March 8, 2015
So anyway, the young opossum that has been seen along the Old Fence made a reappearance stumbling over Mrs. Almeida's garden boxes. Calla lilies have sprung up and this weekend Daylight Savings Time starts up, costing everybody an hour of sleep and providing many an excuse for arriving late to school. The fog presses down the entire town as slowly night peels back and the coffee percolates or drips or does whatever it does in whatever newfangled thing made in China that you got as a Holiday gift.
March is a time of transitions. It has been a long, dark, cold and mostly dry Winter. It would have been an ideal time to send another messenger up to find the Mayor of that mythical town up somewhere near Bear Lake in Minnesota where all the women are strong, all the men good looking, and all the children above average so as to apply for Sister City status, but our own Silly Council had already picked some kind of nondescript village in China, the name of which nobody can recall -- let alone pronounce in decent Spanish -- and the fools over there had the outlandish idea of accepting before they knew the true nature of the town with which they really were hooking up . . .
Cheesin Soh Loh is a town of about 300,000 Chinese, all of whom are employed by the single factory there which makes animated Barbie Dolls, and they apparently had the misinformation that they were hooking up with a major American metropolis of significant size.
We do have an excellent PR department at Silly Hall, and they have been known to over-gild the lily at times.
In any case when the Chinese delegation arrived here to commemorate National Day and check out this new Sister City right in front of City Hall, our Tibetan population came out to meet them and stand there on the edges of the crowd, silently weeping while the more ambitious immigrants from there and Mongolia carried signs that apparently said really bad things about the PRC. They also threw currants and loquats and overripe fruit at the stiffly dressed representation.
More demonstrations occurred at the hotel in Oaktown where they stayed -- there is no hotel on the Island suitable for housing visiting diplomats. The Islander Motel is full of hookers and crazy people dropped there after three-day holds from the John George Pavilion and people with unhealthy habits, and the Sunset Inn on Webster still smells of pot and all the beer spilled by Navy personnel when they went on R&R from the Base that closed over fifteen years ago. So the delegation had to be driven through a crowd pelting the car with eggs and shoes over the bridge to Oaktown where men and women with shaven heads and wearing maroon robes marched up and down the street, carrying signs saying things like, "The Llama's Mama Speaks the Truth!" and other things calculated to offend.
Larry's Island Tattoo, last of quite a variety of shops that used to cater to sailors on Webster, offered free ink to the dignitaries but nobody took him up on it and he is not such a great artist anyway.
In short, the visit was a mess, and the dignitaries got on the plane and returned to their village and probably gave a bad report as we have not heard from them since.
It probably would make more sense to partner with someone with whom we share a common cultural heritage, and more along our own stature. China has become a superpower and has become rather grand, launching satellites into space and constructing huge projects that dwarf the Great Gate of Kiev. We should have courted something like a town in Spain, or Portugal, or Mexico, or Paraguay, but all those towns said, no way Jose, we are hooking up with the Danes and the Swedes of Helmsoe -- at least they serve decent meatballs at their gatherings.
Festus the messenger hamster is still quite put out about his failure to contact the Mayor of our chosen city and the Editor has not let him off the hook either, acting like the outraged William Hurt in the movie "History of Violence".
"How could you not be able to find Clint Bunsen in a town that is only half a mile wide! He was the Mayor!"
"It's not so easy. The grid-pattern streets are confusing. All these towns look the same . . .".
"He has a business called 'Bunsen Motors.' Did you ever think to go there?"
"Hey. I tried my best. How far you ever get putting your mitts on the County Council of Yoknapatawpha? It's not so easy my friend. Those Norwegian bachelor farmers are not exactly chatterboxes you know. I bet you can't even pronounce Yoknapatawpha."
The Editor dropped his head into his hands with despair. "I sent a rodent to do a man's job . . .".
"Don't go there, my friend. Don't go there."
