April 22, 2018

WELCOME TO SILVAN ACRES, MARIN COUNTY

 

So anyway, we have enjoyed a couple late season dockwallopers bringing 3 inches of rain in a matter of hours in some places, but reports from the Dweebers and High Sierra say that these storms did not make much of a dent in the meager snowpack up there which stands at 50% of normal. What normal is, or was, may change as we get used to these new normal conditions caused by global climate change.

Vladimir Putin. La Puta, as he called

There's a lot of fake news running around in this Post Truth Era. We will have none of that. Sean Hannity was found roistering in a hot tub with several underage girls from a Washington DC high school. People did not pay much attention to Ann Coulter getting stark naked with Steve Bannon and a terrified pig in a hotel room. People did not pay attention because Ann Coulter is hideous when naked, but because Donald Trump finally showed his true colors after replacing every capable person in Washington with ineffectual bozos, savaging international trade, wrecking the relationship with both NATO and the UN, destroying every positive relationship the US has ever had with each one of its allies, and castrating the Intelligence community with mass firings, the Trump boarded a Russian SUV with the code briefcase to abandon the US for Russia where a lavish dacha had been prepared for his lavish retirement by his friend Vladimir Putin. La Puta, as he called, welcomed Trump with open arms and Trump was heard to say, "Americans are so stupid. They are all losers and their really big loss in the coming war is gonna be the greatest thing. Russians know how to treat good people and I am absolutely the best, if I say so myself."

Shoulda seen it coming, folks. We tell only the Truth around here. Never ever told a lie.

The bus arrived at Silvan Acres, stopped and a single figure stepped down, carrying only a small, brown, leather valise. He was not tall, but not short and his hair was thinning up top and his visage looked familiar to Pahrump who observed him from the Arbor Bench which had been placed by well-meaning individuals at a spot that they had anticipated would be the bus stop, but which, due to government bureaucracy and the vagaries of bureaucratic decisions wound up off the map as a nice place to sit but no place to wait for a bus that would never arrive.

the Statue of The Unknown Miner

Such is the nature of Silvan Acres, where often the goal is attempted but seldom achieved. There is a statue in what would pass for a downtown, had Silvan Acres ever developed such a thing. It is the Statue of The Unknown Miner, who stands in bronze with his shovel lifted and a look on his face some say is that of bewilderment instead of discovery. No matter. A family of swallows have established abode beneath his broadbrimmed hat and the glade is always mowed, although no one seems to know whose responsibility it happens to be. No gold was ever found in these parts, which is just as well, for gold has seldom brought prosperity or good luck to any community in which it has been discovered.

When residents want goods and services they "go down the hill", which means ascending over Whites Hill on the Sir Francis Drake Freeway and then dropping down into Fairfax, which itself is not that populous or sophisticated. Fairfax features an excellent ice cream shop, a couple fairly good and overpriced restaurants, a decent bicycle repair place, a hole-in-the-wall gym made in the old style that is above reproach, a thoroughly incompetent automobile garage with gas pumps, and a couple thousand inhabitants entirely dissatisfied with the state of Progress. There is also an overpriced market that is patroned by yuppies on the go and people lacking ambition to drive further to the somewhat more reasonable Safeway the next town over.

In any case, Pahrump approached the man, who seemed to recognize him.

"Where is my brother," said the man.

Pahrump inhaled. Then he exhaled a long breath. He turned to look at a tree standing in the middle of the glade bounded by a rustic log fence. "Your brother has experienced a change. You are now the Editor."

"I do not understand," said the new Editor. "There is much to explain."

"Welcome to Silvan Acres," Pahrump said.

"I got this letter," the Editor said. "Very little made any sense."

"Welcome to Marin," Pahrump said. "You will learn not much makes sense here."

A man pedaling a recumbent bicycle and wearing a furry Dr. Seuss top hat passed them. Several people going to some kind of party arrived to board the waiting bus. Each of them wore full length body costumes covered in neon pink, green, red and blue fur. Only their faces were exposed.

"Right," said the Editor.

The two of them went to the new Island-Life offices, which were as yet unfurnished. It was just a bare room with an area in the back accessed by a short set of stairs.

For the rest of the day Pahrump and Martini collected abandoned shelves, chairs, desks that had been put out beside the road with "Free" signs taped to them. They used a rusty Flexible Flyer children's wagon and Pahrump's scooter to fetch the things which became the furnishings for the new Offices.

