Island Life: July - Dec., 2017

Vol. 19 Weekly News, Reviews, Music and Satire Sunday 2017

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Welcome to the second half of year 2017. 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.

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DECEMBER 24, 2017

RING OUT, SOLSTICE BELLS

TIMES LIKE THESE WE LEARN TO LIVE AGAIN

So anyway. The longest day had arrived and it was Solstice time, the time of running about in cold weather to visit old friends and family and live the passing of dark days in these dark days of national foolishness and inanity.

All across the Island lights were strung to hold back the darkness. To bring joy during the longest nights of the year as the earth begins its inexorable tilt back toward the light.

Jose, and the gang returned from their Xmas tree foray with some success. They found a discarded tree which was being taken to the chipper and somehat unobstrusively, while Tipitina hitched up the hem of her dress to inspect some kind of problem with her garter, snagged the tree off of the truck behind the back of the driver and trundled it back to the Household on Otis, a triumphant trophy aboard the Household's Flexible Flyer wagon.

After they brought it in they set the base into a cinderblock nestled in the official metal washtub that had once been employed variously as a washbasin and a cement mixer. They faced the worse looking side to the wall and removed enough of the dead branches so that it did not look so horrible and then they had a party with 99 cent jug wine to festoon the tree with all manner of geegaws found on the beach and in the trash: bottle caps, broken glass, condoms still in their shiny wrappers, shredded speaker wire for tinsel, aluminum foil, etc.

For lights, Martini wired together pieces of old circuit boards so that the board LED indicators would glow and it all looked real pretty - with the house lights down and if you squinted sideways. It may not have been perfect, but it was a tree of Sincerity.

On the opposite side of Sincerity, Mr. Howitzer had Dodd set up the tree he had delivered by the Depuglia Brothers ("Nutting is uglia than a Depuglia"). The brothers dropped the fifteen-foot Douglas fir off in the driveway and drove off as they had been pre-paid, so it was up to Dodd to set up boards on the marble steps, load most of the tree on the wheelbarrow and lever the monster over plastic tarp and up the steps and into the Grand Ballroom where he used a rope and pully to haul the tree upright into its stand with Eunice, the maid and Filbert, the cook.

"Just look at me uniform now!" Eunice said. "It's gotten all tawdry!" Eunice always tried to talk as if she were English when around Dodd, and like most Americans, never really got it quite right.

After the three of them had done most of the decorations, all culled from the Howitzer collection of Russian and English glassware dating from the 1800's, along with quite an assortment of ceramic miniatures and the best of patriotic lights from Tiffany's, the tree wanted only its topmost angel which had to be placed, according to the Family Howitzer Tradition, by a pure, innocent virgin.

There were no more of that sort associated with the Howitzers, so Mrs. Cribbage would have to do the honors perched on a step ladder, aided by Mrs. Blather. Mrs. Cribbage claimed lineage from Old California and direct descent from Mr. Savage who had killed a great number of people during the conquest of Alta California and Mrs. Blather claimed DAR membership, so it was quite all right in the eyes of Mr. Howitzer.

So the night of the Xmas eve party arrived and in the kitchen, Filbert was kept incredibly busy with temporary sou-chefs, Jose and Javier, who every holiday season sought out and obtained seasonal work like this in addition to the elf gig they always got at Macy's Union Square. They did not know much about cooking or about elves, but they were industrious at just about anything that did not involve a shovel.

"Fetch me the greater whisk, pronto!" shouted Filbert, staring down into a steaming cauldron and Jose brought him a spatula.

"O for Pete's sake you ninny!" Filbert shouted. "And you over there, do something to warm that platter!"

As Filbert hustled for the whisk, ordering Jose to do an half dozen things at once, Javier found the cord to a microwave and so plugged that fellow into a wall socket near a big appliance that latter turned out to be an electric rotisserie. He pressed a button and the rotisserie made a noise. He pressed another button and the microwave kicked on. Jose turned something on that clattered and Javier pressed another button when Filbert shouted something at him and right then all the lights in the main room blew out in sparks.

"Now you have done it," Javier said to Jose.

Because Dodd was kept busy fetching canapes and drinks for the guests and taking coats and hats at the door he was not there when they picked the stepladder with the broken rung brace and the short Mrs. Cribbage climbed on up with her hands laden by the five pound, gilt Nike with outstretched wings, which had once adorned a German memorial and which had been brought to the US from that field of headstones as a sort of war trophy by a previous Howitzer. Mrs. Blather, being made with more substantial foundation, steadied the ladder below.

So up went Mrs. Cribbage as the lights went out in a most spectacular way and there was a sort of cracking sound and Mrs. Cribbage reached out blindly with one free hand, the other clutching the Nike figure and she went down into the tree, pulling strands of patriotic lights with her even as Mr. Mrs. Blather wrapped her arms around the base of the ladder and Mr. Cribbage grabbed the struggling Mrs. Blather in a bear hug which did not help as both of them went down to the floor in a heap with fragments of the wooden ladder. The tree leaned to the side briefly then went down on top of the Grimsbys, the Alcotts and the French Envoy, Mssr. Montagne, with Mrs. Cribbage lost somewhere in the branches amid a smashing of centuries-old glassware and porcelein.

"Alors!" said a voice. "Ma pince nez est total desole!"

"Dodd!" said Mr. Howitzer. "Get the lights on and clean this up. Everyone! The party shall retire now to the patio!"

In Washington Park, Toni and the Island coven gathered for their annual Solstice ritual, which was not as wild as one might think, for witches tend to be more pacific than the popular image. There was some singing and some dancing however and much lighting of candles and prayers for more peaceful times.

Things were a little calmer over at the Old Same Place bar where Padraic and Dawn wore a Santa hats and Suzie wore a cute elf outfit -- chosen by Padraic. So Suzie tried to stay mostly behind the bar, tugging down the hem of her miniskirt.

It was warm and the place was filled with regulars. Eugene sat at the rail and the Man from Minot sat at a table with Marvin of Marvin's Merkins (Put a merkin in your firkin!") Latreena Brown was there as well as Ms. Malice Green and even Wootie Kanootie had left his moose herd to come and enjoy a Gaelic Coffee, so called because as Padraic would say, no daycent lad of the old sod would sully the Water of Life with base ingredients. Mr. Sanchez dropped in with Ms. Morales after attending a show in Oaktown for a glass of wine. Their babysitter could not stay past midnight so their time was limited.

Mr. and Mrs. Almeida showed up for a bump and a nod on a rare night out, as even hardworking fishermen took a little time off around now for the Solstice.

Even the Editor showed up for a quick bump and a jar of Fat Tire.

They were all talking about the terrible times and the things that had happened this past year and Denby sat in the snug with his guitar and played the Foo Fighters "Times Like These."

Padraic looked around at all the people he had come to know over the past tweny years and a tear came to his eye. When Denby took a break, Padraic proposed a toast on the House, a rare deed for one so parsimonious.

"To all of you and those we know who cannot be here; good friends all these past two decades for that is how long this pub has stood here. For auld acquaintance be forgot!"

Cries of "Here, here!" and "Auld acquaintance!"

Outside, in the dark, the shadow of the Angry Elf gnawed upon itself, filled with hatred and bitterness. The gang was not like any of this with no bonhommie, as the only joy they possessed was that in having power over others and inflicting pain.

He slunk away to the red truck he used sometimes when posing as a workman. Other times he used a red Miata. Often he used a white SUV owned by a gang member.

But within the Old Same Place Bar there was cheerful clatter and and chatter and warm light spilled from the window panes on the longest night of the year.

The sound of the train horn far across the water keened across the estuary from the Port of Oaktown and died between the Edwardian house-rows as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling on the edge of town past the former Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown destination.

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

 

DECEMBER 17, 2017

NUN, HAY, GIMEL, SHIN

This week's image is courtesy of the Season. Chanukah ends Wednesday evening.

WHAT'S GOING ON

With the Country in freefall like a powerless airplane that has its right ailerons jammed open, the Congress of Bums in full session to wreck the tax code and reverse science, the environment and medicine back to the 1800's, and the Executive Branch of the Nation helmed by a ignorant maniac, it seemed a good time as the days get shorter and the nights longer and colder to take a break. We toddled over to Oaktown for the 32nd Annual Xmas Revels at the Scottish Rite Theatre.

This year the Revels returned to the British\Gaelic isles for a Scottish theme. And a word about that, because for over 400 years Xmas was not celebrated in Scotland. That is why there are no Scottish carols. In 1640 the heads of the Protestant Reformation ruled that Xmas celebrations were sacrilege and it was not until 1958 that the ban was lifted.

But the Scottish are not a people to cower in fear because of a few stern Bishops. For 400 years the Scots commemorated and celebrated Hogmanay, which is acknowledgment of the Solstice, with vigorous dancing, eating, drinking and -- of course -- bagpipes.

No Scottish revel is complete without pipes and Saturday, Tesser Call provided pipes enough to accompany five fiddle players and the brass ensemble.

Unlike in years past, there was no storyline to follow, although there were several mini-stories, beginning with the annual Ploughmen's Bargain with the Laird of the Manor.

Julian Lopez Morillas provided a sort of continuous thread as the man front and center for many of the set pieces, offering just the right amount of Scots brogue for narrative and poetry readings, including of course Robert Burns' "A man's a man for all that."

With over 70 performers flowing on and off the stage it is difficult to single out any one of them, but Susan Rode Morris definitely held the show together with her powerful and lovely soprano voice.

If you have never attended the Revels, you and your little ones definitely are missing out on a great Bay Area Tradition. Many Revelers continue to attend year after year for an evening of enchantment, magic and the best theatre found anywhere. Also there is audience participation in singing and dancing. No matter the stuffy aisles of seats -- performers will come and lead you out and down to the proscenium to pack the stage, young and old alike. This year it was for The Lord of the Dance.

And Morillas divvied up the audience for a tasty roundel of Dona Nobis Pacem.

Everything wound up with Susan Morris singing Auld Lang Syne and then leading the entire audience for the entire version. It will be another year before the Revels return to their home at the Scottish Rite Temple. Five other cities around the country also host their own Revels, each presenting a different theme driving by largely amateur performers who practice for about 300 days before prancing before the footlights. The Revels, in short, is always a triumphant joy.

Julian Lopez Morillas - read the poem "winter"
Susan Rode Morris - Soprano soloist
Fred Goff - song leader
Fiddles, Shira Kammen, Anne Goess
James Galileo - The Laird
Tesser Call - Pipes

Artistic Staff
Artistic & Stage Director - David Parr
Music Director - Shira Kammen
Associate Music Director - Anne Goess
Children’s Music Director - Aneesa Edraki
Choreographer - Jeri Reed
Brass West Liaison - Kurt Patzner
Morris Liaison - Bill Batty

Design Staff
Set Designer - Peter Crompton
Costume Designer -Callie Floor
Lighting Designer -Patrick Toebe
Props Designer -Lillian Myers
Makeup Designer -Chrysalis Rose
Sound Designers -Tod Nixon, Michael St. Claire

FARE THEE WELL MY HONEY

So anyway. This is the time when the earth spins slow, turning its face from the sun. From somewhere an open window someone is playing his instrument. Notes falling slow swirl and settle to collect in drifts. This ain't no depression, just notes falling slow. Up in the high Sierra an early snow and notes falling slow.

The Editor sits alone in his cube with the solitary desklamp for company. All the staff have taken off early to do Xmas shopping and be with their loved ones during the Holiday Time, leaving the Editor alone with his thoughts.

In a few days, the Island-Life offices will commemorate their twentieth year of supplying news and satire on the Island and the weight of history felt heavy on the shoulders of the old Marine. For of course, those of you who know, once a Marine always a Marine.

Quite a lot has happened in the past twenty years to mark the Nation's history books with comments for the next 100 or so and Island-Life has been along for the ride the entire distance with its weekly commentary reflecting events on the national and international stage every step of the way.

There comes a time in every artisan's life to say good-bye to a particular motiv, a storyline, a style, an entire cycle of opuses. Sometimes this means ending a life's work and an entire microcosm. What happened to that unpronounceable county in the south conjured up by William Faulkner? And as for Bloom County we know that Berk Breathed concocted a number of bizarre endings for his fabulous land of penguins, the Bloom County Herald and the Anti-SUV brigade with a nod to a particular typewriting cockroach of a far earlier era. Remember Archie and Mehitabel?

Picasso's Blue Period came to an end when he obtained enough money for more pigment. Any number of reasons will do for an artist's change of pace. Sometimes an artist simply tires of doing the same old thing. A famous jazz horn player gave up his appearances because he did not want to become a museum of music he had done years before.

There always comes a time for an artist who truly values integrity, to shift gears, to change keys, to revise the program. Sometimes the artist has no choice and death or other circumstances intervene. Who now is left to sweep the streets of that town north of Bear Lake Minnesota? Who is going to dust the snow off of the statue of the Unknown Norwegian? Who is left to unlock the doors of Tom's Pretty Good Grocery? Who is going to pay Darlene her wages for pouring coffee at the Cafe? This is dreadful! But death is dreadful and certainly expected after a time.

There is always the Other Side to which we travel, and unless you happen to be Denby each unfortunate year, you do not get to come back.

And so the Editor stood there staring at the gift of an oar, part of his Boat Assembly Plan, occasioned by his birthday. The oar hung there on the wall, sturdy and promising, but without the necessary boat to propel. A reminder of this maritime world of an Island dreamed and dreaming amid the San Francisco Bay.

On the Editor's desk and in the corners, small reminders and keepsakes. Over there was the silly elephant from Vietnam, which once had inundated the markets greater than the porcelain puma.

On his desk, AK-47 casings. AR-15 shells. A brick of cheese from the Reagan era, still solid and still supposedly edible. A paperweight from the IEEE congress that established the 802.1 protocol. An old 8088 CPU chip. A pet rock, still nestled in its homey lair. A tamogochi that had died. A bullet with teeth marks on it. A photo of a light at the end of a tunnel. All these remnants of history.

The kids today were all texting and sexting. They had apps and virtual realities to beat the band. They did not need hours of arduous practice to learn an instrument -- they punched in the codes and pulled out the samples electronically and created symphonies in minutes. They did not look at dial watches and clocks -- all the clocks were digital now. Life had move on past the Editor and his kind.

Now, the Editor felt, it was time to move on. The rent increase lay heavy and mournful on the desk, like a kind of death sentence. Outside, the Angry Elf gang howled and ramped in their red pickup truck and their Miata as they drove past, threatening disaster. As was clear from the Angry Elf gang threats, it was move on or get killed in some kind of nasty "accident". His people were of the gypsies, the wandering folk always made to move on by the citizens who refused to let them in for some atavistic fear of taint.

There are a thousand ways to say good-bye. What would be be best way for the Editor of Island-Life? For change was coming, and Mr. Death was near and would not be denied. What can any of us say if we had the chance?

Old King Lear said it best. "As flies to wanton boys are we to th' gods. They kill us for their sport."

And yet he loved these Islanders, their simplicity and foolish ingenuity and their crazy ways adapting to the new realities, just trying to keep body and soul together amid trying times.

The clock continued to tick and Time, that spherical prison, advanced with no exit and the Editor stood there wondering what could he save should the massive firestorm he anticipated advance upon him now. What in this personal space could he grab and throw into the truck and drive out of that hell of fire when it came? For come it would. The incipient evil of the Angry Elf would have it so.

The Editor felt a pain in his chest. How would this all end? In violence, blood and fire? Would the Rental crisis and insatiable greed destroy everything sweet? Please not so. This precious land, this jewel set within the clasp of the aquamarine Bay, this seat of California kings, this o so dear Island home to a brawling, lovely and irascible people is now leased out.

He continued to stand there, pondering, as the full moon arose through the skies made murky by the new fires down south that even now as of this moment ravaged and devoured thousands of memories, hundreds of homes. In times of hardship, it is the little people who suffer and he felt powerless to help them. He turned to look at the wall and saw there the oar that the Staff had given him for his birthday. He took it down and imagined that when the time came, he would use this to carry his bindlestiff to the West so far that no one would know what it was for.

The night train far across the water keened across the estuary, crying over the basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park, to die between the Edwardian house-rows as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling on the edge of town past the former Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown destination.

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

 

DECEMBER 11, 2017

THIS PLACE IS OLD - IT FEELS JUST LIKE A BEAT UP TRUCK

This week's headline is provided by Carol Taylor, an artist and long time Island Lifer living in the Gold Coast area. It is a rendering of a truck that belonged to the Balding family in 1946.

WHAT'S GOING ON

Looks like the annual Xmas Revels are taking place once again at the Scottish Rite temple in Oaktown and this is the last weekend. This is the 32nd iteration of this multiculti interactional feast of song and dance and hijinks. Appropriately, the Revels this year return to their roots with a fine Scottish theme. If you be not spakin' with a bit of Gaelic lilt to your tongue after such an evening, we think ye might be daft.

The Golden State gets no respite as the new bought of fires this fire season continue to rage largely unchecked, although CalFire reports they are starting to get a handle on the five fires in SoCal.

More than 9,000 firefighters assigned Sunday to blazes burning in SoCal. Crews on Saturday managed to fully contain one of the fires that broke out within the last week — the Liberty Fire in Murrieta — but still face five major incidents: the Lilac Fire in San Diego County and the Thomas, Creek, Rye and Skirballs fires in the greater Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara areas.

"As of today, these fires have burned nearly 200,000 acres and destroyed over 800 structures," CalFire said of the five current fires.

The largest of all the fires, the Thomas incident, has now scorched an estimated 173,000 acres alone. It's only 15 percent contained and spurred another round of new evacuations overnight.

CalFire said they expect strong winds to continue Sunday across most of Southern California — with possible gusts up to 60 mph.

"Winds will begin to weaken tonight, but lighter offshore winds will continue next week," officials said. "Northern California continues to remain dry, with above average daytime temperatures and cold nights."

An official, speaking to NPR reporters, said this Thomas fire is following identical patterns seen in a wildfire that occurred in 1938 and he expect similar perimeters to occur.

ALL THE LEAVES WERE BROWN, AND THE SKY WAS GRAY

So anyway, the annual Parade of Lighted Yachts was smaller this year. Not a lot of people feel like celebrating in a grand way what with all the losses that have happened recently. Nevertheless, the houses are being draped with lighted garlands and the now traditional animatronic figures glowing steadily in defiance against the increasing darkness.

Old Gaia sits there on the rickety porch of the world. Now is the time when Gaia tilts her weathered face creased with valleys, arroyos, hills, deserts, plains, mesas, continents and the liquid seas of her deep dark eyes away from gazing 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 cools as the earth spins further from the sun -- nothing could be further from that deception, unless it be the foolish nonsense of Mercury Retrograde, the classic illusion, for nothing moves with surer purpose than the planets.

As Gaia turns her face away from the light, her ravined face gradually cools with measured shadows covering the valleys of her eyes, all the world chilling under the frost that puts all of Nature into a deep sleep, 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 in his daily journey, a sort of sideshow to beat all side shows.

Now is when the Goddess walks the cold furrows, morning the temporary loss of her daughter, gone to spend a pomegranate season with the Dark Lord below, and the sere stalks crunch beneath her sandals.

The kids start out shortly after sunrise and the wheeze and clang of the yellow school busses return as light fails once again to spill out the little runners with bookbags and conical hats.

All around the Island the gentle folk, and those not so gentle, look to bedeck their mansions and their hovels with such trappings as makes Tradition, each to each. Mr. Howitzer arranges for Dodd to have a Douglas Fir delivered and has the help do the ornaments. He has no time for that rubbish but does have Dodd serve spiked eggnog in the parlor with the fire going on a Spare the Air Day until Mrs. Cribbage falls into the ferns because of too much brandy.

The Church of Our Lady of Incessant Complaint is once again hosting its annual pageant with the help of some singers on loan from Pastor Nyquist of the Lutheran Emmanuel Church. This arrangement is possible due to the long friendship that has developed between Father Danyluk and the Pastor and their mutual agreement to say nothing about it to their respective bishops.

The Lutheran banquet is organized and well supplied with good wines and liquors that appear to have come from the Rectory of Father Danyluk, so everyone finds the arrangements convenient and comfortable.

Trees, of course are ensconced in bay windows for all to see, including the Almeida family, the Sanchez family, and even Jason Arrabiata, CFSM, who of course has topped his Fir with a metal colander. And even the Household of Marlene and Andre is planning a sortie so as to obtain and bring back a tree suitable for the washtub that has served as sturdy stand for many a jolly year.

Of course no one in the Household can afford a tree, what with the rental crisis being what it is, yet nevertheless, year after year a tree of some sort of condition does appear even as a tree may disappear from some other place. One year Mr. Howitzer came out to fetch his paper and stood there puzzled, noting something amiss with the landscape but unable to place his finger upon it. Only that an upturned wheelbarrow stood beside the wall where there was a gap in the green privacy curtain.

"Dodd! I say, do you see anything amiss out there?"

Dodd pursed his lips. "Can't say so, sir. Unless the gardener left some tools out there. The wheelbarrow, I see."

"Well have it put away," Mr. Howitzer said. "I am going to have breakfast. Poached eggs benedict. The usual."

Later Dodd removed the wheelbarrow to reveal a newly shorn pine stump. Which he covered up with mulch and a potted azalea.

It was yet too early this year to fetch a tree for the Household, which still had to gather its resources, but plans were being made.

Plans also were being made by members of the Angry Elf gang who had in mind several "educational" burnings in the next few weeks. They, too, found a kind of joy in the Festival of Lights.

