Island Life

Vol. 17 - No. 39Bay Area News and Views since 1998 Sunday October 4, 2015

Current Edition - Year 2015

Welcome to the 17th year of this weekly column that's updated fifty-two times a year, on Sunday nights or Monday mornings, depending on how well the booze holds out. If you've got any news, clues or rumors to share from around the Bay, or the world, feel free to send them to or use the envelope in the masthead. For previous issues, including 2014, visit the Archives.


The Editor

Denby -Reporter

Sharon -Events

Chad -Coding

Tammy -Fotos

Hilde -Europe

OCTOBER 04, 2015


This week we have a shot of the one lane road that comes down from North Lake with the Aspens all putting on their Fall raiment. This is the road that leads to the Lamarck/Piute trailheads and it is definitely not for the faint of heart as the edge drops a good 500 feet. Makes it exciting.


Everyone is back from the Annual Island Mountain Sabbatical. And nobody died or lost a leg! Pictures from this year's trip to Saddlebag Lake will up in a week or so along with the trip report.

In addition, we have uploaded the Monologues for 2015 from January to June, so if you missed the Wee Man, the annual Valentine's Day Massacree, or Javier's birthday, those revised stories are now available from the Stories section. Enjoy.


The 3rd Oakland Music Festival took place September 26th with its usual emphasis upon local talent. By all accounts it was a peaceful and joyous gathering in the Uptown district. Over in Babylon the 15th HSBF took place in Hellman Meadows on a gusty weekend. Highlights were Michael Franti kicking things off on Friday evening. Saturday featured Steve Earle as a favorite returnee while Justin Townes Earle held the Banjo Stage crowd in thrall. About half a million people packed the Golden Gate Park for up-and-coming bands as well as some old favorites on the 6-stage venue. Per developing tradition, the ageless Emmylou Harris appeared near the end, but this time was followed by the eclectic DeVotchKa and Dustbowl Revival.

The Oakland Art Murmur continues with several more events through this October.
Vessel Gallery will hold an artist talk October 10th, followed by Reception for its new installations. SLATE will host the 4th Annual Party Auction fundraiser for the Art Murmur on the same day at Classic Cars West, 411 26th Avenue. Here is the PR : "Oakland Art Murmur Annual Benefit Fundraiser and Art Auction features a silent art auction, delicious local food + drink, live music + DJ, and the thriving visual arts community of Oakland. This highly anticipated event provides direct and critical support for Oakland Art Murmur’s programs, projects and operations. Purchase a VIP level ticket to attend the special OAM Reception and arrive before the crowds to get a sneak peek at Oakland’s finest artwork in an intimate environment."

On the Island Encinal Hardware in the East End will celebrate 50 years of doing business October 10th with a shindig. Drop on by to say hello to brothers Michael and Philip Jaber.

Wednesday the Council will hear arguments about the Harbor Bay Club plan in the Council Chambers at 7pm. Should be a contentious meeting.

If you would rather skip all these fine events, you can still go to the CERT emergency preparedness class October 10th at 431 Stardust Place out at the Point. For information go to to get ready for the Hayward Fault Big One, due any day now.


So anyway now begins the month long orgiastic party known in the Bay Area as the Halloween Season. All the closet furries will be out of the closet and the bus is sure to be packed with more than the usual number of scandalous costumed fantasies. As the shadows get longer the walls and windows of houses become infested with gargantuan spiders and ghouls and the dark pits of doorways start breeding tiny monsters.

It is such an outlandishly fun time that even the kids get to enjoy the atmosphere as well.

Everyone is thinking about what to wear on the night of All Hallow's Eve when the Native Sons of the Golden West host their annual charity costume ball. Eugene is putting together a monkey suit while Anatoly Enigma will complement his usual daily getup of black cap, top hat and cummerbund with a set of fangs.

Kid Viper is going dressed as the Hulk so as to show off his well-developed deltoids. Pimenta Strife has not decided whether to do as a sexy nurse in a mini-shirt, a sexy cop in a mini-skirt, or a sexy Daisy Mae in daisy-dukes with some fabric removed. Or maybe she will just skip the pretense and put on a sheer negligee with six-inch stiletto heels and get right to the point.

Denby will be there, dressed as Phil Ochs, because he will be on stage for part of the event.

The best thing about fantasies, says Dr. Smoot, PsyDoc, PhD, is that they can never be realized. If they were, they would not be fantasies any more, but would turn into dull, quotidian Reality. Who want's that to happen to their dream of flying naked over the fields with two teddy bears on the back of an equally naked gymnast hanging from a parasail? You certainly would be disappointed. Not even the whipped cream would be much solace.

Dr. Smoot is going dressed entirely in white with a sort of teardrop cowl and a long, whipping tail. His companion, the fetching and extremely intelligent Dr. Felching is going as a large round ovum.

We all had an other Supermoon in a year that was packed with moons above and beyond the average. This time there was a lunar eclipse which results in a rare Blood Moon effect, an effect that raises the air and curdles the milk and results in unearthly shrieks in the night. Father Danyluk was roused to investigate one of those screams in the convent only to find it was only Sister Incontinence who found a cricket in her cowl after putting it on her head.

"Bless me, Father!" said the nun. "I've got a bug in my bonnet!"

The good father took hold of the insect between thumb and forefinger as Sister Profundity turned the corner.

"What's going on!" said Sister Profundity.

The good father held forth the cricket, which waggled its antennae.


"Bless you," said Father Danyluk. "And bless this bait which is good for fishing."

The priest returned to the rectory and put the cricket in a jar.

Out on the edge of the Community College green Don Senor Luis Guadalupe de Erizo gazed up at the heavens.

Dame Herrisson poked her head out of the burrow.

"Les étoiles sont cachés par les nuages", She said. (The stars are hidden by clouds.)


"La lune est en déclin." (The moon is waning.)


"Il n'y a rien à voir dans les cieux". (Nothing is up there.)



"Qu'est ce que tu regardes?" (What are you looking at?)

"Todo." (Everything)


"Tu es fou," said Dame Herrisson. Pause. "Mais je t'aime quand même."



"Ahhhhh! Les hommes sont fous!" Dame Herrisson said, and went back inside.


"Si." And the Don smiled. He went to the shrubbery and picked one of the last roses of summer to bring into the burrow.

As has been mentioned, all the little creatures of the earth understand every language perfectly well; normally, they choose not to speak to people for fear of being misunderstood due to the human lack of education. And of course, it is clear that human men and women quite often wind up speaking entirely different languages which adds to the confusion of miscommunication. At such times, it has been found that the language of flowers can provide, on the occasion, a sort of rough translation.

The ululation of the train from far across the water as it trundled from beneath the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their 1000 watt lamps, 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 and its weedy railbed and interstices of its chainlink fence, dropping slowly over the motionless basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park until the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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

SEPTEMBER 20, 2015


Here is a shot of a last burst of summer from a bird-of-paradise palm, just glowing with exhuberance and the swelling joy of Life.


There will be no Island-LIfe issue next week and as you see, this one is truncated. The Staff are going up late for the annual Island-Life Mountain Sabbatical, and, should sufficient survivors return, we will resume operations in October.

The ululation of the train from far across the water as it trundled from beneath the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their 1000 watt lamps, 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 and its weedy railbed and interstices of its chainlink fence, dropping slowly over the motionless basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park until the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great couple of weeks.


SEPTEMBER 13, 2015


Here is a shot of Santa Clara Avenue near Church Row. The temperature may be mild, but the trees know what to do.

The song reference is to Rolly Salley's "Killing the Blues."

Leaves were falling, just like embers
in colors, red and gold, to set us on fire,
Just like moonbeams in our eyes.

Chris Smither's version is still the best.


Thursday the City will allow residents to input on the plans to revise Central Avenue to include a bicycle lane and make intersections at Main, Pacific and Main, and Sherman at Encinal safer. The changes will involve a reduction of lanes from four to three on Central. This is the third community workshop and it will be held Sept 17 at 6:00pm at Encinal High School.

The spat between Harbor Bay Neighbors and Harbor Bay Isle Associates (sometimes referred to by the name of its founder, Ron Cowan) continues with no love lost between the two groups. HBIA wants to remove an existing athletic club and replace it with between 80 and 160 homes or a large hotel conference center. HBIA wants to place a new, larger club at North Loop Road, which is located under the flight path for Oakland International Airport.

The crux of the matter is that HBIA wants to build on every square inch they can find so as to make more money beyond rentals, property management, and the usual realtor activity. Having only seeming undesirable land good enough for a club but not for houses means HBIA feels compelled to tear something down so as to build up something bigger and more expensive. Make no mistake: HBIA is not out to provide services in some philanthropic mood. HBIA is a business and businesses exist to make money -- that is their entire purpose. If a company chooses to make money doing good for the community or divert some or all of its profits to doing good, so much the better.

Cutting through the fog mirror effects, at the end of the day if HBIA gets what they want, we get a new pricey athletic club (anyone talk about dues costs yet? And why Mariner Square cannot keep 'em coming back?) and we get 80 homes (at the low end) worth of more people, more cars, more infrastructure stress. Other than the new Club, where we sure we all would enjoy a $20/month membership, 80 new homes benefits nobody but HBIA and there resides the largest issue in advance of all the quibbles from HBN about how HBIA purchased influence in the time-honored fashion of Ron Cowan -- who is not remembered with any fondness for his previous projects by many old timers here.

Finally, we reiterate a serious query about Ron Cowan's outfit. Just why does he feel compelled to wreck the place in which he grew up instead of doing this to some other community some other place?

So what is upcoming on the Calendar? Counting Crows returning to the Shoreline. Lenny Kravitz strutted his stuff already at the Fox. You can still catch Jackie Greene, the Sacto boy, November 27. Can't wait that long? Brandi Carllile will sing about that darned horse stuck in a tree Friday, September 18.

Over in Babylon John Hiatt performed with the Taj Mahal Trio day after 9/11 at the Regency. But Gogol Bordello will perform their cosmo, multilingual "gypsy punk" November 25 at the venerable Warfield. If you go, you must start wearing purple, wearing purple. And all your sanity and wits will start to vanish.

September 26th Oakland hosts the Oakland Music Festival. We have never heard of this thing going into its third year, nor have we heard of most of the acts. Both very good reasons to go there. Here is part of the Blurb.

"Launched in 2013 as a celebration of all things Oakland, OMF is an independent showcase featuring local and international musical talent as well as local eateries, breweries and small craft distillers. Founded by a group of friends and Oakland locals, the Festival aims to foster and support both the local music, art community and the diverse food & spirit craftsmen that collectively give Oakland its distinct flavor."

Now entering its third year, the Festival will welcome an even broader range of artists and performers, including some nationally recognized acts, while still maintaining its original mission of promoting the local community. OMF looks to help channel the many efforts of the community into a unified movement, and collectively raise the City’s profile to an international stage. It truly is time Oakland got its much overdue shine."

Main entrance will be Franklin and Broadway. Way down there in the small print we recognize the band Don B and Whiskerman, whom we consider to be fabulous faves in the realm of bad dream, worse whiskey, busted barroom, desert town dust, and life gone awry sort of way.

Testify for Oaktown on the warmer side of the Bay and attend.

Rhythmix, whom we thought would be short-timer here, continues with vigor and excellent programs. They just finished up a popular Wine Women and Song, three very great things, and are in the middle of assisting the Library with a mini-jazz festival. This not deedle-bop dinner jazz but high-flight talent coming to the Island for these concerts. Miss Faye Carol will perform September 26th, followed by Ed Reed in October. Concluding the series will be none other than Maria Muldaur on November 21. Shows will be held both at Rhythmix and at the Library so check your tickets for locations carefully.

The High Holy Days are upon us. Next month ushers in the Jewish New Year of 5777, which might be a significant number once the numeral tzadiks get to work on it. Meanwhile we start the Days with Rosh Hashanah today on Sunday after sundown. You work on your traditions for about 2,500 years and your New Year takes a couple of weeks. Is no wild party in the night, but a quiet celebration with apples and honey and twist-bread and standing beside the seashore.

This year Yom Kippur is September 23rd. Sukkot is the Feast of Huts which ends the month and is sort of a mini-thanksgiving thing. It is the only festival which has one specific commandment: "thou shalt rejoice." Well okay we worded that a bit different but still.


So anyway, the Fighting Otters suffered a crushing defeat against the West End Marmots in overtime during the season opener. Coach Ronaldo Ruiz gave a speech in the locker room to the Edison kids during half time.

"Kids, we may always seem to lose in life, but remember this, the race goes not to the swift or the strong but to the . . . o heck, I forget. Nevermind. The race goes to those who have heart. So go out there and remember its not about winning goals, it is about strategy. Keep this in mind: no matter what happens on the field today, you already have won in the Boardroom years from now. The battle does not matter -- you have won the war."

This rivalry has continued between the schools for many years. The Edison Otters come from families who trend to the more income-secure members of society. They are in high tech and finance and primary care health. Their cars tend to be European imports and they own two of them. The West End kids come traditionally from families across the economic divider of Grand Street. Both mother and father work jobs full time and they own Toyotas, Hondas, and Fords. The East Enders celebrate birthdays with cake and pool parties. The West Enders celebrate with piñatas hung from the oak tree still growing out front amid a sea of asphalt.

The West End Marmots do not usually win, but this time they trounced the Otters at 72-3. As it turned out, Little Tubby Tucker -- not so little anymore -- had celebrated his birthday with friends and the cake had been a baba la rhum cake made by Marjean Espinoza who had just returned from a visit to Puerto Rico with several cases of dark rum and wonderful recipes and six pounds of potent hashish. Some of which seemed to wind up in the cake.

You are not supposed to do that on the day of the game.

Only Simon Tashkent, the Morrocan refugee kid, had not gone to the party; people thought or imagined his parents were secret terrorists or something, so he had not been invited. So he manfully placed every kick well inside the further goal line and scored the only points with field goals.

The Otters had wandered out onto the field to barely form a ragged, staggering defense line and had offered less a defense than a series of running hurdles as they fell down in front of the quarterback, who finally resorted to actually throwing the ball when his legs got tired from running all those yards. Which did not matter, as the Otter team flailed their hands in the air and failed to intercept a single throw while giving up nine interceptions of their own. Towards the end of the game the drugs and the liquor began to wear off and they stopped a final offensive within five yards of their goal line when they all lay down and burbled until the clock ran out. Otherwise it would have been even worse.

The traditions and rites of Fall involve people across the generations, across the social strata.

Pumpkins have appeared on stoops and decorations have shifted to the Next Thing in the year. You may have noticed Facebook friends appearing in bat costumes.

Pedro, piloting out toward the fishing lanes observes the change in the wind currents, the denser aqua of the chop. Salmon catch closed on the 5th. Abalone is not his concern, so that leaves some bass coming up and the seasonal migrations of halibut and mackerel. The background crackled with ship-to-shore traffic over the radio. In another week he would be able to haul in his favorite Lutheran televangelist broadcasting from the Great White North. For a couple months he had been making do with reruns. Soon, he would enjoy the real deal.

In the Old Same Place Bar the talk revolves around politics and gossip. Which must be unusual in other places given how agitated the talk goes around here.

Latreena Brown was arguing strenuously with Malice Green about the 16 Republican candidates for President.

"Kit Carson is the only one who makes sense half the time," Latreena said.

"What about Santorum?" Malice asked.

"Ugh! Too frothy!"

"Richard Perrier is the most handsome," said Malice.

"Ninny! The man just stepped out of it! Jindal is the man with looks." Retorted Latreena.

"The man looks like an angry frog! Are you blind?!" Malice said.

"I think Dan Danny has the best idea for the immigrants. Tag 'em with locating devices like they do the parolees."

"You are soft on immigration," Latreena said. "We should round 'em up and put them in camps. I hear Manzanar is still available. And there is Alcatraz."

"Idiot!" Exclaimed Malice. "Who would do the washing and pick the fruit? What a dumb idea!"

"You're yoni stinks! American college students of course!"

Malice called Latreena a word that rhymes with "bunt" and is used to refer to a portion of the female anatomy. More words were exchange with increasing heat.

"How can any stupid b--ch trust that Ronald Bump, a man who wears a tribble on his head!"

Eventually their discussion descended, as it was wont to do over the years, to violent fisticuffs, eye-gouging, kicking and hair pulling, degenerating into an atavistic table-clearing brawl until Dawn put an end to it by tossing a bucket of ice water on both of them and throwing the two out into the street.

Eventually things calmed down and the patrons began to talk about less incendiary topics.

"I hear the Angelo boy came home the other day," said Grant.

"Did he now?" Padraic said. "What did he do that for?"

"Can't find a job and the rent is too high everywhere," Said Grant.

"Aint it the truth," Padraic said. "Nobody can afford to live around here unless you are a Techie Dot Commer."

"Even they can't afford it," Grant said. "I heard from Doyle in the City they are renting one bedrooms and putting in four or five young guys just to make it."

"Four or five to a room; they can do that because they are young and it's an adventure. After a few years they all go back to Ohio or Virginia where they came from," Padraic said.

"That boy still going with that wildcat named Trixie?" Grant asked.

"I don't know about that. She always was a handful. I remember her folks being real genteel out of Florida. Other kids turned out fine, but she was a real hellion during the '60s." Padraic said.

"She was a hot potato," Grant said.

"Still as cute as a red heifer in a rose garden," Padraic said. "And as wild as a hawk flyin' over the Wicklow Hills. Padraic was inclined to colorful language.

"Here now!" Dawn said. Dawn was Padraic's wife. "Mind your pants and the Lord!"

"Well now fellas, well now gentlemen," said the Man from Minot. "There is a lot to be said that is unsaid."

"What do you know about it," Grant said. "You are not from around here; you are from Minot."

"I have always been from somewhere else wherever I have gone," said the Man from Minot. "Even though I have always been from Minot."

"Indeed," said Padraic. "We are all los migras. Like them folks fleein' the ISIS troubles in Syria."

"I call 'em DAESH," said Grant. "They aint no caliphate or whatever. They just stomping all over the place. They just a bunch of thugs and aint no legit."

"Sure enough," mused the Man from Minot. "Nevertheless, I sure wish I had known Trixie when she was younger. . .".

"O for Pete's sake!" Dawn said. "You men would hump an oak tree if it wore a red dress."

Meanwhile Suzie took a break and cracked open her Anthropology textbook to a different chapter located near the end of the book. "The concept of the Internal Exile did not exist in Western Culture until modern times when the rising disparities between the classes and increased automation in the workplace as well as large-scale migrations that destroyed traditional family-ties led to the phenomenon of heightened urban anomie . . .".

The section went on for some fifteen pages like that.

After reading that section, Suzie turned back to the chapter on the Bonobo with some relief.

"The Bonobo will often gather together and hold long, animated disputations among themselves about any number of subjects that in other groups would lead to displays of aggressive breast-beating as well as possible violence. But because of the Bonobo's great love for one another this never happens. Instead one tribal member will tenderly share a portion of jackfruit or mango with another and they wind up in deepest contemplation, chewing the fat, so to speak. . .".

Then came the ululation of the train from far across the water as it trundled from beneath the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their 1000 watt lamps, 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 and its weedy railbed and interstices of its chainlink fence, dropping slowly over the motionless basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park until the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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




This week's image for Labor Day is in honor of the working men and women who built America and is of the Kaiser processing plant just across the Estuary. It is ironically appropriate that the genteel patrons look through the windows of now gentrified restaurants and shops to see this sturdy factory symbol of the blue collar workingman occupying the entire view as they dine on their delicate tapas. The referenced song is an early one from Bruce Springsteen, a fellow who often still remembers through music his own humble origins as the son of a factory worker.

The island may be "developing" upscale, but a lot of sheetmetal workers and blacksmiths and machinists still live here.

Early in the morning factory whistle blows,
Man rises from bed and puts on his clothes,
Man takes his lunch, walks out in the morning light,
It's the working, the working, just the working life.

Through the mansions of fear, through the mansions of pain,
I see my daddy walking through them factory gates in the rain,
Factory takes his hearing, factory gives him life,
The working, the working, just the working life.

End of the day, factory whistle cries,
Men walk through these gates with death in their eyes.
And you just better believe, boy,
somebody's gonna get hurt tonight,
It's the working, the working, just the working life.