"One good thing about Marin," Martini said. "The trash is high quality."

the Most Dangerous Season had not yet begun

Back on the Island, Padraic was compelled to refurbish the jukebox since Denby no longer provided music. He tried at first to get various acoustic replacements, but most were more well-intentioned than accomplished. In the Old Same Place Bar, things hummed along quietly. An amorous couple occupied the Snug where Denby used to sit, looking like they were getting set to produce a blue movie. Where Old Schmidt had occupied a stool for years, various patrons came and went. Eugene Gallipagus occupied his end of the bar with a Fat Tire ale as usual. Outside it was chill and damp -- the Most Dangerous Season had not yet begun although there were signs. Freesias had erupted all over the place, filling the air with heady scent.

During the lulls, Suzie sat behind the bar, reading her Anthropology book and the chapter on the cheerful and friendly Bonobo and their mating rituals while the Man from Minot chatted up Latreena Brown.

the two were arrested for hanging out in a coffee shop

So anyway. Jose and Festus were hanging out waiting for Pahrump at the San Rafael bus station coffee shop when Officers Patpong and Harsh arrived to arrest them. They were waiting for Pahrump to get a ride back to Silvan Acres. They would have taken the bus but they had no money. So they waited in the coffee shop there off to the side and of course, since they had no money, they did not buy a coffee or a roll. Because they did not buy a coffee or a roll on account of having no money and having no money is a sort of a misdemeanor in this part of the world the manager called the cops and the two were arrested for hanging out in a coffee shop and not buying anything, which is something that apparently can happen in other parts of the country as well.

So Pahrump arrived just as they were being carted off, arresting having taken a while on account of the difficulty with the pat down for Festus. Officer Patpong had never arrested a rodent before, least never one that talked English, and he was much put out on how to pat down the little feller. Officer Harsh asked him what was wrong and Officer Patpong said he wasn't going to pat down no marsupial and had to be corrected as hamsters are not marsupials and just do his duty, but Patpong was damned if he would be accused of bestiality and crimes against nature feeling up a hamster, marsupial or not.

Of what on earth could you possibly be accused demanded his colleague and the Officer said he didn't know the terminology exactly and maybe it was felching, but no that was not it. Felching was something else entirely from molesting hamsters. Officer Harsh said he thought it was gerbilling about which Officer Patpong was thinking and even so both of them were extra careful doing the write up in their books, not wanting any grammar problems to spoil the case even as Festus sternly insisted he was no gerbil and he had nothing to hide.

staring down the barrels of two pistols

Then there was the issue of how to put Festus in the car, let alone what should happen should they need to put cuffs on him and that is when Festus said, heck I'll just put him in my pocketbag which you just upended here all over the sidewalk and he bent down to scoop up his friend which apparently was a little too quick for the cops for when he straightened up he was staring down the barrels of two pistols (1911 style semiautomatics, .45 caliber) held in the sweaty hands of two suddenly amped officers, which just goes to show you what the problem in America happens to be.

You got a fairly calm and normal situation of two burly, well-armed officers making an arrest of a skinny rope of brown pathos named Jose and his hamster friend, both of whom no more dangerous than gnats, when suddenly everything changes. As it does from time to time in this country. The taste of fear is metallic and in everybody's mouth and everything is happening too fast. A slight move and someone dies. For a broken taillight traffic stop, or jaywalking, or standing in your grandma's backyard holding a cell phone.

"Man, I got no nuts!"

In this case Festus squeaked, "Man, I got no nuts!" and that broke the tension and the two boys were properly arrested and taken over to the jail where they cooled their heels and got let out after an hour when the manager declined to press charges. He had thought they were from the Canal District, a place of which neither Festus nor Jose had ever heard, but when he heard they were headed for Silvan Acres then he imagined they might be all right.

On the Island, a dockwalloper set in, driving everybody indoors. For those who had a place large enough, they went there. For others seeking company and solace, they sought those snubby little nooks where people gather in times like this to talk about the weather, politics and other people's family problems.

The rental crisis has come to such a pass that many are talking about "getting out" in the same way people used to talk about escaping New York. Even the Cribbages, people not exactly without means, have not rebuilt their burnt out mansion, but repaired to their former summer abode in Belvedere which is now their main residence. The Blathers are talking about joining them because of the insolence of the "bicycle people" and what seems like their accumulated political power. Belvedere seemed to hold the right sort of attitude they liked.