The local Homeland Security Offices held a joint clandestine get-together with other agencies. Organizing the event proved to be a challenge as some of the operatives were not officially funded, requiring high security in communications which took place via encrypted emails, encrypted thumbdrives passed around in scones and bagels from the Boogie Woogie Bagel Shop, and encrypted passenger pigeons who were required to fly blindfolded.

Hamsters were employed as well in ways that cannot be divulged or you would simply have to be killed. Because that is the way.

Nevertheless the spooks and moles and para-militaries and other people who had socialization problems while kids at school managed to gather at the Native Sons of the Golden West Parlor Hall down by the Marina and the place was decorated all festive with flags and red, white and blue Xmas lights and balloons and it came around to the Secret Santa which everyone really loved.

Mr. Steif got a black silencer that turned out to have come from Mr. Spline, who got a nice set of crystal vials of cyanide and ricin, which he thought was a very thoughtful gift from Mrs. Spikenard who got a set of really neat-o flic-knives. Cmdr. Stiffstik got a lovely set of marches by Sousa and Bagely along with a mounted set of boarding spikes.

They had all enjoyed a big much of the eggnog and wound up singing the Battle Hymn of the Republic arm in arm. It was a a touching sight.

Then there was the game of Locate the Snitch in which anyone who had taken pictures at the event was turned upside down and tossed on a rug until they became quite sick and their cameras were smashed. At the end of the day, a fine time was had by all.

Over at the Old Same Place Bar, all the talk was about the scandals that had ensued at the Animal Shelter where it turned out many well-connected political individuals on the non-profit Animal Shelter Executive Board had been accused of sexually abusing some of the inmates there, including a number of individuals one would have thought above reproach, such as Roy Boor, a card-carrying member of the Rattlesnake Preacher Association. Then there was producer Harvey Schmierstein, Bent Frank of Arizona, Blake Parenttold of Texas, Frank Al of Minnesotta, John Icon, and even the Board President Ronald Rump himself.

The list, consisting of 42 names, is so long, it does look like there will be a complete turnover not only in leadership but also throughout the Entertainment industry which some speculate is part of Rump's master plan to bolster the economy by increasing the number of jobs while Spacey gets therapy and Louis C.K. tries to find a way to make horrible behavior funny.

It is not funny and never will be.

But it might be a good opportunity for well-qualified women to step in and restore order as well as rectify a few imbalances.

Still, the footage of Board President Rump scampering around the kitten pen with his pants down, grabbing at you-know-what does not speak well for the probity of the Executive Branch.

Even Justice John Roberts was heard to comment, "This image makes me want to retch."

Justice Clemons has remained notably silent.

The fact that President Rump has actually bragged about grabbing kitties and making them purr has incensed genuine Conservatives everywhere. Rump has, in response, vilified the Press for being so outrageous as to report the truth on most occasions.

"That Anderson Cooper of Cyn-Cyn is gay! He is gay, gay, gay!"

"Of course I am gay," said Cooper tersely. "At least I am not an incompetant bozo with a bad haircut."

Well, Cooper did not actually say that in public, but you know the Press. And now Cooper is looking for a New Year's Eve partner now that Kathy Gifford has stepped in the cesspool.

It just does not seem to end. Now Rachel Maddow has her head in her hands, saying "I swear to god, I could not make any of this up!"

So a bare knuckles fight breaks out between the Man from Minot and Pandora Thighripple when she misheard the guy talking about animal husbandry -- she thought he said "breasts" when he said "beasts". Maybe he did deserve a punch in the mouth -- who knows. The fight escalated into a brawl between Semi-Liberals and Neo-Cons and then descended into s savage, atavistic melee of bottle and chair smashing and nails and teeth and blood everywhere on the floor, with everyone who comments on Lauren Do's Blog employing chains, knives and butterfly-belts along with acrimony, insults and sarcasm, spilling out into the street until the sirens and the tear gas and the dogs arrived.

John Knox White was thoroughly trampled as were all of his Planning documents.

So it goes on the Island with its continuous stream of scandals and gossip in Divided America. Lots of backbiting and infighting and brass knuckle politics as we enter the Season of Peace.

The night train far across the water wailed from the Port of Oaktown and keened across the estuary, over the former airfield, over the the Jean Sweeny Open Space Preserve, through the construction zone of what used to be the old Cannery, crying over the basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park, and died between the Edwardian house-rows as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling on the edge of town past the former Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown destination.

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

 

 

DECEMBER 3, 2017

CHAIRMEN OF THE BOARD

This week's headline comes the weekend after Thanksgiving and appears to depict a number of survivors in serious confab as if they were CEO's deciding the fate of a merger or the next marketing campaign. We cannot tell you where the picture was taken -- we would have to kill you.

You might not remember the 1960's Motown band Chairmen of the Board ("Give Me Just a Little More Time", "Patches", "You've Got Me (Dangling on a String")), but they earned a gold record and a Grammy (for "Patches") before breaking up in 1976.

All members are still alive and pursuing solo careers.

CH, CH, CH, CHANGES

As the 19th year of Island Life spins down its final month, we are preparing for big organizational, geographic, and artistic shifts. Stay tuned for some extraordinary developments, spurring in part by the depredations and attacks of thuggish types with nasty dispositions and Mafia tendencies.

It has been quite a ride for 19 years on the Island, and we will always retain connections there along with a fond place in the heart for that sick little town that is now home to some 100,000 souls, many of whom are heavily medicated or need to be, as witnessed by the dozen or so taken to John George Pavilion each week. There remain quite a few quirky folks who just slog through the business of life, struggling to keep body and soul together by some kind of legal means without causing a ruckus, practicing small acts of kindness from day to day while raising families and dogs and miniature pigs and chickens. Those folks who mean no harm to anyone we will always love dearly.

As for the others, a la Sam Beckett, we wish them all the fires and ices of hell and in the execrable generations to come an honored name.

And, O! Rest assured during the changes there will be nothing like the dreadful Floating Radio effect ever again.

ON AN ISLAND

Not much has been happening at Silly Council during this Holiday period. The new firehouse down there where the Corporate Yard used to have a facility across from the Island electrical utility has opened up. It is a nice building and does not look at all like a whorehouse, which some stations (in other districts) tend to resemble. We have visited a number of firehouses and we think this one stands on a par with Station 1 in Sausalito.

Continuing a macabre tradition of sorts, Paul Douglas Scherer drove his minivan off Derby Street into the Estuary where he drowned last Tuesday.

Over the last 12 years two other people lost their lives after driving their vehicles into the Oakland Estuary, both from the Alameda side. Dr. Zehra Attari died on Nov. 7, 2005, after driving her car into the estuary at the foot of Grand Street. Authorities say Attari may have taken a wrong turn after getting lost on her way to a medical conference and accidentally drove down the boat ramp at the foot of Grand Street and into the estuary. That particular night was especially foggy.

The Sun cites another incident that took place near Blanding in 2015, but we do recall divers discovering a couple of men who had gone missing some weeks previously. The two men were still in their sedan, drowned for some time when divers attempting repair work on another matter came across the vehicle in 2016.

High times have come to the Island. Seeking to cash in on what many feel will be a significant bonanza the Silly Council approved regulations to govern pot growing for commercial uses on the Island. Some financial wonks estimate the boon to the Golden State will top two billion dollars.

CALLING THE MOON

So anyway, the Supermoon spiral danced around the earth, getting closer and creating a general sense of anticipation. Not the sort of anticipation you might feel like waiting for the peach cobbler, or the sort of anxiety about test results, but a generalized tension in expectation of something about to happen lasting all day and all night for days on end, some tension expecting an appearance of some kind.

A dark figure wearing a trenchcoat and a fedora walked meditatively along the Strand wall. It was the Angry Elf, not someone normally given to venturing far from solid protection of high walls, vantage points and clear sightlines of potential fire. Truth had it, the man was getting on in years. Here he was, as old as the Godfather -- well maybe not that old but getting there -- and unlike the Godfather, he had no empire, no Family. Yeah sure, he had the Business, which consisted of some extortion, under the table cash laundries, numbers, fenced ID info, and your basic smash and grab. Certainly nothing big enough to raise concern with the Feds -- and he had kept it intentionally that way, staying out of the murder for hire thing in favor of setting a few fires and causing a few "accidents".

Yeah he had a loose rabble of twenty some flunkies, like the Jap and Brian Gump, along with a few handy fronts, like the Tile business and the Glassworks that presented itself as an artsy fartsy thing. But an Empire? Here he was living up on the third floor with a good lookout in both directions, and a brownstone back in the old 'hood to act as tax shelter along with occasional income. But still. Was it enough? At his age he should be retired, letting his lieutenants handle all the action, even though they were all as dumb as bricks in an outhouse wall. He shook his head. What was a humble thug from Brooklyn to do? At least he was not from Jersey -- now that would be a hard one to live down. That would be terrible. He oughta count his blessings.

Still he felt he oughta accomplish at least one big job before he stepped out. He wanted to be remembered for something, like Bugsy Malone and Dillinger. Or his idol, the marvelous Meyer Lansky. Now Lansky, that was a Jew who made a name for himself.

What an example.

The Angry Elf heard tires screeching in the distance and so made quickly for his truck. He hopped in and sped back to his castle where he jumped out and, just like clockwork, left the engine running as he quickly undid the garage lock, heaved open the door, drove in, and closed the door behind him so that he could scamper out the back and around the house and out the side gate to relock the garage before dashing up the stairs and into the building.

He had been doing this same routine for some 22 years and had gotten it down to where he could be up in his castle looking out within 45 seconds, pistol in hand, waiting. Waiting for the day his old "friends" would appear . . . .

The days have passed that momentary time when a body could warm itself up in a patch of sun after a long, cool evening. Now the nights have gotten nippy and the days provide no respite. So it is that the entire Household of Marlene and Andre has gathered for the benefit of combined body heat, which is necessary since the chimney was stopped up years ago, rendering the fireplace useless, and the central heating unit worked only fitfully for about ten years until it gave up entirely any semblance of appliance utility, although the thermostat did register faithfully the interior temperature each morning of around 55 degrees before people got stirring from their sleeping bags and cots and sofa.

The rental economy in California went south a while ago, and normal people do not pay the obscene rents demanded -- consortiums, collectives, and unions do that. In the one bedroom cottage set to lease by Mr. Howitzer for a princely sum, some fifteen souls plus non-homo sapiens inhabited that bad abode in bunks, in closets, in the hallway, under the coffeetable and in the fireplace.

Some of them actually held jobs. Others pushed brooms, did itinerant occasional work, and generally got by with seasonal jobs. UPS was hiring and Jose and Pahrump and Javier were there, Jack, standing in line with about a couple thousand other Californios looking to sling boxes and work the trucks as their second or third job, all while trying to make the rent.

At the Household an old hot tub had stood rotting on its side until Martini flopped it over and filled it with dirt to raise tomato plants -- the new hot tub culture. Martini used a rusty tin bucket he filled at the hose tapped into the well someone had drilled quite a while ago to get somewhat free water. They had no more chemicals to make it potable, but for gardening it was good enough. All over NorCal similar things were happening in response to the Rental Crisis.

And every day, the bucket went to the well.

In the actual bedroom, Marlene sat hunched over the account books and the computer keyboard with Andre, both trying to make two ends of a cut slippery noodle of expenses meet the wriggling income part.

Snuffles appeared in the doorway.

"What is it, Snuffles?" Andre said.

"I gots ta show som-ink."

"Not now," Andre said. "We're kinda busy."

"Dis impo-tnt. Werry impo-tnt." Snuffles beckoned urgently, and so the two of them looked at one another and followed the shambling figure outside.

Out on the porch they saw it hovering amid torn clouds above the Bay -- the only Supermoon of 2017.

In their garret with the child blessedly asleep, Mr. Sanchez put his arms around Ms. Morales at the window. The light shifted, then it appeared, streaming down upon the two teachers standing there and they were silvered all over.

Every college has a green sward populated by students with books in Spring and criss-crossed by same in Winter. The Island Community College has just one, bordered by thick hedgerows tenanted by all sorts of Lifeforms.

Just outside the opening to his burrow, Don Senor Guadalupe Castillo de Erizo sat gazing upward as was his wont during celestial events. There he would ponder all sorts of things, or if the sky was clear enough, look at the constellations and remember the old stories.

Madame Herisson poked her head out and queried, "Mssr., tu a faim?"

"No," said the Don simply.

"Tu es froid?" asked Madame.

"No," said the Don with his breath coming out in clouds.

"Tu voudrez quelque chose?" asked Madame.

The Don pondered this a moment. "La paz mundial," he said, proving that although he might understand all human discourse, he seldom spoke to humans for fear of mis-comprehension and that men and women constantly talk to one another in different languages, but somehow get by with occasional understanding.

Madame disappeared inside and returned with a serape which she draped over the shoulders of the Don.

Out on the fishing lanes, his boat pounding toward the place that appeared as a green blobby gift on sonar, Pedro came out of the wheelhouse to let the salt spray wash away the flood of tears - he was sobbing. He gripped the stanchion and the full, furious sobs erupted out of the hardened seaman, wracking his frame as the radio stolidly announced its messages.

"Thank you for your support of The Lutheran Hour over the years. We want to inform you that this is the final newsletter edition of The Lutheran Hour, as the program is no longer distributed by American Public Media.

American Public Media has posted a statement in regard to its decision to end its contracts with Pastor Rotschue.

While we appreciate the contributions the Pastor has made to The Lutheran Hour, we believe this decision is the right thing to do and is necessary to continue to earn your trust and that of our employees and other supporters so vital to our public service.

Thank you for your support."

He knew what it was all about. The recent "retirement" from the main variety program had been enforced by political necessity and health. People plotting and scheming the way they always do. But still there were these side projects whereby he could keep in touch, in some abstract way, with this man who had guided his boat through many stormy seas. Quite literally. The man's sonorous voice and his wisdom had helped him through the time of the Great White, the Time of the Shark. And there had been the tremendous gale at sea when he had nearly lost the boat and all back in the '90s.

And now here he was all alone on the ocean, a vast wheatfield waiting to be plowed down for winter, seeded with mackerel, shad, albacore, harvested in Spring, but now all alone. So the man had some faults, even if true. Was Hemingway a saint? Was Faulkner? Do we genuflect before icons of Picasso as a beacon of morality?

Of course not. What remains out of any man's life is the totality of his work, what he has made. Children, novels and/or magnum opuses like the Ninth Symphony. You do not even need to specify the key or the author's name to know and recognize what is meant.

There was a lull and the clouds parted to reveal what was above. All was bathed in that silver light out on the fishing lanes and even Ferryboat looked up in wonder. Something had appeared.

Mad at work, each at his desk, the Catholic priest Father Danyluk scribbled longhand in the rectory past midnight to compose the sermon for Advent, which in Christian circles is a time of expectation towards the arrival of a deity. The same went for Pastor Nyquist across the way, for surprisingly, his flock also belonged to the Children of Abraham. Each looking for the next Appearance of Christ.

In his cube, the Editor looked at the calendar, considered the days, and looked through his seeing-glass at the countless lives on which he had reported. It is falsely reported that of the Seeing Stones, the Palantir crafted by the elves, of the survivors of the wars one lay at Orthanc, one lay at Weathertop, one lay in the chambers of the Steward of Gondor, one lay in Barad Dur under control of the Dark One. There were in fact others. One at Amon Sul, lost in shipwreck. One at Osgiliath - lost in the river. One at Annúminas on the shores of Lake Evendim, and supposedly lost in shipwreck.

In fact, the Palantir supposedly lost at Osgiliath came into the Editor's possession and it is with this seeing stone that the Editor tracks the going's on of all that dwell on the Island, for the Editor dared not wrest the scope of the stone from its limited course.

An Editor is something of a Wizard, one would have to agree. At least the good ones are like wizards, so it is not surprising that one would find something wizardly in our Editor.

The Editor gazed upon the simple lives of the Islanders on this early December night. He saw their struggles and their despair and their hopes. He saw the movements of the Angry Elf gang and knew that there would be a war and all must fall. His people were a gentle folk and not given to warlike endeavors. All must fall soon.

The Golden State is one country given to disaster and compulsory remaking. What sort of Island would appear from this impending disaster? Of the ruins, what could be made?

He went out onto the deck in back where the old boxelder hung huge and hoary over the yard. Through the branches the full moon announced itself with glory.

The moon shone down with beneficence. All was quiet on the Island. No sirens rent the night and nobody got shot and nobody got stabbed.

The night train far across the water wailed from under the gantries of the Port of Oaktown and keened across the estuary, over the former airfield that was now sanctuary for the Least Tern, over the grassy Buena Vista flats that was now the Jean Sweeny Open Space Preserve, through the construction zone of what used to be the old Cannery and its detritus-strewn loading dock, crying over the basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park, and died between the Edwardian house-rows 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 former Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown destination.

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

NOVEMBER 26, 2017


O CAMELLIA WON'T YOU TAKE ME AWAY

Normally this flower is associated with the Deep South, but here in California we have growing seasons all year long. This image was captured in the East End by Tammy who says this is the first bloom which probably was helped along by the recent rains.

THIS ISLAND LIFE

Not much to report. A couple housefires, which tend to happen around this time of year because of shoddy landlord maintenance of the electrical stuff, Islanders getting killed over on the other side of the Estuary and at least one floater IN the Estuary -- cause of death TBD. It is a Holiday weekend, so enjoy returning to work Monday.

So without any more ado, lets get to the most popular issue of the year, most popular now for 20 years running. God knows what people have against small, yappy dogs, but there you have it.

THE 19TH ANNUAL POODLESHOOT AND BBQ

So anyway, the annual Island Tradition took place again, beginning with the usual, traditional ceremonies.

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 briefly from the storm clouds for the day, once again down by the disputed Crab Cove where servants of the Dark Lord had once plotted 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 former 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.

Vice Mayor Malia Vella adoped the key of obsequious for her duet with Roger Dent of Jamestown Properties in "It's a Shopping Mall by Any Other Name."

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 disappointed in 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, a role she continues to adopt despite the necessary qualifications required -- none of which she seems to possess. Is her portion supposed to be farce or tragedy? We were confused the entire time and wish she simply would go away as she makes the entire City Production look ludicrous."

Of course, their theatre/music review got mixed up for that issue with the economic report and the mid-term 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. Neal followed up with a slam-bang sale on dime bags of Crystal and Horse. When caught, Old Neal commenced to sing in several keys at once. Quite a challenge and great drama.

Former legislator Anthony Wiener (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 McCoomber (ENG) and Jessica McGowan-Vanderbeck (USA), both with Incendiary Bustier Spritzers. Nice pair, those gals.

Jessica was joined this year by her husband, Sean, who pounded vigorously upon the Bald Curate's Pate and six-month old baby Dylan who applied himself assiduously to the Bland Howler.

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

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

The men, wearing their ceremonial robes and colorful fezzes, moved in a circle with their pinkies interlocked, first clockwise, then anti-clockwise, before intoning, "Heep heep Hepzibah!" before all jumping into the air simultaneously. They then sang their parlor charter song, "Die Launische Forelle," After they had done this, they moved again in a circle as before, concluding by bowing deeply, dropping their drawers and thence emitting a sort of 21 gun salute.

After the ritual pouring of Wild Turkey libations, the Official bugles were blown by Pat Kitson of Mountain View and Tally of Marin, upon which the hunters moved out into the field. Soon the air was filled with the gleeful holiday sounds of AK-47s, the cracks of freshly oiled Winchester rifles, the occasional crump of percussion grenades, cries of "Poodle there!", and the homey whoosh-bang of old-fashioned home-made bazookas and modern RPG's. In short it was a jolly, fine beginning for a Poodleshoot with overcast weather that soon turned quite rainy.

This year's emissary from Washington D.C. turned out to be President Rump himself, along with the last people in the world whom he has not insulted -- Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers. Then, of course, there came with him those people generally considered Political Satellites plus the Secret Service. Despite Rump's steadfast promotion of the Second Amendment in staunch support of his Political Base (neo-nazis, KKK dragons, itinerant yahoo rubes, radical fundamentalists, right-wing extremists, Deplorables, ect.) the presence of so much weaponry in one place causes any number of people who depend on the guy significant concern.

Of course the Shoot has seen many luminaries and VIPs appear without incident in the past. Well, very few incidents.

So Rump was attended by that group known as The Odious Crew (TOC). A right wing contingent from the Westboro Baptist Church called The Inane Committee (TIC) joined with them.

Once the first volleys from AR-15s went off, the Tappet Brothers scampered over to the Pit to discuss valve trains and timing belts and remain out of harm's way.

A stubborn platoon of dogwalkers dug in on the edge of the sports field at Wood Middle School near the shoreline as a murk of clouds gathered above the battlefield and there was much travail and yapping of poodles as hunters attempted to cross the vast expanse while being subject to a whithering fire of missle weapons and canine WMD's (Weapons of Mass Doo-doo).

Then came President Rump with his battalion of TOC and TIC cadres and Rump let out a mighty blast of hot air at the dogwalkers who defended themselves with parasols and impermeables that began to melt before the mighty blast.

"NOBODY IS BETTER THAN ME! I OWN A HELICOPTER AND YOU ARE NOTHING! MY VICTORY IS GONNA BE BIGLY! BIGLY, I TELL YOU! LOSERS!"

Thus spake the mighty Rump with great volume, as is his wont, and the dogwalkers were beat by by the savage fury of the blast of hot air. But such was the fury of the blast that the shingles came loose from the school buildings and the goalposts became uprooted and the blast continued long after the last poodle had fled yapping with the TIC contingent beating them about the ears with bibles while spewing a miasma of hellfire and brimstone invective.