Most of you know that the carcass of a whale was found floating in the estuary at the base of the Mariner Square Drystack and Marina company dock. It was noticed by employees last Thursday, but the Coast Guard notified the National Marine Fisheries Service the carcass was there in the early hours of Wednesday, August 26th. That whale was towed by a joint collaboration between NOAA, the USCG and the US Army Corps of Engineers to Angel Island where a team of scientists performed a necropsy and determined the 32 foot Fin Whale was killed by blunt force, likely a ship entering the Port of Oaktown. More than likely the body was dragged into the estuary where it sank until decomposition caused it to rise and get stuck at the base of the dock.

It seems the Angry Elf gang is once again operating close to home -- probably because the guy has not held a job for half a year and needs income. AFD responded to a fire on the West End in the 1800 block of Ferry Point in the early hours of the morning. The fire, started in a cage of cardboard recycling material, spread into the adjoining structure and an adjacent building which houses Alameda Point studios, a space that is rented out to several different industrial arts companies. Tenants include woodworkers, sculptors, designers, a print shop and a number of other sole proprietors.

During the firefight, calls came in about three other different fires at Third Street and Second Street as well as the 1500 block of Encinal. Authorities are ruling the fires to be "suspicious" and possible arson.

Yeah, well, the guy lives in the West End and has a pull toward industrial arts. Go figure who failed to make payments or offer up a special "favor."

This controversy between bicyclists and pedestrians and automobiles continues in both of the weekly papers, with some attention this week devoted to pedestrians getting their heads out of their . . . well, electronics, let us say politely, and looking sharp to protect themselves.

Looking into the California Vehicle Code -- we happen to own one of the last green-cover printed copies made before all went electronic -- we see that most of the ordinances include at least one paragraph stating,

(b) This section does not relieve a pedestrian from the duty of using due care for his or her safety. No pedestrian may suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard. No pedestrian may unnecessarily stop or delay traffic while in a marked or unmarked crosswalk.

CVC, SECTION 21950(b)

or more broadly,

21954. (a) Every pedestrian upon a roadway at any point other than
within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an
intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the
roadway so near as to constitute an immediate hazard.
(b) The provisions of this section shall not relieve the driver of
a vehicle from the duty to exercise due care for the safety of any
pedestrian upon a roadway.

21955. Between adjacent intersections controlled by traffic control
signal devices or by police officers, pedestrians shall not cross
the roadway at any place except in a crosswalk.

In other words, people should not walk like idiot drones and drivers should not drive like droning idiots. Strange to say, this is a rare case when common sense has been codified. As far as the Law is concerned, for all parties concerned, DON'T DO STUPID SHIT!

Almost certainly, someone will take issue.

The Harbor Bay Athletic Club saga continues with shills and official rebuttals from the HBIA people countering the organized resistance in the form of Harbor Bay Neighbors along with the occasional innocent person with an honest opinion wandering into the crossfire. By now it has become Business Interests against Organized Resistance, which is too bad for us ordinary folks, as truth tends to fall by the wayside.

Here are some facts. The club serves a wide sector of the populace, but is primarily serving the residents of Harbor Bay. The claim that equipment and pool are outmoded is probably true. The claim that they cannot be upgraded in place is debatable as 24 Hour Fitness and other franchised clubs seem to have no problem doing exactly that while adding desired programs. The one in Oakland just did that and seems well on the way of upgrading its offerings just over the Fruitvale Bridge. We know because we went and we asked and we went back and we verified the changes. They also did upgrade their pool facilities. Nevertheless, a pool upgrade is a major land issue, depending on what you want to realistically do.

We observe that the development trend of adding more occupants to limited land areas leads to higher population density and greater strain on public facilities, including sewer, electrical, potable water, parking, and street traffic. There is also a noticeable increase in crime.

Which provides a segue to last week's PSA, which apparently has not been entered into any of the police blotters in any of the local newspapers. A man came up behind a woman of 81 years young and struck her behind the head, knocking her to the ground with sufficient force to cause injury. The thug robbed the woman of her purse with all credit cards, cash and house keys. Our man on the scene called 911 and waited until First Responders arrived, so we made sure the woman is okay. Gott sei dank!

This occurred in broad daylight, in the middle of the day, during the workweek, and at Southshore Mall.

And this sort of thing seems to be happening more frequently lately here. Gunpoint robberies at the bustop. Pistol-whipping on Park Street. Gun murders in the park. While the Realtors and developers continued to tout the Island, which had never before been considered a desirable place to live, an "oasis", a haven with close access to the destroyed City of San Francisco and Silly Cone Valley. We are convinced that this sort of thing is being caused by rental pressures leading to higher population density in advance of the increased density due to development. No idiot can afford to pony up $2,000 per month for a one bedroom, not even the slavey Dot-Commers, save for a Corporation. So real people do what is natural in response -- they double and triple up so as to amass the resources to live.

The obscene rental situation is destroying the SF Bay Area quality of life. In SF it was destroyed years ago when the artists all left due to rampant greed.


So anyway, the Canadian geese have started flocking on the high school athletic field and the broad yellow flanks of school buses maneuver the turns on these narrow streets laid out in the 1850's. Uneasy winds start blowing in the morning and at sundown, bringing the high fogs to chill the air. People are taking down the window fans and closing up at night.

Towards the West End, Bosco the pig, safe now from controlling neighbors, sniffed the air and snortled in his yard. Neighbors with control issues wanted to banish Bosco, a miniature porker weighing less than 12 pounds, claiming a city ordinance forbade the enclosure of livestock within so many feet of a dwelling. Sensible neighbors -- this is a category sometimes found in communities sometimes sensible -- raised up a petition and so rescued Bosco from the meat market. And so the controllers were left to stomp about in jackboots in their basements.

In any case, Bosco knows, by a sort of porcine wisdom, that a great change is coming.

As the day faded from skeined-over skies to nightfall and the waning moon and stars hidden by high fogs people stood in their yards looking upward, wondering about the rain, the missing rain, the longed for rain that would extinguish the wildfires and bring the boys home, the rain that would ease this long drought.

During the day, the homes stood quietly, the little ones at school, and for a brief moment of peace, all was silent and still and peaceful in the house. Little Monica rode the school bus. Little Adam pedaled home on his bike. For a brief while the Household stood shadowed and empty save for Marlene and Andre who met after the long day in the corridor and clasped each other and kissed, a couple still in love after all these years and the kids soon to come home. . . .

"How was your day," Marlene said.

"Eff all," Andre said. "How was yours?"

"Eff all," Marlene said.

"Snarffenn dee bubble de boo," Snuffles said coming through the door.

The couple remained there in a deep embrace, unembarrassed.

"Ooooooooo!" said Snuffles, who retreated to his hole in the porch that had been made during Javier's near disastrous 50th birthday celebration.

They remained a couple in love, in early September, as the leaves began to turn, all around them, everything aging, including themselves. Everything fated to change. And the kids were coming home . . .

Out on the fishing lanes Pedro eagerly tunes in the radio to get his favorite Lutheran televangelist program, which once again has returned live after what seemed like a long vacation: Pastor Rotschue's Variety Hour. While this might seem heretical, the Lutherans always had the better music than the Baptists or the wan Catholics, so Pedro had become addicted to listening to his favorite program.

As the Tishomingo Blues tune wafted through the salt air, Ferryboat perked up and issued an approving "Woof!" He could feel the change in the air and the shift in the currents. Already oysters were appearing on ice in the groceries. Soon, time for crab and cold water fish. Not yet, but soon.

In the Old Same Place Bar Suzie served the customers, the summer tourist crowd having evaporated to leave the regulars: Eugene at the rail, the Man from Minot with his beer, Denby up in the snug with his guitar, and the others scattered around the tables with their familiar candles and their familiar drinks before them. Pimenta Strife was trying to hit up on a truck driver from Bear Lake Minnesota as the Man from Minot looked on wryly, knowing how this would end up.

Suzie retreated then behind the bar to take up one of her college text books. This time, she picked up her drama textbook by Stanley Grutowski, "Towards a Bad Theatre". The chapter began, "It is better to end, contrary to belief with comedy instead of tragedy, although the reverse progression is far, far easier to do, for it is true beyond a reasonable doubt that it is the last thing that the audience will remember best. Theatre provides a catharsis, a sort of relief and false hope amid misery. In other words, although life is hideous and tragic in nature, it is better to leave the audience laughing . . .".

Suzie put this book aside to read with some relief herself about the joyful Bonobo in the jungles.

Then came the ululation of the train from far across the water as it trundled from beneath the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their 1000 watt lamps, 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 and its weedy railbed and interstices of its chainlink fence, dropping slowly over the motionless basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park until the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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


AUGUST 30, 2015


Summer has come and passed and back to school sales are the commercial rage. The shadows are grown longer and school buses have begun their rounds in the morning. Yet still here and there the brave colors of summer erupt even now, saying, "Hey! I am not done yet with this glory!"

This week's image is of a miraculous "volunteer" flower that sprang up at our sister's place in Woodacre. These heliotrope continue to flourish all over the East Bay right now -- there is a spectacular forest of them at Yolanda Landing off Sir Francis Drake Boulevard in San Anselmo. It is like Summer is saying, "I will continue to exfoliate Joy with quiet exhuberance, even in the face of the approaching Fall . . .".

The song by Robert Hunter alludes to a poem by Thomas Moore (1779-1852), who, in 1805, wrote “The Last Rose of Summer,” which goes like this:

'Tis the last rose of summer,
Left blooming all alone,
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone.
No flower of her kindred,
No rose bud is nigh,
To reflect back her blushes,
Or give sigh for sigh.

I'll not leave thee, thou lone one,
To pine on the stem;
Since the lovely are sleeping,
Go sleep thou with them;
'Thus kindly I scatter
Thy leaves o'er the bed
Where thy mates of the garden
Lie scentless and dead.

So soon may I follow
When friendships decay,
And from love's shining circle
The gems drop away!
When true hearts lie withered
And fond ones are flown
Oh! who would inhabit
This bleak world alone?

In a 1987 Rolling Stone interview, Robert Hunter had this to say, “Black Muddy River is about the perspective of age and making a decision about the necessity of living in spite of a rough time, and the ravages of anything else that's going to come at you. When I wrote it, I was writing about how I felt about being 45 years old and what I've been through. . .".

While roses are prickly ephemeral things, sunflowers are robust symbols of victory. Witness Ginsberg's Sunflower Sutra.

Sunflower Sutra

I walked on the banks of the tincan banana dock and sat down
under the huge shade of a Southern Pacific locomotive to look at the sunset over the box house hills and cry.
Jack Kerouac sat beside me on a busted rusty iron pole, companion,
we thought the same thoughts of the soul, bleak and blue and sad-eyed,
surrounded by the gnarled steel roots of trees of machinery.
The oily water on the river mirrored the red sky, sun sank on top of final Frisco peaks,
no fish in that stream, no hermit in those mounts,
just ourselves rheumy-eyed and hung-over like old bums on the riverbank, tired and wily.
Look at the Sunflower, he said, there was a dead gray shadow against the sky,
big as a man, sitting dry on top of a pile of ancient sawdust—

—I rushed up enchanted—it was my first sunflower, memories of Blake—my visions—Harlem
and Hells of the Eastern rivers, bridges clanking Joes Greasy Sandwiches, dead baby carriages, black treadless tires forgotten and unretreaded, the poem of the riverbank, condoms & pots, steel knives, nothing stainless, only the dank muck and the razor-sharp artifacts passing into the past—
and the gray Sunflower poised against the sunset,
crackly bleak and dusty with the smut and smog and smoke of olden locomotives in its eye—

corolla of bleary spikes pushed down and broken like a battered crown,
seeds fallen out of its face, soon-to-be-toothless mouth of sunny air,
sunrays obliterated on its hairy head like a dried wire spiderweb,
leaves stuck out like arms out of the stem, gestures from the sawdust root,
broke pieces of plaster fallen out of the black twigs, a dead fly in its ear,
Unholy battered old thing you were, my sunflower O my soul, I loved you then!
The grime was no man’s grime but death and human locomotives,
all that dress of dust, that veil of darkened railroad skin, that smog of cheek,
that eyelid of black mis’ry, that sooty hand or phallus or protuberance of
artificial worse-than-dirt—industrial—modern—
all that civilization spotting your crazy golden crown—

and those blear thoughts of death and dusty loveless eyes and ends and withered roots below,
in the home-pile of sand and sawdust, rubber dollar bills, skin of machinery,
the guts and innards of the weeping coughing car,
the empty lonely tincans with their rusty tongues alack,
what more could I name, the smoked ashes of some cock cigar,
the cunts of wheelbarrows and the milky breasts of cars,
wornout asses out of chairs & sphincters of dynamos—all these
entangled in your mummied roots—

and you there standing before me in the sunset, all your glory in your form!
A perfect beauty of a sunflower! a perfect excellent lovely sunflower existence!
a sweet natural eye to the new hip moon,
woke up alive and excited grasping in the sunset shadow sunrise golden monthly breeze!
How many flies buzzed round you innocent of your grime,
while you cursed the heavens of the railroad and your flower soul?
Poor dead flower? when did you forget you were a flower?
when did you look at your skin and decide you were an impotent dirty old locomotive?
the ghost of a locomotive? the specter and shade of a once powerful mad American locomotive?

You were never no locomotive, Sunflower, you were a sunflower!
And you Locomotive, you are a locomotive, forget me not!
So I grabbed up the skeleton thick sunflower and stuck it at my side like a scepter,
and deliver my sermon to my soul, and Jack’s soul too, and anyone who’ll listen,
—We’re not our skin of grime, we’re not dread bleak dusty imageless locomotives,
we’re golden sunflowers inside,
blessed by our own seed & hairy naked accomplishment-bodies
growing into mad black formal sunflowers in the sunset,
spied on by our own eyes under the shadow of the mad locomotive riverbank sunset Frisco
hilly tincan evening sitdown vision.

Berkeley, 1955


Okay as for stage and stuff, Foo Fighters are returning to Europe with Dave performing in his chair, so it will be a while before he returns to parts local. Most venues are aiming at October for the "reely big shews". We see a show called "Dead and Company" taking over the Bill Graham Civic in late December -- you had to know those greybeards would not have made the latest "final concerts" be really final. Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann and Bobby Weir will be joined by John Mayer for the two days after Curstmass. The Ohio Players will play Yoshi's Sept 9-10 as a blast from the past.

Got the 39th Russian River Jazz Festival September 12th and 13th, once again at Johnson Beach in Guernville. This one will be decidedly heavy on the Blues with Buddy Guy, Taj Mahal and Jackie Greene swelling a lineup already sparkling with Star power.

Around here, the Angry Elf gang appears to have been busy with matches and lighter fluid as a number of fires have erupted in domiciles all over the Island. Probably due to a certain resistance to cough up the "insurance".

A fire engulfed a building in the West End on Central on Friday, then another on Saturday, then another on Sunday.

Silly Hall did not engage in any sort of foolishness last week -- that is real news.

You may have noticed that major road work is happening all along 880, 580 and 101 above the San Rafael bridge. Some 8 or 9 projects are choking traffic starting from 9 pm to roughly 5 am. Several other minor projects are blocking minor roads in several districts. This includes our own Park Street bridge which is being closed from night to dawn every weekday. Then there is the next transbay block scheduled for three days in September, with neither BART nor bridge being available.

Some folks speculate that the rash of construction has to do with preparing for the upcoming El Nino consequences and fast-tracking already existing projects because of the expected Rain-ageddon. Other cynical folks say that if Trump gets elected -- in the same manner as Bush II was "elected" -- the economy will collapse and the Chinese will invade on the opportunity. We do not think the Chinese will invade as they have bigger problems and they already have enough loud-mouth assholes in their own country.

In any case, much of this construction stuff is slated to end around October.


Everyone be on the lookout for a white male described as "thin" and below average in height. This man has mugged senior citizens on the west side of Southshore Mall on the connector road between the Mall and Office Max. He is definitely violent; do not interact with him but call 911 if you see him committing any more crimes.


So anyway, we enjoyed a brief wharf wetter overnight this past week and everyone awoke to the sight of damp ground and water beads on the broadleaf palms. Then followed a day or two of heavy skies but no more rain while the 16,000 or so fires continued throughout California.

Wilmer Titrake, AMD, strolled down Park Street from his new medical offices. Wilmer is a self-professed Air Surgeon and has just set up shop on the tony downtown business district controlled by Mr. Ratto, who dearly loves the idea of a medical office raising the valuation along that three block by one block area.

Regulate your air, harmonize your air, exterminate your barking spiders, Wilmer is your man.

Silly Hall does not want nasty old practical businesses that fix motorcycles or cars anywhere near downtown. As for artists they are only useful to the extent they bring in wealthy dowagers and trust-fund babies. The doyens of Park Street prefer aroma therapy salons and air surgery clinics, which make the place seem far more wholesome to people eager to pay high rent per foot.

A wayward whale wandered into the estuary and managed to be clobbered by a big ship, and so died there within sight and scent of Jack London Square. Scientists rushed down there to examine the leviathan and have pronounced their findings. This whale sure is dead. Dead as a doornail.

Well stuff happens. Even to whales who sing a gracious tune.

Out on the baseball green of East End High the Canadian geese had gathered according to their annua custom, quite without announcement. This flock meant that the annual migration had begun and the Great North American Flyway was now thronging with avian souls travelling south in advance of the certain El Nino consequences.

As night fell and the full moon waned into gibbous, the Editor sat in front of his monitors and followed the stories of the murders in far off Roanoke, where a madman had killed a couple newsroom people doing their jobs.

The Editor unpacked his heavy Mossberg riot gun with its 12 shell capacity and laid it on his lap.

No g-d d----d fool is going to mess with my people, no way and no how, thought the Editor. Someone comes through the door and they are going to get a piece of Marine wisdom.

The barrel looked to be filled with lint -- it had not been fired for some fifteen years -- and so the Editor took out a wooden swab and leaning the weapon upright between his knees, began cleaning the device, looking down the barrel now and then to check his progress.

That was when Jose came in to see the Editor staring down into the open muzzle of a shotgun.

"Jesu Cristo!" shouted Jose. "For the sake of god, do not commit self-murder!" And with that the courageous Jose lept across the small space of the cube and crashed against the Editor, who jumped up and punched Jose in the jaw.

Jose fell back and landed on his ass unable to speak.

"La a la la aaah la ah!" said Jose.

Pahrump and Denby rushed in next after this commotion and found the Editor standing over a bleeding Jose and a shotgun upon the floor.

"Why did you kill our colleague and friend," Denby asked.

"I did not kill him," said the Editor. "He attacked me and he is foolish."

Pahrump stared down at Jose. "What the hell do you think you are DOING attacking a US Marine, you IDIOT! A US Marine and armed with a shotgun!"

"La a la la aaah la ah!" said Jose. His jaw was broken and he could not speak.

They all wound up taking Jose to the hospital and there was much confab during the entire process. Just not much intelligible from Jose.

In the hospital Jose was visited by Javier who brought along two of his cuchi-cuchi girls, who giggled and played with the O2 apparatus and other tuberous things. They were named Samba and Salsa.

"Jose why do you assault US Marines instead of adopting your true nature as a Latin Lover so as to pursue p---? Like with Samba here and Salsa."

Both girls giggled and Jose muttered "Aah a la la aaah la ah...". He fell back exhausted into his bed.

Much later on the Editor confided in Jose on his return. "I understand you were trying to save my life, worthless though it is, even though you are an incompetant boob. Therefore all is forgiven. Get back to work."

Meanwhile the moon rose with full strength during this time and Senor Don Guadalupe Erizo sat outside his burrow beneath the hedges on the border of the college green to observe the lunar changes and the atmosphere. A great change was coming and he felt sure of it.

Dame Herisson poked her head out and said, "Les crêpes sont prêtes!"

"Ah! Bueno!" He said and hurried inside. Proving once again that men and women of all species speak entirely different languages, but nevertheless manage to communicate crosswise in many instances. Not always but sometimes.

Then came the ululation of the train from far across the water as it trundled from beneath the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their burning lamps, 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 and its weedy railbed and interstices of its chainlink fence, dying slowly away until the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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


AUGUST 23, 2015


This week's image comes from Island-Lifer Tammy. And the song is for a lady who seems a little down lately.

You might not remember a sort of tattered waif of a girl who sprung upon the music scene wearing a ragged ensemble of found rags bought at the thrift store that became a fashion statement, but Cindi Lauper's "True Colors" seemed to capture the Zeitgeist of nervous anxiety and despair that pervaded the Reagan Era of Conservative triumphalism, as well as a sense of empathy for people that seemed lacking in the "Me Generation". The world at the time seemed crazy and disappointing and full of lost chances fraught with the savage insult of Horatio Alger promises that never amounted to anything other than exploitation.

