cheer was moderately excessive. Others felt that Rump indicated true Presidential quality. It was difficult to determine what people really felt as everyone who was not a true Rumper, as the Rump adherents were called, had been ejected from the hall by men wearing brown shirts and black armbands.

Some of this theater may seem strange to people not familiar with the Lost Coast and California's hidden traditions. Every four years the bums gather in Northern California to elect from among themselves the person who most exemplifies California Bum values.

For years, members of the Hippie party dominated this caucus, but latterly the Severely Conservative Party and the Pee Tardy Party have overwhelmed opposition, largely by means of the tactic of shouting the loudest. The SCP espouses a government that does virtually nothing, which, if you think about it, perfectly embodies the epitome of bum values with regards to indolence. The SCP has the motto of "Do no harm and do no work!"

The radical Pee Tardy people hold such an extreme Conservative point of view that people should be compelled to pee less than once per day so as to east the strain on the Infrastructure.

There were few PTP people in evidence at the Convention, largely because gangs supporting Rump went around beating them up and setting their homes on fire.

A lot of people with sensitive eardrums were glad when the SCP Convention ended, only to endure the Somewhat Liberal (If You Don't Mind) Convention that followed. This campaign also was characterized by some acrimony, with the young Ernie supporters reacting with dismay and disappointment when their beloved icon failed to gather sufficient delegates to become the nominee over Hilarious Blimpton, who nevertheless made history as the first woman in history to snag this pole spot,

The outgoing President made an appearance to endorse the new candidate.

"I am sorry I may have failed y'all. I fixed the Nation's economic system when it was heading for a tailspin, I rescued Detroit, I reassured our allies we are not all nutcases ready to invade other countries on a whim, I jumpstarted renovation of the collapsing health care system for everybody in a way even the insurance companies like, I repaired relations with Cuba, I brokered a multinational deal on nuclear arms proliferation with one of our former enemies in the Middle East, I also successfully brokered bipartisan budget deals 8 times to minimize and avert total government shutdown that would have permanently damaged the nation's international credit, and I did a whole lotta other stuff people don't remember.

So I am sorry, I failed you; I just did not get around to giving the White House a new coat of paint and fixing Climate Change. I guess I just was working too hard trying to keep the Country from looking ridiculous."

"It's okay Mr. President," Hilarious said. "It seems the SCP people -- and we know who they are -- never expected that a Black Man could roll up his sleeves and work harder than anybody else. I guess they expected you to be a Bum. This seems to have upset them a bit."

"It does look like they can't get over something," agreed the President. "I am sorry I am not a good bum."

After the Convention was over, Jose, Denby, and Pahrump went to work taking down bunting, sweeping up confetti and tossing banners into the trash.

"You sorry that your main man Ernie Sandman didn't get the nomination?" Jose asked Denby.

"At least he changed the process a bit," Denby said. "Never expected the Establishment would allow him in."

"So what he do?" Jose asked

"He turned a circus that involved two red-faced people shouting extreme inanities at each other into a three-ring." Denby said. "Which makes for better TV.

"O!" Jose said.

As they dragged the stuffed garbage bags out to the dumpster, they heard a high pitched "Cree! Cree!" overhead.

"What about you, Pahrump?" asked Denby. "What do you make of all this?"

Pahrump wearily heaved his sack into the dumpster. "We been hoping for years the White Man would just go away, watching his imaginary kingdom shrink to the point even a people as blinkered as they cannot ignore it any more. Now they wanna restore a kingdom that never existed in reality. Nothing any of them gonna do will bring back our homelands and the big steelhead runs up in the Lost Coast. This country been around for 400 years -- it can stand a little twist and tug. It aint gonna melt away like bee pee on cigarette paper."

"Fo' shizzle," Jose said, who was significantly younger than Pahrump.

After they were done they sat out on the front steps looking out over the marina and the white effulgence of the waning moon, still gibbous after last week. Everything was silvered over -- the trees, the lawn, the houses, the boats and the wavelets out on the cove. Ship masts clinkered in the distance although there was not a breath of air on this hot summer's night.

