May 1, 2011



Its been a cool and cloudy week here on the Island. Saturday began blustery and seagulls began a raucous confabulation over the Safeway parking lot, which informed all of us Old Timers that Something Big was happening out there beyond the Farallones. Sure enough a dockwalloper pounded in here late Saturday night, leaving us with a grey and dripping dawn shaking streaked tresses as clouds stacked up like granite slabs on Sunday with promise of yet more to come.

you can try to put down Nature with a pitchfork

Nevertheless, Spring has arrived. Spring is not a reticent season, no matter what the weather. Spring does not tuck its heels up under a church pew like some meek and obedient schoolgirl with her eyes cast down under dark bangs. No sirree. Spring leaps out there flailing its limbs, flapping its skirts upward lasciviously to shock all the prudes into silence. Spring is randy, wild and tossing its mane at a full gallop and god damn all the generals with their foolish medals and the stern church fathers with their bluehair house rules. After the heat wave brought out all the squirrels they have all scampered back up there to their high nests with their mates and those darned trees have not stopped shaking ever since -- we know what they are doing up there.

As the man said, you can try to put down Nature with a pitchfork but it always comes roaring back.

As it is Spring, Wootie Kanootie found a need to keep his herd of elk corraled for fear of disaster. Every year several hundred Canadians, along with a fair number of idiotic American tourists, die from moose misapprehension. In Spring the moose get randy, and nothing is more dangerous than a randy bull moose. Their eyesight is not good but if they mistake you for another moose encroaching on their turf, it will only take few pokes from that rack there to do you in thoroughly. How it is possible to mistake a fat insurance adjuster from Lincoln Nebraska for a bull moose, heaven only knows, but frustration can make any animal peckish.

even dancing of any kind was banned

But this is California where, even if it is not really true anything and everything goes, enough goes to make it more interesting than Winnepeg and Minot, North Dakota combined. For all their vices and virtues. Its the Island which has more in common with Sioux Falls or Minneapolis, but without the pizazz of either location, that determinedly wishes for blandness in perverse contrariness to the rest of the Bay Area. O people have tried to do things like put in a Santaria shop and hold a hip hop festival here, but the Santaria shop folded for lack of magic and the festival never could secure the permits. During a low point, even dancing of any kind was banned on the Island, but that had been considered too radical, so they dropped the idea. Everywhere else around here you have naked people trying to sell you headbands guaranteed to channel your chakras and love monkeys dancing to disco beats and all sorts of carrying on and nervous jumping up and down.

Various Island-Lifers have been handling this Spring Spirit with all of its attendant dangers each in their own way. Denby has been hiding out in his rented room attached to the St. Charles Lunatic Asylum, practicing "Deep River Blues" over and over again. There is no safer place as something about the howling hebephrenics and drooling chronics really puts the total kibosh to Cupid's best efforts. The screaming used to get on his nerves but now he has come to regard many of the chronics with something like affection. Even Raymond, who seeks every opportunity to inject his conversation with the F-bomb. Often he will stand there in his donated London Fog raincoat, shouting "Eff You!" with great zest for hours at a time. Quite a while ago, when such treatment was doled out like asperin for every concieveable ailment, he was given a lobotomy so as to still his apparent Tourette's Syndrome.

It didn't work.

A couple beauties wearing bobby socks and cashmere came out from the parking lot down below, headed for Pagano's Hardware store.

"Eff you!" Raymond shouted through the bars, adding a few more choice epithets relating to female canines.

The girls scampered quickly away and Denby smiled. It was just Raymond's way of showing affection and admiration in the only way he knew. Had he been born a bit later, they would have given his hair a mohawk and dyed it purple. As Martin Luther said, "There is eros and there is amor and there is caritas. . . ".

O let it rain let it pour
let it rain a whole lot more
cause I got them deep river blues . . .

Down below, a solitary elk galloped by. One of Wootie's charges had gotten loose. The elk ran past the Senior Center fence and paused at the intersection with Santa Clara before bolting across. A little while later a roly-poly man wearing a beaverskin hat and carrying a moose net trundled on by.