You with the sad eyes
Don't be discouraged
Oh I realize
It's hard to take courage
In a world full of people
You can lose sight of it all
And the darkness inside you
Can make you feel so small

But I see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that's why I love you
So don't be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful,
Like a rainbow

Show me a smile then,
Don't be unhappy, can't remember
When I last saw you laughing
If this world makes you crazy
And you've taken all you can bear
You call me up
Because you know I'll be there

And I'll see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that's why I love you
So don't be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful,
Like a rainbow


If you were on the road to word at 7:49am last Tuesday, you did not feel a thing. Plenty of swing shift folks and others did experience the rough rocker that shook the East Bay with a 4.0 temblor, the effects of which continue to ripple, media-wise, long after. Nobody died and nothing big collapsed, but the discussion is all about the Hayward fault which regularly every 140 years kicks up the jams hard enough to severely break stuff. The last time the Hayward fault acted up was October 21, 1868, which was so bad at Richter Scale 6.8 that it was ruled the Most Severe California Earthquake Ever. Until 1906.

Of course if you are an Islander, you best know that in event of a severe quake, all connection bridges and tunnels will be automatically closed by CalTrans by policy, whether or not they have actually been physically damaged, until teams of engineers can declare safe passage. And if there has been widespread damage elsewhere, that determination may take a while.

You decided to live on an island; that is the reality, folks.

Pilgrim Soul Forge, captained primarily by Grant Marcoux, held its annual Artisan Fair at the Point this Saturday. Local artisans displayed their efforts and music was supplied by the Doggone Blues Band. We think Grant's homegrown artist support efforts are great and we encourage everyone to drop in and support industrial arts on the Island.

The Angry Elf gang has not been idle with its arson projects here. A notable victim was Angela's restaurant on Park. After a suspicious fire gutted the place September 28th, when over 8 homes and business were set aflame. Saboor Zafari is not someone who takes a hit without coming back in force and so the new Angela's will open at 1640 Park by the end of this week. Best of luck Mr. Zafari, a businessman dedicated to making things work here on the island no matter what.

The Letters to the Editor, always an entertaining page, included quite a number of letters that had nothing to do with the Island, but the greater Bay Area Metropolitan area, including Altamont and the East Bay Hills. Well, everyone has their crochets. The dispute over Ron Cowan's removal of the Harbor Bay Athletic club to a spot under the international airport's flyways in favor of his persistent quest to overpopulate the Isle there continues. As for overdevelopment on a place with limited access and limited space like an Island, the semi-humorous discussion of a pneumatic tube to transport people on and off the Island continues. The project is called "the Suckway" and would feature a tube that would abruptly shunt people in pods similar to inter-floor document chutes back in the day. Such a system would be naturally more cost effective than building another stupid bridge or another tunnel. You can just imagine the look on grandma's face when the thing propels the dear soul at Mach I through the tube to Jack London Square.

There are many innovative ideas that deal with the growing overpopulation here and the need to get off and get on an islanded place. The Suckway is just another idea that is as intelligent as any of the development schemes in progress.


So anyway the high fogs are signaling a change upcoming in the seasons. August is barely struggling along to a hot end while the mornings are packed with overcast skies due to high fog that yields to the Indian summer time we all know. Ducks and doves have started forming chevrons that circle about the old box elder and the potato plants that thrived so well under the hot sun have started to yellow. A high wind kicks up around sunset and the light and shadows among the trees look different than they did a month before. Ants have invaded the house and all of Nature knows that a great change is coming.

Fall is when changes come around. Such has always been the case for Denby. He had a conversation with a woman he had desired for over 30 years - it was one of those things in which the two people by circumstance drifted close and then, by chance drifted apart again because of circumstance. Distance played apart - they had always lived in two cities remote from one another -- entanglements played a part (they had always had troublesome connections), and reticence had played a part -- both of them become through experience too shy to be bold enough to seize the day.

One time he had kissed her and she had looked at him and said in surprise, "What the heck are you DOING?"

Maybe she had regretted saying that immediately afterward, but it sorta killed the mood for the moment.

And then again, she had been raised in an aristocratic East Coast family where everyone had been compelled to speak French at the dinner table, while he had been raised up in a family with no money and had to work through school in pizza parlors and animal shelters scooping shit off of the walls of kennels. And so there was this sense of never feeling up to her level all the time. He was a poor boy and she had diamonds on the soles of her shoes.

This is a common story.

In their last conversation after a wedding among friends she had said things that called forth memories of his own entanglements and of people who had died. Neither of them were getting any younger and the past was heavy with the freight of loss.

His own past included Julie, her slim form clad in runner's togs, eyes bright with sunshine and sky before her suicide. And Penny, her hair glowing yellow in the field with llamas up in Marin where he had experienced so many changes. Friends found her sitting upright in bed with a cup of coffee, dead of a heartattack. He took a long walk along the Strand, remembering these things, even while she took a long walk up north along her own beach with her dog, remembering her own past disconnected from his.

At one time his life had streaked along like a crazy bullet train, until odds and enemies had thrown enough chocks under the wheels to cause a number of catastrophic derailments and he had turned overly cautious in all things. After motorcycle wrecks and miscarriages and abortions and playing loose with a Brooklyn drug dealer, he finally bumped to a near stop to look around. In retrospect, it was a wonder he had survived all that.

And then you find yourself after thirty or forty years standing amid the smoking wreckage of a career or a marriage or a life and wonder what ever happened to Althea during this time. When it turns out she had suffered her own sequence of disasters, just like everybody else on the planet. Live long enough and everybody winds up in the same pine box.

While between them friends, associates, lovers, formed a galaxy above, binding everyone around this axis, a milky way of Desire, these Lights of Earth, and the two of them continued to orbit around the axis, two planets approaching nearer at times, then drifting apart.

That last meeting had gone perfunctory and without any great resolve and now he saw the future. Him wearing a greatcoat and a fedora, sitting on a park bench in Union Square with a paper bag of bread crumbs and the pigeons all around. Around his feet the scattered brown leaves of autumn rustling over the round toes of his brown shoes. Thinking about the One that Got Away.

I told Althea
I'm a roving son -
that I was born to be a bachelor -
Althea told me: OK that's fine -
So now I'm out trying to catch her

He had been incredibly stupid that time with her, remembering the conversation. And with that he found himself once again in the familiar, dark oubliette, trying to pull out to the sunlight above with the chanting echoing in his dreams, "Deshi deshi basara basara", only to fall down into that pit time and time again.

Years ago he started falling into that deep hole where figures moved around in a circle through the gloomy half-light, mumbling to themselves and dragging heavy tails through garbage. None of them looked up; what was the point of looking up? Sometimes he stayed there for days.

He roused himself and picked up the Tacoma and, lovingly, caressed her smooth, brown neck. He kissed the headstock. Everyone makes mistakes and he had made more than a few while riding the crazy train. Best not to dwell and get stupid maudlin. Time enough to act old later. The way up was through the work.

The chords rang out. He was in open D, so he sang after the harmonics and rundown,

All my life I've been a traveling man
Said, all my life I've been a traveling man
Staying alone and doing the best I can

And after a while he was up and out of the oubliette, this time without drinking or drugs, and so he could toss down a rope for the others remaining below and then walk towards the lighted city under the stars where his friends lived, good people and true, the Lights of Earth.

Then came the ululation of the train from far across the water as it trundled from beneath the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their burning lamps, 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 and its weedy railbed and interstices of its chainlink fence, dying slowly away until the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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

AUGUST 16, 2015


There are no lack of songs referencing the chickadee songbird, but one of the most famous was written by Cindy Walker, a prolific American songwriter, as well as a country music singer and dancer who died in March of 2006. In a short time after her demise this talented artist is all but forgotten save for deep aficionados of CW music while songs like "Cherokee Maiden" have been made famous by the likes of Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson.

In 1952 Hank Snow had a hit with her "The Gold Rush is Over" and in 1955 Webb Pierce had success with "I Don't Care".

Another Walker song was "Blue Canadian Rockies" recorded by Gene Autry (which featured in Autry’s 1952 movie of the same name). The song was revived in 1968 by The Byrds on their influential country-rock album Sweetheart of the Rodeo. In 1955 Eddy Arnold pitched Walker the theme and the song-title for "You Don't Know Me" when they met during a WSM deejay convention in Nashville. Walker then wrote the song based on Arnold's idea. It has been described as “a beautifully symmetrical and poignant portrait of a love not to be”.

"You Don't Know Me" has been recorded by numerous artists over the years, most successfully by Jerry Vale (1956); Lenny Welch (1960); Ray Charles (1962); and Elvis Presley (1967). "Anna Marie", was a hit for Jim Reeves in 1957 and the beginning of another productive artist-writer association which culminated in "This is It" (1965) and "Distant Drums" (a posthumous hit for Reeves). "Distant Drums" remained at No.1 on the British charts for five weeks in 1966.

Reeves recorded many of Walker's compositions, she often wrote specifically for him and offered him the right of first refusal of her tracks. "Distant Drums" was originally recorded by Reeves as a demo, simply because he loved the song.

In 1961 Eddy Arnold had a minor hit with Walker’s "Jim, I Wore a Tie Today", a moving song about the death of a cowboy. Cindy Walker wrote the song "Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream)", which was recorded by Roy Orbison (who also recorded a version of "Distant Drums").

Walker's song "In The Misty Moonlight" was a hit for both Jerry Wallace (1964) and Dean Martin (1967) as well as being recorded by Jim Reeves. "Heaven Says Hello" (recorded by Sonny James) and "You Are My Treasure" (Jack Greene) were hits in 1968, both written by Walker.

In 1970 Walker became a charter member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. In 1981 Mickey Gilley's version of "You Don't Know Me" was a hit in the country charts. A year later Walker had her last major hit with Ricky Skaggs’ reworking of "I Don't Care"

It has been estimated that more than 500 of Walker’s songs have been recorded and that her songs made the top-forty charts (country or pop) more than 400 times. All of her songs were composed upon a pink-trimmed manual typewriter, with many composed while living with her mother, Oree Walker, who helped set up the melodies to the lyrics.

In September 1997 Walker was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame (together with Harlan Howard, another songwriter). Harlan Howard described Walker as "the greatest living songwriter of country music". Her acceptance speech, done entirely in rhyme, was followed by a standing ovation and Walker left the stage in tears after softly blowing a kiss.

If it were not for the women, gentlemen, if it were not for the women . . . .


The West End got a bit unsettled by a rash of hot prowl burglaries that featured a sexual assault upon a minor. Surveillance video helped nab the perp, who is also a teenager under the age of 18. After police posted the videos, the teen realized that he would be recognized and so turned himself in Tuesday night.

The IPD is seeking to connect the man, now held at Juvie, to seven or more burglaries that occurred during the day as well as the sexual assault.

Since the victim and the perpetrator are underage juveniles, names have not been released to the public.

Rhythmix, which keeps on cranking strong after a strong start, will be hosting a celebration of Wine, Women and Song, all of which are really great things. This time around for the repeat performance takes place August 22. People who want to encourage the arts on the Island in any serious way are urged to go and support Rhythmix in all they do, as well as the Popups/Autobody gallery on Park, which just held an opening on Friday which we were unfortunately unable to attend.

The Summer Season is winding up far too quickly as time dashed on with the speed of Hermes and his winged sandals. Leon Russell will be dropping in to Yoshi's from August 17-18 with rumors that this tour may be the last. Just don't talk about him when he is gone.

The Regency is losing luster with a lackluster lineup that does not light up until September, while the Warfield does not feature anything until Rancid blasts from the past on the first day of the new year. Erykah Badu does occupy August 29th for a show that should be well worth your time, and Ben Folds takes over 9/16, so wuzup with the TV props, guys? We think we can live without American Idol on August 23. TV is sooooo 20th Century, if you know what I mean . . . .

Could be that the City that Used to Know How is letting the brain drain due to usurious rents destroy the once vibrant artistic community. Nowadays, it seems everyone who plays there actually lives somewhere else.

On the warmer side of the Bay, Franz Ferdinand, whom we caught at a NSSN show a couple of years back, will do the Fox in October on the 15th, while Grace Potter blew the roof off this past Saturday. Keep checking the schedule, guys, as the booking agent for this venue has all the top acts on tap.


It may seem hot right now. In fact, it really IS hot right now. All signs that point to confirming the Dweeb report on the upcoming Rainageddon heading this way from coast to coast. Now we hear reports that the venerable Farmer's Almanac has weighed in with its own prognostications. Sounds like a cold and blustery winter is in store for every place that sometimes gets snow. This time, snow is a certain factor and there will be lots of it.

In California, all those areas burning out of control are going to experience landslides aplenty when the rains hit, so best secure your sump pumps and sandbags and whatever you got now, for by December it is very likely that the El Nino conditions well underway now will produce quite a lot of wet stuff.

Unfortunately, the drought has been so extended, so severe, that no matter how much snow pounds the high Sierra, we are unlikely to climb out of the bad conditions we suffer right now.


So anyway, the Bay Area got body slammed by a heat wave that shut down just about everything taking place out of doors as temps rocketed into triple digits in the Valley and into the 90's along the coast. Marin phoned in with cancellations saying, "No way dude! Here it is pure misery!"

As Mssr. Soleil drove his flaming chariot higher in the sky, the Island broiled in shimmering waves, a flat griddle surrounded by a hot sea that offered no relief. To the north, the smoky reek from the Lake and Trinity County fires failed to block the sun, turned everything under that pall into a simmering hothouse. Somewhere up there the flicker of burning sought out more things to destroy like a fiery Eye searching from an evil tower.

About as innocent of evil as can be, Bonkers and Wickiwup lay plotzed on the porch, panting, while Johnny Cash ran down to the beach to jump into the tepid water there and shake himself in the manner of the shaggy dog he was. Everyone in the Household save Marlene and Andre had gone in search of shade and whatever breeze there might be at the Cove.

People are saying in the Old Same Place Bar that the El Nino is going to bring on a ferocious tempest of rain and all hell breaking loose. Padraic has opened all the doors and windows and had fans pushing the heavy air around. They all took turns going to the back to fetch things from the walk-in cooler. The AC had died and so between rushes, Suzie put a plastic bag with ice on her head while Angus McMayhem flirted with her. Angus flirted hopefully with everybody that could wear a skirt. Suzie just happened to be in front of him at the time.

"Let's go out back and I'll show you what's in my sporran," Angus said. Some Scotsmen are genteel and subtle. Angus was not one of them.

"Are you crazy? It's too feckin hot to kanoodle!" Suzie said.

Dawn guffawed. "Angus, go stand in the cooler a while."

"I'll go if Suzie goes," Angus said.

"Sure, be right along after I serve this gentleman his Guinness," Suzie said coyly.

Angus followed Dawn to the back and after he entered the walk-in refrigerator Dawn closed and locked the door from the outside.

"Hey!" Angus said. "It's dark in here!"

"There's a lightswitch. Find it and look at your brethren."

Angus found the lightswitch and turned to face the wall where rashers, trotters, and pork ribs hung from hooks. "Dawn, when are ye gonna let me out of here?"

"When you learn yourself to be a gentleman," Dawn said, and turned to go back to the bar where everyone was laughing until the tears ran down.

"O for Pete's sake!" Angus said and sat heavily on an upturned plastic bucket.

"We are needing to get in here to fetch the soda cylinders," Padraic said.

"That's when we let him out," Dawn said.

At the air conditioned parlor for the Native Sons of the Golden West the political debate among the Conservative Party candidates for President of the Rotarian Club was in full swing. The parlor was packed, as every standing member had come to attend, not that they were so concerned about politics, but this hall was one of the few air conditioned rooms on the Island. Also, for some reason, all the members of the Club were contending for just two open positions: President and Eagles Liaison.

Perhaps because of the extensive line-up civility had departed the spirited exchanges.


"You are overly loud and you don't know noodles!" Said Jack Shrubb. "Furthermore your hair is a danger to the public!"


"I would like to call attention to the misogynist comments made by some of the candidates . . .". Karin Durina began.


"I would like to say something reasonable," Kit Carson began.

"Ninny!" said Tim "Red" Cross.

"What we need is some Jersey toughness around here," started Dan Danny. "The present Administration clearly does not care about losing the illegals in the Club."

"Ah lose some weight," snarled Mike Wallabee.

"None of y'all gave a rat's ass concern about mah home neighborhood durin' the big flooding a few years back," said Robert Janedoll. "As a community organization we need to see to the Community's welfare."

"Socialist! Socialist!" exclaimed Rand Pete.

"On that subject," said Rick Frothystuf, "I believe that abortion should only be performed in the extreme case of liberal welfare mothers. And the Club should not have to pay for it ever."

Scott Trotter next weighed in with his comments. "Disband all unions. They are bad for the Island."

"The present Administration clearly does not care about Cuba," Marco Polo said. "I believe our official beverage should become the Cuba Libre."

"Fool! You are as bad as Mr. Bump!" Scott Trotter said.


"Whom you know quite well," Ms. Durina said.

"FAT COW!" Shouted Mr. Bump.

"Oooooo . . . . You imperfect ass!" Ms. Durina stamped her foot so hard her heel broke.

"Jackass!" Lindy Cracker said to Mr. Bump.

The disputation went on well into the night until it descended into a free-for-all brawl that descended even further into savage, atavistic melee which had to be broken up by David Phipps and his father wielding one million volt taser batons.

At the end of the day it was up to Jose and Pahrump to sweep up the shattered glass, toss out the broken chairs and mop the blood off of the floors. George Souvlaki had broken Nick Perrier's nose when the latter had claimed Souvlaki possessed Democrat tendencies and harbored a secret love for poodles. Running out of verbal insults for the first time in his life, Mr. Bump had responded to Randy Peter calling him a sissy by biting the man on the neck hard enough to tear the skin and burst a vein.

This was just the first of three more debates and the Quasi Liberal Party was showing no signs of better behavior for its own series amid the on-going infighting between Bernie Beans, Joe Bidet and Helen Bent.

After the mess had finally been cleaned up the guys leaned on their mops and brooms just like Homer described the warriors leaning on their spears during the siege of Troy. Above the scene of battle the peaceful stars glittered in broad array above the quietly clinking boatmasts in the marina.

"The light of those stars takes so long to reach eyes on the earth that many of those suns had already winked out forever, shrinking into themselves to become either cold stones or the void of black holes", Pahrump said. "By the time the light of our own sun passes the steadily outgoing Voyager to arrive some place where slimy creatures scan the skies, this election, all the ballots, these candidates, and perhaps this Country will have ceased to matter any more than bee pee on cigarette paper".

"You got some perspective, amigo", Jose said. "I think it comes from growin' up on the Piute Rez."

"Piute just means 'not Ute.' Nothing I can do about that," Pahrump said. "Someday you gotta show me that desueno you inherited."

"Why's that?"

"Might be worth something. Says you are supposed to own a whole lotta land up here from your great great grandfather."

"It aint worth a single god damned dime," Jose said. "It's worth about as much as a BIA treaty."

Pahrump tilted his head back and laughed up to the stars who also laughed in their twinkling.

Then came the ululation of the train from far across the water as it trundled from beneath the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their burning lamps, 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 and its weedy railbed and interstices of its chainlink fence, dying slowly away until the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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

AUGUST 9, 2015


One advantage to naturally sandy soil -- potatoes grow well here on the Island. Gardeners can keep the ground moist during the drought with cover-ups like cardboard or plastic trash bags and using kitchen "grey water."

Yukon gold potato plants yield a white flower while the reds display something like these.


It may be summer but life continues here on the Island. The latest old business to put up a Closed sign forever is the 80 year old Brown Brothers shoe store on Lincoln. The store began life in Oakland but has been at the Lincoln location since 1981. The 4th generation owner, Jim Brown, has turned 74 and has decided to sling a golf club bag over his should and head off to retirement.

AFD is sending a crew from Bay Farm Station # 4 to help with the firefight at the Mad River Complex fire in Trinity County. As of August 6th, the MRC featured seven fires involving 13,557 acres and was just 8% contained.

Recent complaints about the pedestrian hazards at the new Shoreline bikeway prompted the Sun to post a Rules of the Road clarification. There have been a number of near misses as pedestrians exit cars and cross the road and the bikeway without noticing bikers blazing along the path with no stop signs at high speed.

Our local Coast Guard got into national news by way of the cutter Stratton, based at Coast Guard Island, captured a semi-sub loaded with 16,000 pounds of cocaine worth $181 million dollars in the largest seizure ever recorded in CG history. The interdiction occurred about 200 miles south of Mexico in the Pacific. Not bad work, fellas!