"CREEEEE! CREEEEE!" came from the trees where the hawk had found shelter.

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

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


JULY 17, 2016


This week the headline comes from the slushpile of good stuff and features a trio engaged in a small family spat. This one was shot by Tammy in a series of a neighbor's roof.

Houston Jones is no longer performing as such, but if you come across Travis performing around here, have him do the old HJ song by Chis Kee and you will not be disappointed.


We had photos from an entirely different parade posted last week, but our photobanks include a fair number of images taken of America's biggest little small town parade. Let it be said, our Sikhs are chic. Here ya go . . .



Most of the issues floating around have to do with the rental crisis and the ongoing land development projects -- nothing new to report as Silly Hall hunkers down for the elections and Islanders prepare to vote on the first rent control initiative in November -- there are likely to be others.

Bill Poland wants to develop the industrial shipping area into a tony area featuring 275 apartments at the usual rent gouge, 125 expensive "townhomes", and approximately 150,000 square feet of commercial space, including 115,000 square feet dedicated to maritime uses. His proposal is sitting before City council now but he is trying to elicit warm and fuzzy feelings from the people by way of an open letter (published in the Sun) and website that is high on promises, but wretched in terms of detailed information.

One positive that comes out of this, is the sense that developers are realizing they can no longer just move in with bulldozers and excavators without informing the community any more. Which is a step in the right direction.

More positives: Irene Dieter Construction crews recently placed a new haul-out platform for the protected harbor seals. The platform replaces and relocates the old dock that has been used by the seals for a while. The idea is to provide some shelter for the seals during the expansion of the WETA ferry facilities at the Point.

We checked a few other locations where this kind of thing has been done, along with other measures, and it does seem to work so long as the humans and their pets obey the keep away signs.


So anyway, it's been overcast and positively drizzly at times around here while other parts of the Bay Area have been awash in cool sunshine. All over the place, wherever there blazed a patch of sun left unencumbered by developers lifting their scaffolds, tomatoes and roses swelled in profusion. Corn plants stood about three feet high in some yards and ruby-throated hummingbirds zapped this way and that from feeder to feeder.

Mr. Spline got called off of the Whistleblower Watch up on the hill, where he had been conducting surveillance of the Greek chapel in which Joshua Rainman had taken refuge, so as to help stake out the home of suspected Islamicists on Santa Clara. The name of the family allegedly living in the alleged Islamacist house was Jeddah, which Ms. Felcher back in the CIA office had found to be a name of a city in Saudi Arabia. Also the alleged Mr. Jeddah sported a suspicious beard and had never been seen going to synagogue or church. This, itself, was a serious omission on an Island which sported more churches per square mile than Jerusalem. Spline joined Simon Snark, a clandestine operative working for an agency so secret no body knew the name of it. His security clearance badge had the name redacted by someone with a black magic marker.

At first, surveillance was easy, because the people inside had drawn up the blinds to the big picture window for the main room and Snark sat there patiently with his field glasses and camera while Spline played with the radio.

They talked together in special code.

"Cotillion?" asked Mr. Spline.

"Walrus," answered Mr. Snark.

"No foxtrot?"

"Nope. No elephant."

Conversation with Mr. Snark could be problematic, as even his small talk had been scripted by his handlers. He talked only about the prospects of the Chicago Cubs winning the world series and nothing else.

"I don't think you ever even lived in Chicago," said Mr. Spline.

"What makes you say that?"

"Well, you never talk about anything else."

"Are you sure about that? How do you know what I talk about when nobody is there?"

This had Mr. Spline beat for a moment. "There are other things in Chicago besides the Cubs."

"Like what else? What could be more important than the World Series?" Mr. Snark said.

At this point they were joined by the red-blooded All-American Mr. Terse. Terse was an ex-marine, but had volunteered to continued the fight against Communism. In his mind, the Islamacists were all Communists by another name as they were known to provide free medical care and build schools in places like Palestine.