All of this talk about relocation has made Mr. Howitzer look northward to the northern counties where his family has scant holdings. Perhaps the time had come to invest in Marin and after the fires, Sonoma begins to look attractive to people like Mr. Howitzer who like the concept of fewer dwellings and increased demand. Mr. Howitzer's eyes begin to glow at the prospect.

Wootie Kanootie's moose herd broke loose

Then again other folks are feeling the pinch of the Rental Crisis. If you remember, on the Night of Fire Wootie Kanootie's moose herd broke loose with Eunice leading the way into the cooling water of the Bay. Many hours and many days passed before the herd emerged dripping from the far shores of Tiburon where Wootie was able to round them up again and drive them westward to a place where nobody might notice a sizable herd of Canadian moose. Wootie himself found an abode in a place near Silvan Acres called Two Bird.

In The Old Same Place Bar people were talking about need to "get out" and the most recent scandals involving the President nobody likes.

Tommy and Toby, Lynette and Susan had all been served with outrageous rent increases designed to encourage leaving town. Businesses too were affected. Borg's Touch of Wonder massage parlor got hit with a hefty rent increase. So did Marvin of Marvin's Merkins (Put a merkin in your firkin!). Both of them began looking to relocate. The rental crisis produced a drifting cloud of darkness that was choking the life out of the little island, a miasma of hopelessness that crept into corners everywhere. People tried to adapt -- members of the Angry Elf gang got jobs working for property management companies and Realtors, who were the sort of people that appreciated a certain level of savagery in their dealings.

In the Old Same Place Bar, Padraic and Dawn wondered how long they could hold out. They, too, had been slammed with a134% rent increase. The letter sat there on the bar through the night as the regulars came and went. Inside the bar it was warm and convivial as the remnants of the latest storm lashed the street and the windows with cold rain.

###

So anyway. The recent Pineapple Express has done with blowing through, leaving the skies bright blue and the land superheated with warm weather. The past week was blowing cold with a couple late dockwallopers, so people kept indoors when they could, but after the last burst of winter left Grizzley Peak knee deep in so much hail people thought it was snow, forcing the County to bring out deicing machines, the air warmed up, bringing out out the hang gliders and the windsurfers almost as if the temperature caused these things to emerge like bugs from hidden crevasses and people forgot all about how they had to snowplow 17 as they went to the beach and the pool

Earth Day people frolicked and gamboled on the Strand and there was all sorts of sand castle Frisbee tossing dog jumping bar-bee-queing info-table splashing and jumping up and down sorts of things and nobody got lost or punched in the face, which is remarkably nice when you think about it.

Pimenta Strife's house got foreclosed

Pimenta Strife's house got foreclosed on account of the bank being pissy about variable rate mortgages - a sort of scam imposed towards the end of Bubble on the Strife family, and so the Strifes became one of the last casualties of that perverse Semi-Free Market economy that wound up favoring only a handful of savvy speculators in the end as the regulations seemed to be a hindrance only upon normal people. So it was that Pimenta looked to the north counties for a place to live, the Island having become jacked by way of Fahrad and his evil property management cronies. So Pimenta went up to the little burg of San Rafael and saw clearly right away there were plenty of guys walking around with things between their legs and scarcely a thought upstairs with more money than they knew what to do with whom she felt she could utilize well and so she plunked down some cash on a place near the Mission and set out hunting as soon as she had a mattress on the bare wood floors.

The entire Island was in an uproar over Fahrad and his friends and some people banded together to create difficult to navigate "bicycle lanes" painted bright green and with concrete berms guaranteed to subtract driving space from automobiles. It was a good plan and traffic snarled right away soon as the lanes were installed, which made many people decide to leave the Island, which had been the main intention all along.

Fahrad was all right with that plan -- people leaving meant increased overturn of property that would earn higher and higher income for himself with each sale and perhaps provide more space to subdivide and develop more square inches, and if it became impossible to travel about the Island, that was fine; let them earn their money elsewhere and spend it elsewhere also. The local businesses would collapse and he could turn their lots into pricey condos.