The Letters to the Editor continue to supply debate on both sides of the Harbor Bay athletic club move, with someone indicating that the proposed site of the replacement club sits right under the the Oakland airport runway 28L main flight path for take-offs and landings. This area is classified as a "Zone 3 safety area" and the State Airport Land Use Planning Handbook specifically prohibits group sport activity in such a zone because of the danger.

On the other hand, the superintendent of Crosspoint High School really likes the idea of the neighborhood getting a new club.

You would know that we would host at least one contrarian, and the Letters section features one person warning of the risk of recently vaccinated kids due to "viral shedding", which apparently means that a newly vaccinated kid will be supposedly distributing live viruses until, we dunno, the vaccine does what it is supposed to do. Still, we wonder if the weakened virus in vaccines that do employ a live virus will be a serious threat in such diluted form. And few vaccines employ a "live virus" anyway. In a slant note, you may not know that things like steripens, which are used to sanitize drinking water, do not actually kill the cryptospordia and giardia cysts -- they render the critters unable to reproduce, which has the same effect. So you swallow some bugs, but they can't hurt you.

So of course we went to the CDC and found information going back to 2008 on this anti-vaxxer misinformation schtick. To quote: "Vaccine shedding” is a double barreled myth in that transmission is assumed to occur ipso facto. Shedding is not transmission. Period. Yet denial of vaccine efficacy requires internalization of some whacky stuff. Including the erroneous belief that viral shedding follows MMR vaccination. Yet worse is the myth that inactivated vaccines pose the risk of infection due to “vaccine shedding”. Pertussis often brings out the malicious side of anti-vaxxers. DTaP is inactivated. Indeed the pertussis component is acellular. . . In conclusion it’s clear that “vaccine shedding” is a nonsense phrase. The lack of accounts of children transmitting viruses to younger siblings and friends after vaccination is a dead giveaway." Article citation.

This article is one of the more readable texts. There are a plethora of pseudo-scientific things out there claiming "studies have found" dangerous viral shedding -- the only problem is that these "studies" are never cited. You go to reputable organs like the CDC, WHO, JAMA, Lancet, the Oxford Journals Journal of Infectious Diseases, and other bona fide agencies where studies are seriously vetted before publication and you will always find the view held that vaccination provides vastly larger benefits than risks. To repeat and to quote, " Since the risk of vaccine transmission and subsequent vaccine-derived disease with the current vaccines is much less than the risk of wildtype [rotavirus] disease in immunocompromised contacts, vaccination should be encouraged." Citation NIH.

In other words, do not drink the cool aid produced by messianic partisans.


So anyway, the fellow said, "Language is a virus from outer space." Burroughs really was slapping at Chomsky's Psycho-Linguistics, but most people believe the fellow was just being oblique about personal visions while high on hallucinogens. Maybe he was as well. You can never entirely trust thost guys who kill their wives by accident and Burroughs knew this tragic fact better than anyone else. Who can say for sure what it all means? Words are sneaky and devious and language just might be a virus that will send all the anti-vaxxers scampering to their medieval oasis where no one speaks and they use leeches to cure stuff.

At Longfellow, Ms. Morales ( who has kept her maiden name at work after marrying Mr. Sanchez so as to avoid confusing the kids) struggles daily to impart the nuances and felicities of Emily Dickenson and Shakespeare to the upper Middle School classes who reel under the wildly sanitized State history with Algebra to boot.

What is language after all, but just another object for trade.

"To be or not to be. Who would be quiet and face the proud man in costume who dissed him wifout taking up his arms, his Glock 9 piece with some homeboys in da hood behind him and putting an end to these troubles? Not me man! Yeah, to die. That sorta thing rubs me the wrong way, dude. To sleep and dream and whats dreams gonna do for you, man? You gonna hafta wake up someday . . .", Raymondo recites in class. He is rewriting Shakespeare for the 'Hood, and Ms. Morales encourages him, for at least this one is actually reading the text instead of running to Cliff Notes to pass the test.

What is language after all, but just another object for trade.

Every morning Mr. Cribbage gets up and after his breakfast of champions, featuring a muffin and coffee, he boards the O Express that will take him to Babylon across the Bay and to the offices of Ness, Haman, Gadol, and Pritikin, a marketing firm which has stood at the corner of Kearney and Market ever since 1952, when Arnold Ness first setup shop with an handful of graphic designers and created the campaign for Mrs. Wright's Automats that took the West Coast by storm. "Don't Be Wrong tonight! Be Wright at Wright's Automat!"

We want to capture the Millennial market now.

Now they had a new client in the form of Marvin of Marvin's Merkins on the Island and the meeting had not gone well. "What is the meaning of "Put a merkin in your firkin? Firkins are old style. It is obvious how you need our services. We want to capture the Millennial market now. How about 'Be seen twerkin' in your merkin! You'll be smirkin' all the way . . .".

Marvin didn't like it. He was insistent on catering to his old client base, many who now were octogenarian Conservatives.

"Are we talking granny porn here?" Mr. Dudgeon said...

"Are we talking granny porn here?" Mr. Dudgeon said, putting his fists on the table as he stood. "If so, we might have an LA angle that might provide some tie-ins . . .".

"Can we maybe use a Trump endorsement at this stage," Ms. Blight said at the end of the table.

"O god, the visuals . . . ", said Dudgeon. "Twenty-five years in marketing and this is the first idea that has caused my gorge to rise. . . ".

"I was thinking more along the lines of some language," Blight said. "You know. Trump-language. Really loud and brassy and self-important."

A few floors down, the meeting between the Konica reps and the Blathers takes place in Conference Room B. The Konica rep starts off by saying," How are you?"

"I'm good! How are you!" Mr. Blather says enthusiastically.

"I'm fantastic! I am superlative and extraordinary!" says the Konica rep. "Now as for these upgrades we have in mind . . . ".

"Why did you do this thing?" Eugene said aloud...

Down the street at 101 California, Eugene sat in front of three computer screens, working on code for a program to handle electronic health records. He was having troubles with the user-friendly interface which steadfastly refused to be friendly. He was arguing now with the original developer who had long since left the scene after abandoning this project to the world and the company which sold the software package. "Why did you do this thing?" Eugene said aloud. "Why did you do this module this way?" And in answer the code leapt up on the screen in windows with its own kind of response, speaking a language that was totally digital.

At 16th, the result was cacophany...

Later, Marvin exited the building and walked down towards the Mission to cleanse his ears. He took the subterranean Muni to 16th and came out amid a welter of drums and about 34 Spanish dialects chattering all at once while the buskers played violins, guitars, pie-pahs and just about anything that under ideal circumstances would produce something similar to music, which some understand as the universal language. At 16th, the result was cacophany, delightful, but individually incomprehensible while adding up to something that could only be summarized as 16th and Mission on a typical day. Thoth used to play there on the plaza, but standing half naked, wearing a loincloth and furred boots while performing flawless Brahms just failed communicate or to attract enough attention to himself, so he moved to New York City.

On that flight a couple of teenagers sitting next to one another flipped up the blocking armrest and threw a blanket over themselves to pass the six hours from SF to NYC kanoodling. Thoth saw them and gave a thumbs up, speaking a language that was totally digital. As were they.

Meanwhile, the Cribbages were having a fight in their house. "The problem with you is that you just don't listen!"

"Well I told you that mother was coming for the weekend!"

"Weekend! And it turns into weeks!"

"Well how can someone expect only two days for such a long trip from Hyannis Port? You should have understood what it means for a woman of her age to travel!"

Over at Marlene and Andre's the couple moves about the small cottage while the others are out in the good weather, picking up fallen shoes, vacuuming, making the bed, doing the dishes that never end, fixing the broken things, all soundlessly, without comment. At one point they meet in the room with the coffeetable under which Quentin will sleep when the weather turns bad again and their fingertips touch in a mock Vulcan salute to the craziness of this life. They look into each other's eyes, speaking a language totally digital.

Out beyond the Golden Gate the whales are migrating...

From where does language come? From what place originates COBOL, FORTRAN or C++? Down at Seaworld a technician named Samantha puts a microphone into the water and begins to "talk" to dolphins, who although they may have no special concerns about quarks, mesons, supernova and other things outside of their sensory apparatus, nevertheless have much to say about the relationships between beings and things. And some kind of Spirit that is akin to what we know as god. Out beyond the Golden Gate the whales are migrating and singing age-old songs, or simply chanting the repetitious harmonies that make up the universe with a higher mathematics that transcends functions and religion, a kind of recursion that is far too complex for humans to directly apprehend, which we are still trying to understand.

In the Old Same Place as night falls, the chatter turns to politics and sports, the male bonding via the understood and the commonly accepted values which say simply, "I am okay and you are okay and we agree not to kill each other. Let's have a beer."

In the Island-life offices, the Editor moves down the aisles, shutting down computers that stream in the news from all over the world in a dense chatter of information. When we were children, as yet without tongues to speak, was not the world far simpler and what drove into us this need to chatter at one another and yet still miss the mark so badly so often? I need wawa. I need poopoo. I need ma-ma. I need . . . . Is not the language imperative more a measure of need than design?

"Words! Words! Words! All they is, is words!"

At a poetry reading in the City a man with a tall staff had marched in, wearing rags and an attitude and he had shouted, "Words! Words! Words! All they is, is words!" The poet at the mike had handled it fairly well. "This is an open mike, but you have to put your name on the list if you want to say something." It is true. If you want to say something and also be attended to, you have to first put your name on a list.

The Editor was an editor, simply a vehicle for processing the throughput generated by others. Not unlike the Prophet who was commanded to "recite", processing the intense streams of information coming from some Other Place. He was nothing in the None, Gimel, Hay, Shin.

a child's toy consisting of two balls swinging around a common axis

He went out upon the deck and observed the stars, stars he had observed with his sister a few days ago while taking a trip up north to attend someone's wedding. Orion waltzed in his usual way with his belt and his scabbard over the pines. The dragon pursued Andromeda and the Scorpion held his stinger aloft. After the reception and all the ceremony, his sister had stood there on that deck, slim and elegant and beautiful and he had indicated with his finger the Milky Way above the pine trees and she had seen. And they, brother and sister, stood there with some momentary connection after so many years of drifting apart and then back together and apart again and back together like a child's toy consisting of two balls swinging around a common axis yet never kissing together, in a way that was for the moment totally digital. For a brief moment he held her and all the past flowed beneath them as if they were star travellers on a journey, and she said, "We have only the Now."

For just that moment of Now they bonded, no longer two spheres orbiting at a distance, all the family stuff held underfoot as foundations, all the recriminations and insults and disappointments placed into the past. Just brother and sister speaking the unspoken language of the heart.

Having returned to the Island, which is -- according to scientific reports destined to start sinking soon -- the Editor stood on the deck of the Offices and observed the same constellation of Orion tumbling over the Veteran's Memorial Hall he had observed with his sister, whom he had come with difficulty over the course of time, and she certainly was difficult, to love.

He stood on that deck beneath the box elder and the bird of paradise palm and realized that it does not matter from what place language originates. What matters is from where the coal of Love ignites. And that it does succeed. Sometimes.

Then came the ululation of the train from far across the water as it trundled from beneath the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their burning lights, 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 and its weedy railbed and interstices of its chainlink fence until the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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


AUGUST 2, 2015


Hopefully not for this little guy left straggling behind his brothers and sisters. Denby was taking a walk to the garage when someone hissed at him in the dark from behind the ivy-clad fence. Being hissed at is nothing unusual for Denby so he responded as he usually does by tossing a casual "Eff you" towards the fence as he opened the door.

Which action turned on the motion sensor light inside. To reveal this guy who had some hissing of his own to do. Playing dead in opossums is an involuntary autonomic response to perceived threat and nobody has ever perceived Denby as a serious threat ever. So said opossum remained alert and only moderately concerned, waiting for Denby to clear out of the way so that mom could come and get him.


Hope everyone enjoyed the BART transbay closures this weekend. Which should prep everybody for the longer closure expected September 5-7.

Tix on sale Monday for live@the library concert series, featuring top notch jazz artists playing on site and at Rhythmix. Series includes the Fay Carole Quintet September 26th and Maria Muldaur November 21st. Tickets are available at Books Inc. on Park Street, Deweys Friends Cafe in the Library and online at

The Sun publishers will speak at the California Historical Society on Thursday at 6PM on the connections between the famous Pan Pacific Exhibition of 1915 and the historic Neptune Beach. The CHS headquarters is located at 678 Misssion Street in San Francisco. To learn more, visit www.californiahistorical

In an interesting turn of events, the City Council began looking at two new Rent Ordinances that seek to give some power to the presently toothless Rent Review Advisory Committee and to give some structure regarding rent review. It is no secret that rental "market rates" have gone through the roof with some absentee landlords jacking rents 50 to 80%, forcing move-outs while the general level of rent demand has become exorbitant and well beyond the means of most normally employed people.

This situation is happening all over the Bay Area, which has led the City of Richmond to pass an ordinance tying rent increases to the rise of the Consumer Price Index, which last rose about 2.3%.

After so much hand-wringing and finagling to get the VA to place a clinic and columbium out at the Point, the project appears headed for federal holdup as the budget proposal that includes VA apportions originated in the Obamba Administration, and the bill is headed for the extremely divided Senate after the bill's budget was slashed in half by an highly antagonistic and partisan House.

At issue is the response to the $1 billion dollar cost overrun to build a facility in Aurora, CO. Future projects exceeding $220 million will automatically go now to the Army Corps of Engineers for oversight. Our Island project is under that amount, but the budget slashed by the House means the Secretary who controls the VA will have to evaluate whether to continue with some projects at all.

There was an interesting exchange of letters to the Editor in the Sun, in which the first letter writer proposed construction of a new bridge to carry the increase in traffic that new development certainly will engender. This week the letter writer proposed that instead of another bridge, something of questionable value to the folks who currently live on the far side where this thing would terminate at some cost, we build a new Ferry Terminal on the Oakland side and set up a new commuter ferry service.

What is interesting about both letters is the acknowledgment that currently the traffic is lousy and with increased development, the traffic will become far, far worse. Certainly not anything like a fanciful "one car total" increase over ten years. And the curious reasoning in City planners -- who admittedly are no longer in office -- that first we build up and shovel people in, THEN we plan on how to move them about. Apparently by means of population control of which only Aldous Huxley could have created.

How to make sure everyone who manages to live on the island also works here and seldom leaves? Give them Soma. That'll work.


Last Dweeb report was dated Thursday 07/30/15 at 5:02PM by Howard. All those moody skies we saw here translated into some hefty thunderstorms in the Sierra, with more coming on. Now if this sort of thing continues into the cold season, we should see some snow accumulation to slow the progress of the drought. Bear in mind that we would need two solid years of Snowmageddon for the Sierra to rebuild the snowpack it had before the drought. So drought is the New Reality for the duration.

Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency across the state due to the wildfires burning across the state, according to the governor’s office.

The drought and extreme weather have been heavy contributors to the wildfires and declaring a state of emergency allows additional firefighting resources to be devoted to the Golden State. Which lately is looking a little charred, rather than golden.

California's largest wildfire is spreading quickly, consuming 54,000 acres in three counties and staying active throughout the night -- a time when firefighters typically make progress, a state fire official said Sunday.

The Rocky Fire was only 5% contained Sunday and was feeding on the state's drought to grow actively, said Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire.

The wildfire was burning in Lake, Yolo and Colusa counties northwest of Sacramento. More than 12,100 people in more than 5,100 structures were under some type of evacuation order or advisory as of Sunday afternoon.

The Rocky Fire was one of two dozen wildfires burning in California on Sunday. More than 8,000 firefighters were involved statewide,

The fires vary in size. The White Fire in Santa Barbara County is about 50 acres, and the deadly Frog Fire, which killed Firefighter David Ruhl, has consumed at least 3,900 acres since it was spotted Thursday and is just 4% contained. The recently snuffed-out Lake Fire in San Bernardino County burned more than 31,000 acres before it was contained.

Cal Fire says most of the fires are more than 60% contained. However, the land damage has been substantial in some cases. Fires in Southern California's San Bernardino County and Northern California's Alpine County have incinerated nearly 50,000 acres.

You may have heard the South El Monte area is under a boil water advisory due to detection of E. Coli during normal testing procedures a single hydrant in the area. That advisory has since been lifted. More information may be obtained online at

If you are wondering about the taste of EBMUD products here, you are not alone and you are not imagining things. EBMUD reported that due to lowering of reservoir levels, again something due to drought conditions, they have been forced to employ different outflow points. EBMUD insists the water is still safe to drink.

People may want to invest in a faucet aquafilter for drinking water, such as the ones made by Pur.

The First Friday artparty in Oaktown has become famous, internationally so, and to the detriment of the artists and the galleries that initiated the program. In response people who are more concerned with aesthetics and thought and form than boom box shouting and twerking to the latest pop craze have set up a few events designed to be more subdued, if not less exciting. We now have the 2nd Friday Estuary Artwalk which includes venues like our own Popups, which will be hosting a shindig with music as part of that event. K Gallery in Rhythmix will also be taking part.

The original designers of the First Fridays events now hold a Third Thursday, which uses the 24 Gallery Building on 24th as the epicenter for a variety of fun and interesting art shenanigans. Given the anticipated wet weather coming in a couple months, we suggest not putting off a visit if you want to talk with intelligent, interesting people and see provocative creations.


So anyway, the days begin with a leaden high fog along the coast, but with a certain warmth to the air, promising great things for later on. The squirrels do their usual mad antics, running along the Old Fence and leaping from the avocado tree to the box elder and from there to the crab apple tree hung with wind chimes so as to make the thing somehow useful. Once the squirrels have destroyed something in a furiously haphazard fashion: a planter box, a nicely sown bit of garden, a bird's nest, they rest for a while with some satisfaction. Then the overhead cover strips apart and the air heats up and Summer emerges once again in all her shining glory on a clamshell, tossed by waves of emotion amid the bloody foam.

the new millennium's version of avian human mutation

At the bend of shore where the Strand cuts in to the Cove there is a jut of land where the sailboarder house sits. Offshore the newly hatched sailboarders carefully guide their craft back and forth behind the billow of sail while the more courageous and expert pilot their thin boards over this calm part of the Bay, pulled by kites of bright colors, while above them the parasailers go gliding on updrafts, the new millennium's version of avian human mutation, products of decades of GMO and marketing crossbreeds involving Wheaties and Powerbars and genetically altered wheat.

The chattering temporary cubicles in offices all across the land, cubicles designed by a man who intended the office cubicle to be only a momentary blip in the life of the office, now sit dark and silent as the millennials refuse to go to work. Why should I go to work? Work should come to me. After all, I am the one that is important. I make the business go and I can make it go anywhere and from anywhere, be it a coffeehouse or a friend's sofa or a boardroom or my my own kitchen table. There is no more Office! I AM the office and I take my always-connected devices with me wherever I go. The savage capitalists want me to be on call 24x7? Okay I can do that and put the rest of the time in on my iPad from my toilet to show what I think of them and still get the job done. Excuse me while I do a selfie from my throne.

The millennials are here and changing life all around them. Perhaps there is hope for us after all.

the parable about the man from Samhara

The subject of the sermon this Sunday at the Allgood Unitarian Ministry was the parable about the man from Samhara who paused to help someone on the road. Unfortunately the air conditioner cut out and the heat became oppressive in the Chapel. Reverend Freethought had to strip down to a tank top and shorts with her Unitarian surplice, which definitely focussed the attention of some of the men, but probably not in a way any of the sacred texts had intended. Seeing that she might be about to lose some of her flock, the Reverend took the congregation outside, saying that we must spread the Word. There was not much space out front on Santa Clara -- the Unitarians did not have a parking lot, so the Reverend kept on leading with about fifteen to twenty Unitarians following along behind as she continued to preach. They turned the corner on Park and passing the newspaper kiosks with their loud headlines about fracking with clean water in drought-ridden California went in to the cool white space of Tuckers where everyone got an ice cream cone or a ice cream bar.

Little Tubby Tinker let drop a wrapper from his bar and was admonished by the Reverend. And man was given Dominion over the Earth; so it is given also that he take care of it as well.

She leaned over and slowly licked the man's biceps...