One of the TOC squad let loose with his blunderbus next to President Rump's ears and the unfortunate man was assailed on the spot with fury.

"WHO THE HECK ARE YOU? YOU ARE NOBODY! I AM PRESIDENT! I AM PRESIDENT AND YOU ARE NOT! TRAITOROUS PRESS! YOU ARE FIRED!"

"ANYBODY WHO DISAGREES WITH ME IS FIRED! BUNCH OF LOSERS! AS FOR THAT NORTH KOREAN GUY I USED TO LIKE HIM -- NOT ANY MORE; HE IS JUST A KITTY CAT. AND AS FOR REPRESENTATIVE MOORE HE IS A HECK OF A GUY. WE GRAB THEM BY THEIR KITTY CATS . . . ! SENATOR WARREN TOO! THAT POCOHONTAS. I'LL GRAB HER BY HER KITTY CAT AND SHE'LL COME ALONG! I AM THE GREATEST POODLEHUNTER OF ALL TIME! ALL THE REST OF YOU ARE LOSERS! LOOOOOOSERS!"

The hot air from Rump blew down the batting cage and bowled over the other hunters on the field. All the palms lining 8th Street were stripped of their fronds in the tremendous wind. The sky was dark and roiling already and the hot rain went sideways across the desolate waste with everyone taking shelter. Gust of hot air blew through the hunter's camp and the Pit, sending dangerous coals flying up into the trees where they caught fire in the branches.

The poodlewalkers seized this confusion to launch a counterattack on many fronts. John Knox Ford was cast down among his planning documents, the members of ARC who had fought valiantly on behalf of Renters on the Island were scattered, and the decent hunters among them were dismayed by the slaughter even as President Rump ignored the realities, continuing to trumpet his pride amid the gathering storm made even more virulent by Global Climate Change.

It seemed that all would be lost as the fires raged to the north, the rising seas threatened to overwhelm the tender-hearted least terns, neo-nazis rampaged down Church Row with cavorting poodles who did poop wantonly upon the sacred grounds and incubi such as Moore who had long hidden repulsive defilements beneath robes of sanctity marched with flaming crosses and the treasury was all undone for Nixon had long since removed the Golden Standard.

Jason Arrabiata, Rev. CFSM, called up to His Noodliness, begging for supplication and so the First Night passed in wailing and lamentation. The sun arose in a fearful murk, which let through only a single ray of light that shone down as if from Heaven above, when Lo! a wagon from Marin came bearing a great load of peaches and many more followed him from the Valley and distant Mexico, called up and able to cross the Rio Grande with their loads of precious fruit for there was not yet a massive wall planned and likened unto the gates of Mordor, not yet fearsome trolls manning the battlements.

And when the wagons reached the field of slaughter where Rump continued to ramp his unreasoning cant, they let loose the buckboards and an avalanche of sweet fruit advanced upon the Rump who was perforce sent backwards to his black helicopter and so into retreat, for veritably, President Rump had been impeached.

Then went up a great shout among the valiant and the stout-hearted who rallied with the Amazonian warriors led by Elizabeth Warren and Barbara Boxer arrived in the nick of time from distant Marin to support all that is good and just and so united they drove back the enemy all yipping and snapping like a mighty wind bends the grass and the blessed rain did fall to extinguish the northern fires and although there was suffering and great loss, and house and rick be totally destroyed, those things can be rebuilt for life continues defiant against tyranny.

So it was that Padraic laid ahi upon the Barbee and there was feasting and rejoycing upon this victory over Evil and terriers did romp and disport upon the torn green with glad eyes for the enemy had been driven back and the rain meant an end was put to the terrible drought that had so plagued the Golden State.

Thus ended the Annual Poodleshoot and BBQ, 19th occurance of that tradition on this Island and all I speak is the truth, so help me God.

As the blessed rain fell along with merciful night, the night train far across the water wailed from under the gantries of the Port of Oaktown, keening across the estuary, the former airfield that was now sanctuary for the Least Tern, the grassy Buena Vista flats that was now the Jean Sweeny Open Space Preserve, the construction zone of what used to be the old Cannery and its detritus-strewn loading dock, crying over the basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park, and dying between the Edwardian house-rows 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 former Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown future.

That's the way it was on the Island for the 19th Annual Poodleshoot. Have a great week.

 

NOVEMBER 19, 2017

ALL THE LEAVES WERE FALLING

This week's headline image comes from Carol in the Gold Coast district who is something of an artist. Here she has put together a foto taken from her window and some Fall colors for your enjoyment.

PRINT ALL THE NEWS THAT FITS

The year is spiriling down in damp and dank hours after a period of political, social, human, and physical cataclysm. The most corrupt, swampy Executive Branch administration seen since the Teapot Dome, dreadful mass murders in concert halls, schools and churches, and latterly the horrific California fires that have destroyed entire towns and substantial portions of towns like Santa Rose, Napa and Sonoma all contribute to a sense of malaise this Holiday Season.

This weekend, when we gather with families and loved ones, giving thanks means thanking whatever in which you believe for your house, if you still have it, your family, if you still have it, and for life and health, if you still have both.

Locally, Mayor Trish nominated Sylvia Gibson to the Planning Board. As Lauren Do has mentioned in her blog post, "she will largely represent the Alameda Citizens Taskforce point of view," and in that, like it or not, we tend to agree given the observed history of Trish and of Gibson.

We are reminded that the Island Food Bank still needs donations for the annual Turkey Drive -- last year we saw over 750 turkeys handed out along with fixin's to needy families with persons durable enough to stand in line for a couple of hours.

Around the Golden State it was scarcely a slow news week what with another mass shooting in Tehama County, animal rescues, massive traffic backups due to car and truck crashes that turned morning commutes into hours-long endurance contests, threats of mudslides in the burned zones due to recent wet weather, along with BART contretemps and SMART train deviances.

There is not a soul in Alta California who is not looking forward to this brief vacation, even if it means dealing with family.

So have a happy Thanksgiving everybody and have a wonderful 19th Annual Poodleshoot.

COLD RAIN AND SNOW

So anyway. The days open with skeins of cloud and fog hugging the vales and creeping over the distant hills. The past couple of days we have seen sunshine break through the chill for a while in most places, leaving the ambient temperature a bit too cool for that oddly named period Indian Summer. Whatever it is, we are headed to another season of it.

Up north, meaning the far White North, skims of ice have formed on Bear Lake, by report and to the East we have reports of snow falling on Mammoth.

The blessed rain sifts down on the ashes of Glen Ellen, the California town that is no more, and Kenwood and the destroyed neighborhoods of Fountaingrove. For some, this will be a bleak Holiday. For many others one of gratitude.

In the Old Same Place Bar the regulars are talking about the upcoming Poodleshoot, the 19th iteration of that charming, convivial, and ultra-violent American Tradition. After all, what is more American than collecting vast amounts of ammunition and firearms so as to excite the blood, preserve the Second Amendment, and defend life and property from the Goverment, which has the entire Marine Corps and several Apache attack helicopters at its disposal. One can just imagine a handful of zealots armed with a collection of AR-15 rifles, trying to fight off the US Marines backed by battalions of tanks. Quite a recipe for success.

There is much speculation on just who will represent the Nation's Capitol this year -- someone from the judiciary has been expected for several years, but every since Bushie potted an attorney-friend one time, the legal profession has tended to avoid the Shoot. There are any number of possibilities in Congress who could use a bit of good press to ease their bad reputations for habitual molestation so there is nothing to expect save to expect the unusual.

In this time, it gets dark earlier and earlier as we propel towards the longest, darkest night ever seen. Certainly the longest darkest night of this year so fraught with troubles. Yellow schoolbuses let off kids who scamper home as the light fails. Streetlights come on in the urban areas, and in the countryside, the dark bulks of animals set to wandering by the Sonoma and Napa fires glide through the trees and along the roads, searching for shelter and food.

The red Miata of the Angry Elf pauses in the shadows as his red eyes glare with hatred at the warm households from which he feels excluded. One of these days, one of these days coming soon he would make them all pay a dear price. He would make them all very, very sorry. With an angry hitch he shifts into gear and roars off, causing Toto the terrier to set up a vigorous barking of warning, alerting all the dogs in the neighborhood as well, until Beatrice says, "Hush now!"

The streets of the Island are generally empty now as folks have been driven indoors by the cold, and the Strand extends in both directions with only the solitary sand walker here and there exploring private thoughts, each to each, while the distant lights of Babylon sparkle across the flat expanse of black water.

Councilperson Raymond Cribbage, Associate Rooster of the Island Kiwanis lodge, stands there on the shore looking out, thinking of something unknown. He was recently accused by several women of groping and molestation while being plied with alcohol and strange pills and so he must have a great deal about which to think in this time.

Jose came along after finishing up at the Island-life offices his general duties and he greeted the Councilmember, noting his general funk.

Raymond Cribbage had a wife of some 25 years and three kids.

Raymond mentioned that he was concerned of late accusations about things that -- allegedly -- happened many years ago.

Jose, who knew a few things, thought for a moment and then said, "Every day the bucket goes to the well," and then walked off.

Indeed, left tacit the truth that one day, the bottom drops out.

Down where the Snoffish Valley Road joined up with the main road a couple wandering turkeys pecked and gobbled near the entrance before bobbing along as they do into the dark mist that emanated from that door. They disappeared and were never seen again and so escaped the executioners ax.

From from far across the water, the night train wailed from beneath the gantries of the Port of Oaktown, keening across the haunted waves of the estuary, theexpanse of the former airfield that was now sanctuary for the Least Tern, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats that was now the Jean Sweeny Open Space Preserve, the construction zone of what used to be the old Cannery and its detritus-strewn loading dock, crying over the basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park, and dying between the Edwardian house-rows 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 former Ohlone burial mounds to a mysterious, unknown future.

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

 

NOVEMBER 14, 2017

DEER SONG

Leave it to deer to inspire the Bare Naked Ladies, System of a Down and Mary Poppins. Here is one in someone's backyard.

]

Deer often swim across the Estuary to clomp around the Island until caught and sent back to the East Bay or Marin, where such pests are considered "en-deering".

This past week a mountain lion was darted by Animal Control over in Babylon, where the Wild Life seems to have limits.

After the big wildland fires up north we are likely to see a lot more of this sort of migration for a while.

NOVEMBER'S GOT HER NAILS DUG IN DEEP

So anyway. The year spins on its twisted axis to a close. Old Gaia sits on her porch as the earth tilts away from her son, Phoebus Apollo. She sits on the porch with her coverlet over her old knees and the last rays caress her ravined face.

Now is the time when the air becomes sodden with mildew and sluice. Gouts of water erupt from the old places and streams return in their prepared beds. The light is soft through the dense gray atmosphere of morning and then, the afternoons sparkle with dazzling rays that glow the changing leaves of maples and other broad leaf trees going golden and scarlet in this time.

In this time, people start to make connections, plans for family gatherings and the restoration of Traditions. All the ghosts that crossed over during Los Dias de los Muertos stand around, watching.

Soon the Island will resound to the 19th Annual Poodleshoot and BBQ. Father Danyluk of the Church of Our Lady of Incessant Complaint will renew his friendship with Pastor Nyquist of the Lutheran Immanuel Church as in years and decades now past.

It was a rainy year when the Catholic priest, given to walking clockwise about the block so as to meditate upon his sermons (he was a fond devotee of St. Thomas Aquinas), took refuge under a bus stop shelter with Pastor Nyquist who had taken to walking, as was his nature, anticlockwise around the same block, and so came to discovering that both clergy experienced difficulties with members of their respective flocks and yet had need during the Holiday time of specific resources.

Pastor Nyquist had need of proper beverages of which the Catholic rectory kept ample store. The Catholic had need of proper musicality which could only be supplied by the Lutheran choir filled with talented voices.

Some might say it was a match made in heaven, which probably gives fig all for Lutheran, Catholic, Jewish, or Islamic petty differences when push comes to shove.

The weatherman forecast cold and rain and so the streets were largely empty as the red truck and the white sedan carrying members of the Angry Elf gang stopped on Santa Clara Avenue to set a car on fire before driving away.

Denby, passing by, called in a report to IFD and wondered about the tenability of remaining on the Island that now was home to 100,000 people.

The Editor considered Veterans Day and quickly rejected the notion. The time for fond sentiments was 40 years ago when he and his brothers returns from that Southeast Asian fiasco. Thanks for your service now, when it had been all spits and hisses back then. Damage done and not repaired.

Some of his buddies went out for blowing of taps and all that at the model airplane field on Harbor Bay Island, but he seldom had patience for the pomp and ceremony -- old fogies living in the past and he had a news room to run while under onslaught of the worst attack on the Press since Heinrich Himmler. Sentiment be damned; he had a press organization to run.

Over at the Household of Marlene and Andre it had gotten crowded again. With the return of wet, cold weather, folks who had been keeping outside were taking shelter in the Winter. Occasional Quentin was again sleeping under the coffee-table while Jose folded himself up to use the hall linen closet as a bedroom. Times, never very easy, had become harder once again now that Brother Obama was gone and so the fifteen lost souls took humble residence in the one bedroom cottage. The rents had skyrocketed to obscene levels way past the ability of even normal people to pay to live, and the savage greed was wrecking households and businesses all over the Bay Area.

In this time the Angry Elf was finding employment as a Real Estate Management Expert one month, and as a Security\Fire Safety Manager the next, all the while using his position to scout out places that his gang could later rob. He had "friends" in several businesses who diverted calls from honest people checking his references and credentials. For the end of the year he had a grand revenge planned on Islanders who had disagreed with him on any number of real and imagined slights.

Out on the street Jason Arrabiata, Rev. CFSM, put his hand on the wet pavement to feel it tremble from some deep tension. Some kind of tectonic event was building up deep underground. Rebbe Mendelnusse felt it as well at the house of worship on Harbor Bay. Something was about to happen, another ugly Kristalnacht he was sure of it.

Meanwhile Suan and Rolf poured over Bay Area maps. They knew that the attack from the Angry Elf gang was coming soon. Both of them knew enough about survival and life that they had to have an exit plan. They knew they did not have the resources to fight savage animals like these. They knew they needed a fallback plan and in western Marin there was a possible place of refuge for the Lost of the World.

And in this time, the Creator bent his heavy head to ponder what would come next after fire and devastation. For fire is the only friend of the Angry Elf and devastation his employment. Something was about to change.

From from far across the water, the night train wailed from beneath the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown, keening across the haunted waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the flat expanse of the former airfield that was now sanctuary for the Least Tern, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats that was now the Jean Sweeny Open Space Preserve, the construction zone of the old Cannery and its detritus-strewn loading dock, crying over the dripping basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park, and dying between the Edwardian house-rows 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 a mysterious, unknown future.

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

 

NOVEMBER 6, 2017

TURKEY IN THE STRAW

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WHATS GOING ON

Merciful rain is forcast and all the fires are under control up north.

Two new accessible shuttle buses began operation on Oct. 31 to meet the growing transportation needs of Alamedans. Riders need not wait more than 30 minutes for a shuttle at each designated stop. Both Alameda Loop Shuttles (formerly called Alameda Paratransit Shuttles) are equipped with bike racks and wheelchair lifts.

The two buses run three separate routes Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Parking, always a bone of contention in any urban area, got nasty for Gold Coast residents as artinez-based MCK Services has been stowing its heavy equipment on the block occupied by Mastic Senior Center during the repaving of Lincoln Street. This is not the first time MCK Services has taken flack for using up parking space, as this same firm occupied space near the High School on Central a couple of years ago, raising the hackles of neighbors in the East End.

Most of the open air events taking place on the Island have occupied Park Street, but in recent years we have seen events occur at the Point and now we have a Holiday shopping event pre-Black Friday on Harbor Bay Isle.

Holiday Fest 2017, a Holiday shopping expo, has been set for Sunday, Nov. 19, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free.

A huge variety of handcrafted and specially made items will be on sale in one convenient place: Temple Israel and the Community Center
of Harbor Bay Isle at 3183 and 3195 Mecartney Road.

Plenty of free parking is available nearby at Bay Farm's Harbor Bay Landing. Overflow parking is available at CVS and Safeway.

Support the local economy and get your Holiday shopping done without suffering the surging masses on the day after Thanksgiving.

A Yoshis on the warmer side of the Bay, Dan Hicks will bring his swing on the 21st to celebrate the Solstice. Goapele will bring his unique flavor the entire week before and including NYE.

The 32nd Annual Christmas revels takes place at Oakland's Scottish Rite Temple on two weekends this year: December 8th through 17th
Fridays 8:00 pm, Saturdays 1:00 and 5:00 pm, Sundays 1:00 and 5:00 pm.

The Christmas Revels celebrates the turning of the year in Scottish style. Join the gang this December in the land of Robbie Burns as we pass the shortest day in song, dance, and spirited folk tales. Be there for haggis and Hogmanay, first-footing, wool-waulking, mouth music, and even Guising! Of course the Lord of the Dance will welcome you, and the Abbots Bromley Antler Dance will cast its mysterious spell.

Go to http://www.californiarevels.org/show/ for information.

At the renovated Fox in Oaktown, the exciting Tedeschi-Trucks band holds forth for three days before Thanksgiving while Marin bad-boy Les Claypool of Primus handles NYE, sailing on seas of cheese with the elephant no doubt.

AND BURNED LIKE MOONBEAMS IN OUR EYES

So anyway. 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.

Eugene is huddled with stalwart hunters trading stories of past Poodleshoots and making plans for this 19th version of the famous event that draws luminaries from all over the country. There is much speculation as to whom the White House will send as representative this year.

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.

Out on the street a pickup truck carrying members of the Angry Elf gang went whooping around the corner as the gang members planned more evil mischief.

Soon, all was quiet in this darkening time of Daylight saving and Trumpism. Beneath the floorboards of the Household the rats scampered around the old decrepit furnace with its sparking wires, avoiding fried comrades who had gotten too close to the machinery. Night fell early and a gentle rain sussurated down and a quietude pervaded the Island. No sirens tore the night air and a gentle peace ruled all the little Edwardian houses. It was a quiet night on the Island and no one got shot and no one got stabbed.

From from far across the water, the night train wailed from beneath the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown, keening across the haunted waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the flat expanse of the former airfield that was now sanctuary for the Least Tern, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats that was now the Jean Sweeny Open Space Preserve, the construction zone of the old Cannery and its detritus-strewn loading dock, crying over the dripping basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park, and dying between the Edwardian house-rows 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 a mysterious, unknown future.

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

 

OCTOBER 29, 2017

57 CHANNELS AND NOTHING ON

THIS ISLANDLIFE

Not much matters as the year decays like a rotting zombie. Wierdness persists over the Firechief appointment. ARC continues to fight the good fight against obscene rents and ridiculous housing. The Patch proudly touts rotting mansions going for $800,000 in the form of buildings what would scarce fetch $50,000 in Kentucky for all the dinkiness and electrical and structural problems.

Svendsen’s Boat Works, another victim of Developers here, recently announced that it will move to Richmond on Jan. 1, 2018. Svendsen’s will join Bay Marine Boatworks at its Richmond facility, 310 Cutting Blvd.

Svendsen’s existing boatyard in Alameda will close next Friday, Nov. 3, to facilitate the company’s relocation to Richmond and the eventual redevelopment of the Alameda Marina. Svendsen’s products divisions, including the wholesale distribution and chandlery, will continue to operate at the Alameda Marina.

Meanwhile the Season continues. A home in Alameda’s Gold Coast neighborhood recently set up a unique set of Halloween decorations under the banner “A Very Very Trump Halloween.”

Nearly every figure playing a role in the new president’s administration is represented by an undead statue outside the home. The satire extends from the president himself dressed as the devil, to puppetmaster Vladimir Putin riding a skeletal horse to a three-headed Cerberus of Ivanka, Eric and Donald Trump, Jr. The elaborate display has received national attention on blogs BoingBoing and The Daily Kos.

The Island has shifted in the past decade from predominantly Republican during the Navy tenure here to 95% Democrat in demographics.

WAITING ON A TRAIN

So anyway. The dismal time of the Crossing, the time of El Dias de los Muertos when the veil between the worlds is most thinnest had arrived. Right on time the dense pogonip draped the hills with mysterious beauty.

Denby drove out to the place he had always parked for the past 19 years and took out his cane and began to walk along the path that bordered Shoreline and the Strand. The moon hung in a cresent, waxing but still not conquering. The evening winds had kicked up, but without the accustomed force, and fortunately so for those fighting the distant fires. The hope was that this fog would dampen the fires destroying the lands further north. The dense pogonip had begun to usurp the visual reality of this world. Strange creatures began to appear in the mist with glowing eyes.

Denby had already entered that other realm beyond the veil as his cane went "Stump! stump!"

Then he came to It. The gate in the stone wall, which did not exist at any other time. He faced this thing as he had 19 times before, but paused. A distant dog or set of dogs set up an infernal barking.

He used his cane to push open the gate and so step through a veil of mist to the Other Side where a long reach of strand with bonfires extended to north and south, broken only at this height by the extension of a stone landing.

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!" and the words flamed inside the skull as if poured in molten steel. Just as it had for the past 19 years.

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. Seeing a doctor about things," he said.

Penny shaded her eyes as if seeing something inside something.

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.

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 an eternity of echos. Everyone who arrives at the Lands of the Dead is always surprised.

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

A woman approached him through the murk across the Strand, a woman with blond hair all touseled and glimmering from an internal light.

"Hello Denby," said the woman. "Has a year passed already?"

