JULY 4, 1999

ISLAND-LIFE IS BORN

 

JULY 4, 1999

This weekend we are all looking forward to the annual Mayor's Parade down Main Street. Given that Main runs about two-hundred fifty yards before petering out in concrete shoreline they may have to double back a couple times and head out to the bird sanctuary to make it worth the while. Given the budget we'll make do for fireworks the way we always do by climbing up on the roof to watch the displays from Ohland and Babylon City and whoever else might be tossing exploding stuff up in the air for the fun of it. The persnickety tight-cravats of Evilletown once again put out a Great Proclamation on parchment and three full-size highway signs with five-inch reflective lettering explaining how fireworks and sparklers and things that go bang and other fun stuff shall be strictly verboten within the silly limits. So those poor people will have to go up on their rooftops too on account of the Great Proclamation. But if they want they can always hop in a boat and come on over here and we'll have a great time drinking tequila and beer and having parades and waving flags and all that independence kind of fun stuff except there will be no poodle-toss this year as it seems all the critters made themselves scarce.

In other news, the local teen gang has made its mark in the world by tagging the hardware store and spray-painting Clemson Dribble's new car, thus initiating a crime-wave of some significant proportions. Mr. Bagnose, hardware store owner and upright citizen, has initiated a Personal Security Program as a result. Out of some concern for the parking-lot -- it being feared the vandals would do something unspeakable to the white lines painted on the asphalt -- Mr. Bagnose has taken to sealing off the space at night with a used cattle-gate. Of course any damn fool could climb right over the thing any time, but it's the thought that counts. It's expected the painted rascals shall soon be apprehended as the island is small and they tagged the buildings using their real names.

 Thanks to Sharon, the Island's roving reporter and Punk Rocker Mom, who has indicated the presence of a Dadist Public Commentator among our citizens. Seems that a feller living on Lincoln has taken the initiative in Graffiti Art by posting helpful and mysterious signs on the side of his house. We have seen on various days the following Important Messages posted on poster paper in block letters one foot high for all the world to see:

RUTH 2:14, ISAIAH 1:34

COMMITMENT 1611

EAT CHICKEN

and so forth. We feel this Joycean inscrutability is to be scrutinized and lauded, for the gentleman just might turn out to be a genius if he is not of dubious intellectual stability.

DECEMBER 27, 1999

All down the street strands of icicle lights sway in the offshore breeze. From over the water comes the sound of the nine o'clock freight passing through the Embarcadero junction over in Oakland. Officer O'Madhaun sits parked outside the Pampered Pup hotdog shop, nursing his Styrofoam cup of Java and all the thieves who usually come over from East 14th are sitting holed up in Fruitvale Taquarias and bars. Now is the time between times, after the furious unwrapping of Xmas and before the hilarious cork popping and noisemakers of New Year's. The biggest news: the Raiders went down without a prayer on Sunday and Mayor Ralph has approved the new Dog Park. Someone is spreading the rumor that Dog Bites' Laurel Wellman and the infamous Nestor Makhno are an item -- the two were seen together down at the Underground Shooting Range wearing matching Maoist bandannas and trying out the latest anti-capitalist hardware from Uzi. But this is a rumor only. Ms. Wellman was also seen about town shopping at Nordstrom's and appearing at mayoral candidates' private shindigs up on Russian Hill as well.

This is the time for mulling things over, and even Kevin Keating is probably kicking back from his busy schedule as chief of the Mission Anti-Yuppie Proliferation Brigade to gaze at the lights and reflect upon the vicissitudes of history. The Island has seen its portion of Californication and tremored with the great shakes of events. Of course the rise of the PC culture, with its internet dot-com digital everything is the obvious Big Thing of the Year, and the new prosperity is something to consider. We almost had an International Rave Event here, but the neighbors protested the potential noise and got the thing shut down three days before the curtain went up, much to the chagrin of the backers who lost some 15 million dollars, but hey, a good night's sleep is hard to come by these days. In spite of the Navy leaving the base, we can afford it in these luxurious times.

With the Berlin Wall down 10 years now, the English out of Northern Ireland, Pinochet put on trial at last, no Southeast Asian war, South Africa free of Aparthate, it seems the sins and follies of the preceding generations have been just about rectified. They are moving into the new Westend development in droves and yet another is planned for the Buena Vista Flats area and everyone is jingling their pockets, it seems. But before we start singing a David Byrne song ("Let the days go by/ there is water underground / into the blue again / after the money's gone . . .") lets all get personal and think about where next we want to go before getting there. And to what extent we really have any control over it.

But during this in-between time, it's enough to evaluate the present circumstances. We live on a little Island in a region that has given up its claim to cultural and artistic prominence. And if the Warriors do not work some miracles to cover for the Raiders, the Niners, the Giants and the A's, a few more claims will go by the board as well. Perhaps surviving fires, earthquakes, droughts, street violence and plain old hard penniless bad-times saps too much vitality. How can anyone be a struggling painter or musician in a place where two bedroom houses cost half a million dollars? Truth is, nobody who got here, got here easy. Those of us who have been here long know full well that things are not going to stay flush forever.

And if you really have to fly in the next few days, you better not sit next to any Algerians.

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

 

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