Kid Viper cruised by in his open convertible, a pristine 1968 Corvette, his arm around Pimenta Strife and his radio playing an old ZZ Top cassette tape. There were not many people on the Island who still owned a stash of tape cassettes. Fewer still who would, knowing Pimenta, pick her up and take her for a ride. She leaned over and slowly licked the man's biceps with her hand on his thigh. Pimenta was the sort of gal who could not sit still for even a minute. Not her style. She had a tattoo that went "Lust 2.0" on a place only privileged persons and gynecologists were allowed to see.

Some people just don't appreciate what the Creator has made...

Passing this couple, heading north, Percy Worthington-Boughsplatt piloted his immaculate, two-toned, beige and white,1939 Mandeville-Brot Coupe, complete with running boards and natural leather upholstery. In the passenger seat sat the lovely Madeline, wearing her fetching pillbox hat, feather boa and high heels. From the windows of Tuckers, little Tubby stared with an open mouth until his mother clapped her hands over his eyes. Some people just don't appreciate what the Creator has made, but the Berkeley Explicit Players mean to change all that.

The same line snaked from Ole's Breakfast Cafe that had been there for half a century. No one had aged although they all had been standing there for years, waiting for a seat. Some thought they were actors hired to stand there every Sunday and the menu item of chicken and waffles was a myth.

Down Santa Clara, back toward the Allgood Ministry, skaters did their usual dances on the railings and steps of the closed City Department of Recreation while waiting for the bus to take them out to the concrete "comal" griddle of the official skatepark. millennials practicing gyrations and spins that will, in other form, become necessary later in dealing with the corporate world. The bus arrived and they got on and they all passed Our Lady of Incessant Complaint as the services ended there and Father Danyluk put aside his colorful vestments to pick up a fishing pole and so head to the Cove to see what he could catch.

At Marlene and Andre's, good weather has sent all the residents out to the Strand or other locations to seek work. Jose and Javier have gone over to the designated Dayworker place in Fruitvale with Pahrump, who managed to get all three over without serious incident on his 150 cc scooter. The thing labored a bit, but they got there okay. A truck driven by Dodd for Mr. Howitzer picked them up.

"I say, any of you chaps speak English? Mon Espanole esta a bit, uh, mauvaise sondage et affreuse and perhaps somewhat malo loco."

"No problemo, pops," Javier said. "We three be good."

"Capital! Hop right in."

And off they went to stack and place chimney stone for the day at one of Mr. Howitzer's buildings.

And so a typical summer weekend day passed on the Island from overcast skies to bright sunshine and then, by degrees slipping the way Time tends to do each day, to a dimming of the light. Fog glided over the far hills of Babylon and somehow magically appeared on the top of Grizzly Peak Boulevard above Oaktown. A gentle breeze shook the crabapple tree and the box elder, sending spinners and lumpy fruit to earth in occasional hail. Lights flicked on at the Old Same Place Bar where folks went from the Q Cafe to continue their gossip and talk about politics and the wretched decisions and indecisions made by Silly Hall. Inside, a chatter and a clatter from within while outside the cars shushed by quietly.

"Les crêpes sont prêtes."

The moon, which had been Blue the previous night behind a nimbus of high fog, waned gibbous. Out by the Community College Senor Don Guadeloupe Erizo gazed up and pondered the mysteries of the Universe beside the hedge where he kept home with Dame Herrison, who poked her head out of the burrow to say, "Les crêpes sont prêtes". The Don, who like all small animals understands every natural language, nodded. The Don also refrained from speaking to humans, for fear of misunderstanding, as humans could be extremely dense sometimes. Just look at what happened to Mr. Ed. And of course, natively speaking Spanish, he spoke a language like all males that was entirely different from that chosen by the female. The two genders communicate typically like travelers in a foreign country, speaking with hand and foot as some would say.

Down by Grand and Buena Vista Officer O'Madhauen parks his Crown Vic and turns off the lights to wait for speeders, red light runners, people returning in a wavering manner from the bars of Babylon.

By the garage, a little opossum pauses, hisses good night, then scrambles under the woodpile, engaged in his own journey as all the world revolves and everyone continues to travel, each by their own means, with some passing across the border to the land of Dreams.

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 and its weedy railbed and the interstices of its chainlink fence until the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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

JULY 26, 2015


A blooming peony inside the Bungalow Court, captured by Tammy. Says as there is as much to say about summertime.


This weekend was jam-packed with events all over the place. Jack London Square hosted its popular Pedalfest, a two day bicycle extravaganza where the Pennyfarthing holds forth once again among the trick bikes and the modern "safety bicycle", so called because of the innovation of equal-sized, pneumatic tires along with brakes.

Berkeley held its annual Kite Festival over at the Marina, while San Rafael held and actual circus near downtown. The Island put on its annual Art and Wine festival, now somewhere in its 35th year.

With gorgeous skies bluer than a Dutchman's pants and all these events, no excuse not to get outside.

We skipped all that and headed up through heavy traffic to Marin for a birthday get-together among old friends.

Closer to home we note a rise in home burglaries, perhaps due to more open windows as the weather gets warmer, however the majority of the crimes appear to occur between the hours of 7PM and midnight according to the APD. Call 510-337-8340 NOT 911 if you see suspicious people. Call 911 only if you witness an actual crime.

The rate of 5150's on the island remains unabated at well over 14 people per week being sent on three-day hold to the Pavilion. It's crazy, sure it is.

Certainly in response to several high-profile cases that have hit national news, the Department is proactively discussing body cameras for its officers. The cameras can have benefits for the public as well as for crimefighters in that video can help provide positive evidence of criminal activity as well as positive ID. Not sure it would have helped the Officer who was murdered during a routine traffic stop recently in San Leandro, but it certainly would have shown automobile, plates and possibly the shooter's face for subsequent prosecution.

As for the Letters to the Editor, we see the page dominated by the Harbor Bay athletic club controversy, where Ron Cowan's realtor group wants to tear down the existing popular club in favor of new pricey homes, while placing the club replacement somewhere else. Presumably that elsewhere is less inviting for residential real estate development.

Actually, what is needed out there -- according to office workers there -- is a sprinkling of lunchtime eateries. At the moment, it is all brownbag or phone it in for delivery. Which makes us wonder what the intended new homeowners/residents are going to do for local services and if this demand will not cause yet more development. Worth thinking about.

Willie Nelson was here at the Greek with Alison Kraus on the 23rd. Jackson Browne does the Loadout on the 15th of August, followed by Block Party on 9/11. Lenny Kravitz will strut his stuff on the 13th but you will have to wait for that little miss dynamo Florence with her Machine on October 21st and 22nd. That gal proves size does not matter when it comes to power.

Sara Watkins will haul her family to the Watkins Family Hour for two nights at the Freight in Berkeley October 14-15th. Fiona Apple and Tom Brosseau will be joining in for two evenings of what is likely to be very good music.

As for the brand new Fox, the can't miss booking agent must still be there. Jason Isbell takes over August 11 with his extraordinarily fine lyrics, which are probably better than anyone else out there right now. The former Drive By Trucker left that southern rock band to clean himself up and present sparklingly intelligent songs that can alternatively rock like hell or wail from the same hot place. Don't know if he is planning an acoustic or an electric show or a combo of both.

Speaking of hot, Grace Potter just might blow out the speakers on Saturday, August 15th. Dianna Krall brings on the jazz the night after. Jill Scott needs two nights to satisfy her fans August 21 and 22.

You will have to wait until September 9th for Mike Ness to powerhouse his Social Distortion from SoCal. Miss that and you still have Brandi Carlile the following week on the 18th. Better yet, see and hear them all if you can.

Adam is bringing the Counting Crows to the Concord Pavilion September 20th.

Joe Bonemassa will light up his incendiary take on the Blues at the Shoreline in Mountain View August 20th. Dave Matthews will bring his entire band to the same place on 9/11, while the Foo Fighters will take the 16th. Hope Dave is off pain meds and out of a cast by then. Having been there ourselves, we do know what Level 10 pain is all about. You may know that Dave Grohl fell and seriously broke a leg bone during the European tour. Trouper that he is, he returned to the stage to finish the show from a chair, which had to hurt, and has done subsequent shows in a sort of "throne" he built for himself. That tibia was not just fractured, looking at the x-rays, but was clean broken through.

Heck, we couldn't even walk for a month, and here is this guy out in front of thousands of people performing in a chair barely a couple weeks after the incident. Go out and lend the man some support.

That's it and if you don't like the music, go out and make some of your own.


That recent spate of indecisive weather here was due to the remnants of hurricane Dolores, which did dump a bit of rain on parched SoCal up as high as San Luis Obispo. The Dweeber, Howard, said a drying trend is coming through with weather turning hot. We have seen forecasts of up to 105 for Oakland coming midweek, but believe the moderate 80-85 is more realistic. Still could go into the triples in the Valley on the other side of Altamont Pass, though. Anyone planning on visiting the Eastern Sierra better plan on 105 degrees in Bishop.


So anyway, the major election is yet more than a year away, but already the political fighting and mud slinging has begun with a ferocity not seen since Senator Preston Brooks beat Senator Charles Sumner with a cane. Or the infamous floor brawl started by Pennsylvania Republican Galusha Grow and South Carolina Democrat Laurence Keitt in 1858, which wound up involving 30 Senators in a melee of punching and wig tearing.

Here on the Island we have our local race between Babar (Conservative Party), Papoon (Not Insane Party, the reorganized Somewhat Liberal If It Don't Offend Party), and Joe Bob Bingle (Pee Tardy) and the newly added Grumpy Party spearheaded by I. Rascible Jones.

Things have livened up in recent months as the conventional two party system now has four and in the two major parties that have traditionally battled with one another for total thought control we have upstart contenders. Within the Conservative Party a well-heeled magnate in the imported women's lingerie industry named Donald Bump has tossed his hat in the ring, quite loudly as it seems, with a great number of incendiary remarks, and to add to that mix, we have Beanie Sandman popping out of the woodwork to challenge Papoon from the far Left, which everyone had demonized in a Guy Falks sort of way, but no one very seriously considered an actual, living, breathing sort of entity.

The upcoming debates should be lively, especially as no candidate's camp can seem to agree with any other camp on a date, a place or a time agreeable to all.

Politics can be dull, drab and largely the province of some people getting people to do things they otherwise would not do, and stopping other people from doing stuff they would prefer to continue. People who get elected have brickbats and offal thrown at them and are supposed to smile and enjoy that while preserving the knowledge they could splat the brickbat and offal throwers like a bug against a windshield immediately had they a mind, but they'll settle for ruining their lives at a distance and that is supposed to be satisfaction enough.

In any case the next few months are likely to provide a great deal of entertainment, even as they fail to resolve the major issues of the world.

The weather has been gorgeous the past few days after a spate of overcast skies and threatening thunderstorms that ultimately held off.

The dragon-boat rowers have been practicing in the estuary, along with the racing crews and the solitary paddleboard folks who set out on bare feet and a surfboard and oars to explore the reaches of the shoreline, standing upright on their narrow planks. While standing at the Fruitvale bridge one can watch them come out from the marina area and pass under towards the Port gangways and cranes and the far flat extensions of the former Base airfield that kiss the broadening of the Bay itself.

As night descended through a miasma of heat and incoming fog, sweepers passed down Park Street to clean up the weekend party mess and a guy in black pants and black jacket and stained white shirt came out from Los Cubaneros to clean up his portion of the sidewalk. At the 51A busstop right in front of the newspaper kiosk that somebody built way back before WWII to pass on the news, a man wearing a peacoat asks strangers for a welcome 25 cents for busfare or coffee or a package of Kents.

Officer O'Madhauen cruises down looking for speeders, redlight runners, lane dodgers -- the usual riffraff -- and turns down Central to locate his usual spot by the old Cannery, there to wait behind the stoplight no one considers with a styrofoam cup of coffee and his radar atuned.

Out on Snoffish Road the teenagers from Encinal are racing the teens from posh East End High in their magnificent hopped up lowriders, but nobody in authority pays attention this hot summer night and nobody flames out and so they all go get ice cream at Dreyers on Park or hamburgers from that all night joint in Oaktown where Grand and Lakeshore meet.

The night creeps softly on soft paws to circle around the Island-Life offices, arching its back and purring quietly before laying its heavy dark head upon its paws and falling asleep. This night there are no sirens rending the air above the town and no screams of pain. It was a quiet night on the island and nobody go shot and nobody got stabbed. The Editor quietly closed the doors upon the burgeoning moon that swelled above the Veteran's Hall.

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, and its chainlink fence interstices until the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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


JULY 19, 2015


This week is an old shot done by Island-Lifer Tammy who has been problem-solving how to set-up a cat-proof feeder within view of her window.

There are a lot of songs out there featuring hummingbirds, from a little-known gem by Jimmy Page, Seals and Crofts, Jeff Tweedy, and even one by Katy Perry. Best one we have heard recently is by Tom McRae.


Parks and parking were big on the agendas this week. The Jean Sweeney Open Space preserve, which was to get $2 million from Tim Lewis Communities just got another $2 million from the California Dept. of Parks and Rec to help landscape the former Beltline railbed and add a playground, picnic areas, and trails. The 22 acre park extends from Sherman to Constitution Way.

The Main Street Ferry Terminal will likely get its auxiliary parking lot paved and expanded finally once a dog park in the vicinity gets moved. Funding for moving the dog park is still a pending matter, however. With all the construction on the Bay Bridge and general increase in driving hassles, many more people have been opting for the ferry access to the City as part of the daily commute. WETA has tried to engage AC Transit to reinstitute the 50 line that served the terminal, but AC Transit claimed that when the service was in place, nobody used it and in a remarkably unrelated statement, said WETA does not charge for parking at the terminal.

In 2009, when the 50 line last ran out there, the ferry carried 350 passengers a day on an hourly schedule. At present, the ferry carries 1,800 passengers a day on a 30 minute schedule.

Now we see that the EIR's preposterous claims of a net increase of one car during rush hour by 2035 are based on the assumption that people will come and go from the Island by boat and canoe.

The Letters to the Editor are packed with notes for and against the removal of the Harbor Bay Athletic Club. Basically Ron Cowan's group wants to move the club somewhere else so as to build more pricey homes on the land. Most people agree the Club could use a few renovations, so the pro-movers see an opportunity for someone else to pay for upgrades at a new location. The anti-movers see more development causing more congestion and why not renovate the existing structures in place. After all, you do not need a new location to swap out old treadmills for new ones, nor do you need another location to institute new programs like pilates, yoga, and spin classes.

Even the Island Gerbil has a couple letters about the Club. Both the Sun and the Gerbil have a couple rants as well, which always adds an entertainment quality to the page. One writer complained about "excessive shrieking" during women's tennis matches. Well, thanks for that; we had not known it was a problem and we will inform Serena Williams ASAP about the issue, although we are not sure what this has to do with the Island.

In another letter one writer compares the Island to the Titanic in a somewhat rubberized metaphor in that the unsafe streets lacking four-way stop signs and speed bumps at blind intersections are icebergs waiting to snatch our little home and sink it. Or something. Get those minivans blocking line of sight off the corners! Paint them red -- the corners, we mean! Better yet, ban all mini-vans and SUVs everywhere! Well, everyone has their opinions. Probably addressing specific streets and specific corners at Silly Hall will gain more traction than a general alarmist rant. Just sayin' . . .

Willie Stargell was born somewhere else, but went to school here and there are some who still have fond memories of the Pirates All Star baseball player. There will be a baseball monument dedication event Saturday, July 25th from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM at Alameda Landing. See Stargell for details.

Speaking of baseball, did not the Oakland A's royally spank the Twins Sunday afternoon? The resulting score of 14-1 looked more like one for another sport. The slight consolation to Minnesota is that the nine innings went by faster than a Jesse Chavez fastball. The pitcher for the Twins, though should have kept his frustration in check; trying to deliberately bean four A's batters around the 7th Inning is generally considered poor sportsmanship.


So anyway, the Summer heat rolled in to spike the temperatures all over the place just ahead of the remnants of the Mexican hurricane Dolores, which clouded up the skies a bit and led to some threats of thunderstorms around here. The weatherman first said all clear for the weekend, then revised that to 20% chance of thunder the following day, which worsened -- or bettered for those longing for rain -- to 30% mid-day while still everything held off, everything held up there in expectation as if the Heavens held its breath.

Which made with the heat for quite a lot of bad-tempered people. It really put a lot of people off, this sense of expectation lasting for so long, people who have no truck with equivocation of any kind. People used to getting things done, preferably by other people who can be controlled efficiently. If you have a like to rain then rain, dammit. Enough of this nonsense. Say your piece and get out. Crazy weather!

The Depuglias got into a fenderbender on Central Avenue with Mr. Cribbage. Tom Depuglia had no idea how it happened, but he was in the truck yelling at his fool brother for something stupid he did -- can't remember what it was about now -- and then when he turned his head there was this Mercedes SUV coming out of nowhere in a place it had no right to be and he swung the wheel one way while the fool in the SUV swung the other and there was this crunch and a moment of silence. Then the sound of a piece of something falling off of the SUV to the ground.

Thank god for solid American Ford construction of a truck.

Anyway Tom got out and it was Mr. Cribbage who stated flatly "You ran into me!"

"I beg to differ, dude!" Tom's brother, Tim, said, balling up his fists.

"Ignorant brute," said Mr. Cribbage, somewhat unwisely. "We wealthy gave you your jobs so that you could have the cash to buy things like your truck."

"We both is sole proprietor partnership," said Tom. We got no jobs and no bosses."

If the cops had not come around the corner things might have turned out different and the Depuglias would have sent Mr. Cribbage home with a black eye or something worse to remember.

The Postman has been making his daily rounds on time, but because of recent Security issues, some deliveries have been delayed. The Pope has been making some radical statements lately, and so Father Danyluk has been pacing about the Inbox for the Rectory, looking for missives from Rome that present yet another set of posers for his next sermon. The Church had moved from an Ultraconservative position to a more active, liberal one on many issues, which made the current times quite exciting and his debates with his friend and associate, the Lutheran Pastor Nyquist have been stirring his blood like it had not been stirred in years.

And once again, Drat!, the newsletter from the Holy See was late again.

Out on the high seas, working the fishing lanes, Pedro has the radio tuned to his favorite program, the Lutheran televangelist Pastor Rotschue Variety Hour. But the radio season had ended in some mysterious fashion unknown to Pedro, an humble fisherman, who knew nothing of syndication rights and seasonal contracts and the business of entertainment that roped in quite a bit more than most people consider "that's entertainment". So the frustrated Pedro was left with these canned reruns for the duration until the magic moment of the New Season began again.

He supposed the good pastor had reasons to take a vacation now and then after 40 years or so of working the airwaves, so it was in terms of a vacation that Pedro considered this silence. And there were those adorable girls, innocent, sweet, with sweet, sweet voices (returned from the can in rerun) that helped pass the time. One week it was Nellie. This week it was Sarah. And so the old boat's engines thrummed as Pedro worked the nets and Ferryboat provided the company with barks and yips as the silver catch thrashed upon the deck. Deftly Ferryboat caught a small albacore in his mouth and carried it to the hold to drop it down below. I'm helping!

Beneath the surface of the Estuary, the Iranian spy submarine El Chadoor drifted with engines stilled, the Captain gazing with equanimity at the Port with its glaring spotlights and motionless container cranes waiting for the daylight to awaken from machine dreams. Until the First Mate spoke to him.

"Captain, any word on just why we were not commanded to join the Fleet on maneuvers in the Atlantic?"

The Captain paused and thought carefully before answering. All of them now shared the same worries, the same anxieties that Teheran had forgotten them. Nearly two decades ago the El Chadoor had been sent to keep tabs on the activities at one of the largest container ports in the world, but time had passed. Periodic reports had been dutifully filed. Supplies continued at the set times and rendezvous locations, but there had been a singular lack of feedback. Crew rotations began to occur at longer and longer intervals. The rotation had grown now from six months steadily over time to two years. There was rumor the rotation would extend to five. The Captain himself had now been in command of this vessel for 18 years, with only brief vacations. He feared deep inside that his mission had fallen through the cracks of administrative bureaucracy and that the original admirals who had commissioned this project had retired, leaving behind few notes for their successors and this mission now passed administratively from inbox to inbox back at Central Command with no one having the slightest idea how to bring it to a close for the original intent had never been defined.

It had always been "Keep tabs on the Infidels. Take careful notes about everything." No one now knew what meant success. No one knew because of that, what meant failure. And nobody wanted to be left holding the bag if failure was determined as a result.

The Captain spoke and in doing so, turned the truth a little bit for he was a wise commander and had led for many years now. "It was said our mission is so important that we must participate here in these waters we know so well in support of the Revolutionary Government. I obtain daily reports in confirmation of this."