"Hello, Penny," said Denby. "Here I am."

"This is the 19th time you have crossed over," Penny said. "And each time you look a little paler and more transparent. I think the time is coming when you cross over and do not return to that other place."

"19 years," Denby said. "And each time I ask about the future only to get images of the Past. I think, soon, the world above will change. It is changing already and I do not know how the Island can last through it. Penny, if you have any insight, please, please let me know now."

The dead soul looked at him and the wind blew and the children ran between them, laughing in their games.

"How can you expect that we know what is going to happen when we have no connection any more to the world. We are all waiting here for transit to the Other Side. You among the living cannot know how much I long for that ship to carry me across."

The plaint in her voice caused a lump to rise in his chest. "Penny, I am sorry, but I was sent here to find out what is to be. And I do not think I have much more time."

"O don't be so lugubrious!" Penny suddenly said brightly. "Come along and meet some people!"

From far across the water came a glimmering that slowly revealed itself to be two beacons held head high above a skiff poled by a dark figure.

Other figures began to move down the slope to a stone jetty that extended out beyond the beach. It was a curious gaggle of people that advanced towards the landing there. A tall, patrician man wearing a silk bathrobe emblazoned with a familiar bunny logo strode along with two woman who were naked save for small angel's wings sprouting from their shoulders accompanied a stout man with bushy eyebrows and smoking a fat cigar. Another man darted along the strand and pulled up on a motorcycle before hopping off, leaving the machine to fall into the surf.

A black man with a moustache duckwalked along with an electric guitar that seemed energized by the very air itself and this he sang:

Swing low chariot, come down easy
Taxi to the terminal zone
Cut your engines, cool your wings
And let me make it to the telephone

Los Angeles give me Norfolk Virginia
Tidewater four ten O nine
Tell the folks back home this is the promised land callin'
And the poor boy's on the line

A lanky man passed close by, also with an electric guitar.

"Bye bye Tom," Denby said.

The man with the guitar responded:

Well I don't know what I've been told
You never slow down, you never grow old
I'm tired of screwing up, I'm tired of goin' down
I'm tired of myself, I'm tired of this town
Oh my my, oh hell yes
Honey put on that party dress
Buy me a drink, sing me a song,
Take me as I come 'cause I can't stay long
Last dance with Mary Jane
One more time to kill the pain
I feel summer creepin' in and I'm
Tired of this town again

A lanky western-looking man ambled down the shore. "Hey Sam." Denby said.

The man responded as follows before going down to the landing where the skiff was now making its dock:

"I used to talk to you all the time, even though I was alone. I walked around for months talking to you. Now I don't know what to say. It was easier when I just imagined you. I even imagined you talking back to me. We'd have long conversations, the two of us. It was almost like you were there. I could hear you, I could see you, smell you. I could hear your voice. Sometimes your voice would wake me up. It would wake me up in the middle of the night, just like you were in the room with me. Then... it slowly faded. I couldn't picture you anymore. I tried to talk out loud to you like I used to, but there was nothing there. I couldn't hear you. Then... I just gave it up. Everything stopped. You just... disappeared. And now I'm working here. I hear your voice all the time. Every man has your voice."

Down at the dock the ferryman was tossing his line and beginning to take his toll of the obolus that each soul carried in its mouth.

"Do not stare too close at his eyes - they are wheels of fire," Penny said. "Remember what happened last time when you did that."

Indeed the excruciating, searing pain of looking into the eyes of the infernal Charon had nearly wasted his own soul and body as he had fallen wailing into the sedge along the shore.

But still he could not help but see how the two naked women with wings were taken onto the skiff, now loaded with souls, and how the skiff was poled away to leave the patrician man sitting there on the dock, quite alone. Perhaps for the first time, ever, in his existence.

"How long do you think that man will wait?" Denby asked.

"No one knows what lies within the heart of any man," Penny said. "But I suspect it will be quite a long time in his case."

The skiff became smaller as it poled away and the glimmer shrank to the size of a distant star or a tiny comet heading to some unimaginable heavenly destination.

"Some go quickly," Penny said. "Others, like me and some of your friends, must wait until they learn patience for one or many years of your time on earth."

A group of men wearing battle fatigues and jogging together passed below them. A few of them called out to Denby, who waved. Old buddies. From back then.

All along the strand the bonfires flickered, each surrounded by groups of souls each having something in common with one another. A bevy of girls wearing old fashioned pinafores ran past, shrieking with laughter. A girl with big round eyes magnified by large eyeglasses ran right up to Denby and shouted "Boo!" before darting away into the darkness.

"And what about these?" Denby said. "These innocents."

"You are right to call them Innocents. They are the souls of those not born and never were and those perhaps to come. They are visible to you because they have something to do with your own life," Penny said. "Some are the possibilities of that which happened between you and me. They are the Daughters of the Dust."

"This is not fair," Denby said. "This is not fair. We have so little time." He made a guesture of futility. "There is so little time."

An iron bell began to clang.

"The time is up; you are right. Now you must go." Penny said. "Or the portal will close and you will have to waste away here a year or more."

"I want to stay here with you Penny," Denby said.

"Foolish man! That would be self-murder and cost you a thousand years or more! Go now!"

Reluctantly Denby turned and ascended the slope as the iron bell clanged more insistently.

At the gate, he paused to turn back, a modern Orpheus, and Penny stared at him. "You are concerned about the Island and what will come after. Know this: the Island will continue long after you are gone. Life is a vale of tears and suffering. There is some comfort in knowing that there is an end to it and it does not go on forever. Remember the Sybil of Cumis. I will be here waiting for you at the end. Go out there and live life that remains. And Denby . . .".

"Yes?"

"Above all, practice your singing. You really should practice." She bent forward and his lips felt a wetness.

With that, Denby stepped through the gate and the mist that hung all around and his face was slapped by a salt spray so that his cheeks were wet as he stumbled out onto the path along Shoreline Drive. When he looked back, the portal had closed and all he saw was a black and empty beach extending for miles in either direction and all trace of the stone jetty had disappeared down below.

He stumped his way along until he came to the car where Jose sat smoking a jay. Jose drove him silently to the Offices and let him out before driving off without saying a word.

The Editor reached into the cabinet and brought out the the rare 19 year old Scotch and poured each of them a drink.

"They happen to mention anything about WWIII and North Korea, ISIS or our idiot President?" asked the Editor.

"Somehow the subjects never came up," Denby said.

"I do not know why I send you each year," the Editor said. "I keep hoping for forecasts."

"I do not know either," Denby said. "This reminds me way to much of things like Ap Bac.

"It is Tradition," said the Editor. "Get ready now for year 20."

"Oy gevalt," said Denby. "Splash a little more of that juice in this glass."

The Editor did so.

From from far across the water, the night train wailed from beneath the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown, keening across the haunted waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the flat expanse of the former airfield that was now sanctuary for the Least Tern, the ghostly grasses of the Buena Vista flats that was now the Jean Sweeny Open Space Preserve, the construction zone of the old Cannery and its detritus-strewn loading dock, crying over the dripping basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park, and dying between the Edwardian house-rows 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 a mysterious, spectral, unknown future.

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

 

OCTOBER 22, 2017

WHEN IN TIMES OF TROUBLE MOTHER MARY SAYS TO ME



WHAT'S GOING ON

Up north, where we have friends and family and staffers who have been on the front lines of the firefight, we are pleased to report containment of the biggest fires, Tubbs, Atlas, and Nuns. Each of those fires developed into multifire complexes and acquired new names to reflect those facts. Tubbs and Nuns are 89% and 94% contained. The Pocket fire up around Cloverdale is 84% contained. The Atlas fire is 92% contained. The fire that threatened Oakdale joined with the Nuns fire. The fire that closed Highway 37 was contained a few days ago. Every two hours the Sheriff's office has been issuing conditional revocation of evacuation orders and road closures. Calistoga was saved.

Entry into the Coffey Park and Fountaingrove neighborhoods of Santa Rosa is by controlled checkpoint only. You MUST have a valid ID indicating proof of residence.

41 people died - mostly individuals over 70 years of age with limited mobility. 68 people missing in Sonoma County. There are more unaccounted persons in Napa and other counties. The total devastation, including Redwood Valley, is over 7,700 structures destroyed.

When you look at perimeter maps and stats, bear in mind that some fires are out of the jurisdiction of CalFire -- those incidents are handled by federal agencies.

Right now the LA Times is hosting a series of articles on these fires and is probably the best general public source of information. For those wanting to help, you should go to the Sonoma county website for vetted information about donations and volunteering at SONOMACOUNTY . Do NOT act on the report of a "friend" or a mailer or someone sitting at a table in front of the grocery store. Do NOT rely on social media.

More locally, we see the poison of Developer gold fever persists. Here is a quote from the recent Sun:

"Some local residents were concerned this past weekend that a West-End landmark may have seen its last days. Construction began on a new project at the parking lot near Webster Street and Lincoln Avenue that once contained a Southern Pacific Railroad station. The small ticket booth received a reprieve from the wrecking ball when it was protected earlier this year (“Quick Action Saves West End Railroad Landmark,” Feb. 2).

The former ticket booth has been relocated toward the rear of the property which is expected to become a condominium complex. The property owner is required to restore the protected structure to a prominent location on the site."

That ticket booth is not just a remnant of a single spur-line. Not many people recall that the transamerican railroad terminus was located there for a time because the terminus in Oaktown had not yet been completed.

Condos, yes. That is just what we need; more expensive housing for rich people.

There was a car show on Park this past weekend. A lot of really old cars were on display. We have no notes on the bands or the music, so muff it.

The Angry Elf gang has some of its lower end trolls cruising the Fernside district for crimes of opportunity. They have been stealing UPS deliveries, looting open garages and unlocked cars and generally doing what the Angry Elf gang does -- make life more difficult for decent folks. Be on the lookout for cruisers at dusk.

THE CHOSEN

So anyway, the time had come for the annual, the awful, the terrible, the terrifying Drawing of Straws in the Island-Life offices. For those of you just now entering this World, each year the Editor has the Drawing of Straws so as to determine who shall perforce be compelled to cross over to the Other Side, that side from which no man returns, no man save for maybe Orpheus and Achilles and Nicholas Cage and a handful of other exceptions,

Like most meetings, nobody wants to be there, and like most important meetings, attendance is compulsory. Else risk automatic Selection. It is sort of like how the Draft descended to in the early 1970's. Everyone is miserable and anxious. The process is extended and tortuous. No one wants to be Selected. To be Selected is Doom.

So on the given night Rachel walks around with a hat held high -- she is the tallest person in the office and is well suited for that task -- and each sad sack Islandlife staffer draws a straw with the shortest straw becoming the loser.

People always try to get out of it. Even Festus is included.

"Boss! I am an hamster! What do I know about dead people and the future?"

"Shut up and draw," says The Editor.

Indeed the annual visitation is all about learning about what comes next, for it is assumed the Dead will somehow have an insider bit of information. No one knows why this is, but that is just the way Tradition goes. And Tradition. Well you do not mess with Tradition. Tradition is what we have that keeps us together over the millennia of troubles that otherwise would disperse our very existence into Nothingness.

So. The dreadful evening comes and Rachel walks around the desks of the Offices where the staffers are sitting with their coffee or their Styrofoam cups of bourbon mixed with coca cola to steel the nerves. Each draws his or her straw and then heaves a massive sigh of relief. Their straws are compared to the long one Rachel has drawn as the first of chance.

Finally, inevitably, always according to Tradition, the hat comes round to Denby, who sits, dejected with his broken leg up on an upturned trashcan.

"Draw," says the Editor.

Denby sighs. Draws, as per Tradition 19 times now, once per year, the shortest straw.

"Why always me?" Denby says.

"Because," says the Editor. "We love you."

The others all gather around him, clap him on the back with congratulations for such a fine honor, and walk away, each to each, muttering, "Poor sap! Glad it was not me!"

"What about this broken leg," Denby said. "You expect me to hobble into the Infernal over a sand hill on a cane or with a walker?'

"Well, we could use a wheelchair and another drawing for someone to shove you along . . . ", the Editor said.

"O no, no, no!" Jose said. "I did that once before. This guy can gallop on a cane -- I seen him!" And with that Jose bolted from the offices out the front door.

"Well that is that," the Editor said. "I guess you will just have to bear up and keep the martial spirit. Keep America Great by sacrificing for the More Important, just like Donald Trump wishes us to do."

Denby emitted an expletive best omitted here.

The offices emptied of people, leaving Styrofoam cups and flickering monitors behind.

The Editor rested his hand on Denby's shoulder. "Bear up man. I will be here when you return." And the Editor retired to his glass cube.

Denby took his cane arose heavily and stumped to the back where the porch looked out into the darkness where the massive boxelder draped its branches over the yard. Stars now appeared which had been hidden for days because of the fire smoke from up north.

"Penny," he said. "What am I to do now? Most of my friends are gone and my best friend is approaching your door even now. I nearly entered the Portal myself a few weeks ago and the times are troubled."

But Penny, who remained on the Other Side, stayed silent as she awaited the 19th coming of Denby in a few days, days that meant nothing to someone now facing eternity.

On the street on the other side of the House, the raucous noise of an Angry Elf convertible drove past, disturbing the neighborhood. Then all was still and calm. And a peace descended upon that Island for one night and no sirens rent the night air and no one got shot and no one got stabbed.

From from far across the water, the night train wailed from beneath the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown, keening across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the flat expanse of the former airfield that was now sanctuary for the Least Tern, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats that was now the Jean Sweeny Open Space Preserve, the construction zone of the old Cannery and its detritus-strewn loading dock, crying over the dripping basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park, and dying between the Edwardian house-rows 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 a mysterious unknown future.

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

 

OCTOBER 15, 2017

SPIDERWEB

Things have been busy around the Island-life offices recently what with people returning from the Annual Sabbatical in stitches, bandages and leg immobilizers and the brough-haha going on in Sonoma with fire and people losing their homes, we neglect the traditions of the Seasons. Here is a front yard mockup of sanctified terror for the Season.

THIS ONE GOES OUT TO THE ONE I LOVE

Island-Life staffers work hand in hand with Marin and Sonoma Fire and Police departments. During the recent firestorm Lifer staff went to Calistoga to extract backups and servers during the evacuation there to preserve city data and services.

Sequoia Equities is making it easier for people who have been displaced to find an apartment.

Apartments available to fire victims in need.
PLEASE SHARE: If you know someone who has been displaced because of the fires, please get in touch with me. Sequoia Equities has apartments in Petaluma, Vacaville, Benicia and Martinez available immediately for people in need.
Immediate move-in to any ready apartment
Waived application fees
Waived security deposit (or additional deposit for pets)
Credit will not play a factor in a person’s ability to reside
We will waive our 30-day move-out notice requirement
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Pets: No breed restrictions, no number of pet restrictions
(925) 239-9453


WHAT'S GOING ON

Well, most outdoor events have been cancelled due to fire danger or air quality issues. Various fundraisers are being held in lieu of scheduled events. Down around the Island small groups banded together to try to arrange delivery of care packages to beleagured Sonoma and Santa Rosa.

Meanwhile various people are concerned about the planned revamping of Island access in the wings. And others have their panties in a twist about "taking a knee" during the National Anthem. Well, it remains a small Island with small concerns sometimes.

THIS 9 POUND HAMMER

So anyway. Dismal reports filter in across the transome. Up north the sun hung like a blurry orange in a milk soup for days while a steady rain of sad ash fell over everything. Sport fishing season is done in the freshwater districts but crab season is upon us. Crab and oysters that love the cold water which comes ever later it seems in these times.

Pedro motors out in the early hours as usual, but the waves feel strange and at unease, his boat El Borracho Perdido, coursing along through the aqua-green swell, not unlike an iHarvester pounding across the fields and the furrowed ruts, each pilot ensconced in a dim cabin.

The eternal revolve of the seasons continues although disaster ropes some of us into its insatiable maw of pain. Another season may pass and no one will know what you went through, what you lost. That hillside where your house once stood is now drenched with rain others call blessed.

On the slopes, the small shoots of green emerge. Life returns to the barren land. All is new, but your memories remain. This bush. That cornerstone. The place where the chair once stood. This photograph dusted to ashes and left only in memory.

You reach for a wrench and the wrench is not there -- all the toolbox is gone. You might go out and get another one, but the truth is, resources are tight and that replacement has to be put on hold.

In town the oaks along Central have all gone brown and are dropping. Up in the North Counties, the trees are finally going through a delayed autumn because the temperature has been artificially high everywhere. In San Anselmo, the alleys are only now starting to turn to the Fall colors, weeks late.

On the Island, the Angry Elf Gang plans its next escapade of violence and mayhem. The time was approaching for such things and they were eager to cause pain.

Mrs. Almeida walked out and observed the striated colors of the sunset. Soon the time when the veil between the worlds would become very thing was approaching and the energy of the spheres was not good. It did not forcast well what would happen this time. But the daily routines and the seasons must continue and Mrs. Almeide spread the feed among the chickens in their coop.

And all the while the Iranian spy submarine observed all these things from its position in the estuary.

From from far across the water, the night train wailed from beneath the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown, keening across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the flat expanse of the former airfield that was now sanctuary for the Least Tern, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats that was now the Jean Sweeny Open Space Preserve, the construction zone of the old Cannery and its detritus-strewn loading dock, crying over the dripping basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park, and dying between the Edwardian house-rows 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 a mysterious unknown future.

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

 

OCTOBER 8, 2017

ALL THE LEAVES WERE FALLING

This week we present a collage designed by long time Island-lifer Carol, who is a talented artist living in the Gold Coast section of town. She calls it "autumn colors".

WHAT'S THE BUZZ

Due to recovery from serious injuries we did not get out and about for the past few weeks. HSBF replayed on the newly renamed Hellman Meadows with the usual suspects of Steve Earle, Gillian welch and T. Bone Burnett showing up and the odd Alternative\punk representation appearing here and there to keep things alive. Very much alive, Hot Tuna Electric graduated to the main banjo stage, so we are glad that Jorma and Company is now seen as people of some musical significance after many years.

As usual Fleet Week took place about the same time, adding to the general congestion in Babylon as well as the ambient noise level with airplanes and other war machines screaming around all over the place.

Heard a piece of the new Primus album, which genuinely is an album in that the boys are releasing a vinyl version of their latest impenetrable opus about gnomes that drink the colors of the rainbow. Les Claypool, who is the local Native Son responsible for Primus and its bass-inflected assault upon Poodle-Rock oughta be performing in support of this new release. We see that Victor Wooten, no stranger to the bass instrument himself will be playing Yoshi's.
We cannot attend but hope many of you get over to the warmer side of the Bay and Yoshi's East.

With themes that feel powerfully familiar, Clint Imboden's solo exhibition "Broken" opened at Autobody upstairs on Park Street near the bridge this weekend.

The "Dias de los Muertos" kick off at the Peralta Hacienda in Oaktown with a kid-friendly event midweek. Look for other events leading up to the big shindig on International Blvd.

WHAT'S GOING ON - SPECIAL HALT THE PRESSES

Around 11pm and extending to 5 pm people up in the North Counties of Sonoma and Napa awoke variously to the smell of smoke and sometimes the loud alerts of neighbors revving loud motorcycles in an effort to wake people up.

Over the next several hours evacuation orders went out in Santa Rosa, Napa, and the City of Sonoma as enormous wildfires raged out of control, wiping out entire house blocks in minutes with some people escaping with scant seconds to spare.

NorCal is on fire and people are scrambling to locate loved ones by phone at a distance even as phone lines drop all over the place.

According to Cal Fire officials a combination of fires across eight counties has burned over 65,000 acres of land, destroyed over 1,500 structures, and is threatening countless others.

Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for fires, directing critical resources to help residents and firefighters.

At least 10 people have died and many more injured. Local hospitals are overwhelmed as some hospitals have been entirely destroyed, forcing patients and staff to flee.

We at Island-Life have people with homes in Santa Rosa and amid the frantic flurry of phone calls located people traveling out of state but failed since 6:30 A.M. to locate evacuees from the path of the firestorm.

Regions including Novato on south to San Rafael are experiencing a steady rain of burnt ash and the skies, forecast for sunny and clear, have been overcast with a dense pall of smoke. Highways 101, 29, 29, 121 and 37 are among those entirely closed in the area. Work colleagues rushed to rescue belongings as areas of Santa Rosa and even Blackpoint began to experience smoke and flames for fires that as of this time have 0 containment due to high winds that were forecast to die down only this evening.

An armada of police cars was witnessed heading north out of Oaktown this morning to support the front lines of firefighters.

Our thoughts and prayers are insufficient. We can only hope the best for the survivors of this thing.

KILLING THE BLUES

So anyway. The mornings begin in darkness. The days advance with muted light slanting through the increasingly bare tree branches and openings between buildings. People say the light of summer is soft but it is not. The light of summer is newly in these days sharp and hard with nasty triple-digit numbers. The light of Autumn is that of mild rays suffused with vermilion and gold and rust. Everyone is getting ready for what comes next in the form of white-cold blasts and chill.

Meanwhile this is the Season of Changes. Tiny monsters breed in the shadows of doorways, spiders cross the walls, the veil between the worlds gets thinner and murmurs start to bleed through the walls.

Angry whispers emerge from the old Strife house. Once again those strident voices emerge to contend under the veiled moon about long ago slights and insults. Vermin emerge from the woodwork; spiders, millipedes, scorpions. For some reason the place seems thronged with moths, even though you have sprayed and laid out cedar blocks. People lay out macabre displays of bloody hands and howling heads, but those people never served in Southeast Asia. A recent documentary series on the Vietnam conflict spooled out over a couple weeks and ghosts begin to walk again.