The Editor went to drink himself with Scotch into a more pleasant frame of mind while Festus returned to his enormous Habitot habitat, which consisted of tube tunnels estimated at 1.35 miles long and located out at the Household of Andre and Marlene. The tubes run on shelves and hang from bungie cords fastened to the ceiling by planter hooks from the back door through the hallway, looping into the master bedroom a couple times and then out to the hallway to run to the livingroom to circle there a couple times, schwooping over the windows and the door to pass back again down the hallway to the back pantry after detouring through the kitchen. It had begun as a minor project to house Festus and his family and, gradually over fifteen years had accumulated dumpster and found parts, with occasionally a perforated stovepipe or pvc tubing serving as a connector. The smell is indescribable in summer.
March is known for its Mad Hares, and madness of every stripe is one thing that characterizes the Bay Area. Lunacy impacts all of our daily lives, and not a day goes by in which your average Joe must not contend with The Woman who Peers from behind the curtains, the babbling basket lady, the man shouting on the street to invisible giants, and the wacked-neighbor who has in mind that your house belongs to him by right as a handyman and jack of all the unskilled trades one can imagine. They blither to you on the bus, they hop over fences, they get into your garage, they prowl through your trash and your file cabinets in your office, they wreck the plumbing and they have not a lick of sense of boundaries that condition most of the rest of the civilized world and there is simply nothing you can do about it.
They are bat-sugar crazy and you could wack them with a stick or shoot them dead when they come into your house, but there are always more, like in that movie series about zombies and you would feel bad about killing somebody so annoying and so useless anyway.
Well, maybe not, but you know. There are consequences to killing someone in this country. Unless you are a policeman. Then you can do what you like.
There are many reasons people continue to live in unendurable places and do not move to Florida or California. Florida has hurricanes of course, but more importantly it has scads of people who still do not realize that George Bush was bad not only for the Country, but also for his own Republican Party. You could in all honesty call those people crazy as well.
California has earthquakes and fires, to which you can become adjusted. After a fire you have lost everything and you realize that things are not that important anyway. Besides, that ghastly quilt made by your mother in law got totally ruined and you just had to throw it away. And that part of losing things felt really, really good. No, the reason people do not flock to the Bay Area as much as Bay Areans believe, is that the Bay Area is chock full of crazy people with not a boundary to share among themselves or anyone else. Su casa es su casa. Comes right out in Spanish: the word for "yours" is the same as the word for "theirs".
The Constitution may say a few things about this condition, but crazy people do not read. That much is obvious.
Eugene went out to tend to a noise in the early hours to find an elderly Asian woman rummaging through his trash bins. He protested, as he felt he ought to, not only because of the noise and not only because of the stealing of the recyclables, but also because the woman had come down the drive, opened an iron gate and proceeded another twenty yards past the parking and the house with her stolen shopping cart to conduct her pilferage.
The woman would only say,"My husband died and I have no source of income." to every question and it soon became clear she had no command of English, but had learned this phrase from somewhere as a way to pull at the heart strings so as to get out of trouble. Her ring finger was bare.
Nevertheless, she had opened the main gate and also the minor gate and let out Mrs. Abodanza's dogs who galloped now merrily in the street and this caused a series of problems for the next few hours.
Eventually the woman was sent on her way, docilely pushing her stolen shopping cart loaded with pilfered recycled booty and Eugene was left wondering what kind of place is this that produces such desperate measures to survive. Why does this person not go back to the place that once had supposedly nurtured them? What has gone wrong with the situation here that we take it as normal and matter of fact that people illegally raid trashbins to survive? Now that the "economy" is on the upswing and so many people seem to be making money hand over fist, why is it that "trickle down" has dried out to nothing?
Why is it left to accepting the situation as "just the way it is."
In the still of the night, the fog flows over the hills of Oaktown and the San Bruno Hills, much as it has for the past 10,000 years, flowing over Grizzley Peak, winding through the trees to come down to the flatlands and come curling around the house like a cat before falling asleep. In the Old Same Place Bar, Suzie sits behind the counter with her anthropology book, still focussed upon the Bonobo tribe. "The Bonobo always help one another with joyful abandon. With sex or food or shelter, the Bonobo are a magical tribe that practices survival skills which we in the West would be well to emulate. . . ."
Then came the ululation of the throughpassing train from far across the water as it trundled from the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their moonlit towers, letting its cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the former Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, its weedy railbed, its chainlink fence interstices until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the old Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.
That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.
BACK TO STORY INDEX