This last part was a bit of a fabrication, but they did say to remain on post and continue the mission. With their aging El Chadoor submarine running technology now that was well over twenty years old. This last part no one in Teheran mentioned, but it did concern the Captain a great deal, for every year, as each year passed, new vessels were built, new means to detect them invented. New technologies came into play. Could it be that now the vessel was so old it passed underneath the detection systems designed to locate far more sophisticated equipment?

"Of course it is true we have hope the recent treaty means peace shall result and not what seemed to be disastrous war. It remains to wait for what the American Congress shall do, but even so, there is hope two natural allies may unite against common enemies above the acrimony of petty national differences."

Somewhere in a far distant Scottish loch, an animal that was either a big catfish or an antediluvian relic from some prehistoric time surfaced and startled yet another photographing tourist before diving down into the stygian concealment of that ancient place.

The Captain gave the command to dive and the El Chadoor glided out of the estuary into the Bay and then out through the Golden Gate, running silent, running deep, hoping Peace would outwit all the national leaders.

In the Island-Life offices the Editor moved from desk to desk turning out desklamps, computer screens, deskfans, before returning to his glassed cubicle. Since all the rest of the office had gone dark, the effect was of being in a small room draped with sable curtains. The past few weeks the Editor had suffered dreams of being back in Vietnam, sloshing through rice paddies and swishing through green foliage paths erupting with green butterflies, feeling this sense of all the time something really bad was about to happen.

He stepped out onto the deck and looked at the unruly sky and sniffed the air. Earthquake weather they used to call it. He then stepped back inside.

At times he longed in vain for sweet sleep to dissolve the casket of cares and memories and the sense of dread. He wished to be like himself as he was in some halycon time before he consumed the forbidden fruit of knowledge. Knowledge that we all really are just meat. He wished he were like other people. But he was not and so he reached for the bottle and took a pill and headed for the bare mattress he could call his own. Running silent, running deep, he passed then under the Golden Gate to the ocean beyond.

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, and its chainlink fence interstices until the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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


JULY 12, 2015


This week we present a photo of lush summer burgeoning with dripping sap and sexiness. This is a Bird-of-paradise palm that suddenly erupted in someone's backyard after the recent rains.


We dared post a comment to Lauren Do's blog which featured a critique of Mayor Trish and a load of OTT comments. Here is our comment:

"Man, did this discussion go seriously Off Topic and off the rails to Oz! Thought this was about Trish Spencer’s effectiveness as Mayor and not about Presidential debates.

Well, we noted a few weeks ago in that the Mayor had a problem building consensus, and that this problem would have serious political fallout for her, and consequently for us who live here. We need someone to put the brakes on development so that each project can be analyzed rationally without any more nonsensical reports like the EIR, which John Knox White tried vaingloriously to defend. We also like JKW, even though we think he was seriously wrong about the EIR. We do like the Mayor and we think her Council is an improvement over Gilmore, but better than lousy destructive and being likable is not enough to earn our vote again.

And people, please stick to the topic without riding your favorite hobbyhorses and denigrating the other posters with snide comments. Everybody here has good reasons for their opinions and their feelings."

Here are the first responses to that comment:

“No wonder you feel stupid. You talk like a damn fool.”

Comment by jack — July 11, 2015 @ 6:34 PM

“You’re about as wise an old man as a tree stump.”

Comment by jack — July 11, 2015 @ 7:03 PM

Well, no wonder only idiots get into the comments area for these things. Rational people are scared off and discouraged by shrill ranting and red-faced denunciation. We certainly will not venture forth with any sort of reasoned comment in this forum again and we doubt anyone else of sense and sensibility will as well. Which leaves the field to galloping assholes.

So anyway, on to news about the Island.

The Council approved the Site A development project, which was part of the discussion on Lauren Do's blog about Spencer. This project has been pretty much a done deal since before Mayor Trish took office, given that the City would have faced massive lawsuits after Gilmore and Company had approved so much of this. That said, the project at least modified itself due to public input and the plan calls for $100 million in parks and infrastructure improvements, plus a bundle of cash towards rehabilitation of an existing 100,000 foot structure for light industrial use as well as $10 million toward a new ferry terminal. The project calls for 800 apartments, townhouses and condos as well as 600,000 square feet of commercial space. It is this commercial space that the EIR had relied upon for its job creation portion of its traffic analysis.

The seals at the current semi-submerged floating dock at the Point that is planned for removal due to construction of new WETA ferry maintenance facilities will be relocated by means of a new haul-out that will be located closer to Crown Memorial Beach. The old dock definitely will be demolished, but the big question is whether the notoriously shy harbor seals that frequent that area and Fisherman's wharf will use the new haul-out. Either way, progress is progress and the seals must go.

Where they go seems to be largely a function of what is happening generally with dislocation of habitat on the Island. It seems much of what is happening is a result of money drive, greed, and a destructive development mentality, as well as a sentiment that states effectively, "We don't care what happens to you. Go f--- off."


The City will embark upon a big road resurfacing campaign this month and the project will continue through the summer into September. Looks like the central Gold Coast will be affected, with Lincoln Street from Grand to Sherman and all cross streets affected. This means traffic is going to be gnarly in that area. Signage is supposed to be in place 72 hours in advance of affected streets. Please make a note of it.

The Mayor's July 4th Parade did happen and it did include horses that were not part of the Sheriff's department in at least one entry. They were not Percherons, but that is perfectly fine. Okay, enough of that.

Eleven people detained on 5150 this past week, which means it was relatively quiet, but we had a scad of burglaries and six public intoxication reports. Suspicious fire, probably due to the Angry Elf gang, and at least one cat bite report fill out the picture here. Somebody locate that nasty kitty and get that feline under control ASAP!


So anyway. We had a couple days of wharf sizzlers here to help quench the savage drought that is choking the Golden State. They were enough to ease the backyard gardens with our withered tomatoes subsisting on "gray water", but not enough to significantly ease the reservoirs. With the warmer than normal Bay ocean temps and Howard reporting from Mammoth on thunderstorms happening in the Sierra, we can say the effects of El Nino are pronounced enough that we can expect some real dockwallopers come the Fall.

July 12th is, as everyone should know, Orangemen's Day in the northern Counties where the Battle of the Boyne is commemorated. Not so much in the Republic, which has scant love for William of Orange and his Bloody Mary. In the Old Same Place Bar Padraic and Dawn make studious efforts to ignore the day, going so far as to forget to have a certain citrus fruit on hand for the muddled Manhattans.

"We'll use grapes and maraschinos and lemons instead. Nobody needs all that sugar in them," Padraic says.

This only poses a serious problem should someone want a tequila sunrise or a mimosa. He always suggests the patron should rather have a mojito or a julep.

Padraic, for all his Irish Republicanism, remains somewhat liberal on the matter of That Other Religion, which amazes Suzie, the bartender and he always speaks cordially and with respect to Pastor Nyquist whenever he drops in.

"Ah, the Lutherans are a better sort of Protestant, to be sure." Padraic says. "And with a name like his, he can't have much of the English in him."

"We are all children of God," Dawn said.

Indeed, words of the wise. Would that more people who practice their religion kept that fact in mind.

Most people on the Island trend toward the gentler side of tolerance with the general idea that if somebody was that much of an idiot to hold a foolish opinion, then the schools had failed and there was nothing to be done to improve his inbred ignorance. Harry Blitz, our only openly avowed skinhead fascist tried to hold a meeting of his National Front group. From where he had collected them, god only knows, for there are precious few of that sort around here and even our token Minister of Doom and Hate, Howard Camping, held all his meetings over in Oaktown near the airport in that area where strange gatherings of all kinds have been known to happen for years. The old pest finally passed away in 2013 and nobody misses him.

Maybe Blitz culled the remainders of that man's congregation and that of Reverend Rectumrod, but in any case the meeting did not go well. When Festus heard library resources were going to be employed to promote National Socialism and Lyndon Larouche, he got all his hamster pals together and they scampered into the Free Library, bearing miniature rainbow flags and they ran about the feet of the assembled, causing them great dismay and much grief by way of biting their ankles, those that did not wear jackboots. They jumped into their jodhpurs and they ran across the buffet and they ran up the mike to sing "The Internationale" in high pitched voices and so made of the planned White Power meeting a total fiasco with people fleeing from the place in a great rout.

Larry Larch was out delivering several service dogs to the Blogging Bayport headquarters -- where it seems his PPA services have come under high demand -- when he pulled up astonished to see a gaggle of brownshirts weeping and screaming as they ran from the Free Library to the sounds of Die Internationale as sung by a hundred Disney characters named Chip 'n Dale.

"Wach auf Verdammte dieser Errrrrrrrrdah!"

Larry's PPA is Pushy People Anonymous, an outfit that tries to revise obnoxious behavior by means of group therapy and service dogs trained to recognize arrogance and pushiness. When the dog senses the client getting rude, in line or the movie theater or a restaurant or a public forum, the animal bites them. It all goes by the theory of Aversive Conditioning. There is a tremendous amount of psychology behind it and it is all about retraining the neural pathways that produce bad behavior. The first step towards rehabilitation of a person manifesting bad behavior is acknowledgment of their problem before putting their fate into the hands of an Higher Power. The group therapy meetings can be quite emotional.

A large man wearing a plaid shirt stands up in front of everyone in the room and says, "Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Jack and I have a confession to make. I . . . am a jerk . . .".

Larry's NorCal chapter of the national PPA is very popular. There is a chapter in Beverly Hills next to the Betty White Clinic. Some of the Gabors have been clients, but none of the Kardashians have ever been enrolled. Yet.

Summer has begun on the Island and the Strand was thronged by sailboarders all dashing this way and that with their colorful parachutes like so many exotic birds. They all wear full bodysuits of rubber, not so much for the cold, but because the shallow mudflats breed a kind of water parasite, which is our version here of the blackfly that plagues other parts of the country. The thing burrows into the skin and then dies, for it is a kind of aqueous chigger that wants to burrow into fish for any kind of success. This thing is not so bright, for most people are not really fish, but nevertheless it causes a rage of an itching, stinging rash if people do not wash themselves well after getting wet with Bay water.

And so the day passed with summer traditions at the beach and the shadows grew long all along the seawall until the sun pulled down beyond the hills of distant Babylon in striations of gold, azure and vermilion, sending most of the beachgoers away to wherever beachgoers go after finishing up with going to the beach. The lights winked on one by one along the newly developed streets of San Bruno Mountain.

On a quietly cooling evening at the close of summer, the high fog began its age-old roll through the Golden Gate, creeping over the hills in battalions of Tolkein ghosts. Ms. Morales sat at her table preparing lesson plans for the coming year at Longfellow Middle School.

Officer O'Madhauen sat in his cruiser in that wide space on Sherman where it crosses Buena Vista beside the Old Cannery, sipping his Styrofoam coffee and watching for a yellow light dodger.

Up in the Greek temple, Joshua bedded down for the night next to the altar, after a humble meal and preparing to spirit out in the next week so as to board a plane for Venezuela, there to taste the bitter bread of exile and enforced expatriotism for the rest of his life for the crime of whistleblowing on the corrupt Security Service, which had practiced illegal music downloading, wiretapping, drug smuggling, and perverse consort with poodles. The moon, bella luna, stroked his brown head to sleep through the stained glass windows.

Outside and across the street, Mr. Strict sat in his SUV with his Colt .45 ready beside him, reading his Soldier of Fortune magazine and making notes on where to send money for eavesdropping equipment and the Special Survival Tool (with hook).

In the Old Same Place Bar, the clink of glasses tinkled with the splash of water behind the bar as Suzie performed the Sisyphian task of washing bar glassware and Denby trickled his guitar arpeggios next to the snug where Eugene planned his next trout expedition.

Down Snoffish Valley Road, the kids ran a few drag races point to point, but because the cops never came and nobody interesting showed up and it was all lame, they went to get Ben & Jerry's ice cream. So nobody crashed and nobody went to the hospital or to jail.

The Editor paused after doing what he had to do. He then went about the place turning off lights, shutting down machines left on. All the staffers had left for the night and he was left alone in the offices by himself. Earl would not come by to empty the trash until morning and tonight was Darlene's night off this time of month. He sat then in front of the computer monitor, doing what he had been doing each week for the past eighteen years, quite alone. Doing all for Company.

It was a quiet night on the island. People slept well, those who slept, and those who did not passed the time with equanimity. It was a quiet night and no one got stabbed and no one got shot.

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, and its chainlink fence interstices until the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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


JULY 5, 2015


This week we have a photo of an art-car project parked on Park Avenue behind the main drag. Should give teachers and harassed admin assistants an idea what to do with all those expended art supplies.

We like that the car model is a Mercedes no less.

Here is a close-up of the hood.



First item of business here is the Mayor's 39th annual July 4th Parade, which went off with scarcely a hitch or a ripple it was so well orchestrated and organized. In fact we were left with a sad sense of nostalgia for the wilder days of the parade when the quixotic and the unusual were characteristic of this "biggest small town parade in America." There were no 30 foot long iron dragons spitting fire and no strange Chinese sects with immense lotus blossoms, and no renegade floats inserting themselves illegally into the route. It was all quite tame and predictable and somewhat lacking in energy for all of that.

We have managed by a great deal of effort to turn ourselves into an average place with no special distinction other than being a small town with a parade that looks just like everyone else, with the Kiwanis and the Elks and Sons of Knute parading along with the local insurance company float and the local realtor float and the local Ministry of this and that following the usual high school baton twirlers and the Baptists sitting up there in their dour costumes on a flat-bed truck and the Catholic church sending a chaste assembly of trumpet players on the same.

This year everyone galloped through at break-neck pace with scarcely time enough for a photo as the few horses galloped and the entire thing that used to stretch from nine to four was entirely over and barricades removed by noon. In fact, checking out the line-up, we found precious few of the caballeros that used to prance down the street with gorgeous saddles and well-equipped vaqueros sporting marvelous mustaches. None of that this time. Instead we found entry after entry of bland businesses driving sedate sedans and convertibles. Why did this year feature the NRA, but not the Poet Laureate for the City for the first time in many years?

The Chinese School and the Lutherans with their high-stepping boot-girls were conspicuously absent this year, although we did get Trader Joes and Emo's Automotive Repair and Rico's Tires and Bayside Real Estate. No sign of the Filipino community. None of the Jewish Chabad. Same for the Islamic community. So we have to wonder if this parade really reflected in any seriousness the diverse nature of who we are.

It just seems that if you want to celebrate a rebellion, you may want to allow a piece of that in your parade. Just saying.

In other news we see with some smugness that a tempest is brewing regarding the latest "sister city" business with the Philippine town of Dumagurete. Well-intentioned folks appear to have gotten excited and traveled here to sign official documents without the official sanction of the Philippine governments.

You know, we have moved urgently and pleadingly for sister city status with a certain town in upstate Minnesota without effect. A town that although small, is nevertheless significant to many, a town that time has forgot, not unlike our own. A town that -- darn I need a third component to complete the grammar -- a town that contains colorful characters similar to our own, a town in which all the women are strong and all the men good looking and all the children above average. Which ought to sound familiar.

We are not saying anyone is foolish, but just that we offered an option about a place a tad better than some subtropical island where they fry up mosquitos big as birds to make fajitas.

Meanwhile a bunch of people who do not live here and do not want to, also want to put scads of more people on the island, without regard to traffic or quality of life here. How crazy is that?



So anyway, we had a few hot ones that reminded everybody that Summer has begun. Temps rocketed to triple digits briefly before settling beneath the high fog to more moderate weather. Other than a smattering of swamp coolers Island residences are singularly lacking in air conditioning. Seeking to escape the heat Eugene went down to the Strand where a lot of other folks had gone. The water there, however, had receded on the ebb tide leaving acres of steaming sand flats in front of the sizzling beach. As he walked back along the new disputed bicycle lanes toward the trees he passed Alvin, a senior at Encinal, wrestling with Marietta, also a senior at the same high school.

They had been playing soccer with friends on the green above the baseball diamond, but the heat had terminated that activity, sending most of the teens off to the park benches under the treebreak there, while a couple others went into the high stand of bunchgrass which emitted a great deal of hidden rustling and laughing after that, followed by silence, and possibly some laying supine on a blanket while staring up into the blue heavens.

Alvin, a letter athlete, wound up pinning Marietta, but only after experiencing some difficulty. "Loser has to kiss the winner wherever he says," said Alvin.

"So where?" Marietta asked.

Alvin whispered something in Marietta's ear and her face flushed and she hit him and broke free. They glared at one another face to face on their knees a moment. "Best two out of three!" said the girl. And then she launched herself at him, knocking the teen backwards.

Across from Washington Park a couple younger kids had put up a lemonade stand. Fifty cents a cup for freshly squeezed juice and ice. Eugene paid for his drink and took a swallow and gagged. "How much sugar you put in this?"

The one kid looked at his female companion and said, "O Betsy! We forgot the sugar!"

Cruising down 8th Kid Viper, the semipro boxer, piloted his red convertible to a berth near the hang-glider shed on the edge of the park. He got out and leaned against his car with mirrored sunglasses and beefy arms folded across his impressive chest, posing for the girls who looked at him and whispered to one another and giggled. The Viper smiled beneath his sunglasses.

"That lady's got no clothes on!"

Passing this scene went Percy Worthington Boughsplatt in his two-toned 1929 Mandeville-Brot coupe, spiffy as always in his dustcap and beige waistcoat with Madeline beside him, wearing as appropriate for the weather a fetching pillbox hat, a blue neck choker and tango shoes. As a member of the Berkeley Explicit Players, this completed the entirety of her ensemble and as Percy drove past them, Mrs. Cribbage clapped her hands over the eyes of her astonished husband, entirely scandalized, while little Tubby Tucker stood nearby and pointed with a chubby finger and laughed and laughed.

"That lady's got no clothes on!"

Madeline smiled and waved and they drove on.

Sunday the 39th Annual Mayor's Parade started out across from City Hall with a wail of sirens and lots of horn tooting. The usual politicians in open cars was followed by the mounted sheriffs and the Marine color guard. Waylon's kung fu academy went after that with the kids doing high kicks and spins while twirling their flashing swords. Borg and Brunhilde and Betty waved from the flatbed trailer hung with bunting and pinwheels as the Touch of Wonder Massage Parlor entry.

The various churches all had entries, carefully separated from one another by squads of horses so as to avoid religious disputation. Father Danyluk held a fishing rod on the float for Our Lady of Incessant Complaint while the altarboys dressed as fish circled the float on bicycles.

Pastor Nyquist lead the choir and band on the Emmanual Lutheran entry, while Pastor Freethought led her band on the Unitarian float dressed as Elvis. The Unitarians, of course, mostly sang rock and roll and Pete Seeger songs.

Jason Arrabiata sat on an immense plate of spaghetti that was made of ductwork and inflated exercise balls painted to look like meatballs.

It was Tom's idea to get a real deer

The Depuglia brothers smeared themselves with dirt and put leaves in their hair and built the facsimile of a stone-age camp on the back of their truck. It was Tom's idea to get a real deer and spit the carcass over a fake fire. It all looked very authentic, save for the cans of beer they pulled out of the "woodpile", but not many people could figure what it had to do with the Fourth of July and the deer began to attract flies after a few hours in the hot sun.

"PPA: Be nice and No Bite!"

Bear rode his 1962 panhead motorcycle with Susan perched on the back wearing a Viking helmet with horns followed by Larry Larch and his colleague Ms. Light as part of the Pushy People Anonymous float, which was decorated to look like a big schnauzer. Several service animals gamboled on the back of this under the sign which read, "PPA: Be nice and No Bite!" Larry founded PPA some years ago to resolve the high incidence of rude and obnoxious behavior in NorCal. The program features group therapy and a service dog that can sense arrogant selfishness. If the client pushes out of line, for example, the dog nips the person to enforce good behavior.

the night advanced on quiet cat feet

It was a grand parade and everyone who was anyone on the Island made at least a short appearance and fog rolled back in as the sun set and the traditional barrage of small explosives went off all over the Bay Area. Long about two AM the last firecrackers exploded in a series, followed by blessed silence and the night advanced on quiet cat feet, crept twice around the house, curled up and went to sleep and all was peaceful, making it a quiet night on the Island and nobody got shot and nobody got stabbed.

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, and its chainlink fence interstices until the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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


JUNE 28, 2015


This week's headline photo is a charming shot taken from Robert Crown Beach toward the distant, misty City across the water.