"The Cubs record is an American Tradition." Said Mr. Terse, coming into the conversation late.

"Well, like the Loop," said Mr. Spline.

"Shows what you know. The Loop don't go by Wrigley Field."

"Are you sure about that? It seems to me . . .".

"Fornicating bats!" exclaimed Mr. Snark.

"Uh, I don't remember that code, . . . ".

"They closed the blinds!" Snark said, lowering his field glasses.

"O! What are we going to do now?"

"See if we can get a better view. Maybe plant a mic or two."

"Isn't that going to happen by the carpet cleaner tomorrow? Maybe we should just stay put."

Mr. Terse was disgusted. "You CIA career bureaucrats got no ambition."

So this is how the three clandestine operatives got to creeping around to the backyard. Essentially, the two approached the open gate along the side, and figuring this was a too obvious approach, went around the block, crept along the drive of the apartment house behind and came to the fence

The still fit Mr. Terse, who began each day with 50 pushups, easily scrambled over the chainlink, followed by Mr. Spline, but Mr. Snark got his pants hung up and he fell ingloriously into the jacaranda, knocking over a bucket.

The back door opened and the house owner peered out with a flashlight, exclaiming over his shoulder, "Damn raccoons are into the vegetable garden again, honey!"

The three operatives, caught, sprang into action. They rushed the door, knocking down the man standing there and took position with their guns drawn pointing down at the terrified man laying on the kitchen floor.

A woman wearing an apron at the sink stood there with a dishrag and a look on her face that would have startled Edvard Munch.

A nappy-headed kid about six peered from around the corner with round, brown eyes.

"Please don't kill my daddy," said the kid. "He's not read my bedtime story yet."

"Don't worry," said Mr. Snark. "We are police."

"O saints preserve us," said the woman. "We all gonna die for sure!"

"Why you come bustin' into my house?" said the man on the floor. "We done nothing wrong. We not driving while Black even!"

"Your name Jeddah," said Mr. Terse. "That's Middle East."

"I'm from Jamaica," said the man. "And Sarah was born in Oaktown. And the name is Jeremiah, not Jeddah."

"How come you gonna shoot my daddy?" asked the kid.

"He's a suspected terrorist." Said Mr. Spline, grimly.

"No he's not," Sarah said. "He's a landscaper."

"Moderation in pursuit of terrorism is no virtue," said Mr. Terse.

"That sounds familiar," Mr. Spline said.

"You bust into my house wearing black suits and black ties as if you be Mafia, knock down my husband with guns, and you destroyed the jacaranda. Now who is terrorizing who here!"

"Pleeeeze don't shoot my daddy!" wailed the little kid.

"Now now," said Mr. Terse reaching over to a bowl on the linoleum table. "We are here to serve and protect. Wanna cookie?" He offered a chocolate chip to the kid.

"Sorry ma'am," said Mr. Spline. "Just a little mistake . . .".

"Get outta my house!" shouted Sarah.

"Well okay," said Mr. Terse. "Keep alert and watch your neighbors carefully. We are going, but do not hesitate to call Homeland Security if you see anything suspicious."

"O for Pete's sake," Jeremiah said from the floor.

Outside the three headed for Mr. Spline's covert black SUV as lights flicked on all up and down the block. Someone called out of a window, "Sarah?! You and the kids all right?"

A group of teenagers came out and started filming everything with their cell phones.

"Dang, those cameras everywhere now," said Mr. Spline.

"It's getting difficult for us to do our jobs anymore," said Mr. Terse.

"O shut up," said Mr. Snark. "I need to change my pants."

Mr. Spline looked down. "Say even your underwear is red, white and blue!"

"Of course it is!" Snapped Mr. Snark.

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

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

JULY 10, 2016


Roving photog Tammy took this shot of a neighbor's front yard while strolling through the Gold Coast the other day. Kinda brightens up the day.