Silvan Acres had only its Country Store with $20 wine

Meanwhile, the Household of Marlene and Andre were getting used to living in the country after so many years of urban living. On the Island you walked down the street and you got your groceries, your hardware, your clothing, and your incidentals within 40 minutes of walking the block or riding a bicycle. Silvan Acres had only its Country Store with $20 wine that sold for a dollar in other places. Then, for anything else, it was a hike over White's Hill to get anything like bread and milk at something other than usurious prices.

Even then, on the first trip to the Fairfax Market, Pahrump and Martini stood there incredulous while gawking at the lavish display of parity vegetable display where food was arranged not so much for commerce as for aesthetic presentation. Everything seemed arranged for that vacuous concept called "lifestyle" instead of just living. Martini did not make any friends when he went up to somebody to ask where the normal people bought groceries.

Normal people?

Not everybody drove a European car

You know. Moms piloting station wagons loaded with screaming kids during their few hours off from working their crappy third job. Guys saddled with alimony debt and high rent and shitty jobs. The kind of people that inhabit the middle of the country, the East Bay and just about everywhere. People with rough calluses on their hands and pickup trucks that actually do real work hauling concrete and stumps and lumber for jobs done by the people who own the trucks. Normal people who did work that did shit like move water and earth and electricity and pipes and who fixed things that were broken. Normal people. He knew some of them were around because he could see the signs. Not everybody drove a European car and there were abandoned shopping carts at the bus stops and there was at least one 7-11. In what passed for downtown in San Rafael he saw unkempt guys walking around mumbling in their beards, their clothes clearly not purchased any time too soon from the Sharper Image. He noticed some people walking around with brown shoes, looking down instead of drifting in a stupid miasma of Bliss. And there was a cobbler. A cobbler indicates reality. You gotta have shoes and buying new ones is out of the question so you get the ones you got fixed. Then they discovered the numerous food banks, which provided the food that normal people could not afford. So normal people did exist in Marin. The trouble was how to find them and learn how they survived.

Over the next few weeks Pahrump, Martini, Denby and the rest of the gang came to learn the people of Marin -- all about the people who had been there going back to the 1800's and those who were newbies and what a difference it made in all the changes over time, with the Sixties playing a large part in Marin life as it is as well as the invasion of the Well to Do.

And they were to learn that making assumptions and pre-judgements was always a bad idea.

Yes, normal people still live in Marin, although day by day fewer of them continue to do so for normal people get tired of continuous pretension and foolishness.

"Not County maintained."

Out in Silvan Acres, normal people were hard to find, if only that there was no center to the town. Pahrump motored all over the place which had been created ex nihilo out of the wilderness along the old railroad that once went up over the ridge to Point Reyes some miles distant. All traces of the railroad were gone, save for some ditches and sudden flat places deep in the woods. Hear and there roads suddenly ended with the sign, "Not County maintained." There was no center to the town where people would meet save for the Silvan Acres Improvement Club, a ramshackle assembly of buildings around a buckled pool and a battered gym much the worse for wear and run by Carol Lauterbach who considered the enterprise a part time gig in favor of her primary avocation of raising prize-winning blueblood dogs.

Next to this facility stood a Pop Warner baseball field that provided the local urchins a green field of dreams. Anyone standing over four feet in height could easily have lofted a line drive over the fence into the County fire department dispatch parking lot across the way.

A tumulus of rock stood there on the edge of the parking lot and on top of this tumulus someone had long ago erected a bronze statue that was entitled The Unknown Gold-digger. A family of swallows had established residence underneath the man's bronze hat for several generations.

As it turned out, this was the perfect place for our Household to wind up in Marin, for had they landed anywhere else some busybody would have announced the news and it would soon have gotten impossible to live with all the intervention and influence. People in Silvan Acres moved there because they did not give a rats ass for anything and it was good so.

The sun set and deer moved out onto the slopes that bordered the houses, looking for ways to raid tasty gardens.

That night, the Household gathered around the fireplace, which in this house actually worked, and they enjoyed a fine repast of Marlene's bread soup. As Jose tucked in to his sleeping bag, obtained from the Salvation Army place in San Rafael, he heard the coyotes howling closer and closer until it sounded like they circled the house, inspecting its occupants by smell so as to determine who was worthy to survive and who otherwise.

As he drifted off to sleep, the sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the fog-shrouded Northbay, as it also traversed the Island to die between the Edwardian house-rows as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown destination.

It was a quiet night on the Island. No sirens rent the air and nobody got shot and nobody got stabbed.

 

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