The song lyric is from a Talking Heads song written by David Byrne, who, so far as we know, never ever has visited the Island here. But then you never know.

Here where you are standing
Dinosaurs did a dance
The Indians told a story
Now it has come to pass

The Indians had a legend
The Spaniards lived for gold
The white man came and killed them
But they haven't really gone

We live in the city of dreams
We drive on this highway of fire
Should we awake and find it gone?
Remember this our favorite town

From Germany and Europe
And Southern U.S.A.
They made this little town here
That we live in to this day

The children of the white man
Saw Indians on TV
And heard about the legend
How their city was a dream

We live in the city of dreams
We drive on this highway of fire
Should we awake and find it gone?
Remember this our favorite town

The civil war is over
And World War I and II
If we can live together
The dream it might come true

Underneath the concrete
The dream is still alive
A hundred million lifetimes
A world that never dies

We live in the city of dreams
We drive on this highway of fire
Should we awake and find it gone?
Remember this our favorite town

We live in the city of dreams
We drive on this highway of fire
Should we awake and find it gone?
Remember this our favorite town

It's perhaps a good song to keep in mind as the development juggernaut and the rental usury steamroll the neighborhoods here.


Speaking of Development projects two big items flashed across the front pages of the local weeklies. The Journal reported that the Boatworks project plan has been rejected by the Planning Board, proving that John Knox White can really act reflectively. In reality the Developer tried to sneak an amendment to the previously approved map for the project.

The 9.5 acre site, located at Oak and Clement near the Park Street bridge, is to host 182 housing units plus a two acre waterfront park. The bulk of the site was occupied by a long disused chemical factory dating back to 1904. The structure has been demolished, but the soil remains heavily contaminated.

These numbers are interesting in that the City initially approved just 46 single-family homes plus 21 "affordable" units with the park and a launching dock. That happened in July of 2011.

But back to the present. The Developer wanted to amend the map, change the density bonus application, and change the construction design to move the affordable housing units to the final stage of project completion and also shift the location of the units to the as yet unremediated poisoned soil section.

Planning Board said, "Nope! Smacks of SunCal machinations!" Well, that is a sort of paraphrase, but at least somebody looked out for the City's welfare. One of the Planning Board members said, "There seems to have been something wrong with this project from the very beginning."

This seems to stem from the property owner's (Phillip Collins) consistent efforts over decades to circumvent City statutes and do surprise end-runs around City's Planning Board.

The soap opera featuring the federal GSA, the East Bay Regional Park District, the people of the City, and McKay Avenue took a disappointing turn when the GSA won the right to seize the road from the State under Eminent Domain.

Nobody here wants this to happen and even the developer, Tim Lewis Communities backed out of the deal even after winning an auction -- certainly realizing that pursuing development on land that was slated for park use in a town like this would be committing business suicide.

With the locals unified against development on that narrow spit of land and with the developer backing out of the deal with understandable concern that this may jeopardize other projects on the island, the GSA seems to be acting like a very immature high school Sophomore with her panties in a twist.

In other development news, the Silly Council approved the Site A development proposal which concerns a large chunk of the former Navy Base (NAS). This practically sets in motion the sure development of 878 acres featuring 1,425 housing units, 5.5 million square feet of commercial space and a new ferry terminal. The Site A portion will feature 800 units of mixed income housing, including 200 affordable units.


July 4th is the next big bang in the Holiday Calendar. Please note that fireworks are illegal all over the Island and we have a severe drought. Setting off fireworks is now a 911 issue. Don't make us waste good resources on dousing your stupidity.


Due to strange coincidences and the alignment of stars, we had staff in San Francisco this past weekend, which many people may know to be a significant weekend in that the regularly scheduled annual Pride Parade was accompanied by news of four stupendously intelligent decisions made by the US Supreme Court that have far reaching effects for all Americans.

We say the decisions are stupendous, not because of their scope, but because it was widely assumed that the packing of the court by Conservative ideologues and partisan justices would naturally entail an wholesale rollback of human and voter's rights and usher in an era of totalitarian fascism based, as fascism always did, upon religious and moral principals derived from a religious script manufactured for convenience.

Of course, Conservatives would put this hope somewhat differently, but that is not our concern.

But something happens to some erstwhile partisan jurists when they enter the lifelong tenure of the Supreme Court. They stop voting as expected by their former handlers and they start voting independently and as determined by the text of the Constitution.

Starting with the case that concerned housing discrimination, the Court ruled that landlords do not have the right to discriminate against tenants based on race or creed. Seems to most logical folks to be cut and dried, but this dangerous case went through seven levels of court to the Supremes who upheld Affirmative Action dictates. This one was definitely the sleeper of the summer session.

Then Brother Obama's Healthcare Reform Act came up and the Supremes upheld the law passed by Congress as law of the land. Opponents of anything they call Obamacare, had argued too narrowly on the wording of a single passage, and so the jurists naturally had to rule that the law is what it says and no more. Had the opponents taken a different tack, things may have gone differently, but quibbling over word choices was childish and Justice Roberts did right in stating that the intent of the law is clear and we have no right to mussy with minor choices of nouns and verbs.

In the N'th hour on Friday before recess the Supreme Court ruled that the states do not have the right to limit marriage between people, and, ironically, this is a God-given right to all Americans regardless of religion, creed, place of birth, race or gender.

In essence Justice Roberts, who is a strict Constitutionalist, followed his own golden rule: The Constitution is inflexible and without formal amendment, unalterable over time. Everyone is guaranteed certain inalienable rights and the states do not have the rights to override those.

Had the opposition dropped their ceaseless drumbeat on religious grounds and ceased their ridiculous pretensions to Traditions that have no supporting stipulations, they might have had a better case, but they did not. Once the decision was announced, the verbiage of their chagrin generally featured the text that they had best work to support "religious freedoms", which points to the real and true grounds that were behind their arguments all along. Here in the Nuovo Ordo Seculorum.

All of this history-making event combined to produce a joyous riot in San Francisco this weekend.

Unfortunately, our staff were there for business conferences that for some strange reason could not be postponed by corporate headquarters located in Bumfuk, Nebraska.

Nevertheless we witnessed such an outpouring of joy from hundreds of thousands of people downtown we stopped regretting living here, as this spontaneous joy of freedom is the real reason most of us stay here anyway. It is not the weather and it is not the lifestyle and it is not the money, most certainly. This weekend's explosive eruption of diversity and sheer happiness from such a wide variety of people was a demonstration that had to brighten the hearts of anyone who witnessed it.

Well,although the joy caused some people to misbehave a little mischievously, it is important to remember this outpouring of happiness was not about the liberty to act weird, but the freedom to participate in American society as equals. The vast majority of parade-goers looked like anybody else you might meet in your neighborhood.

The Dusty Rhino is an artist's collective formed to transport creative stuff to Burning Man.

A reminder that we did not get here without struggle and there remains more to be done.

All right guys, a little fun and games is okay, but if you plan on trying out for the Chippendale Dancers you can fogeddaboudit. In other words, the well-dressed man never leaves the house without his hat.

BART ran extra trains at six minute intervals, each with 10 cars and each was sardine packed with humanity and joy.



So anyway, all the schools finally went through their commencement ceremonies last week and turned the graduates loose upon their families and the community.

The cool weather has given way finally after the Solstice to something similar to Summer with extraordinary sky displays of gold and vermilion and azure striating the heavens above our little town.

What with the increase in rents everyone in the Household has had to go out and scrounge for whatever kind of job can be found. Occasional Quentin got a job swinging one of those cardboard property signs on the corner of Park and Santa Clara. "Two Bedrooms starting at ONLY $750,000!"

Jose and Pahrump have contracted out to the Man from Minot to paint houses, while Piedro has been commuting into the City to practice the dwindling trade of bicycle messenger. Marlene and Tipitina do the office thing downtown while Andre has hired on to Sacred Squid Tattoo on Webster, a funky place that dates from back when the Navy base was active and which managed to hang on into the era of popular purple hair and piercings. Nowadays your corporate CEO might have ink creeping just below the white collar of his starched single-thread shirt, ink vined with flaming skulls, gothic 13's, motorcycles of Death, and lewd bird-women with long tongues.

Andre is not the first to note that CEO's and punks have a lot in common in terms of attitude, with the kinder and gentler portion of humanity residing with the punk.

At the end of a long happy day over in Babylon, Toby and Tommy came tacking in to the estuary aboard their sloop the Lavender Surprise, the big rainbow flag flying high from the mainmast of the 32-footer and the cabin as well as the deck decorated with celebrating friends, all wearing feathers and multicolor boas. The hills were draped with a mantle of dense fog sending tendrils down into Montclair and upper Piedmont, but out beyond the Golden Gate in the other direction the sky striated into bands of gold, vermilion and azure as even the heavens put on a brilliant sky party above the horizon while the little lights of Babylon began to wink on in the shadows of the sunset. House parties glittered all up and down the storied hills with people gathering with friends in common celebration.

In the Old Same Place Bar, the somber mood of black crepe and mourning for the kids who had died in the balcony collapse a few weeks ago yielded to multicolor banners and cheerful clink and tingle of ice in glasses and talk of happy events, for the Giants had won Game Three against Colorado, taking two of three of the home games, giving everyone of all stripes reason to lift a glass with a smile.

Papoon, the forever Liberal Candidate, had come in wearing a rainbow tie and sat happily at the end of the bar, swaying in his cups, for there was some hope of retaking one or both houses from the Conservative party of Babar.

A party of revelers, just returned on the last BART train from the City sat at a table and they were all men dressed in pink crinoline with pink feathers and pink leotards with ballet shoes. It looked like a small flock of flamingos had settled into the bar.

Everyone was having a good time when a red Miata convertible parked outside with its radio blaring Ted Nugent. One of the flamingos stepped out the door for a smoke and was met with an hail of eggs from the convertible.

"It's the Angry Elf gang!" shouted Suzie as Padraic bolted from behind the bar with his blackthorn stick followed a bit after by Dawn, bringing the shotgun, saying "Lord a mercy! through her teeth. "It's the Black and Tans all over again!"

Dawn fired the shotgun into the air outside and, seeing there might be repercussions, the Miata tore off down the street in a squeal of tires.

It took a while for things to settle down while Padraic offered and apology and one on the house to the egged man and Denby played songs by Pete Seeger up in the snug.

When Padraic was again behind the bar the Man from Minot commented, "Didn't think you swing that way, Padraic."

Padraic paused and put his beefy paws on the bartop.

"Oym sssssssssthrayt, but not narrow!"

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, and its chainlink fence interstices until the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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

June 21, 2015


This week's headline photo comes from Lifer Tammy. Entomologists tell us that the annual migration of the monarchs has declined precipitously in recent years due to a variety of factors, including insecticide pollution, decline of their favorite nesting milkweed plant, and changes in global average temperatures playing havoc with their instinctive migration patterns.


Life got a bit more interesting on the Island this past week. Encinal High and several other West End schools went on lockdown Thursday at 11:45am on report of a person possibly armed with a gun. A bit of digging revealed that an Encinal student reported she received a threatening message on social media which featured a video of what looked like a handgun.

The student who sent the message was taken into custody and it was discovered the gun in the video is actually a starter pistol.

As both individuals involved are juveniles, no names were released to the press.

Work is to begin Monday on the new OES center at 1809 Grand Street and the adjacent Fire Station No. 3 on 1625 Buena Vista. Bear in mind that this construction taking place during the work week will affect traffic, most of which in that area is headed toward Mariner Square Village and the Tube as well as the Corporate Yard further down Grand.

Hayward police raided a marijuana grow operation to snag 13,000 plants in a massive warehouse on Diablo Avenue, arresting Islander Tony Hoang as well as two other men attempting to grow, harvest and process plants worth over $15 million dollars on the street. Tony, you naughty boy! Whatever happened to keeping business on the Island, Tony?

Perhaps the good weather brings them out, but who knows? Twenty people were detained on 5150's last week. The revolving doors at John George must have been spinning enough to generate electricity. Good news is that there were only two cases of battery reported. We may be crazy as bedbugs, but at least we are genteel.


It is no news that the rental situation has moved from ridiculous to outright obscene and unlivable, provoking intense discussion about rent control options -- which oddly enough were initially raised over a year ago by an out-of-town developer who publicly justified 300% rent increases specifically on the knowledge that there is no rent control here at all.

There is a front page article in the Sun titled "Does Rent Control Work?" (Alameda Sun, vol 14, No.38, June 18,2015, MIchele Ellson, excerpted from The Alamedan). Most discussions about rent control typically conclude it sort of works sometimes, but not nearly to the extent it is supposed to do. This is largely due to the large number of evasions, exceptions, workarounds and allowances built either into the laws themselves or into overriding statutes established precisely to defeat across the board rent control.

Probably people should talk in advance about attachments to rent control statutes to shunt aside the bad effects of things like Ellis Act evictions, which have been plaguing Oakland. Rent Control cannot of itself be a cure-all panacea. Some people have the idea of ensuring all new developments incorporate "affordable housing", but then who is it who gets to define what that vague phrase means when the "market rate" is so obnoxious.

Looking at San Francisco, from which people of all stripes are fleeing because of this "market rate" thing, we see that nobody can afford the exorbitant rents there, not even the often vilified Dot-Commers. What happens is that when the apartments go for $3,000 a month, squads of four or more people pack in to these one bedrooms by way of bunkbeds and creative sleep scheduling. Obviously the quality of life declines for everybody when a 15 unit building suddenly is home to 60 people all trying to take showers, flush the toilets, use the electricity and park their cars.

The wear and tear on the physical plant is ferocious, but hey! The landlord can always pass on the cost of repairs to the tenants afterward.

There may be some report of a Recession rollback, but real incomes have not risen around here in well over 12 years. Gone is the assumption that you pay 33% of income for housing. That just is not true here. So when more income goes to paying rent, less income goes to paying for anything else. And that is when people look to things like Dollar Stores and Walmart for basic supplies. And the neighborhoods go to pot, because how are you going to know your neighbors when your street, which once hosted a few dozen families now houses over a thousand faceless people in a hurry?

And why is it so many former Islanders born and raised here now live in San Leandor and Hayward? We know native San Franciscans three generations deep and more now living in Ohio. People need to talk about how the rampant property speculation is destroying the fabric of life here.

Given that the pressure to make money on land is so intense there may be no way to entirely halt development. If that is the case, then we should look to more amenable developers like Tim Lewis Communities, which has, in several instances, indicated that it wants to build here and it does want to do that as a partner with the community instead of as a complete predatory shark.


The Letters to the Editor continue to indicate that people are increasingly unhappy with the Shoreline street restructure. We indicated a couple weeks ago that after a visit down there, the constricted lanes offer constricted sightlines with potentially hazardous conditions existing momentarily as the single lanes become obstructed for any reason, such as parking in progress and truck deliveries.

One writer called the setup a "hideous configuration". Another suffered an accident he blames on the new lane arrangement with the concrete barrier that guards the bike lane and says "someone should be held accountable for the planning and construction of this very expensive and dangerous endeavor."

Having made several more trips down there it does appear that how dangerous the street is depends on time of day. During periods of low traffic, there are fewer parked cars and the sightlines remain more open. A difference of a few hours, however, and the place does become a nasty area to avoid, with parked cars limiting fields of vision for drivers and constant pedestrian and automobile cross traffic tossing a welter of visual stimuli, which all points to the need to SLOW DOWN, as fractions of a second may matter a great deal.

We have to repeat that our objective opinion, having take a bicycle down there and a car, that for bicycles, the route is a pleasure. For an automobile driver, go slow or go fast, the experience is much worse due to the increased risks due to situational inattention. That is to say, the combined weight of visual stimuli impacting a driver will overload the driver's base of judgment, leading to an accident with safe passage becoming largely a factor of luck.

The EIR may state for reasonable or entirely fictitious reasons that a sum total of only one additional vehicle will occur at rush hour by 2035, but streets like Shoreline are going to become wretched bottlenecks at that time and others. Why? Because even the EIR says so by inference. All the traffic that would have been flowing out the Tube and the bridges will happen locally. That means more traffic on every city street.

Probably the best solution would be to entirely close off Shoreline to ALL vehicular traffic save emergency and commercial vehicles. If you think about it, that solution is not as outlandish as it may sound. In fact, we probably should do the same with Park Street as well. Now that would definitely slow a lot of things down.


So anyway, this weekend turned out to be both Father's Day and the Summer Solstice. The Household members had to fend for themselves as individuals this year. The year when the girls of the place all took their dads to brunch at Mama's Royal Cafe very nearly ended in disaster that was circumvented by adroit redirection maneuvers and linguistic incomprehension. Claude, Tipitina's father, would have caused a riot had anyone at the table save Tipitina understood his crude Cajun insults.

Out on the sealanes, Pedro escaped the dreadful breakfast-in-bed ritual that plagued mom with extensive kitchen cleanup after Mother's Day, for his workday began long before the sun rose and ended safely just past the traditional time of brunch. Motoring out toward the spots that glimmered on his radar, his face drew grim as he listened to the wrenching unfolding of the tragedy that had convulsed a small church in South Carolina. The man had sat quietly among the praying congregation for some time, as it was said, before standing up to massacre nine people by gunfire and injure several more. The survivors of the murdered, all the relatives, came to the courthouse where the killer was arraigned so as to face him, and instead of hurling insults and hatred, they came to forgive him.

The news ended and Pedro's favorite program that featured the Lutheran televangelist came on, beginning with its familiar piano jingle borrowed from the Blues.

The televangelist told a parable about a man in a small Minnesota town who possessed a terrible singing voice. His voice was so bad, people enjoined him to stop singing in church, which caused him much grief, and so he would take a boat out to a cove on the lake there and belt out the familiar hymns to his heart's content once he was sure no one was listening. He eventually had to leave the small town because something about his scent or his habitude of being caused blackflies to attack him everywhere he went. So he moved from place to place and eventually settled in Barbados where he found he had a flair for tropical flower horticulture, and so he built up a business growing and selling exotic orchids and he started attending a local church that was primarily Black in attendance. Barbados is substantially Black in population, so this is not unusual. This congregation possessed many powerful voices and so when he sang along, no one noticed that his voice was in any way bad. And in fact it is understood that when one of the flock of many goes astray it is the duty of the many to gently take ownership of the lost one and guide him. And so after a time, his singing did improve a great deal. Because he was supported and held up by the stronger.

Pedro told himself this is a story he must repeat, because its message is so important. Even at the risk of plagiarism. Because too often the power of the Righteous is used to bear down, instead of bear up.

Many times, with the St. Elmo's fire a dim glow and the sea more than especially amenable to contemplation, Pedro had imagined turning the boat from the fishing lanes to point out to the open sea and head for the Philippines, or perhaps Tahiti. He had provisions and fuel and he knew how to sail with a step-up mast and having abandoned all that he had come to know his new life surely would be something compelling and different among the grass-waisted women and the pungent flowers of this new land. There would be no more taxman or payments to meet or squabbles with irritating and extremely stupid neighbors about the chicken coop.

Although he had the ability to leave, he did not. There were the children, Gilberto, Filiberto, Alicia, Ana, Santiago, Yolanda, Yvonne, and little Santiago, each with their lessons to learn. He had to give them all something important before he left this life entirely. Something in addition to how to read the tides and how to tie a bowline. How to lash yourself to the rings during rough seas, trusting persistence to win survival amid the torrid wash. Or how to fight off a shark attack on deck with the help of a faithful dog, as he had done. Something that involved finding the center in yourself, wherever it may be, while all around stares the blank and open sea, a desert, a vast prairie that will eat the soul of an empty man.

And so every morning he turned the prow away from Tahiti to head on home, a father to his sons and daughters.

Toni's Wiccan coven met for the solstice observances down at the cove at midnight, same as last year. As usual they drew the pentangle on the grass and set out the candles and the logfire was kindled and Sophia read her poem and Arthur chanted the tantric chant of freesoul and Brian and Eloise did the dance of Pan and the Faun. As they sat in zazen, they heard the snuffling and the hooves announcing the approaching manifestation of She, the personification of the Goddess. This had happened last year and the year before that, so it understandably had been taken to be a kind of Tradition.

Shari, who was a Jewish witch, understood perfectly all about Tradition and always had a great deal to say on the subject.

Into the firelight circle the massive bulk of She appeared. It was Eunice, once again escaped from Wootie Kanootie's moose paddock located at the base of the Park Street Bridge. And since she did seem to have a talent for getting out of there at the same time each year, who was there to say she was not indeed the Goddess herself personified and not simply a female animal itching with all the drives of Spring to get out of the confines of the cubicle.