You may have heard there is something going on in the news lately about police in America. Foreign countries are warning citizens visiting this country to be extra careful around police. Riots are tearing up, once again, the hearts of our cities. Once again, innocent people have been slain in the course of trivial traffic stops. And once again a lunatic has gone wild with firearms in a public place, this time specifically targeting police officers.

That the victims are police officers should not distract from the greater picture of now regular mass shootings in public arenas. This time police. That time Jews. One time sausage factory health inspectors, who apparently have no presskit of their own. Children and teachers in another instance.

So it appears that our IPD enjoyed a certain amount of community support recently in the wake of the Dallas shootings which claimed the lives of at least five workingmen just doing their jobs.

That is okay for what it is. Nobody should have to fear for their life going to work. It is nice that people who are the main beneficiaries of the stable social order provided by police express their appreciation. It also should not distract the discourse from the two issues that are pressing upon the entire Nation right now. Gun violence has surpassed epidemic proportions and is causing a series of unwanted changes in the fabric of our daily lives and much of this could be dealt with effectively were it not for a powerful industrial lobby we do not even have to reference by its acronym to identify.

The other issue is the horrific carnage being inflicted upon Americans by a supposedly defensive entity that is entirely too hyped, too violent, and too driven to employ overwhelming deadly force to resolve difficulties. One classic case is that of Oscar Grant who was shot in the back in Oaktown by Special Force Officers. Grant was face down with an officer the size of a linebacker pressing his knee into his neck when Officer Mehserle reached for his sidearm and, believing he had a taser in his hands, shot and killed Grant.

Now, Grant, a slightly built man, was entirely subdued and at the mercy of the police, so there was no reason to taser the man in the first place. And so many others have died while complying fully with police and obeying all the rules that the question begs itself to be answered, what level of subservience is necessary to avoid being murdered in "accidentally" or in cold blood by authorities and should we be subservient at all in a supposedly free and Democratic society becomes a serious question. Certainly struggling with an officer and then running away seems certain to result in a death sentence in the United States. In other places, the police either talk the man down or let him go so as to retrieve him later, tactics that just do not ever seem to happen here.

We turn to Le Monde for the numbers, and it should surprise nobody that entire world is aghast at what is going on here. Every single major foreign news outlet, including Le Monde, Der Spiegel and El Mundo has featured the face of the Dallas Policechief David Brown in agony over what has happened recently and there follows images of President Obama's response in transit to Spain for trade talks there. It was up to the French to take apart the Washington Post's stats on the over 500 people killed by police this year (27% Black, 52% White, 17% Hispanic). Nobody has really done a comparative analysis of the nature of the killings, which would of course now include the homicidal maniac holed up in the Dallas garage. Of those 500 plus there certainly are a percentage of folks who, if not stopped, would have certainly hurt and or killed other people.

Looking at Black Lives Matter lists for 2015 we find among the plus 100 Black Americans killed by police quite a high number of people who were innocent bystanders or just plain innocent while detained on suspicion while a large number of persons struggled physically with a police officer only to lose their life, innocent or not, independent of any trial. It seems of the mind of some Whites that if you struggle and run away for fear of your life, as it turns out justifiably, then you are a low life thug and deserve execution Dirty Harry style.

Well, we have only to cite Eastwood himself who has said that Dirty Harry was an unrealistic fantasy and such a person could never really exist in a modern, civilized society. For good reason.

There is certainly a separation of experience and understanding between Blacks and Whites in how things really work in America today, and even Newt Gingrich has stated that "Whites have no idea what it is to be Black." Trump's nonsensical claim that he would prefer to be a Black businessman (1989) because of all the "advantages" is not so shocking, given the nature of the person who said it, but it is disturbing that so many clueless Whites take such a statement on face value.

Of course it is not up to any one White crusader to wreck the relative peace and equilibrium that any particular Black family may have hacked out of the substrate of this disorganized Society. That sort of thing leads to nothing but discontent with failed promises. What needs to happen is for Whites to listen and to engage, not with their own lily-white sense of guilt so as to feel better, but to the other side that seems so foreign to them because of distance. Foreign as it seems now, even though this Darker side is substantially what built America into what it is today.