It is the first week of October and the Editor is calling for the annual Drawing of Straws, the fearsome and feared lottery that chooses which poor living soul must descend to that bourne from which no man is allowed to return -- unscathed, save for scathed Orpheus and our Elector of the Dead.

Also on the Calendar is the Annual Island-Life Poodleshoot and BBQ, an event anticipated and dreaded by many. Anticipated by vigorous, red-blooded, outdoorsy, American boys and girls and feared by wimpy Poodle-walkers scared of mayhem, destruction and physical damage to their beloved, cherished, doted-upon Fifis. Wherever misplaced sentiment is larded upon inappropriate objects of devotion, there we go. We go and destroy it, destroy it with zest and innocent delight.

In other news, the Island High Stingrays garnered some unexpected press when the entire team took a knee during the playing of the school fight song before a game with the West End Jets. Turned out that Brawnie Blokh bent to tie his shoelace, which was misunderstood by other members of his team who all knelt as their astounded coach and audience looked on from bleachers of Wally Mickelstein Stadium.

The 'Rays would have forfeited the game as the incensed Coach Wiekbladder benched the entire first string, but the Jets, deciding they, too, had a right to protest something all knelt during the Battle Hymn of the Republic. Mrs. Semiquaver, the Cappelmeister, had decided the national anthem had become too controversial.

"I think this disrespect to the flag and the military is over the top. The kids are acting like Marin hot-tubber hippies!" Mr. Blather said.

"What does the military have to do with it? They don't own the flag or the song!" shouted Mr. Larch, who was there with Pandora Thighripple to watch her son play ball. "It is the People who own the Flag!"

"I am gonna really mess up your hair!" shouted Mr. Blather. "The flag belongs to us loyal Conservatives and everybody knows Conservatives are pro-military you commie pinko!

"You have no idea what a communist is," said Pandora, who had actually visited Cuba with Michael Moore. "You never ever met one you ignorant twot!"

That is when Mr. Blather punched Mr. Larch, shouting "Preserve the martial spirit!"

Pandora grabbed Mrs. Blather and threw her down three rows of seats in the bleachers and Mr. Cribbage punched a surprised Mr. Souvlaki who was waving a small Catalan flag.

All the adult parents started throwing cups and hot dogs. Pretty soon the whole affair descended into a melee and there was fists and bottles thrown right and left as the melee descended into a mess of atavistic savagery as the howl of the police sirens approached.

Officers Popinjay and O'Madhauen responded with typical restraint: they tased and wacked with batons everybody they did not pepper spray, including both teams who were just standing their watching their parents, and then Officer Millicent let loose the attack dogs.

Much later, Luther had the opportunity to speak with Officer Millicent in the Old Same Place Bar. "How come you hate us so much?" Luther asked.

"We hate everybody pretty much," Officer Millicent said. "We just happen to be in your neighborhood a lot."

From from far across the water, the night train wailed from beneath the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown, keening across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the flat expanse of the former airfield that was now sanctuary for the Least Tern, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats that was now the Jean Sweeny Open Space Preserve, the construction zone of the old Cannery and its detritus-strewn loading dock, crying over the dripping basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park, and dying between the Edwardian house-rows 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 a mysterious unknown future.

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

 

OCTOBER 1, 2017

SPIDERS FROM MARS

This week's terrifying photo comes from Jessie in Babylon where she captured this beast descending from above to devour what looks like the new Salesforcewest building.

Seems appropriate for this month-long season of parties and fantasy that make October one of the of the most delightful times in the Bay Area, culminating in that sexy orgy of candy and hookers and masquerades called in some places Halloween.

O the horror the horror.

O SAY CAN YOU SEE BY THE DAWN'S EARLY LIGHT

The Island hosted a few events this past week in recognition of what is taking place on the national stage. All across the country and in every chat room on social media, people have been buzzing with either outrage or support or outraged support following former 49 quarterback Colin Kaepernick's decision to kneel during the traditional performance of the national anthem prior to football games.

In the interests of accuracy, Colin's particular decision to kneel was conditioned after several meetings with former Green Beret veteran Nate Boyer. Originally, Kaepernick had decided to sit out the anthem, but after talking with the Army Vet, he and Boyer worked out a respectful compromise that still acted as protest.

At Encinal, home of the Jets ("When you are a Jet, you're a Jet all the way . . .") students gathered for a rendition of the National Anthem in which all students took a knee to honor their support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The Island has experienced a flurry of minor racist activity that included vandalization of Temple Beth Israel and someone hanging a noose in front of a school, however the general public response has been one of unity and support for diversity. Not to say we do not have a few intolerant scalawags that have protested our Sanctuary City status with disinformation and fear-mongering, but the majority of Islanders appear on the right side of history going forward.

Things for East Bay students got pretty rocky this past week as concern about an unsubstantiated thread of a planning shooting put Island authorities on high alert, followed by a complete lock-down due to a bomb threat. Similar events happened up in Marin in Larkspur which raises questions about how school officials are supposed to respond in this time of new realities when the cause may be some wag just wants to get a day off playing hookey at everybody else's expense. Children and staff at Lincoln Elementary School in Newark were frightened Wednesday when the school went on lockdown because of an intruder on campus. Two staff members suffered minor injuries in a fight with the suspect. The intruder was determined to have significant mental stability issues.

Things fared worse on the Nimitz as CHP shut down the freeway going in both directions near the Maze during a pursuit of a homicide suspect. During the pursuit, nail strips were thrown down to disable the car. The suspect elected to try to shoot it out and was killed by CHP. Police shut down the freeway at 9:06 a.m. at the Powell Street exit following a high-speed chase.

Officers negotiated with the suspect for an extended period of time until officers received gun fire from the suspect,” the Fairfield, Richmond and Emeryville Police Department later said in a joint statement. “Officers on scene returned fire and the suspect was struck during the exchange.”

The freeway was at a complete standstill and traffic was backed up for miles.

CHP reopened the freeway at 5 p.m, September 27.

To add to further roadway havoc, a tractor-trailor jackknifed and caused traffic misery for hours the following day.

TROUBLE IN MIND

So anyway Martini found a French Horn at a garage sale and he brought it back to the Household even though it had no mouthpiece. Friday everyone was in the main room and Martini brought in his horn with a mouthpiece he had made of wood.

"Martini," Suan said. "You have been good all week; don't blow it."

"BLAAAAAT!" Martini went.

"O for Pete's sake," Suan said.

"Next year in Jerusalem," Martini said. "Happy new year!"

"Martini," Marlene said. "It is not the New Year - it is the day of Remembrance. And besides, you are Catholic, not Jewish."

"Ah well, same diff," Martini said. "Catholics are just Jews with a layer of brocade and the Pope. And I remember all kinds of crap. BLAAAAAHHT!"

"For Pete's sake, what are you doing with that horn? Put it away," Marlene said.

"This be my Chauffeur."

"Chauffeur," Marlene said flatly

"Yeah. Ram's horn. Announcing my penitence and shit," Martini said.

"Martini, you are Catholic and you are drunk -- which are two problems in themselves. Give me that horn NOW!"

"Promise you forgive me," Martini said.

"I forgive you for being an idiot. But first give me the horn."

Also unclear on the concept was the Angry Elf who approached Denby as he stood on the street with his crutches waiting for the bus. The Angry Elf wanted forgiveness too.

"Wwwwhy," Denby asked reasonably, looking around for weapons.

"Cause you know people talk. An' I wanna feel comfortable."

"Comfortable," Denby said. "You want to feel comfortable."

"Yeah. It be the day of forgiveness and crap."

"Please go away and leave me alone," Denby said.

"But I want forgiveness," the Angry Elf said. It turned out that some of the Elf's connections had found out he had been hassling innocent people and he was getting flack about it. It was hurting business.

"Are you even aware of the crimes you committed," Denby said. The bus was taking its own sweet time.

The Angry Elf shrugged. "I aint proud about some of it, but you know business is business. Some deals you lose and that is just the way it is. So we can make a new deal, right?"

"I do not think you get the forgiveness thing," Denby said. "As a Jew you are a bad example. Eff off."

"You better not say that again," warned the Angry Elf just as the bus arrived.

"Eff off you lousy example," Denby said as he climbed aboard the bus.

"I am gonna make you sorry!" shouted the Angry Elf who stamped his feet.

The Angry Elf returned to his rooms at the top floor of the Asylum for Demented Managers and smashed glassware with a hammer in frustration before arranging for the punishment of a wayward "mule" who had siphoned off too much. Denby had moved out more than two years ago from the same building when the Elf had first threatened him.

In the Household of Marlene and Andre, Little Adam was watching the news on his laptop with Andre. Much of the news was about the devastation suffered by Puerto Rico, an island that had once been overrun by 1950's gangsters after Cuba fell to Fidel Castro.

In the public media Lin-Manuel Miranda -- the author of a popular stage production -- said to the President of the United States that he was "going straight to hell." Miranda added, "No long lines for you. Someone will say, 'Right this way, sir.' They'll clear a path."

In the face of all that the President commands in terms of power, Miranda is no more powerful than Denby facing a petty Mafioso who admires Meyer Lansky. But people who abuse the tools handed to them by the People so as to get the jobs done, people who abuse the trust placed in them, need to be told to their face what they are. More people, not fewer, need to kneel in protest against injustice and the white poisons that destroy our neighborhoods.

The hour got late and Little Adam was put to bed. Others retired to their niches and cots in the cottage while Andre looked out from the porch at the Bay and the distant lights of Babylon across the water. Soon the traditional celebrations of the Island would come to keep everybody busy, each looking to occupy him or herself with the illusion that all would be well.

Also looking out into the darkness at that moment, the Editor stood on the back porch of the Offices. Soon it would be time for the annual Dias de Los Muertos, and the annual Crossover to the Other Side by Denby. The old box elder tree hung its branches over the yard, still embedded with anchor chains, anchors, shovels, belaying pins. Still the Editor did all he did in fond hopes that somewhere out there beyond the curtains of darkness gleamed a like mind. He turned and returned to the small pool of light cast by the desk lamp.

From from far across the water, the night train wailed from beneath the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown, keening across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the flat expanse of the former airfield that was now sanctuary for the Least Tern, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats that was now the Jean Sweeny Open Space Preserve, the construction zone of the old Cannery and its detritus-strewn loading dock, crying over the dripping basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park and dying between the Edwardian house-rows 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 a mysterious unknown future.

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

 

SEPTEMBER 24, 2017

THEY AINT KILLED ME YET, BUT THEY DOING THE BEST THEY CAN

This week's headline is of our reporter Denby posing with rescuers after being rescued from the mountain wilderness at 12,000 feet in the high Sierra. Denby is recuperating from surgery and is expected to be able to walk normally again by the turn of the year.

Brandon Hallam is the paramedic and Dan, the chopper pilot, took the picture.

THIS ISLAND LIFE

During our absence it looks like it was not a "slow news" week for a couple running. CHP nabbed a deer that decided to run on the Bay Bridge to Babylon, perhaps in an effort to escape high rents; poor deluded thing.

CHP acknowledged the event with an official social media post, "This morning a couple of our officers stopped a doe for toll evasion, on the Bay Bridge. She said she usually pays it, but today she was a buck short."

An Oakland grass fire prompted evacuations last week before it was brought under control.

A mountain lion has been repeatedly spotted in the Berkeley Hills, prompting officials to issue warnings to avoid the area during the sunup and sundown hours and to avoid going through the area alone. For defense, officials recommended carrying a stick.

A stick against a mountain lion? Just keep away from now and jog elsewhere.

Lauren Do commented with a notice of an Planning Board appointee making some eyebrow-raising comments that would have done both Marie Antoinette and Josef Stalin proud ("Papers, please", by Lauren Do, Blogging Bayport, September 20, 2017)

The PB official, appointed by Mayor Trish Spencer, is not identified by name by Ms. Do, but appears to be listed in the video transcript as Sandy Sullivan -- known to be a staunch pro-homeowner advocate to the nth degree. Sullivan, if that is her sitting with Council Members to left of center in the video, was querying an unidentified Housing Authority staffer about the makeup of residents in the Bayport project on Buena Vista near Webster.

Turns out most of the residents are seniors and disabled.

Sullivan expressed concern about parking and how it impacts " the neighborhood and the existing homeowners" and then goes on to ask, “Do you identify these cars with stickers?”

The answer from the staffer is, of course, yes so that residents are allowed to park on the project site which consists of private streets, because the City did not want to pay for maintenance of them. The Housing Authority staffer said "that naturally they don’t control the public streets because the public streets are the public streets".

The Planning Board member (Sullivan) then says, “Yes, but you control whether they use the public streets.”

We had to review that comment on the video three times to make sure we did not mishear such an outrageous statement.

Ms. Do commented, "A Planning Board member is suggesting that members of the public should not be able to use the public streets if they reside in Housing Authority units."

Leaving aside the observation that when is parking in a densely populated metropolitan area never an issue, we can see that the Spencer appointees to the Planning Board have caused public concern about biases going back to the fresh election of Spencer in 2014 when she eked out a narrow victory against incumbent Marie Gilmore.

"Allowing Spencer to continue stacking the Planning Board with appointments like her last two would be a terrible mistake that could set us back for many years. More appointees like Ronald Curtis and Sandy Sullivan, well established property owners whose comments and votes are often tantamount to an “I got mine” vision for Alameda, do not reflect the diversity of people and progressive views reflected in our Everybody Belongs Here ethos. Let’s make sure the vision set by our planning board is one the next generation can be proud of and afford to be a part of." (East Bay Times, Letters to the Editor, July 18, 2017, Brian McGuire)

And earlier in 2015 the Times Standard had this to say:

"And while the council ended up approving the appointments of David Mitchell and Sandy Sullivan on Sept. 1 (2015), Spencer's decision not to recommend Dania Alvarez for a seat drew stinging criticism. Alvarez had served on the Planning Board since 2013 and hoped to be reappointed.

Councilwoman Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft noted the nominations of Mitchell and Sullivan followed Spencer routinely sitting in on meetings of city boards and commissions.

"I have heard from a number of board and commission members that the mayor told them she attends these meetings to see how they vote and wants to appoint people who share her political position," Ashcraft said. "This concerns me."

It has "a chilling effect," she said, because board members will not act independently for fear of retaliation. Planning Board member Lorre Zuppan said the appointment process was turning into "a process of intimidation."

"It suppresses expression in all of the boards because you know if you speak out of line with the mayor, who is appointing the members, you won't be reappointed," Zuppan said. (Times Standard News, Alameda: Planning Board nominations draw fire, by Peter Hegarty, 09/09/15)

After the international farce laden with spoken-vomit language that emits from the mouth of the current U.S. President, perhaps we should no longer be surprised by public enunciation of insensitive insolence and blathering presumption that put phrases like "nattering nabobs of negativism" into the realm of quaint anachronisms of history.

WAKE ME UP WHEN SEPTEMBER ENDS

So anyway. Everybody stumbled back from this year's Island-Life Mountain Sabbatical in a foul mood. The thing had turned out to be a total fiasco, what with the Veggie Burgers undercooked, the mosquitos more pestiferous than a swarm of telemarketers, Festus getting lost on the glacier due to snow blindness, and all the injuries from falling down cliffs and breaking bones.

Everybody sat around in wheelchairs in a whirl of gauze and little icewater machines pumping gelid fluid around damaged limbs. As for Festus, there is nothing more pathetic than a puffy-eyed hamster who has to wear sunglasses indoors like some rodent narcotrafficante. Sure was a hell of a vacation that never happened.

"I told you never employ a used climbing rope somebody has stepped on,"Pahrump shouted.

"I didn't step on it," Javier said from his headball of swaddling gauze. "Jose did."

"Just blame me for everything," Jose said. "I didn't set the chuck up in the crack or make it 'walk'."

"Well who set the chuck and who used the rope?" Rachel asked.

"It wash Javier boundink off the face duringk his rappel, pretending to be a Green Beret," sniffled Beatrice. She had plunged into Darwin Canyon Lake #2 and had crawled shivering out onto the snowbank. "Thag yew very buhtch! AAAAH-CHEWWWWW!"

There was lots of acrimony and finger pointing all around and nobody knew how it happened exactly but they all remembered looking up to see the snaking curl of the rope flailing in the high gray sky where storm clouds boiled just above the notch through which all of them had just passed. Blame or whatever, down the mountainside they all went to splatter among the boulders.

"Aieeeeya!" Javier said with an echoing voice; he had landed upside down with his head stuffed into a hole between three boulders the size of Caddilacs. "Estoy destruido!"

"Could be worse," Jose said as he lay there wedged among the granite blocks. "Could be raining."

That is when the heavens opened up at 12,000 feet with an ice cold downpour.

After Beatrice set off the SARSAT beacon, the helicopters kept busy ferrying people off of the mountainside all day to a line of waiting ambulances that took them all to Mammoth Lakes Trauma Unit.

"It says here on the manifest that one of you weighs only 12 ounces," said paramedic Brandon Hallam to Pahrump. "That has to be some kind of mistake."

"No, that has to be Festus," Pahrump said.

They found Festus in an ice crevasse by the sound of his high, reedy voice. He was singing to himself.

Oh no not I, I will survive
Oh, as long as I know how to love, I know I'll stay alive
I've got all my life to live
And I've got all my love to give
And I'll survive
I will survive
Hey, hey . . . .

"O for Pete's sake," Brandon said. "Climb aboard the basket. You are so off-key I should leave you."

The Editor stumped in to the Offices on crutches and ordered everyone to get back to work, which they all did, grumbling.

One good thing -- everyone skipped out on the recent heat wave that slammed the Bay Area on Labor Day weekend.

The light faded into a golden-hue saturated landscape. School had been in session for a few weeks now and the school busses are all still painted that same hue of noticeable yellow they have enjoyed for decades. Mrs. Sanchez looked up after leaving the school where she had taught English literature for the past twenty years and noticed that all the buckeyes had already gone sere and withered, while the overarching oaks that sheltered Central Avenue had shifted to browns and goldens. The days fluctuated between breezy 70's and sudden 80's while the nights had settled to high 50's. Soon time to bring down the duvet, put away the short sleeves.

Bearing her load of essays on Emily Dickenson, Mrs. Sanchez, nee Morales, looked up and down Central where nothing appeared to move other than Mr. Peepers, who scampered across the road high above on a wire that ran from one telephone pole to another on the opposite corner.

In the middle of the street, Mrs. Sanchez paused, eyeing a suspiciously slippery looking patch of leaves. "I shall not be tricked by you this time," she said to herself, stepping cautiously to the left.

On second thought, perhaps she should get to the Post Office to check for a letter from Karen, her former pupil who now was entering graduate school in far-off Chicago. Karen had been one of those kids who had seemed destined to fall through the cracks and be forever lost, another troubled teen whose parents had divorced, propelling her into a round of rebellion and police pickups, self-cutting with razor blades and worse.

But Ms. Morales had not given up on her; she had seen the promise in the girl's native intelligence and had gone herself to the police station and signed the forms to take on responsibility when her father refused. Those had been difficult years, but now look. Graduated with honors from Seattle and now off to Chicago.

A red pickup truck came tearing around the corner to startle the woman who now was known as Mrs. Sanchez -- she had gone through some changes of her own over the past few years.

The truck, carrying members of the Angry Elf gang drove right at her and she threw her hands up in the air and jumped aside as the truck tore past with all the hard work essays ascending and descending like flakes in a snow globe and the distinctive sound of The Cackler fading away and the truck barreling down Center toward Park Street.

Bear, on his 1965 Panhead with his beloved Susan riding pillion came to a halt and the three of them collected as many of the essays as they could. When she got back to the house, Mr. Sanchez was still at work, so Mrs. Sanchez plotzed in the recliner with a rare glass of sherry to calm her nerves.

Eventually Mr. Sanchez came home and he held his wife in his arms as the last light faded outside the window.

"La Pandilla de Duende Enojada son güeyes," he said. "Bunch of Jerkoffs!"

Down by the Strand, the Household was enjoying the last few days of daytime warmth and sunshine with a game of touch football Frisbee with rules made up as they went along. This was made both interesting and complicated as both Johnny Cash and Bonkers insisted on grabbing the Frisbee as well to run away with it without regard to sides.

Finally Mancini grabbed the Frisbee in the failing light with the stars coming out and the fog rolling in and as he knelt in the sands of the Island, he placed it upon his head and with his arms spread out to either side belted out an old song:

This land is your land, this land is my land
From the California to the New York island
From the Redwood Forest, to the gulf stream waters
This land was made for you and meeeeeeeeeee.

The fog rolled in then and all that Household went up into the cottage and there Marlene served out bread soup for the season of harvesting tomatoes was about done and soon the fava beans would be ready for sowing in the ironmongery garden.

Little Adam had finished his homework and was watching the beginning of the streamed version of the Burns/Novak documentary on Vietnam. Something there made Adam say, "Mom, how can people say they love America when they be so mean?"

Andre answered him as follows, "There's many ways to love a country. Some people love their country the way a child loves its mother, without thinking, unconditionally, but with a certain blindness as if to say, 'Mommy is is never wrong. Mommy is always right', even when they see otherwise. Other people love their country and see all its faults, but love it just the same like you would an alcoholic uncle who needs some help to get along. How can you not love a member of your own family? Other people love their country enough to step up and do something because, you see, you and me and all of us are the country, really -- America is not some removed object sitting out there like a glass bowl on a shelf, some kind of finished, set in bronze statue."