When I cry, don't weep for me
The fish all go out on a spree
When I get them deep river bluuuuuuues . . .

Javier had not emerged from his pleasure cave with the tattooed and pierced Goth girl he had found, but he did find time to chat with the anxious Jose on the phone. Jose had been given the assignment to cover an art fair event over in Babylon and was stressing about the personal exposure during this dangerous time of year. Javier was of such a makeup he would happily hump an oak tree if it wore a blond wig and swayed the right way, but Jose was made of more timorous stuff. He had fallen head over heels for the Lovely Leona of San Leandro -- who just happened to be best buds with one of the more influential art curators in the Bay Area. It just so happened that the Lovely Leona happened to be dreadfully married. With children at that.

Javier found this condition to be more of a piquant challenge than an obstacle, for he was just that way. "Hey, she has kids! Means she knows how to do it, amigo!"

Show me una virgen. ¡La haré de otra manera!

Jose was of other mind. "Javier you are a . . . ". And here he used a Spanish phrase of such vularity that was so inappropriate for Public Radio we dare not repeat it here. Normally, the mild Jose was of milder stuff. "I do have some principles, which I am honor-bound as a wab' from Sinaloa to demonstrate to all our gabacho amigos. And to balance out your own malo behavior for which la Virgen llora."

"Es Primavera, amigo. ¡Have some fun for once! Show me una virgen. ¡La haré de otra manera!"

"Vergüenza Javier! Shame on you!"

"Ha ha ha ha . . . ooo that tickles. Stop that! Ha ha ha ha . . .".

"Vergüenza! Who are you talking to there?"

"O hohoho hohoho! O, don't stop that, it feels good . . ."!

"O for Pete's sake. . .". Jose said.

"I gotta go now, amigo . . .".

"Just when you get out of there this time better hang on to your huevos colgantes. Remember the last time . . .".


In the dim cube of his offices, the Editor sat before his computer screen. He had gone back to listening to that Man in the Red Shoes with some guilty pleasure. He knew that he himself couldn't carry a note, could never remember the punchline to jokes, was an unimaginative storyteller, abused the English grammar mercilessly, was largely talentless, and possessed a face some said was "made for radio."

That last one is generally not regarded as a complement.

Furthermore it seemed pretty unlikely that he would ever managed to finagle Sister City Status with that famous town up there in Northern Minnesota. He got up and went to the cabinet where the old tacklebox resided along with the Ultralight. For some men, Spring means the rising of the sap and the stimulation of certain perfumes heady on the air, the rumble of racoons and the bumble of bees. For others of serious mein, it means fishing.

Some get married. Others go fishing. 'Twas ever thus.

Some get married. Others go fishing. Twas ever thus. Fishing is god's way of granting peace and tranquility to the bachelor. After all, the Editor thought to himself. All you need is a jerk at both ends of the line.

It was approaching the hour of midnight when Wootie finally caught up with Eugenia, his runaway moose. He found her sitting in the center of a circle of a bunch of women holding candles at Crab Cove. It was Toni's Wiccan coven, which had been holding a Spring Goddess fertility rite down there as usual this time of year. Well, it is California after all, and we do have some allowances here. Perhaps they have Wiccans in St. Paul, but if so we have not heard of any.

In any case, there they were all calling on the Goddess for a sign amid these parlous times of Great Recession and rampant Tea Party shenanigans when Eugenia strolled in there among them. So they hung a wreath about her neck and gave her some apples and she seemed content enough when Wootie got there, and so he paused for there under the glimmering wrack of storm-rent clouds letting through splinters of moonlight the circle of women glowed in their pale white gowns with their candles and the animal stood there all garlanded under the mysterious California heavens. For it had come to Spring when miracles abound.

From far across the way, the long howl of the the throughpassing train ululated across the waves of the estuary and the miraculous wildflowers of the Buena Vista flats as the locomotive wended its way past the dark and shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its journey to parts unknown.

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