As for the Island, sure it is fine to reassure the Thin Blue Line for the moment -- for they have their uses -- while also keeping in mind it was this same department that watched a man die for two hours in the water one memorable Memorial Day, all so as to prove a point in the budget. And also recall that although one side did get rambunctious, it was the police that reacted by violently spilling blood on the stairs of City Hall during the special session on the rental crisis a few months ago.

We do feature a number of people who roam about here on the Island, showing up at functions and flaming people online they are certain will never accost them in person, who have a fine opinion of themselves and a certain idea of moral rectitude and certainty that all the police do is good and for the benefit of all, and just all so altruistic and anybody they hurt just probably deserved what they got. Both the Police Union and the Fireman's Union are thinking only of you and your little dog too. Barney Fife, this Island aint no small town no more, as stated by the Mayor herself in a meeting a few months ago. The Island is a City and its population is soon to top 100,000 souls and acting all smug and superior at the pancake breakfast will not play the band any more.

Again, remember this, this is a department that watched a man die for two hours so as to make a point in the budget. Not quite Mayberry RFD, is it?


So anyway, the new moon Monday has evolved into a gradually waxing crescent that hangs in the sky from midday through the afternoon into night. The skies have been astonishingly ice-blue clear and the days breezy. A wind kicked up midweek causing the trees to stir as the long hair of the Bann Sé tousled the leaves and made old women take out their rosaries to mutter spells under breath.

Mr. Cribbage hired a couple day laborers named Oso and Orlin to perform landscaping work on his tenant property. As was usual for Mr. Cribbage he went and fetched the guys from the pickup-point in his pickup truck and brought them onto the property with rakes and shovels and shears and other implements of mass destruction and gave the simple instruction "Reducir!" while waving his arms around.

"¿Y esto?" Oso pointed at the bamboo planted by Elizabeth, the tenant.

"Ummm . . . excavar . . . uhh poco ... pequeño, oh heck remove it."

"Todos ello?"

"Uhhh . . . si. Todos un pequeño something. When done . . . uh finis trabajo come see me."

Then, Mr. Cribbage went away, leaving the workers to do what they do.

Elizabeth, wearing her bathrobe, peered out the window behind the curtains as the men went to work with a will. They had been brought to work and they intended to work the short stretch there for a full eight hours and then collect their pay. No sense working half a day and then standing out at the day worker plaza again.

While Oso removed the eight-foot high bamboo curtain that shielded the house from the street, Orlin went to work with a will upon the rose bushes, the flowering succulents, the gladiolas, the hedge, and the blooming gardenia as well as the jasmine clinging to the fence. As fragrant masses of branches thick with blooms began to pile up Elizabeth rushed out.

"¡Heno! No corte todo! Deja las flores! Dejar un poco de bambú!"

It was then that Oso noticed the scarlet and purple remains of the glads on the ground. "O! Las flores!"

Everyone stood around looking at the piles of bright petals, breathing in the scent of the decimated gardenia. Oso had lopped the tops of the trillium and the reddish stalks also lay in the pile. O well.

"El jefe va a plantar aquí otra cosa," offered Orlin. "The boss will plant something here." He wiped his brow of sweat.

"¿Que hora es?" Oso asked.

Orlin told him and so, since it was not yet five o'clock they went back to work decimating the shrubbery and whacking back the rose bush even further as Elizabeth fled wailing into the house. The chief of the fire department lived across the street and he came out to look at what had happened. He took his hat off and scratched his head. He hailed from Louisiana.

"All be damned!" he said.

Around five, the two day workers put down their implements and

Around six, Denby came to visit and disturbed a deer which had come to feed on the six foot pile of vegetation piled out in front of the fence.

There now was a lot of space to plant as the two workers had razed to the dirt most of the growth Elizabeth had planted over five years. The mighty rose bush had been thinned until it was a scraggle of branches about two feet wide. The gardenia looked like the Gengis Khan had run over it with his horsemen . The setting sun beat mercilessly on the now unprotected housefront.