"I don't get it," Adam said.

"You will," Marlene said.

Adam turned to face the glow of the laptop screen. Outside the streets were hushed and all the gang members were indoors. There were no sirens and no screaming and peace ruled this corner of the world. On board the Iranian spy submarine that frequented the estuary, the First Mate puzzled over a paper the sub's robotic arm had found floating on the surface water.

"I thought I heard a fly buzz?" queried the First Mate. "What is this Emily Dickenson she is so important? Is she a official or a commander?"

"I doubt that very much," said the Captain who clapped up the handles of the periscope. "Let us dive." And so they did. And the El Chadoor ran out through the Bay and under the Golden Gate, running silent, running deep.

It was a quiet night on the Island and nobody got shot and nobody got stabbed.

"Next year," Javier said to Jose. "We take vacation in Vegas."

From from far across the water, the night train wailed from beneath the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown, keening across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats through the cracked brick of the Cannery and its weedy railbed, crying over the dripping basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park and dying between the Edwardian house-rows 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 mysterious parts unknown.

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

 

AUGUST 27, 2017

LIKE A BIRD ON A WIRE

This week's headline image comes from the Summer Dam on the Russian River where a heron fellow keeps a sharp eye on anything swimming downstream.

 

WHAT'S THE BUZZ

Looks like a great Fall season is shaping up for the Fox and North Bay. We see Susan Tedeschi teaming up with Derek Trucks at the renovated Fox preceded by Jason Isbell , formerly of the Drive By Truckers. Warren Haynes will be putting his Gov't Mule in harness there. The booking agent for the Fox continues to overwhelm the lineup for both the Fillmore and the Warfield, although the Fillmore will be hosting Dave Bromberg and his scraggly blues group, which is always something worth standing for. A number of old timers are coming out of the woodwork to cover places in Napa and North Bay during this chaotic time of political turmoil.

On the Island, the political atmosphere continues to boil with the BigProp folks trying to force through a fake resolution that effectively bans no-fault evictions and exhaults the prerogatives of absentee landlords.

The bicycle coalitions battle the traffic people from day to day. BigProp continues to levy for variances in height restrictions and density limits, longing to turn parts of the Island into simulacrums of Harlem, NY where the river has not been seen in decades.

THIS ISLAND-LIFE

There will be no next week as the Offices will be closed for the annual Island-Life Mountain Sabbatical. Should sufficient Island-Life staff survive with sufficient bodily functions intact, we will again resume activities and reporting in mid September. Expect a two week hiatus for a long delayed vacation.

In addition, the Internet service for the offices is down through the weekend, so we are struggling to regain functionality at this point and so the issue may be delayed.

WHEN THE LAST ROSE OF SUMMER

So anyway. The major heavenly Event shifted forward on creaky wheels making everybody scurry about with special glasses and homemade cardboard viewers and whatnot. The shadow of the moon drifted in a stately fashion across the sun and the view was all occluded by the seasonal fog. Folks stepped outside from their office cubicles into a gray half-light that was no more dismal than usual. The light faded somewhat and overhead the leaden sky-cover darkened a bit, then got a bit lighter again.

Mr. Howitzer stepped out onto his verandah with a bloody Mary whipped up by Dodd, looked around with disdain, went "Harumph!" and then went back inside to pester the Help about cleaning the jalousie.

Tipitina looked out the glassed side of the Embarcadero One and went up in the elevator with coworkers to the roof, where the clouds briefly parted up high to reveal what was happening. People took pictures with their cell phones while the team from floor 29 pointed binoculars at a sheet of paper on the ground so as to avoid burning out their eyes. A few others wore the special drugstore sunglasses and stood around looking like members of Devo.

The shadow sort of edged partly across the sun, leaving a good quarter visible intermittently through the high fog, and then it edged away again and they all went down to their cubicles to return to work.

Beneath the hedges of the College Senor Don Guadalupe Fernando Gustav Erizo peered up at the heavy sky and then returned to his burrow to continue about his basic hedgehog business as usual.

Probably the only two individuals who had a clear view of the eclipse were Pedro and Ferryboat as they returned from the fishing grounds out at sea. The boat, El Borracho Perdido, thrummed along the furrows of the waves after the sun had done what it does. As Pedro entered the back end of the big fog bank that moves from sea to shore and back again on a daily basis, the sky grew dark and the petrels and gulls began landing on the water surface to tuck in for what they thought to be night and so the sky emptied of bird calls. Surface feeding fish descended to take shelter in the kelp beds and reefs below, but a school of sturgeon swam about in confusion near the surface. . The sea took on a deeper aquamarine and turned ebony as the light vanished. Then the boat entered the fog bank where all was muffled and yet resonant with splash and clank of ship's equipment as it was in the early pre-dawn when Pedro set out. Ferryboat stayed quiet in the wheelhouse as the lights from the navigation equipment and radio and Pedro missed his old radio friend, the Lutheran minister who had guided his ship as sure as the stars for the past thirty years.

Pedro had heard the old guy was making nationwide tours, bringing a sort of Lutheran version of a variety show to different cities but it did not look like the man would be coming to sinful Babylon any time too soon. He would have liked to have met the man and talked about fishing, but the Lutheran was retired and Pedro was getting on in years himself and probably the two would have had little to talk about as Pedro still retained a small-town approach to things with his children all raised on the little Island and going to the Church of Our Lady of Incessant Complaint and still married to Mrs. Almeida, the same gal he had met forty-five years ago in Sausalito and so little to add to the knowledge of a world traveler and dignitary of American belles lettres. Mostly, like all quiet men, Pedro liked to listen, for once you open your mouth, the ears seem to forbid admittance, a lesson sometimes harshly learned.

Under leaden skies that had barely lightened after the eclipse Pedro steamed in under the Golden Gate to the docks with the belly of his boat laden with the late summer harvest, bluefin and yellowtail, with several 300 pounders and many destined for the fine sushi establishments in Babylon, the East Bay, and Marin.

On the docks, he spied members of the Angry Elf gang, ranging about and looking for things to steal or damage. Pedro laid his Mossberg 540 on the transom and guided his boat into the mooring slot and the Angry Elf gang stared with angry, shifty, deceitful eyes, scratching meth-induced acne. From their midst he heard the distinctive sound of the one called "the Cackler."

Blue night descended through the shrouded trees and rooftops of the Island as Rolph and Suan returned from yet another excursion in search of better lodgings than the crowded household of Marlene and Andre where 15 souls had sought shelter from the Storm. It seemed the real estate disease that had spread throughout the Bay Area and wrecked and ruined many old neighborhoods all through the Five Counties area and there was little help to be found anywhere. The land-greed and the voracious appetite of the absentee landlords had destroyed one monument after another, broke apart neighborhoods and evicted countless businesses.

Because of the money trap the Hospital had closed its neonatal unit and its gynecology during its desperate effort to remain afloat and independent, so it was no longer possible to be born on the Island. There soon would no longer be native born Islanders.

All due to this land fever, scourging the land and decimating the honest people.

In quiet voices Rolf and Suan and Andre and Marlene, who acted as the responsible adults of the Household, discussed the future. They knew that it was only a matter of time before Howitzer, who owned the building, tossed all of them out onto the street and because of the laws -- or lack thereof -- he needed no express reason to do so. And the denizens of that bad abode were all people damaged by Life's vicissitudes, people who had walked with Tiresias among the lowest of the low. These people were beyond asking for handouts; they asked only for survival.

Denby sat out on the steps of the Native Sons of the Golden West Parlor 33&1/3 with Jose and Javier and Snuffles the Bum and Little Andre was there with his school project made of fragile balsam wood, turning the model here and there, and Jose wondered how it all would end.

"It will all end badly," Denby said, ever the optimist. "We will grow old and fall apart and die wretchedly ignominious and in much pain."

"It will end in fire and rain and great destruction," Pahrump said. "Everything we know will be taken away; they can do this at any time."

In the distance sirens announced the termination of yet another tragedy over in Oaktown. The pop-pop of gunfire announced another episode somewhere else.

"Dey smash yo teef in wit a brick and dat is dat," Snuffles said, who knew what he was talking about.

The group stared out over the drooping shore and the stretch of water out to Babylon with its glow. The radio inside the house chattered news about the latest vitriolic exchange between the Baby President and the North Korean Despot, each threatening fire and total annihilation.

"Maybe it's just we make something beautiful that gets remembered no matter how bad it is. It will always be something bad, fo' shizzle. Maybe we need to make something beautiful somehow," Little Andre said. "Cause that is what gets remembered."

"I think you are right," Denby said. "It is what is remembered that is important." He picked up his guitar and started to play "Walk Me Out in the Morning Dew."

From from far across the water, the night train wailed from beneath the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown, keening across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats through the cracked brick of the Cannery and its weedy railbed, crying over the dripping basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park and dying between the Edwardian house-rows 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 mysterious parts unknown.

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

 

AUGUST 20, 2017

HARVEST HOME

It is getting around to that time when the stalks bulge with all that Spring and Summer had promised with their hot sunny days. This week we present a sampling of this year's subsistence garden produce, featuring delicata squash, orange crookneck squash, Kentucky beans, the usual tomatoes, cilantro to stand in for all the herbs we have and more that would not fit on the table.

Greg Brown has a song that went "You can taste a little of the summer, My grandma's put it all in jars". And that is how it starts, those stored up memories. Canned and jarred. Canned and jarred. Over and over, for decades and and lifetimes and centuries. The memories.

THERE IS NO DARK SIDE OF THE MOON

So anyway. As all of America prepares for an eclipse, vast machinery creaks into motion and celestial bodies procede along their age-old orbits. What is it to the moon that now and then its shadow occludes sunlight for a time on earth? The moon does not care and the sun certainly does not, but a great number of humans get excited every time this event takes place. It's a caution as an old friend used to say.

Pedro, standing in the wheelhouse of El Borracho Perdido set out to work long before any sort of solar event and his wheelhouse was like the cabin of any Iharvester throbbing along the ridges of plowed earth in the heartland far from the coasts. Like any farmer Pedro awoke well before the dawn and set out on his day by the light of stars and moon. And in his cabin he felt the plunge and dip and shudder of the machine under his control as he ploughed his fields, wind rippling the waves like wind layering the crops and his solitude was the same solitude of the Norwegian bachelor as he rode his iHarvester from one end of the field to the other until the work was done.

Back home he was gifted on his birthday with the grand gift of an oar, which happened to be the shipsmate of the oar that hung in the Editor's office although neither principal knew the fact. And so it was that Pedro hung that oar above the mantel and there it was, a sign for all to see. This was a mariner's house. And Pedro resolved that when it came time, he would take that oar and place it over his shoulder and walk until he came to such a place that no one knew what it was and there he would plant it into the earth.

Meanwhile the Angry Elf gang had found a house on Otis not far from Marlene and Andre's Household, which had large understory storage and there the gang began stocking many incendiary supplies, for as we know, fire is the Devil's only friend.

The Summer Solstice had passed and it was already past the middle of the year. The moon's shadow would soon eclipse the sun and nothing to be done about it. Foolish men controlled the Country, yet no one could do anything.

At Temple Beth Israel, Rebbi Mendelnusse swept up broken glass, sadly shaking his head. The windows to the children's room which had been shattered by someone tossing several rocks had been boarded up. "We revisit bad times," he said to Luther who had stopped by, offering to help. "Nie vergessen. Nie vergessen."

Night fell and the fogs rolling in announced the change of seasons. Midsummer had long passed and all the poppies withered. The last remaining gladiolas drooped heavily from their perches and the parents had all the backpacks and lunches squared away for the coming week. Little Adam lay in his cot and looked out at the shrouded sky of a changing America, wondering what the first day of school would be like. Andre, his foster father also looked out the same window and wondered what the coming lifetime would bring for Adam and kids like him. North Korea resurrecting that old specter of nuclear holocaust. Russia again bellicose. Shattered glass of the synogogue on the ground. Demigogues shouting from pulpits. Of course he wondered, like many other parents in this unruly land that once had been renowned for things like Freedom and Justice.

From from far across the water, the night train wailed from beneath the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown, keening across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats through the cracked brick of the Cannery and its weedy railbed, crying over the dripping basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park and dying between the Edwardian house-rows 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 mysterious parts unknown.

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

 

AUGUST 13, 2017

ALL UNDER THE BURNING SKY THERE WE WILL LIE

That singer probably had no idea that after the last episode of nuclear anxiety we would once again revisit that terrible premonition of nuclear holocaust. The Doomsday Clock has advanced 2.5 minutes in recent weeks.

Created by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists in 1947 to convey the urgent threat nuclear weapons pose -- other threats such as climate change are now also taken into account -- the clock represents how close humankind is to destroying our world. The stroke of midnight is the end of humanity.

Last year, the clock remained at 3 minutes. Today, it moves half a minute closer -- the closest to midnight it’s been since 1953.

The Bulletin cited two troubling concerns in their decision: the growing disregard for scientific expertise and the “cavalier and reckless language” used around the globe, particularly during the U.S. presidential election.

This week we capture a mimosa branch, a symbol of how ephemeral Life can be, and yet so beautiful in the present moment.

EVERYBODY KNOWS

So anyway we are dispensing with the fluff. Everybody knows what's going on. Everybody knows the good guys lost. ARC held a rally this past weekend, so there is a sign of life in the Vox Popli yet.

The Sea has seasons, just like the Land. Now cherries are all out and apples that can be found are those reserved in barrels to tide us over until Fall returns. Now is the time of late ripening fruit that needs the hot sun to speed things along. Right about now the gardens are swelling with red tomatoes. The plums are all gone - devoured by voracious crows, and families have been seen gathering the first of the late summer blackberries, children and parents wandering with little plastic containers along the roadsides and little bridges where the brambles grow wild.

Mrs. Almeida stands in the back area with the chicken pens and the vines growing wild and feels the energy surging through the green fuse that drives the flower that drives this green age. The yellow flutes of the squash plants bellow as the purple bean flowers trill and Mrs. Almeida sings a song of summer in Portuguese as she wanders up and down the mounded beds erupting with fecund vegetation.

Pedro, pounding along the shiplanes to the fishing grounds observes the changing stars, the fogbank behaviors, the flashing shift of minnows and herring and mackerel during the time before crab. His ship, El Borracho Perdido, follows a true path as guided by Pedro and his trusty shipmate Ferryboat [Bark!].

He steps out of the wheelhouse and his hand passes along the scar left on the gunwale near the starboard stanchion where Tugboat, his former shipmate of many years, had died defending the Captain and the ship against the Great White hauled aboard by mistake.

A crackling in the air brought the St. Elmo's Fire and a freight of memories until the ocean was packed with a sea of ghosts, ships, men and dogs lost over the years.

Pedro returned to the wheelhouse to guide his boat over the furrowed sea with his plow and seines, another man farming the Big Sky Country in his little glass house, coursing to the endless horizon on a tractor amid waves of grain, bucking along with erratic intention, no different from any Norwegian farmer from up north gathering the harvest, bringing in the sheaves.

When he returns in the early hours, his wife was waiting for him and they went out into the field and there made sure as in times of old that the earth would remain fertile for the life that was possible in it. And upon the naked bodies on the soaked earth the moon shone with dispassionate light.

From from far across the water, the night train wailed from beneath the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown, keening across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats through the cracked brick of the Cannery and its weedy railbed, crying over the dripping basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park and dying between the Edwardian house-rows 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 mysterious parts unknown.

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

 

AUGUST 6, 2017

OOH MY EYES

Spring has passed and we are into summer. Up in Marin these creatures are thronging the roads and yards, trying to get into vegetable gardens like possessed by demons. Satanic deer? You never know . . . .


THIS ISLAND LIFE

Saturday, Aug. 19, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Immanuel Lutheran Church will host a Community Volunteer Street Fair and 125th Birthday Celebration to recognize the many volunteer organizations who freely give their time to the community.

Each volunteer organization will be provided with a table where they will promote what their volunteer group does. The fair will also include the celebration of Immanuel Lutheran Church’s 125 years of worship in Alameda. Immanuel’s 1891 sanctuary will be open for tours.

The event is free to attend and will offer food, activities for children and live music by The Sun Kings. The street fair will be held on Lafayette Street between Central and Santa Clara avenues.

Mayor Trish Herrera Spencer and Library Director Jane Chisaki announce that Gene Kahane and Cathy Dana have been named Poets Laureate, the third and fourth poets in Alameda history to hold the title. The city’s first Poet Laureate was Mary Rudge, who served from 2002 to 2014. She was followed by Julia Park Tracey, who served from 2014 to 2017.

Gene Kahane has been teaching for more than 30 years, most of that time in Alameda at Haight Elementary, Wood Middle and Encinal High schools. He is also an actor, drama director and poet. He has written poetry to commemorate events, honored colleagues and students for their milestones in life and has encouraged people to find their voices and share their talents.

Cathy Dana is the president of Alameda Island Poets, and regularly leads two workshops at the Home of Truth. She facilitates “Storytelling Swap” at Frank Bette Center for the Arts. She also teaches creative writing at Alameda Community Learning Center, where she began the Mighty Pens teen poetry group, as well as the first poet laureate program. Her first published book of poetry, My Dad Believed in Love, was released in early 2016.

A loud explosion startled many West Enders on Monday afternoon. According to the Alameda Police Department (APD), about 2 p.m. dispatch received a report that the crew working on the Cross Alameda Trail at Jean Sweeney Open Space Park discovered an apparent explosive device.

APD evacuated the area and cordoned off a 150-foot perimeter around the suspicious device. The Alameda Fire Department also responded to the call. They reported the incident to the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office Explosive Ordinance Disposal Squad. Members of the squad determined that the device, an old mortar, could be live and detonated it where it lay.

Reviewing the Police Blotter we see that only six people were put on 5150 three day holds at the psychiatric facility of John George this past week. Got a couple of dog bites, a slew of thefts, one assault where someone tried to run somebody down with a car, and the usual euphemistic "sidewalk falls", which generally is doublespeak for robbery assault on a victim from behind wherein the victim is pushed to the ground.

Last week the police did not use their special policeboat at all. Please note: the IPD did not employ their special policeboat in any way. Nevertheless, the boat sits at the ready to be used by well-trained and well-funded personnel. Sgt. Moustaches keeps the vessel in tip-top shape and sparkeling clean should anyone decide to walk into the water and drown over an extended period of time.

CALLING THE MOON

So anyway. Everyone is breathing some relief after the end of the recent heat wave. The Island remained relatively cool, as did other foggy locations along the Bay, but just a mile inland saw the mercury busting out the tops of the thermometer tubes.

The President of the Bums in Sacto has been stirring up the muddy delta waters of politics in his inimitable blustering style. People had hoped he would clean up the act for all the bums in the Golden State by putting an end to loitering, sleeping in bus shelters, obnoxious panhandling, public defecation, and the usual bums' noisy rowdiness, but after 100 days it looks pretty clear that, if not business as usual, it will be business in a state of ineffectual chaos.

Rump campaigned on simple promised lies, which is pretty much what politicians always do, so don't get your panties in a twist. He promised to have the fen over there by the American River drained entirely, but just how a bum who had never done a lick's worth of work other than preside over a Motel that rented rooms by the hour would drain a swamp is anyone's guess. He also promised to build a wall completely encircling Sacto and this wall would keep out Daesh poodles, which we understand to be a dangerous breed of canine that is born ludicrously insane.

No one knows why poodles persist despite the best efforts to obliterate the species, but like the SUV Eradication Project, progress never seems to go anywhere, probably because there are crazy people who love poodles and foolish people who love SUVs so go figure. People do love their pets, often more than other human beings, and people who own pets are the champions of self-deception in the entire world. Same goes for people and cars even though the pernicious things kill more Americans each year than have all the armies of radical Islam combined. That is just the way it is and there is nothing anyone can ever do about it and Rump's plan to have the Wall paid for by dog license fees seems about as likely to lift off the ground as a concrete balloon.

This seems unlikely to be recalled by the Rumpers, people who enthusiastically endorse President Rump despite all common sense. Rump is always causing a new scandal to occupy the tabloids, whom he dearly loves for all their foibles.

Just the other day Rump fired chief advisor Scaramouche for mentioning that Rump's toupee was on backwards. Scaramouche was only trying to help, but nevermind.

"MOOCHY, YOU'RE FIRED!"

"But boss you only hired me ten minutes ago!"

"YOU GOT NOTHING TO SAY! YOU'RE A LOSER, MOOCHY! LOSER! GET OUTTA HERE LOSER!"

Which is a fine thing to say after the Bum Health Plan that promised a gallon of Tokay in every squat tanked big time.

This is not to say that Rump still does not harbor big plans. He still wants to replace medical clinics with Koban kiosks outfitted with beds and run by convicted prostitutes wearing cute nurses uniforms. People with real medical problems are supposed to have money -- this is America after all -- so they can just go to one of the remaining hospitals and pay for whatever with vouchers tied to income. The more a person makes, the bigger the voucher. The people with lower income will simply die away.

"TAKE THE LADIES OFF THE STREETS AND PUT THEM ON THEIR BACKS WHERE THEY BELONG!" Rump said, despite more than a little criticism. "I DON'T CARE WHAT THE NASTY MEDIA SAYS! THIS IS GOING TO BE BIGLY!"

One thing is for sure; Rump has been the greatest boon to comedians since Richard Nixon. Comedians just love the Rump. In fact most people know that a lot of clowns voted for the Rump in the general election. It was not the Russians that turned things around -- it was the three Stooges.

