FEBRUARY 14, 2012
THE ST. VALENTINES DAY MASSACREE
So anyway, the weather has been differential lately. Its been cool and foggy, then warmish with sun, followed by brief cloudbursts. The daffodils have all erupted and the tulips are sending up green spikes, while swelling bulbs promise early freesias. Just about on time, perhaps a bit early, all the citrus trees have suddenly burgeoned with bounty. The warmish weather has been a boon for those looking to gather blooms on the cheap for sweethearts.
The dreaded V-day passed midweek, but folks aimed to plight their troth, celebrate and generally embarrass the bishops on the long 3 day weekend.
As if to help Mother Nature along, Caltrans played the Cupid card in closing the Bay Bridge, to encourage more sentences like, "Oh there is no way to get into the City this weekend, let's just stay home in bed for a change . . .".
One fellow whose commute does not involve cars or bridges, Pedro Almeida, tootled out on his commercial fishing boat El Borracho Perdido with his faithful lab, Tugboat, pretty much as usual.
And as always he listened on the radio to his favorite program, Pastor Rotschue's Radio Sermon and Variety Show.
The Pastor apparently had realized long ago that most of the talk show hosts and radio preachers were all as nutty as fruitcakes; what was wanted was some good common sense on the airwaves. He was no fool -- there was only so much of the Good Word people were going to swallow from a Lutheran Minister. Besides, like any good Lutheran from the Midwest, he hardly wanted to be the center of attention.
So the man got a bunch of talented folks together and turned them loose for a couple hours and invited people who were a little bit famous -- not too famous, or there might be some swelled heads running around -- to come and perform whatever they were somewhat famous for.
We are in the head of a fisherman, right now, so its OK for now to end a sentence with a preposition.
This Minister apparently found the right mix, crossing the diamond with the pearl, for the show had been going on for some thirty-five years.
Lately the man had been bringing in this lovely voice belonging to a young woman named Heather. Pedro did not know what this Heather looked like, but he imagined that she must be quite beautiful with a voice like that.
And, unfortunately for the romantic fantasy musings of a seaman, quite a bit younger than himself.
Nevertheless, no harm in imagining, given the degrees of separation, he out on his boat off the California coast with a wife and children at home and she, hanging out in the Green Room of some theatre below Summit Avenue in Minneapolis with the champagne and the bouquets of flowers sent by admirers all around.
Pedro's heart went pitter-pat until Tugboat looked at him and woofed. Time to haul up the crab pots.
Then he thought, is this really proper that a Lutheran minister surround himself with nubile young beauties each week? Singing sexy things like "Unchain My Heart" and Rolling Stones?
O that Ray Charles, he had been something! Who will remember Jackson or that Winehouse in another twenty years? Ray Charles was the man.
Pedro was of an age to remember when the promising young man named Buddy Holly scandalized the neighborhoods with that twisting dance thing. Or did that craze come later? Had he ever got an inkling that his daughters had been into Courtney Love, and what she was all about, he would have passed away on the spot from a seizure.
His wife wore these boots of Spanish leather and when she wore them, well they really got his blood up, they did.
Time passed, the pots came up loaded with profitable Dungeness and soon enough the randy seaman with graying hairs was headed back to port, the secure wharf there, and the steps leading up from the landing to his warm house, where his warm wife waited with their warm bed. Up from the landing the randy mariner home from the sea bounded with an almost youthful spring in his step. He had a wife at home, by god, and she was a wife in a mood to celebrate this Valentine's Day and she just happened to be wearing boots made of Spanish leather -- and not much else -- while waiting for the door to open and her man to come . . . .
As we discretely close the curtain on that episode, let us drop in on a few other Island-Life characters and see how they are spending the long weekend.
Javier, freed from his dangerous liaison with the nearly lethal Valerie had hooked up the hapless Jose for a night on the town. Javier loved danger, excitement, fast women and loose cars. The younger Jose only wanted to coax beans from the Island impoverished soil in the backyard. In hometown Sineloa or Ciudad Mexico they would never ever have had anything to do with one another. Here in Gabacholand, they had to provide an example of what inspired Mexicanos can do. In the opinion of Javier.
Trouble started right away at the Frog and Fiddle, where Javier loudly protested that there was no Hispanic influence in the music played.
The lead singer of the Flatlanders, a bluegrass band, tried to explain that bluegrass did not possess by nature Hispanic elements, but that at the first opportunity they as a band would learn a number.
Something like El Condor Pasa or La Pistole Y Corazon.
This failed to appease the outraged Javier, although Jose begged his friend to calm down. Perhaps they should go to International Blvd in Oaktown, yes?
Sure, shunt us off to the ghetto where they put us all to look colorful for the holidays. Sure. Lets go where they ALLOW our people, the people who founded this California in the first place . . . !
Javier, calm down, said Jose. It is nothing. This is a bluegrass bar sort of thing to begin with.
Bluegrass green grass, red grass. What is the difference? I say call Denby; he is a musician. He can explain just why this place is so . . . so . . . bereft of culture.
Denby? Denby is a blues musician. He doesn't know anything about it. Please calm down.
Waitress, another Fat Tire and a bump! I will call Denby on the cell phone and bring him here. By force if necessary!
So that is how Denby got yanked out from his somewhat comfortable room in the St. Charles Lunatic Asylum on the dreaded Valentine's Day weekend, where he had been planning to hibernate through the ruckus.
When he got to the Frog and Fiddle, he found the place in an uproar. The Flatlanders had just finished a hot set, putting the place already into a mood. Javier was standing on a table shouting, and Peter, the proprietor, had brought out his Kerry stick, threatening to bash out Javier's brains if he did not settle down. Jose stood there wringing his hands, hoping that Denby could resolve the situation, and if not, he would simply leave all of them to scream at each other like nuts in berry farm.
When Javier saw Denby, he shouted, What is more important in music, meter or metonymy?
This question, it must be admitted, floored Denby.
Um, said Denby. Maybe you should get off of that table.
"You are this guy's friend are you?" Peter said. "I have had enough of this. I run a decent establishment that provides goddamned bluegrass music, which none of you sodding effers do in this town, and I am calling the police because I am sick of you! All of you!"
Later, Jose sat with Javier sipping mojitos in El Machado Pineapple on International Boulevard.
You know, Denby should not have tried to explain I, IV, V to the banjo picker just when the cops got there, Jose said.
Nevermind, Denby is a sacrificial victim to the cause of retaking the Southwest for the Hispanic and Native peoples, Javier said.
At that moment, Denby was looking out through the bars of the cold cell they had put him, wondering just why this always seemed to happen to him on Valentine's Day.
Once again the Island-life issue would be delayed because of Valentine's Day Massacre issues.
Why does this happen to me every year? Denby asked the stars.
Because, answered the stars, it is funny. And you are perfect for the part.
The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated across the romantic waters of the estuary before stroking the tender, trembling grasses of the Buena Vista flats as the locomotive wended its way from the tall gantries of the Port past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, heading off on its erotic journey to parts unknown.
That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.
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