Elizabeth was in tears. "Why did Walter have to do that to my garden? He could have at least told me!"

Denby shrugged. "Landlords got all the power, no soul."

"Renting sucks." Elizabeth said.

Meanwhile Oso and Orlin had headed off to the Old Same Place Bar to have a beer and kick back after an honest days work. It was of Orlin's point of view that it had been a good day.

"Too bad about las flores," said Oso.

"Should we go over and see if Mr. Burbage has any work tomorrow. Last time we dug and dug for all day."

"I don't know about that," said Orlin, thinking. "Last time there were problems."

"Ah!" said Oso, remembering.

"Too bad about that wall," said Orlin.

That day they had broken up the patio and dug trenches very deep for a long time. It had been Mr. Burbage's intention to lay down new flags. They had stopped for a drink of lemonade Mary Beth Burbage had brought out on a tray. Then, there had been this big crash behind them and Mr. Burbage had come out to see the entire hillside retaining wall had fallen down. Some thirty feet of it made of stone. It lay in the pit they had dug along its foundation all broken up and Mr. Burbage had looked upset.

"No worry," Oso had assured Mr. Burbage. "The rock is all broken to small pieces. We can take out quick with wheelbarrow and then you have your hole empty again."

"We are good workers," said Orlin. "We work harder and longer than anybody else out there. Nobody needs to watch us."

"I don't know why Jose does not want to come stand with us on the corner," Oso said. "He never has any good work and so he never has any money."

Orlin shrugged. "We are good workers. We always work very hard."

Jose, sweeping the floor of the Native Son's of the Golden West Hall after a banquet heard about what happened to Elizabeth's garden from Denby, who helped taking out the garbage.

"Esos chicos son idiotas," said Jose. "It is better to work smarter, not harder."

From the porch of the NSGW Salon they both could see long lines of taillights up on the Nimitz. A column of smoke ascended from further down where a big rig had overturned and caught on fire, blocking the freeway.

"All the dot commers are stuck in line up there," Denby said.

"Jornada de trabajo se realiza," said Jose, "And everyone still going home at midnight. I think it is better to work smarter, not harder."

"Tambien. I agree with that, amigo," Denby said.

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

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


JULY 4, 2016


We put off the weekly issue a day so as to capture real-time the Nation's 240'th birthday.

This image is from the Island Mayor's July 4th Parade.


The Summer Season is in swing and the Oaktown art scene is humming as more and more talent flees the City that Used to Know How.

At the reinvigorated Fox, Widespread Panic holds forth for few days this coming week.

Chris Thile takes a breather before assuming the weighty mantle of the Prairie Home Companion as he joins banjo meister Bela Fleck July 19th. Flogging Molly brings things down home August 3rd.

Things look sorta "meh" until the new Tedeschi Trucks collaboration blows into town for two nights in September.

The Paramount will be hosting the Oaktown jazz festival, which oughta do you fine.

Yoshi's West is appearing a bit schizo with Jon Cleary filling out the slot for the Summertime Blues Series on 7/6, followed by the Ohio Players for a couple nights and then Shawn Wayans, which is fine enough, but then Lydia Pense shows up 7/11 for a jolting contrast. Some old school R&B Soul fills out the schedule.

Look for Tommy Castro on 7/31 for some hot, funky blues and 8/8 for Maria Muldaur.

The studios at Studio 25 are hopping with arts activity, with openings, talks, walks and all sorts of exciting stuff for visual arts connoisseurs.

Vessel Gallery presents DISRUPTUS Essay and Photography by Dr. Ian Alan Paul, monotype glass by Cheryl Derricotte, poetry by Nina Lindsay, painting by David Burke, painting by Martin Webb, installation by Todd Laby, sculpture and paintings by Christa Assad + Kevin Wickham, sculpture by Aaron Schuyler, and poetry by Lynn Gentry.