"GOD I LOOOOOVE THE PRESS!" Said Rump. "THEY ARE SO GULLIBLE AND STUPID! HEY GUYS!" Rump said, turning to his remaining advisors. "LETS GO POOP IN THE GOVERNOR'S POND SO THEY HAVE SOMETHING TO WRITE ABOUT AND FORGET THE ECONOMIC REPORT!"

And off went the Administration, doing the business in the People's reserve.

Closer to home, life on the Island continues as always or at least as we are accustomed to these new Realities. Marsha and Martini and Suan all had to work fore and aft of Independence day, which kiboshed long weekend ideas and resulted in the one day off being a day to get chores done, meaning that nobody had any vacation since Memorial Day and there would be the yawning gulf of workdays until Labor Day, which had snuggled up against the weekend to make it worth something at least.

Nevertheless Summer does have consequences. This was the day Martini was fated to fall in love against his will. Martini stumbled into the Slut Hut Javahouse on Park Street in search of something strong to remove the effects of the 99 cent jug wine he had enjoyed at the time with Pahrump and Snuffles on the Strand Friday evening.

"What'll ya have? Coffee, tea or me?" asked Slut Barista #2 tiredly.

"You always say that," Martini said.

"I have to," said the Barista #2, whose real name was Susan. "It's the Slut Hut script. Now waddyoo want?"

"I'll have the mocha java espresso latte Enormee," said Martini. "Skip the fig garnish and make it a double Grandee."

"Coming right up faster than a blowjob," Susan said.

While waiting for his beverage Martini looked around at the various clients, each immersed in some form of electronics save for a woman with bright red hair cut close to frame an angular face supporting the thickest hornrim spectacles Martini had ever seen. Her eyes looked enlarged behind the cokebottle lenses and she had a newspaper on the table in front of her.

"Whaddya lookin' at?"

Martini flinched. Her eyes were like two giant blue planets and her voice was reminiscent of #80 grit sandpaper.

"Uh, sorry. Just waiting for my drink."

"Yeah sure. Just waiting."

"And you are the only person in the room without a computer or iPhone of some sort."

"I HATE computers!" the woman said vehemently.

"Okay," said Martini. "You a librarian or something?"

"Christ on a bike, everybody assumes all this crap because I am a girl."

"Don't take offence; you just said you hate computers. So what do you do?"

"I work for an MSP called TechnoDweebs. I am an engineer."

"Ah, doesn't that involve computers a little bit? I mean you gotta be smart or something like that."

"Of course I am smart. Can't a girl be smart as a guy? I was a math major for chrissakes. I just get no relief in this sodding world."

"I can see you are smart, but why are you working with computers if you don't like them? Do they pay you well?"

"Of course not. I work for an MSP; they are all cheap as shit. The owners make the money and we get paid crapola; that is the system in America today. In addition I am a girl-person and that lowers the payrate automatically. So are you raking in the big bucks to pay your highfalutin mortgage?"

"No. I work as a sawboy in a factory. And I live in a squat with fifteen other losers like myself," Martini said honestly. "My name is Martini."

"Hey Sawboy, here's your Mocha Enormee. That'll be nine dollars."

"Christ in a kayak, you sprinkle gold dust on it or something," Martini said. He paid for his drink arduously with crumpled dollars pulled from his dirty cutoff jean pockets. He held his cup and stood by her table. "Mind if I sit here?"

"If you have to and there is nowhere else," said the redhaired girl with the glasses.

"Well dude," Martini said. "Sorry about your job and your feelings about it. It's not like being a sawboy is a career position."

"My name is Tandy. What is a sawboy?" asked the girl.

Martini explained about how the long alloy ingots arrived by truck and had to be cut by hand into blocks that got made into valves that in turn got inserted into robotic systems that made IC chips which found themselves soldered onto boards that became Tandy's hated computers.

"So you cut metal logs all day long?"

"Sometimes I am a dipper. I put on a PVC suit and dip baskets into hot sulphuric acid to clean off impurities from the cut alloy blocks."

They were silent for a while. Then Martini said, "We should do something together."

"I find you physically repulsive," Tandy said.

Martini did not pause a single heartbeat. "That is generally how long relationships end up."

Susan, the Barista #2, watched through the big windows as Lionel strode past clutching a bouquet of brillian gladiolas, a gift for his decades-long unrequited love Jackie at Jaqueline's Salon.

"There must be something in the air what with the upcoming solar eclipse and the moon," #2 said to Barista #6.

Tandy paused a long time, looking at Martini with cokebottle eyes. "You are right. It has always been like that. Let's go see a movie. And afterwards exchange bodily fluids."

"Ok," Martini said.

The two went out and Baristas #2 and #6 stared at them as they went. "It is the moon. Definitely it is the moon," Barista #6 said.

After a while the sun finished its slow descent beyond the Golden Gate, allowing the stars to emerge from the fog that advanced across the Bay. Soldiers in the Angry Elf gang ignited cars here and there on the Island as part of their terror campaign and the fires blazed in the dark night beneath the complacent moon looking down with equanimity.

Where the Snoffish Valley Road met the Shoreline Drive, a few hestitant deer appeared out of the belching mist, their eyes glowing wierdly in the half light. Something made a sound and the deer turned and bolted back into the darkness of that stygian mouth.

From from far across the water, the night train wailed from beneath the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown, keening across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats through the cracked brick of the Cannery and its weedy railbed, crying over the dripping basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park and dying between the Edwardian house-rows 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 mysterious parts unknown.

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

 

July 30, 2017

HE'S JUST A DOG

Marin is a weird place, no question about that. Vying for center of oddity is Sonoma which features the town of Petaluma, a place made famous by Charles Schulz for its annual wrist wrestling championship as portrayed in Peanuts.

Ever eager to find a way to make Press, sort of a Trump-style self promotion energy before there ever was the Carrot-Topped One, Petaluma also holds the Annual Ugliest Dog in the World Contest. Pictured above is the 2017 winner named Martha, who certainly possesses a certain hideous charm.

Here was 2016's winning entry, Sweetpea.

You might say dogs feature large on the Island and so also in Island-Life. That is just the way it is on the Island. And Petaluma, another small California town that imagines it is really located somewhere in the Midwest.


WHAT'S THE BUZZ

It has been three or four times recently now that residents have been issued "Shelter in place" orders from the IPD and the latest happened last week when report of a possible shooter on Pearl Street caused a ruckus of concern.

Now we understand these times, rendered unstable by over 35 years of unbridled NeoCon"reform" and a number of international concerns developing, require some sharp attention. But four shelter in place orders in a few months? And each incident ending in "no shooter or weapon found" makes us wonder if someone may not be pushing someone's jolly buttons to get a rise without considering the consequences.

There never was an automotive or any sort of motor vehicle repair business the Council has liked. This has been a consistent pattern going back decades. We noticed the Council snarling upon businesses setting up out in the Point that featured reasonable autorepair, but the Council was hoping that the land there would be magically monetized for "better" uses.

Now we have Big O tires trying to expand their lucrative boutique tire change outfit. To cut through the smoke and fluff, Big O tires has operated an automotive service on the southeast end of Park Street for years. They have served the "Captive Market" segment by providing fast service to people willing to pay more for immediate, high end treatment because those people have no time to go scouting for the best deal in tires.

Big O is now newly owned by a conglomerate enterprise called Discount Tires Pro., which has arranged for a new location at 1835 Oak street.

It appears that Discount Tires wants to run two operations, one at 1290 Park Street to serve the high end market, and another at 1835 oak Street, to serve the rest of us hoi polloi. That is okay. What causes problems are the NIMBYs who, living cheek by jowl with a downtown, do not want traffic overflow into their neighborhoods due to business activity.

Of course there used to be auto repair places out at the Point, but the Council did not like those businesses getting a difficult to dislodge foothold when they were set to "monetize" the land.

Bunch of outdoor festivals went on this past weekend, including the annual Park Street Art and Wine shindig with its usual suspects of tchotchkes booths and commemorative glasses. Weather held to a moderate sunny to bring out the crowds.

STILL PLAYIN'

So anyway they held a birthday party for the Editor, although nobody knew how old he was and his birthdate was guestimated based on an old presskit somebody found in the files a while ago.

The Editor has always kept personal details close to the vest and most sane men in the Bay Area shuffle the birthday thing aside in favor of getting work done, but the Bay Area is nuts for birthdays, especially Islanders, as everyone is overworked, underpaid, and generally rendered powerless and there are far too few holidays to take off, so some folks lash onto birthdays like drowning sailors will grab onto any old sort of flotsam to prop themselves up above waterline. There is always someone in the Office who takes it upon themselves to get a card and stick it in a manila envelope with a checklist so that everyone can see who has signed the card and who has not.

This applies to everyone indiscriminately save for Jehovah's Witnesses, who abjure things like birthdays, which may be a very fine advantage to being a member of that august Assembly of Saints.

Some folks around here glom onto birthdays as a way to exercise power they otherwise do not have and so for a birthday they get to order everyone around with great zeal. This is especially valid for those birthdays that happen to belong to someone other than themselves.

So everyone got together and there was tossing of confetti and "Surprise!" when the Editor came in and Festus pulled the string that popped the cork that made a great noise and a tremendous confusion of flashbulbs and whatnot and a cake arrived without hardly any damage to it at all. And there was all sorts of happy jumping up and down and the Team gave the Editor the start of a boat builders kit, for none of them could afford any sort of boat as a gift, not even a kayak, so what the Editor got for his birthday gift was an oar with a ribbon on it.

"This here is the start of your boat," Festus said on behalf of the Team. "We don't have enough money to get you an entire boat, but . . . well, one could consider this a start. Y'know, start adding parts here and there."

"Well," said the Editor. "This is a find beginning for something that leads to god knows what. But it is a fine oar and well packaged and so I thank you. Now everyone get back to work right now!"

So all the underlings scampered and the Administrative Assistants took up their shackles and whips and memoranda and soon the Island-life agency was humming again and the oar went up on the wall above the Editor's desk.

While parts of the Bay Area continued to bake under a heat wave, the Island enjoyed moderate temps due to our prevailing ocean breezes.

Offshore the colorful parasails of wind surfers danced above the sparkling smooth water. Families gathered for bar-b-que parties.
Pimenta Strife dropped into the Lucky 13 to see if she could grab a pair of pants or pull a train this evening for it was High Summer and she felt sultry. Pimenta pretty much always felt sultry.

Minnie Peering walked back and forth on Regent Street in the late afternoon to see if she could look past the curtains of the Rochester house. The Rochesters had been holding parties at their place with all kinds of curious people, many of whom wore feathers and Minnie was certain there would be something to talk about at Jacqueline's Salon if she could just get a glimpse. Minnie's great love in life was to find information all about her neighbors and then talk about it. If there was nothing to talk about -- and goodness when was there ever a time when there was nothing about which to talk! -- then she made things happen. For Minnie all of life was made significant at the manicure tables of Jackie's.

Jackie herself, a veteran of many gossip wars, couldn't be bothered any more to pass on the juicy stuff. Not that she was not adverse to keeping her ears open. After all, the scuttlebutt could involve her business.

A disastrous international incident was averted beneath the surface of the Bay when the Iranian spy submarine was nearly sunk by the Eugenie Oneigin, the Russian spy submarine which came barreling along with all its electronics dark like some blind aquabear of a beast. The Captain of the El Chadoor began cussing at Captain Piotr Yevgeny for being such an incompetent unseaworthy skipper, proving a torrent of Russian expletives over the radio, which caused the eavesdropping Coast Guard much amusement, for they imagined they were hearing two excursion boat skippers duke it out.

"This is US Coast Guard. Is anyone in need of assistance?"

"Yes!" Shouted the Chadoor's captain. "This Boris or Ivan guy needs a brain with a fishing license!"

"Moego Ad' you Raskolniki!" Piotr shouted. "Go find an ocean for your tin can to swim in. We have water coming in now! Nyeta spassibo to you!"

"You go join your carrot-top toupee friend in White House!"

And so on.

Eventually the Chadoor's captain clapped up the periscope handles and ordered the ship to depart and so it was the Chadoor traveled back under the Golden Gate, running silent, running deep.

It is true that when people invite foreign powers to interfere, the field of spies can get crowded. Up on Grizzley Peak, Mr. Terse still waits for an opportunity to pop a cap in the head of the whistleblower named Joshua. Joshua alerted the press as to the clandestine bugging of the municipal council chambers chamberpots some years ago. Now that the Russians have gotten involved, Joshua has been spied through the windows of the Russian orthodox church miles from the Greek Orthodox church up there beside the Mormon Temple, which has gotten Mr. Terse to thinking about secret tunnels.

Of course there is a labyrinth of tunnels all linking the Mormon church and various sanctuaries, built long ago when the separation of Church and State meant something enough for people to get murderous about the Latter Day Saints. The Saints and others like Joshua have traversed these tunnels honeycombing Oaktown for hundreds of years without too much trouble other than the occasional encounter with the fearsome Taetzelwurm, a nasty Ripley Scott sort of slavering creature encountered fortunately only seldom in the pages of certain densely packed adventure-tale authors and beneath Oaktown's innocent streets.

For the Taetzelwurm, Joshua carries Wally's 50 cal pistol, which is just about enough to dispatch one of these critters, given sufficient warning, enough distance between, a steady hand while a thousand razor claws slash at you, and about five or six well-placed shots.

Life on the Island, seen by many has bucolic and peaceful, does carry along with it some moments of excitement. Most mothers ushering children at the playground here pack nothing less than a 1911 style .45 caliber pistol while demurely observing the Innocents idly swinging on the bars.

Ravenous poodles let loose by insane owners will roam in packs and these need to be dispatched or penned in for the next Thanksgiving BBQ event. And of course there are the members of the Angry Elf gang, wandering around in open top sportscars, causing mayhem and destruction as they go, clearing the way so that more realtors can come to build yet another gated community with high-priced homes and pricier rents.

As the sun sets on another bucolic day, the horizon flames horizontally in striations of gold, vermilion, and azure. Cool breezes ease the heat. The splendid crescent moon rises and the fogs advance in a solid front through the Golden Gate and over the hills. Stars appear overhead and Mr. Sanchez taking a walk with Ms. Morales and their child in a pram pause to comment on the cold pile of carbon that was a house at one time.

"Was that not the Cribbage mansion?" Ms. Morales asked.

"Yes." said Mr. Sanchez. "Something happened last fourth of July and it burned down."

"O dear! I hope no one was hurt."

"The Cribbages," Mr. Sanchez said, "Have never been very neighborly." He left much unsaid.

Soon, all was still along the Strand, save for Pahrump and Jose and Snuffles and Javier sharing a jug of 99 cent wine while Javier signaled UFO's with his lighter.

It was a quiet, peaceful summer night with no Taetzelwurms running amok and no sirens tearing up the music of the wind and no one got shot and no one got stabbed.

From from far across the water, the night train wailed from beneath the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown, keening across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats through the cracked brick of the Cannery and its weedy railbed, crying over the dripping basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park and dying between the Edwardian house-rows 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 mysterious parts unknown.

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

 

JULY 23, 2017

IN A GADDA DA VIDA, BABY

This week's image comes from far off Chicago, where FB friend Carolyn Masters divides her time equally between breaking cinderblocks with her toes, composing music and photographing rare bits of nature in the Chicagoland area.

This fellow formed a chrysalis not long after this photo was taken and so we are all waiting to see what he becomes after such an extraordinary first appearance.

NEW TIMES NEW TIMES NEW NEW NEW TIMES!

Another heat wave smacked the Bay Area upside the head, causing all kinds of dizzy spells and whatnot. Local fire companies rushed out to help Mariposa deal with its hot problems, leaving the town ghostlike, steaming under the merciless pounding of the sun in this new Globally Warmed Post-Truth reality.

What is this Post-Truth America? Well, everyone knew that the invasion of Iraq was based on trumped-up nonsense about WMDs. But knowing that truth did not matter. Everyone knows Bush was not elected by the majority of the American People and that the entire election was fraught with voter suppression, intimidation, and chicanery -- but knowing this does not matter. The scumbag still got appointed by his daddy's friends.

Everyone knows that Donald Trump is an execrable scumbag who enlisted the aid of a foreign power to get appointed President and even with that did not get the majority vote of Americans -- but the truth does not matter.

The sad fact is that the Press did do its job, despite the absurd distortions from Fox, but nevertheless, knowing the truth did not matter. People preferred to hold onto Faith and Belief and Arrogant Assertion.

Science has made any number of assertions about things going on, from the nastiness of fracking to global warming, and the facts are known, but in this era, science ceases to matter. Absolute nonsense such as Creationism is taken seriously and we all know that this belief system is full of hokum, but that does not matter.

Everyone knows the rental crisis is destroying our little town, but nobody does anything about it; they just wring their hands while money interest rape the civic treasury. Our Mayor is an imbecile and everyone knows it, yet nobody does anything about it.

We live now in the Post-Truth Era. Truth does not matter.

LEAD ME ON, LEAD ME ON

So anyway. Denby was trying to play some Kelly Joe Phelps over the computer but the Internet would not cooperate so he threw the headphones aside and went to play his own music and some covers like Hard Time Killing Floor Blues because the Post Truth era demanded something authentic for people to feel inside themselves or go dead.

Everyone is coping with the heat wave that slammed the Bay Area. The President of the Bums, Ronald Rump, has been suffering some heat as well due to widespread allegations that he secured his position as Indolent Commander of the Layabouts in Sacto by means of chicanery and collusion with the infamous Russian Deli Cartel. President Rump's Press spokesperson, Ivan Turganev insists there is absolutely no connection to anything Russian and the President. Chief Advisors Igor Raskolniki and Piotr Alexandra Schiksa have been fiercely protective of their boss.

In other news, the President has appointed the fourteenth Central Indolence Associate, Bogdan Dimitrikovitch as well as Chief Magistrate Fyodor Borat, who replaces Marat Mordani as Special Prosecutor investigating the Russian allegations. After Rump's meeting last week with Vladimir Puta, the CEO of Blinis are Us, the embattled President insisted there is no Russian at all in the house and he does not even enjoy Russian Dressing on his salad.

Da, said Vladimir Puta. He is so innocent this President, so much like a baby behind he is so innocent.

Mr. Howitzer and the Blathers have gotten together a group that calls itself The Group for Imposed and Maligned Property Owners (GIMPO) with the express purpose of easing the troubles of wealthy landowners. Their first objective is to restore the ancient Droit du Signeur as well as other feudal rights and landed tenure assumptions that the group feels have fallen sadly out of fashion. They held a meeting at a house party in the Howitzer mansion and drafted resolutions to put before the City Council, resolutions that grant complete supernumerary powers to the householders in such a way that supersedes any and all State Constitutions. This group wants not only the right to evict anyone at any time for no given reason, but also the right to force anyone walking in public to serve as a Renter or Lessor at any time for any length of time bound by contract. The landlords do not want to go through the embarrassing process of interviews and public advertising - they want to be able to just grab anyone anywhere and make them pay money, ideally without the individual taking possession of any physical premises. This concept of the Virtual Lease has great appeal, for the lessor pays rent, but lives elsewhere.

In this way, the premises stay neat and clean as a pin and improvements can be made without any fuss.

There are some who might object that such ideas are counter to the the spirit of a democracy.

"This is not a democracy!" Mr. Howitzer thumps his cane on the floor. "This is a Republic!"

Which some imagine explains everything.

The blistering sun withdrew behind the flaming Western curtains, letting cool breezes soothe the battered land and the Sanchez's lay upon the top of their blankets, wearing only nightshirts while the sultry air stirred sluggishly.

At Marlene and Andre's the denizens sprawled over the porch and in the backyard, looking for cool relief as they slept. A siren wended its way from distant Oaktown and an angry pop, pop, pop sounded, but no one got hit, leaving the night in the keeping of the ones who are sweeping up the ghosts of past gunbattles and fastfood memories with equal measure.

A cat slunk along the top of the Old Fence and a family of raccoons padded down the street towards their own business.

After a time all was silent and it became a quiet night on the Island with no sirens and no one got shot and no one got stabbed.

In the Lunatic Asylum of St. Charles all the residents save one slept quietly even the security guard Sgt.Rumsbo within whose shaven head crowded dreams of marching in solo formation to a stirring martial air with flags flying and cheers.

In the deep reaches of the night up in his garret, Denby found his groove on the National Steel knockoff from Japan he had found at a yard sale and the soft keen and pound filled the air.

I've been looking for a home
I've been looking for a home
But I can't find one
Looking for a home but I can't find one

[Chorus]
Lead me on
Lead me on
Lead me on

I've been drifting here and there
I need a guide to show my way
I've been drifting here and there
But I need a guide to show my way
I've been drifting here and there
I need a guide to show my way

Lead me on
Lead me on
Better lead me on

One of these nights sing you a song
Make you weep and moan
One of these nights I'll sing you a song
Make you weep and moan

Lord lord lord
Lead me on

If my heart don't stop aching
I won't live to see the sun
If my heart don't stop aching
I won't live to see the sun

[Chorus]

I've got a picture in my mind
Of my home so far away
I've got me a picture
Of my home so far away

Carry my burden down to the end
Over the mountain and down to the sea
Take my burden over the mountain
Down to the sea
Carry it back over the mountain down to the sea

Still looking for a home
I've been looking for a home
Yeah I've been looking for a home

Lead me on
Lead me on
Lead me on

A lone coyote emerged from the smoky mouth of the Snoffish Valley Road, looked around and then headed back into that mysterious darkness.

From from far across the water, the night train wailed from beneath the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown, keening across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats through the cracked brick of the Cannery and its weedy railbed, crying over the dripping basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park and dying between the Edwardian house-rows 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 mysterious parts unknown.