Went over the bridge to check out another small town parade. This time we attended the parade for the tiny hamlet of Woodacre. Woodacre contains one country store, a baseball field, a small post office, and a fire department, but the latter is only because nobody in Marin could figure out where to house the regional service. There are no streetlights, no sewer lines, no school, no mayor and no home postal service. Since there are no public buildings, people meet at the San Geronimo Community Center down Sir Francis Drake. The total population is about 1,300 souls, including dogs.

The parade begins promptly at noon, with the firechief walking along greeting people, followed by a fire truck. As entries line up everybody talks to everybody. This shot reminds us that this area remains substantially rural.

Seems a musician lives on every block around here.

The area is 91% Democratic. So sometimes it is okay to check out a woman's rear end . . .


Lots of old cars around here. We looked at one and saw a Caddilac Vee Six engine had been shoehorned into a 1929 truck. Unfortunately the photo did not turn out.

Teddybear picnic?

Marin is the heartland for environmental causes.

It's a Volkswagen Bee-tle.

When is a horse not an horse? When it is a mule and a burro . . .


At this point the hulagirl is seeing that the tree branches over the road will scrape the roof of this truck . . .

No, we could not observe how the driver could see to drive either.

This firetruck is from Stinson Beach, which is about 15 miles or so down the road and along the coast.

We have no idea what a thirty-foot tall zebra has to do with Independence Day, but who cares.

Tossing candy to the kids.


There you have it. There was music and candy and motorscooters and silliness and at the end of the day a fine time was had by all.



So anyway, July came bringing summer weather, with summer weather being chilly evenings sheltered by high fog that burns off in the late morning to yield to hot sun for a few hours. Butterflies dodge around the golden poppies and hummingbirds dive bomb the blackberry bushes. School is out and the teens are finding ways to amuse themselves without getting caught, which generally involves cars, skateboards, spray cans, and, occasionally, healthy athletic equipment.

Some of the young men and women who found they had been accepted to college earlier began making preparations for this new beginning to their lives. A few, accepted by either of the public systems, imagined that their lives would not be changing much. They would keep their high school friends and sweethearts and simply go off for a few months at a time to Chico or Santa Cruz, LA or, for the smarter ones, San Diego. They would come home to do laundry and drink beer with the bro's and hang with their best buds, just like it always had been.

Then there were those heading East for the Ivie's or even further afield to England. Luke Edger, who had spent much of his time at Encinal, Home of the Jets (When you're a Jet you're a Jet all the way. . .") getting in trouble with Officer O'Madhauen and Officer Krumsky for tagging every flat vertical bland surface he could find, had gotten accepted at Trinity College to study art calligraphy, of all things,

One could say it was ironic for the boy to study letter writing at the home of the famous Book of Kells, but it was certain he would not be returning home to do laundry.

Gary Olafsson, who had been quite the reclusive, nerdy, writer-type for his first few years at Washington on the East End before developing a theatrical bent, bloomed and flowered as a stand-up comic with a routine that featured a Lutheran pastor from Minnesota telling droll stories about an imaginary small town. He was heading off to New York to study a year at the prestigious Juilliard Academy with an additional scholarship from the Rhode Island School of Design in his back pocket.

Over in Dan's Grocery there was a hubbub around the rhubarb for they found Mrs. Olafsson flat on her back with the RISD acceptance letter in her hand. When she had seen the news with her own eyes, she had just keeled o'er.

Sara, Sarah-James, Aoife, Heather, and Christine, who had been inseparable best buds ever since middle school, were now each to go their respective ways. Aoife was heading off to Galway and the Gaeltacht to study storytelling in Erse, Heather was heading for Berlin to study Art. Christine was going to study Italian folk music in Verona, while Sara would be working with the Southern Poverty Center in Appalachia. Sarah-James was going to study hydrology at Sugar Hill Engineering.

The night before Aoife left, the group of them met at Crab Cove to pledge undying loyalty by the light of the crescent moon and the sparkling eye of the constellation Taurus overhead. They recalled old times and people they had known and they drank chardonnay and remembered how, when they were no more than eleven or twelve, they had gathered late at night in the gymnasium to chant secret spells and levitate each other by using just their fingertips. Something that should be impossible became true when they were together. They each swore to meet again in a year.

So now Gary and Luke, the West Ender and the East Ender, are walking around the lsland looking at the old haunts like the Javarama Coffeehouse (aka, the Slut Hut") and Juanita's, wondering as they note the changes in progress what will remain once they return from the far flung corners of the globe. The florist's shop still had the green tile facade and the neon sign, but it was not a florist shop inside anymore -- the shop had closed a couple years ago and was now a boutique for handmade furniture and high-end tchotchkes.

The Silversmith had closed, and Pagano's had moved while across the street Ivy had retired with Ray, closing up the Vine's Garden Nursery and coffeeshop. Gary stood on Webster and looked at the storefront that used to house Joe's Barbershop where he had gotten his first haircut and seen his first nudie magazine.

He was afraid that after returning from the East that the Island would not be quite the same any more. Luke, coming out of the new Chinese restaurant there noticed Gary standing there and walked on over to greet him.

"We never really hung together much," Gary said.

"We never hung together at all," Luke said. "But I saw you around sometimes. You're East End."

"I don't think that matters any more," Gary said. "Now we are both leaving."

"You went with that Masse girl a while," Luke said.

"O, Heather? We just sorta worked together. Performance stuff."

"Well, she's a fox," Luke said.

"Wouldn't mind chaining her up, if you know what I mean, but I am sorta committed," Gary said.

"Yeah. Way it goes. I had a thing for her for a while, but you know . . .".

"Think you will hook up with that O'Donovan girl while you're in Ireland?"

"O . . . nah. She's too smart for me. And she'll be in the West while I'm gonna be busy in Dublin. Besides I am sorta committed as well."

"She's pretty too, in her own way. That whole gang of them. Smart as hell too."

"They each of them are gonna do well wherever they end up, that's for sure. And still bein' foxy."

The two young men watched the desultory traffic and pondered the foxiness of young women, their desirability and their attributes and their unattainability, much as young men will do while standing on the street corner. Much as young men have done since time immemorial.

"Well, I gotta be moving. Best of luck to you man."

"Same to you. Take care."

The two of them separated, each to pursue his personal destiny as the light began to fade and the red star Aldebaran began to shine.

Which star was observed by the Editor from the deck behind the Island-Life offices who consulted his electronic device. "Aldebaran is classified as a type K5 III star, which indicates it is an orange-hued giant star that has evolved . . . after exhausting the hydrogen at its core. The collapse of the centre of the star into a degenerate helium core has ignited a shell of hydrogen outside the core and Aldebaran is now a red giant. This has caused it to expand to 44.2 times the diameter of the Sun . . .".

"It is believed that in about 5.4 billion years, the sun will become just like Aldebaran. It is calculated that the expanding Sun will grow large enough to encompass the orbits of Mercury, Venus, and maybe even Earth. Even if the Earth were to survive being consumed, its new proximity to the intense heat of this red sun would scorch our planet and make it completely impossible for life to survive. . . ".

The Editor closed the cover of his device thoughtfully and a moth fluttered by to bang into the bushes.

Denby paused on his way out the door after working late on assignment.

"Wussup Boss?"

"Everything is fated to mutation," said the Editor. "Even the sun itself. So! In that case I am going to have my scotch on the rocks now instead of later, for it is hot at the moment."

"Whatever you say, boss," said Denby.

Out beyond the Golden Gate, Pedro reached over and switched off the radio and sighed. His favorite variety program hosted by Pastor Rotschue had just ended its final broadcast. The televangelist was retiring from radio and there would be no more sermons to keep him company during the dark hours returning from the fishing grounds.

"It's just you and me, Ferryboat," said Pedro to his cabinmate.

"Wuff!" said Ferryboat.

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

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


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