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

 

JULY 16, 2017

SOME FOLKS LIVES ROLL EASY

Many of you just may take off for a summer vacation, rambling fancy, footloose and free. Things will go well. Other folks, well. . . . This week's image comes from Anna Hagemann and is of a minor vehicular contretemps on 395 not far from Lee Vining.

Yes, it was hot.

WHAT'S THE BUZZ

Some of you may have noticed it has gotten really warm recently. Like 105 degrees in some parts of the Bay Area, although the coolish Island held to the high nineties.

Hotter still have been the wildfires talking place to the East and south of here. Battalion Chiefs have been busy filing their IQS forms for the placards to have and hold while sending trucks and staff out to assist in places like benighted Oroville, the same place that suffered the near dam collapse this past winter. Now Oroville is frying on a griddle as the town is threatened by the massive Wall fire.

Here are the stats for the Wall fire that started 07/07/17: 41 residences destroyed and 3 damaged; 57 other structures destroyed or damaged. As of seven hours ago, Firefighters continue to hold and improve fire lines and mop up hot spots. All evacuation orders, warnings, and road closures have been lifted. Butte County has opened a Local Assistance Center at the Oroville Municipal Auditorium. (Information from CalFire at fire.ca.gov)

There are other fires in which the total acreage exceeds 10,000 acres throughout the state from Mendocino to Santa Barbara. The Garza fire in Kings County near Avenal road has charred over 48,000 acres but is now 80% contained.

To the bay area crews under Battalion Chief Matt Barnes and Michael St. Johns of SMFD we wish them all the best in their efforts to assist other districts. Stay safe.

Returning to more local concerns it seems the ongoing battle over development, the way in which Council acts like a culled and hand-picked hutch of Development rabbits, and traffic issues remains fully within everyone's minds in a way guaranteed to make sure nothing ever happens save by accident.

Some people wring their hands and bemoan the length of time it has taken to develop the former Base property, but looking at just about every proposal save for the columbium -- whose permanent residents will be unlikely ever to contribute to traffic -- all of them varied on a spectrum from wildly hideous to moderately objectionable, so perhaps the delay is just a function of the People's will -- go slow on development and dollars be damned. There has been no great catastrophe and no riding of the Apocalypse Horsemen over slow development, only chafing from people who stand to make money from get rich quick schemes that wind up stymied.

Maybe it is just as well that the place becomes a sanctuary for the least tern, the snowy plover, and the harbor seals -- nothing proposed is going to fix the rental crisis that is imploding communities all over the Bay Area. How about this: allow the maniacs to do what they want -- build forty story high apartment towers that will collapse come the first earthquake or the first big flood and then the maniac builders can build it right up again on the landfill to make even more money from the rubble. The collapse will kill thousands of inhabitants and that will both clear the island of dense population as well as the bridges and tunnels. For a time until it all falls down again. Then we just start all over.

This modest proposal is a sure win-win for everybody. Maybe not the kids orphaned by the collapse, but hey. Are there no workhouses? Are there no orphanages?

BTW, just what is WRONG with solar power on Mount Trashmore? It is not like the property can be used for construction. The word today is "monetize". We just gotta monetize that sucker. Make the eyes of the ghouls glow with avid anticipation. Monetize monetize monetize. Put solar on that pile of garbage and make AMP honest. Or at least as honest as they ever will be.

Incidentally, that satire about 40 story high rises is only partially tongue-in-cheek. We talked with a landowner along the estuary who pretty much wishes he could do just that. Right there on the estuary. But that would never fly past THOSE people you know. Yes, yes, we said. If it were not for people, you could build build build all you wanted.

There is an even better idea: scrap that troublesome Measure A entirely. Yes, just get rid of it. Instead, for Measure A' (A Prime), we make the height limit one story. That's it - just one story. Tear down anything above 30 feet high and as a sop for developer animals let them build as deep as they want. Three, five, ten stories underground. Pretty soon the Island will look just like Fairfax. Make it all waterproof down there -- this is after all an Island -- and connect the buildings with tunnels so you don't have traffic. There you go. Is not life so simple?! No more Measure A and no more high-rises that fall down. Just issue life preservers and scuba outfits to every new tenant and that'll do ya. People could swim to work instead of driving or taking the BART. Developers like Farahd and Cowan will love it too; dig deep enough and they can start to monetize China. Monetize monetize monetize.

MAGNOLIA YOU SWEET THING

So anyway. Once again the Island got speared by another heat wave. These things used to happen end of August, but times have changed. As Denby recovered from his narrow escape via the Chrono-Synclastic Infundibulum, which was not so spiritedly high tech that it did not involve trains and a bus depot, Jose got his bandages and stitches removed from Javier's last birthday celebration.

Javier's birthday is a known quantity, an established threat with definitive dates in June, but nevertheless, some poor sucker always winds up in the hospital as another winds up in jail. All the Trauma staff at Highland have Javier's birthday marked out on their calendars. Those desiring peace and quiet always take the day and the evening off. Those adrenaline junkies who love excitement always sign up. Many police postpone family vacations until after Javier's birthday has passed, for that red letter day usually means lots of easy overtime and maybe a chance to use their firearms. Maybe even bring in the K-9 unit as they did one year.

It is not like Javier is a bad person; he is just a boy from Mexico City who has a flair for controversy. He was not his mama's only boy, but her favorite -- or so it seems. She began to cry when he said good-bye, and sank into his dreams . Well, that is the way the story goes. At least as Townes van Zandt used to tell it. . . .

In any case Javier spent the hot days lolling in the Piedmont air conditioned rooms and swimming pool of Miranda Escobar, one of the brightest and most beautify stars out of Columbia which nevertheless desired neither her nor any of her family to return, for her family had been allegedly involved with kidnapping most of the Nation's Supreme Court at one time, in an escapade which had ended as badly as it had been sanguine.

"Javier, you must stop being such a bad boy," Miranda said from a poolchair. "There is no profit in it for you."

"If I were something else, I would not be enjoying both your lovely pool and your lovely culo," Javier said.

A bodyguard stepped out from the shadows. "Should I shoot him now or cut him up with a corvo," said the man.

"Santiago, you Chileans are so impetuous. Please do not cut up Javier as it would spoil the pool water."

"Why do you tolerate this malo hombre?" said Santiago.

"Well . . . I like the way he does the cha-cha."

Yes, Javier did like to court dangerous women.

Jose, it must be said was quite a different sort of man altogether. Honest, faithful to a fault, devout, dedicated to the honor of his abuelita, he strove in every way to be a decent citizen and an excellent ambassador from Sonora, for he felt that every man represents the place from which he comes. He worked hard, saved his money, sent some of it home, and otherwise remained an upstanding member of the community. It was not his fault that he got tangled up in Javier's escapades, but often he found himself powerless in the face of overwhelming foolishness.

While there is a nasty canker, a criminal rot that infects the Island, by and large, Islanders are decent, good people, crazy in some good ways and sometimes inane, sometimes cruel, but unlike other parts of the Bay Area, never can be accused of being without a clue.

Latterly, because of the heat and because of rumors passing over the transom, the Editor has been taking walks down by the Strand. After all, 1967 was a banner year for many people, with the current anniversary being celebrated by all sorts of idiots who do not have the faintest idea of what it was like.

Maybe he should write a book about it, about how it really was back then. A book for average, everyday people -- not hippies or squares or media wonks or celebrities -- but decent people caught up in events of the time, living the best way they knew how while the world changed all around them. Everyone had a choice in how to live their lives going forward -- pretend nothing had changed or flow with the flow.

Which, come to think of it, is just like what it is today. The world was now in an uproar. A nonsense baby had taken the reins of power and without the majority having anything to do with it. Wars were being fought for no reason and wars were being fought for very good reasons. Police were being arrested for killing people -- imagine that! All the old order was being swept away.

Back in the Offices the Editor had a meeting with Jose about the upcoming Holiday CD. "Time for another Flyabout," said the Editor. "We need someone to spin the prop again for the Machine."

"Does this prop spin very fast," Jose asked. "Just like the last time."

"Yes, of course."

"Is it dangerous?" Jose asked reasonably.

"Of course."

"I broke both legs last time," Jose said.

"That is a small price to pay," said his boss.

"Can you not get someone else to do it?" Jose asked. "Perhaps Festus."

"That is ridiculous. Festus stands six inches tall at his utmost and weighs barely ten ounces. He is an hamster. The prop is five feet above the earth at its lowest declination and weighs hundreds of pounds -- I do not know exactly but it is something like that."

""Boss, maybe Denby can do it."

"Denby has to play the music," said the Editor, a bit impatiently. "Offer it up to the Virgin. Yes do that. Offer it up to the Virgin."

"Okay boss," Jose said reluctantly. "If mi padre allows it."

"That is good. I know the man; he is in my pocket. Fourth and Fifth Estates and all that. Very good."

"Oy," Jose said. "Weh iss mir. . .".

"You have many months to prepare a parachute. I suggest you get cracking now."

In a dark warehouse, the members of the Angry Elf gang were stacking boxes. Nitro. Gunpowder. C4. All kinds of good stuff to use later on in the year. The gang had great plans. Many of the old Escobar gang were among them and they had brought with them a kind of delicious savagery which had been lacking. These Islanders; they were soon to wake up.

Over at the Household of Marlene and Andre the simple souls who had taken refuge there collected after the Bay breeze had dispelled the heat. Beneath the floorboards of the old house, the lower denizens scampered around the carcass of the old furnace with its sparking wires even as one door down the Angry Elf gang ferried in box after box of highly incendiary explosives intended for enforcing any number of extortion schemes.

The fog advanced across the Bay and soon all was enveloped. Somewhere a siren wailed. Somewhere someone got stabbed. Somewhere else someone got shot. It was a fitful, and unrestful night on the Island as the full moon waned.

Up in their rented garret off Santa Clara Avenue, Ms. Morales lay on the bed wearing her thin shift next to Mr. Sanchez while the baby dozed in the crib, blessedly silent for now. The open window admitted a cool breeze.

"Please God," whispered Ms. Morales. "Keep my baby safe in these times."

From from far across the water, the night train wailed from beneath the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown, keening across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats through the cracked brick of the Cannery and its weedy railbed, crying over the dripping basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park and dying between the Edwardian house-rows 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 mysterious parts unknown.

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

JULY 9, 2017

THE LIZARD KING

This image of a survivor was taken in Woodacre California, where apparently the mean streets of the animal kingdom can cost you a tail.

WHAT'S THE BUZZ

It is Summer and the days consist of slow-news stories, like who did Rump insult today and what new outrage is out there to cause us consternation.

Furthermore, the forecast is for hot. Hot, hot, hot, and more of the same.

The annual Mayors Parade happened, but we had to work so we missed it as well as all the fireworks. From all accounts it was the Biggest Little Smalltown Parade in America; and no one disputes that assertion.

AIN'T NO CURE FOR THE SUMMERTIME BLUES

So anyway. When Denby finally made his way back to the Island, everyone wondered where he had gone, but he did not have a good explanation himself. Sometimes life throws you a curve ball or a strange deck of cards and you have to deal with it. As he paused in his long limp over the Park Street Bridge he looked at the sleeping town he had come to know over the course of twenty years. Far down to the right the ramparts of the new construction already topped the little houseroofs bordering Littlejohn Park. Closer to where he stood, new expensive homes, an entire development, occupied the land where the old Boatworks repair facilty used to be. But beyond to the south extended the quiet streets where kids still played stickball in the late summer afternoons and the bench that bore the legend since 1929 "To All My Dumb Friends" had been repaired, despite intense opposition from Police Chief Grumpus O'Leary, who felt the bench would shelter unsavory elements.

The teenagers did not bother with the bench - they smoked dope and drank gin in the more comfortable gazebo in the same park.

The Island, home to a stiff-necked, irritating, poodle-walking collection of misfits who also could be kind (up to a point), generous (within reason), and always full of opinions. A people you just had to love because they were both daft and obnoxious, a mixture of all kinds of Californian things. Islanders are Californians, first and foremost and that was the truth, gifted with foibles and blessed, redemptive lunacy.

A bland full moon looked down on the bridge where Denby stood, offering no comment but beauty.

When he got to Javarama he sat down to let Irene pour him a cup of java with only an half mile left to walk. Jason Arrabiata, minister of the CFSM sat there finishing up his Sausage-Rotini Special and he greeted Denby who told him all about how he had been fleeing the Angry Elf gang when he apparently had stumbled into some kind of warp in place and time at the entrance to the Snoffish Valley Road, which had transported him via spirit train to San Rafael.

"That must have been a Chrono-Synclastic Infundibulum," Jason said while prodding his gums with a toothpick. "Haven't heard about one of those since the late 1960's.

"Why me of all people," Denby asked.

"You know, as a man of the Cloth I often get asked that question," Jason said. "I can only say you were Saved by his Noodliness and that musicians have special Dispensation around here."

And with that the Reverend Arrabiata offered Denby a ride back to the St. Charles Home for Demented Managers where Denby rented a room in the attic. There, Denby plotzed on his bunk as the moon shone through the window onto the D-9 in the corner so that the strings glowed. The air still felt heavy from the intense heat of the day. He felt like a lizard without a tail; survival has its costs.

"Why do these things happen to me," Denby prayed.

"Because," said The Creator. "You make me laugh!"

From from far across the water, the night train wailed from beneath the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown, keening across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats through the cracked brick of the Cannery and its weedy railbed, crying over the dripping basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park and dying between the Edwardian house-rows 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 mysterious parts unknown.

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

 

JULY 2, 2017


ONE DOOR OPENS, ANOTHER SHUTS BEHIND

We have wanted to publish this archive foto for some time. It was taken by Jessica Vanderbeck while traveling in Guatemala many moons ago with the man who later became her husband. She is now the proud mother of a bouncing baby named Dylan, aged 3 months.

WHAT'S THE BUZZ

We will be experiencing some clouds and high fog this July 4th, so pick your fireworks spot well, as the usual distant seats will likely be obscured for the Babylon display over the Bay. Also the recent wet weather will likely present more foliage obstruction. We got a report from the Santa Cruz mountains they are still digging out from the slides that occurred this past rainy season.

Of course the annual Island Mayor's Parade will take place as usual.

The Alameda 4th of July Parade is one of the largest and longest Independence Day parades in the nation. With over 160 floats and 2,500 participants who travel a three mile route, the parade has become the central activity of the Bay Area's Fourth of July weekend. Starting early this year around 9:00 am on Park Street, the event typically lasts until 3:00 PM for all official floats to pass before the judging seats on Webster.

The parade route is longer than three miles, allowing the city to claim it as the longest parade procession ever, which no one bothers to challenge.

There are references to the parade going back to 1909.

Other regional cities have their own parades, with Novato, Fairfax and even tiny Woodacre holding their own parades, exhibiting civic pride, a bit of politics and lots of local flavor.

Up on the Russian River, all the little towns there hold fireworks displays, and so as to avoid conflict, arrange to have their individual displays over the course of the entire week on separate days. Guerneville held theirs on July 1st.

What is interesting is that even though this is supposedly the most important national holiday in the calendar, many companies in this area insisted on kiboshing an extended weekend for the 4th, forcing workers to truncate weekend plans to the dismay of family members so that the workers would return to the office to do whatever can be done when 2/3rds of the rest of the country is out.


AINT NO CURE FOR THE SUMMERTIME BLUES

So, anyway. Summer heat slammed the Bay Area and then stood off only a little bit while the engines steamed between heats all along Snoffish Valley Road.

Summertime had officially arrived. Girls were out in their thin summer dresses and the low riders cruised by. The scent of BBQ wafted on the tangy air. The recent heat wave had mellowed out to soft breezes over the golden hills. All was perfect.

Mr. Cribbage came back from his trip to San Diego with a box of Mexican fireworks. He flew down there and rented a car to drive north with the entire trunk packed with explosives.

For many the weekend was an extended holiday, but since the Great Recession and the triumphs of the NeoCon Far Right, many employers kiboshed the long weekend such that people like Tipitina had to haul into the City for Monday and Dodd was retained by Mr. Howitzer.

"This country was founded for wealthy people to be free doing what they do best -- making more money," Mr. Howitzer said. "So it is only fitting that inferior people like yourself serve us as you do."

Mr. Howitzer had a way with words.

As night fell and firecrackers went off all along the Estuary, Denby was out taking a stroll under the three-quarter moon, taking count of the stars and communing silently with the UFO's when the red Miata belonging to the Angry Elf gang drove past and the thugs saw him there. Denby ducked between the houses as the thugs unloaded from the car, armed with batons and knives.

The Angry Elf had never forgiven Denby for saying "Eff you dog!" to him, not once, but twice. So the Angry Elf, who had gathered his gang under the promise never to kill anyone had no scruples about anyone else doing the job. Indeed much of the Angry Elf's work involving extortion, theft, numbers, arson, stolen credit cards, fenced bank account numbers, had a lot to do with someone else always doing the dirty work and carrying all the load of risk while he, the ringleader, took no cash but payment only in the form of "favors".

In any case the gang members shambled after Denby who sprinted between the yards and vaulted fences until he found himself at the old Beltline where an improbable donkey engine sat with a single boxcar, into which car Denby leaped just as the little engine chugged into life and pulled away, heading Northeast, leaving the gang flabbergasted as the Beltline had ceased operation some ten years previously and many of the rails heading west had been pulled up.

From the open door of the car Denby watched as the municipal fireworks and the highly illegal fireworks shot off along the estuary.

The little train trundled along the long unused tracks past the Nob Hill grocery and turned to parallel the magical Snoffish Valley Road. He heard a strange music going dee dee DEE DEE dee dee DEE DEE and a voice saying, "Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. We can roll the image, make it flutter. We can change the focus to a soft blur or sharpen it to crystal clarity. For the next hour sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. We repeat: there is nothing wrong with your imaging apparatus. You are about to participate in a great adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to... ".

Denby fell into a deep sleep. When he awoke he found himself sitting slumped in a cushioned chair inside a clean car. He got up and stepped off the train which then pulled away, leaving him on an open concrete platform with a vaulted roof. An elevated freeway made some noise off to the right. Signs high up indicated destinations of strange towns with names he barely knew. Mill Valley. San Anselmo. Larkspur. San Francisco Downtown.

"Where the heck am I?" Denby said aloud.

"You be in San Rafael Main Depot," said a tramp. "Spare change?"

"How the heck do I get home?"

"If you lived here," the tramp said solemnly, "You would be home by now. Spare change for something to eat?"

On the Island the Angry Elf gang found somebody's dog running loose and tied firecrackers to its tail for fun and to let off steam. In the Island-Life Offices the Editor looked up after a rumble and a distant roar shook the building, thinking it was an earthquake. A fireball arose over the trees from the direction of the Cribbage place and the Editor guessed that things had not gone well with the Mexican fireworks. No fault of the Mexicans; he was sure of that. Damned gabachos.

He put his head in his hands with some despair as the wail of the fire engines drifted over the trees after the fireball. It seems today that all of America has taken a Stupid Pill. He bent grimly and halfheartedly to work.

Most of the staff had been let go early, which meant the issue would be late, but still it was better for the staff to be with families on this birthday celebration, commemorating a day a few hundred years ago when a group of idealists cobbled together a new idea that would be an experiment in Democracy. Call it a Republic if you will, as if calling something by a name makes some perverse reality that is not real closer to being true when everybody knows the real truth of things. Language had in America become spoken vomit, a repulsive ejection that carried no meaning or use as each atomized individual drifted further apart from understanding the neighbor in a land where communication of any type has become devalued and rendered inane.

The truth is, America is what it is and has always been, a compendium of acts over some four hundred years, including some gracious, some magnanimous, some heinous, some noble, some courageous, some churlish, some stupid beyond belief and some quite in advance of the times.

Inanity seemed to rule the times. Blank-faced foolishness and extremism thrust its gob in front of common sense everywhere and the most ridiculous of ideas and acts have become commonplace while Truth is derided. Blather and spoken vomit have replaced candor with terms like "extraordinary rendition" supplanting the words "torture" and "concentration camp." The Editor put his head in his hands again, feeling a great despair.

The Country, made up of some 380 million souls, cannot be summarized so easily. As The Editor dozed over his desk, phantoms came to pay a visit, for it was hard on the Solstice and the Strawberry Moon and magic was in the air in a time when the veil between the worlds becomes porous.

Bewigged, stockinged, frockcoated, they entered the cubicle from the Other Side. Thomas Jefferson laid a hand upon the Editor's shoulder. Sam Adams and others stood behind.

"We wrote the Federalist Papers to explain what we were doing," someone said. "This then taken as authority ratified the Fourth Estate which we knew was necessary to check the powers of the other branches of government."

"Now is the time," said Thomas Carlyle. "“Burke said there were Three Estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporters’ Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate more important far than they all. A Fourth Estate, of Able Editors, springs up, increases and multiplies; irrepressible, incalculable.”

"We had better hang together or we surely will all hang separately," Patrick said. "It is as true as it always was; give me liberty or give me death."

A light breeze stirred the curtains and the phantasms silently walked out of the offices, leaving the Editor with his desk-lamp and its pool of light while all around hung the curtains of darkness.

The moon rode high in the sky and the Nation was in trouble. Time to work.

From from far across the water, the night train wailed from beneath the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown, keening across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats through the cracked brick of the Cannery and its weedy railbed, crying over the dripping basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park and dying between the Edwardian house-rows 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 mysterious parts unknown even as a weary and footsore Denby made his way back to the Island.

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

 

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