Every Spring something similar can be observed in office environments all around the Bay area, but that is another story.

As per tradition among the coven, there was rejoicing and a draping of flower garlands about Eunice and a feeding of apples and grains as the revolve of the Earth turned from the cold of Pluto's domain towards the sunny chariot ride of Phoebus Apollo as the shortest night of the year spun out its start-studded ebony threads.

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, and its chainlink fence interstices until the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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


JUNE 13, 2015


This week, in honor of the winds bringing the long anticipated change in the seasons, we have a photo from the Harbor Bay Island end of things via Tammy. At one time the Island featured thousands of trees just like this one.


ProArts Open studios continued this weekend with more studios opening up their spaces and others taking the 2nd week off.

According to the Crimestoppers Notebook, we see 11 people detained on 5150 for observation. Wow! Was there a full moon? No, it's just that a lot of crazy people live here.

John Knox White sought to clear up the "confusion" over the Point EIR which incredulously stated that adding several thousand inhabitants to the island would result in the net increase of just one car over all Island access points during rush hour periods.

JKW did indicate that the individual who pointed out this figure is an anti development partisan cherry picking facts from a comprehensive report which went through -- supposedly -- extensive review.

The reason that the increase is held to be so low by the planners in the report is that the assumption was most of the new homes would be tenanted by stay-at-home workers and that a fair number of people living here now and working elsewhere were going to be leaving.

Um, how those assumptions came about is more grist for violent debate right there, but anyway, onward.

Turns out that very simple math accounted for this really weird number for the net increase in vehicles. The project reporters considered cars entering the Island as offsetting the number of cars leaving the Island, with an increase in over five hundred cars coming and going, but with a net difference of just one vehicle (JKW states that 340 new trips in and out of the Island produced by 1,200 households can be expected, with another 340 trips that used to be off the island becoming local traffic to new businesses).

O! Now everything is clear. The reports figures are based upon assumptions. Uh, yeah. Did anyone factor in to the equation the Manhattanization effect in which single family units become suddenly multiple family units -- as they have been doing for the past eight years -- resulting in a far, far higher influx than planned.

Now we think JKW is generally well-informed and bases his positions on well-informed grounds, but we insist that these assumptions trend to the overly optimistic in the extreme and fail to recognize historical traffic patterns, such as the changes at the Maze which had engineers scratching their heads and saying, "Never imagined so much traffic through her would happen!"

Yes, you can have your opinion and you can have your facts, but you also have to take in realistic forecasts based on historical trends as well.


Here is the upcoming lineup for the Bay Area.

Coming to the Fox, we eagerly anticipate Jason Isbell, formerly of the Drive by Truckers. He is all cleaned up and he has a hot girlfriend who plays a mean fiddle.

Grace Potter is coming to the Fox August 15th. Get 'em while they are hot.

Social Distortion will welcome the new freshmen on September 9th with a show that is likely to blow the doors off the place.

Because of the scope of things October major events are going on sale now. The Treasure Island Music Festival takes place October 17-18th.

The Greek is lining up a powerhouse set of concerts in October. Get ready for Florence and the Machine who are going to prove that even little girls can have big, powerful voices.

Thursdays look like they are becoming weekend warmups around here. The UC Redwood Grove will host a series of outdoor concerts from 5:30 to 7:30. Check out

In the Berkeley Art "Ghetto" Third Thursdays have started to develop some buzz with performances in the galleries being added to the fun.

The Kate Wolf festival in Laytonville will feature just about everybody who is hot on the borderline bluesy acoustic-electric world. Angelique Kidjo, Iron and Wine, Steve Earle, Charlie Musselwhite, Dan Hicks, and Roy Rogers are just a few headliners.


So anyway, first week of June rolled around and that meant it was time for high school graduations and Javier's birthday once again. This being Javier's 57th celebration, it was thought -- and hoped -- that this year things will have calmed down. About the graduations, it was expected that there would be some mayhem and as for life after high school, there existed similar wan hopes as for Javier's birthday. All the parents knew there would be trouble; they just hoped nobody died or went to prison for it.

The Island is a sort of place that takes Time on its own terms, trending to do things as things have always been done with scant good regard for changes just to keep up with the neighbors. That is why weeks after other local districts have packed up the cafeteria chairs and rolled up the boundary flags and stored the lecterns Island schools hold their ceremonies not one minute before May's darling buds have been tossed away in the rough winds.

After the series of dock sizzlers that ended May, June warmed up considerably with temps going into the 80's along the coast. The high fog of morning has given way each day to bright cloudless days that sailed overhead with effortless breezes.

Graduation day all the joyous grads filed down the way and across the track, wearing their rented gowns and caps, swishing to their metal seats out on the athletic field where some of them had seen glory, some of them embarrassment, many of them tedium and hard work and soon all that had been their lives for four years would change.

The invited speaker for the day was Charlie Stutz, an alum who was most noted for having played ball with the more famous Willie Stargell, and who had flown fighter planes in Korea and Vietnam and who had been a City Councilmember and then a County Supervisor for a couple decades during the turbulent Sixties. Somebody said he had been shot down and captured by the Viet Cong in addition to all this, but he really was most famous for having known Willie Stargell.

Even though Stargell had been born in Oklahoma and never played for a California team, he attended high school on the Island, and Islanders tend to grasp at what sliver of fame may offer itself like a brass ring, so they named a street after him.

This year the Board had decided to issue a stern prohibition against tossing hats in the air

Principal Juanita Juarez introduced the speaker and sat down as the white-haired Stutz made his way to the podium as Mr. Stivers, the School Superintendent in charge of event setup looked on anxiously for any signs of the usual annual pranks practiced by the outgoing senior class, who knew that no matter what they did, retribution would be distant and avoidable. Next to him sat the prim School Secretary Madeline Felcher. This year the Board had decided to issue a stern prohibition against tossing hats in the air, as last year far too many of these things either vanished or became damaged to great expense against the General Fund.

In any case there had been little sign of any serious trouble ever since someone had broken into the Principal's storage locker on campus a few weeks ago. In fact, the school had been uneasily quiet, which made Mr. Stivers very nervous.

"Class of 2015, I greet you from the other side," began Mr. Stutz. "I am on my way out, pretty soon to be out of all this stuff you are just getting messed up in and I know that there are some of you who are glad of that. Some of you say when the Baby Boomers are all gone, and I am one of the first, everything can start to improve and there will be no more Grateful Dead hippy retrospectives to plague us all. No more endless repetition of Hotel California."

This comment drew forth a few snickers.

"That is appropriate. We, too, believed the world would be better once all the darned Rat Pack Frank Sinatra with the black and white memories of Jackie Gleason had faded away and were buried finally under six feet of earth. Then we could enjoy our own music, our own memories, and not have to relive Gallipoli, Prohibition stories, barbershop quartets and those damn boater straw hats all over again in endless reruns. And finally, on that magic day, we could sit in that plush reclining easy chair in front of the modern TV set and change the channels ourselves without having to ask permission."

Nervous coughs. Scuffle of feet.

"Class of 2015 those things don't really matter. They never did matter. Your journey is your own and the first one that ever occurred, because this journey is happening to you, not to those who went before. Some of you may go out there and do really great things. You may climb mountains, found companies, become very rich, go bankrupt, get married, travel to distant countries where they do not speak English and do not care to learn how to do so, and it does not matter anyone did this before you, because you are yourself doing it now. No one can live your life for you . . . "

Mr. Stivers and Ms. Felcher turned pale as a black cloud arose

At that moment a tremendous explosion shook the earth and Mr. Stivers and Ms. Felcher turned pale as a black cloud arose from down by the Strand a mile away. Another cloud indicating a rather large fire arose also from that direction but nothing else happened beyond that and the distant sound of sirens.

Mr. Sturtz picked himself up off the floor of the Dias to re-approach the podium. He looked with attention at the seating area for administrators.

"I can see which of you are Officer material," he said. "You did not duck or take cover. Anyway, to continue, you never know when the unexpected will happen. That is why they call it 'the unexpected. . .'."

The explosion turned out to be entirely independent of the annual Senior prank. In the end, the Seniors waited until Lisa Sanchez delivered her speech.

"Class of 2015, I, Lisa Sanchez, am your Valedictorian. To me is given by tradition at this school the final speech of this assembly. This means that according to the Latin definition of the words "vale dictum", I am to say our general farewell. And so I say farewell to the faculty and staff of this noble institution that has tried to educate us for four years. I say good-bye to our mascot, the Least Tern, who although least among terns is greatest in our hearts . . .".

At that moment a motorized mini-aircraft flew across the area towing a sign, behind which fluttered a line of lacy lingerie of various colors. The sign read, "Principal Juarez dirty knickers!" The drone did a pass and then circled about to return again overhead.

"Heyyyy!" Lisa said, before a line of roman rockets and fizzlers went off in a spectacular line in front of the stage from underneath the bleachers. All of the graduates, without exception chose that moment to toss their caps into the air with a great, collective "Huzzah!".

Mr. Stivers, ready with a fire extinguisher, ran about under the bleachers to put out the fireworks with the help of Ms. Felcher as grads and family dispersed while the drone continued to circle overhead until its batteries ran out and it crashed into the empty seats. Nevertheless, this was the fifteenth year in a row the reading of the roll had to be abandoned.

On the Strand Javier's birthday party proceeded with little incident. Denby was there with his guitar and Jose had come, not without some trepidation and precautions to be sure, and all the Household of Marlene and Andre had showed up and Martini had scored bags of iced premixed Cosmos and Margaritas and Long Island Iced Teas from the CVS where they were selling this stuff at 75% off. Suan had a Costco card from the Crazy Horse as a perk and she had gone out with Pahrump to fetch two bags of hotlinks and buns in industrial quantity along with something similar to potato salad, so there was food and drink and general merriment and nobody got stabbed and nobody got shot until Piedro showed up in a truck driven by some Guatemalan friends.

The pickup towed a chassis that carried what looked like a very large field cannon. This was Piedro's auctioned purchase of a 188 howitzer from the old Navy base when all the material had been sold off. The GSA is stern about selling off Federal property and is well known to be inflexible when it comes time to dispose, whether it be land or armaments. As we have seen with the McKay Avenue Opera. His friends parked this in the dead-end circle under the trees on McKay Avenue.

Usually the arms are rendered inoperable. Piedro, who had narco friends in Mexico City, had the inoperable part reversed. He could do that and he did. He also obtained live rounds from the same source who only asked that when finished with playing, they also got to play with this thing against a rival cartel. Piedro was normally a good boy who had not a criminal bone in his well-intentioned body, and usually acted in a way that made his abuelta proud of his honesty and industriousness. But of course good boys sometimes have bad company and really, who can choose their friends all the time.

"Mi amigo, I bring you birthday gift!" Piedro said. "Feliz Cumpleanos! I cannot wait until you are sixty when I really wanted to give this to you because so many of your old girlfriends want to kill you. I am not sure you will live so long. Maybe this will help."

"This is fun," said Javier, now interested and clambering over the chassis. "How does it work?"

"I think you push this in here and that there and there is a charge already loaded so I think you just press here. . . ".

The world erupted in an deafening thunder of fire and smoke and both men were thrown to the ground as everyone for about 100 yards covered their ears and babies started crying and dogs howled and sensitive people bled from the ears. Both of them lay there, stunned and insensible for several minutes.

The smoke arising to the heavens was seen as far away as the high school graduation ceremony at Island High.

"What is going on over there," Denby asked, pointing toward the Marina.

"I think that is Mr. Howitzer's yacht," Jose said. "I think they have hit it and set it on fire and destroyed it. We should get out of here now."

As sirens began to wail, Piedro tried to get his Guatemalan friends to hitch up and get gone out of there. But he had to pay for delivery first.

"I don't have money for that. They are coming and we are all going to be arrested if you do not act now.

They acted now. They promptly disappeared with their truck.

IPD Crown Vics blocked the exit to McKay and men in SWAT uniforms began approaching with guns drawn.

"Once again another birthday with Javier and I get arrested," said Jose complaining. "Why is this?"

"Tradition," Denby said, as the first polizei threw him down to the ground face first.

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, and its chainlink fence interstices until the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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


JUNE 7, 2015


This week's headline photo came from an enterprising woman named Cindy Manit who took part in the 534 mile bicycle charity ride to raise money for AIDS research. Along the way from the Bay Area to Los Angeles Cindy met and inspired a great number of people by her selfless determination. Here is a letter from an impressionable kindergartner.

The student's name is Yuna and her teacher, Ashley, helped a bit with some spell-editing. And fortunately, no, Cindy's helmet did not get broken. Cindy runs a yoga business in San Francisco.


This pre-graduation weekend for the Bay Area schools turned progressively more gorgeous with moderately cloud-dappled skies and increasingly warmer temperatures for a bevy of Area events to kick off the Summer season.

ProArts held its annual Oakland Open Studios, and roped in a few Islanders along the way, including the delightful Wanda Fudge on Minturn and Garage Mahal on Santa Clara near City Hall.

Old times with family histories on this island going back generations showed up to check out Patrick Erwin's space which he shares with Elaine Carpenter in a garage outbuilding the two have converted into an atelier.

Patrick does intimate, focussed oil and pastel landscapes of local perspectives, capturing a warm, homey feel of familiar prospects while Elaine tended to focus upon the aquatic boundaries of the Island and neighboring areas along the coast. Her moonlit seascapes of boats at anchor or tacking offshore have a dreamy, compelling quality.

Oakland's First Fridays has become famous, more for hearty partying than for the artists who began the exuberant affair. This weekend, Chronicle Books moved its annual Bookfestival to Berkeley where the city allowed the festival to block off nine blocks for a very large celebration of all things written. The centerpiece was Lacuna, a circular structure built entirely of 50,000 books discarded by the Boston public library. Lacuna was 50 feet in diameter and eight feet high at the lower edges. A sort of pavilion top consisted of ropes running up to a center pole and bedecked with book covers. All books were meant to be taken away as freebies.

Outdoor stages were set up all around the Festival area for readings, talks and performances. We took in part of an open mike setup in front of the Berkeley Post Office. In addition to scads of bookstore, publisher and author booths and tables, special events took place at selected venues. Because of the confusion regarding admission to these things -- people needed a ticket to enter, but no information in the Program guide about getting the free tickets was printed -- we and a lot of people missed out on some of the juicier sessions.

We did get to hear John Scalzi read and speak, and found the Hugo-winning author animated and delightful as well as full of useful information about the path from Unknown to Successful.

Also talked with Richard Silberg at the Poetry Flash booth. Poetry Flash has been reporting Bay Area poetry issues for over 40 years. Richard Silberg is associate editor of Poetry Flash and co-director of the Poetry Flash at Cody's Books in Berkeley. He also teaches "Writing and Appreciating Contemporary Poetry" and poetry workshops at UC Berkeley Extension. His first book was a volume of speculative social philosophy, The Devolution of the People, published by Harcourt, Brace and World in 1967. His newest book, Reading the Sphere: Essays on Contemporary Poetry (Berkeley Hills Books 2002) is a collection of essays that were originally published in Poetry Flash.

Talked with author Eric Golub, who goes by the name online and in print of Tygrrrr Express. Tygrrrr, or Eric, has a mission to tell everyone about being Jewish and make sure they laugh about it. About Eric we can offer this helpful critique should he ever venture onto this site: keep the beard. It looks good on you and it might help deflect potential Lubavitcher acrimony. "He's so irreverent, but oy! What a great beard!."

One more thing. Somebody's parents are getting itchy trigger fingers over the lack of grandkids. Eric, is a handsome, well-bred, successful boy who makes yontif religiously. And ladies, the man is single. And he has a beard. He is from Brooklyn, but we will not hold that against him as he now lives in LA. We happen to know of two ladies up here who are absolute stunners and very available. The really pretty one with legs to die for from the ground up to THERE lives in Babylon and, oy!,is she Jewish! Only problem we forgot her name, but we can get that for you as a very good friend in Babylon can fix up a shiddoch for you.

Other girl is named Rose. So maybe Rose Aquilar is not so Jewish, but with a name like Rose and a mother like her's she might as well be. Rose works for the radio station KALW as a reporter/commentator and we understand she is very available.



So anyway, everyone on the Island is gearing up for the spate of Graduations to take place this week. Some places hold them earlier, but we on the Island tend to move at an historically relaxed pace. Besides, it takes a week or two for the cash-strapped Unified District to process all the paperwork and the final grades so we have gotten used to being a little behind everybody else.

It's not like as if the results were not foregone conclusions. Those seniors of a mind to go to college, hopefully far distant from the land of birth and rearing, got their notices of acceptance months ago and they have been coasting along ever since. Those others destined to step into the shop to help out Dad in the family business are resigned to their fates.

The East End of the Island tends toward those destined to inhabit the well-matriculated slopes of Marin and places further off. The West End remains the abode of those more resigned.

Another event which has some local notoriety is Javier's birthday, which is slated for some kind of fireworks this week. In anticipation of this event, which trends toward the explosively sanguine in scenes best imagined by a young Sam Peckinpah, Jose has purchased Life Insurance from the shop over the bridge on Fruitvale that offers things like this for terms of less than a month. Last time one of Javier's ex-girlfriends showed up and ran him through with a spear. Jose figured that if he were like to die horribly in celebration of someone's birthday, his dear Abuelita might as well enjoy her old age in some comfort from the insurance checks. Several neighbors typically stock up on ammunition and Old John has gotten the Depuglia brothers to unload a ton of sandbags with which he plans to build a sort of fortress around the place he rents until all the screaming has stopped.

Celebrating birthdays is a weird tradition in the Bay Area, with an urgency not experienced in other parts of the country. No one seems to know exactly why this thing is felt to be important for adults over the age of 25 and up in the Bay Area, but in Javier's case, the urgency usually results in property destruction and/or visits to the hospital by any number of people and pets.

This year Javier would turn 57, which meant truly significant milestone actions would not be foisted upon people. Save that Piedro went out to the storage facility he had at the Point to look at the thing he had purchased during the big auctions of Navy materiel when the Base had closed. Inside Hangar #8 there his prize sat, draped in oilcloth and grease. A fully functional Vietnam-era 188 howitzer mounted on a four-wheel frailer. The thing had cost him a bid of $200, mostly so cheap because nobody could imagine at the time a purpose for such a curiosity. The gun had not been functional when sold -- not even the Navy is that stupid to sell such a thing -- but Piedro had friends with narco connections south of the border who could put their hands on just about anything, including howitzer parts and ammunition. So the hours ticked off to Javier's 57th birthday and Piedro stood there wondering if maybe this was the time to bring out his baby. Before all the old land at the Base got developed and keeping something like this impossible.

So now with the seasonal fog having brought its message of changes, the temperature rise signals the onset of the Summer of 2015.

Ms. Morales, who has kept this title despite being properly Mrs. Sanchez, because of her many years of service in the Unified District, has been working with the Graduation Committees of both Longfellow Middle School and Island High to get everything arranged. This being a drought year, there is no thought of rain preparations at all, but there remains the accounting for the reduced parking due to construction and getting the seats and making the arrangements for the Invited Speaker.

This was a curious week on Church Row for sermons. At the Zen monastery, the Rinpoche held up his left hand and said, "Clap now with one hand!"

Anyone who did not get it, was soundly beaten with sticks, which is an example of one reason why only true believers practice Zen This sort of thing tends to weed out the dilettantes.

In the Immanuel church the Lutheran Pastor Nyquist quoted from the Default Gospel of St. John as part of the Holy Trinity liturgy, mostly because he could not think of much to say, having to deal with more pressing issues during the week, such as the death of beloved Alma and her grieving relatives. This was one of his sermons he called unpretentiously "autopilot sermons", because it covered most general issues and got past the time effectively with little destruction until he could come up with something better.

"Be thou like the lilies of the field."

The Catholics always had the red shoes and the gilt-edged embroidery fabric, and iconography on which to fall, and so they were seldom at a loss. Everything was symbolic and a metaphor and so you could travel miles on that. The face of the imaginary Jesus just appeared on a tortilla. Hey! You could employ that image for miles of sermons. This week the sermon from Father Danyluk was, admittedly, a pass on serious effort. The improving weather had gotten to him and his attention had flagged. So he had called on the old chestnut "Be thou like the lilies of the field." While he was speaking someone in the first or second row let out a tremendous blast of gas, which passed with only a little sound. He heard this sort of long wheeze and thought nothing of it until this odor of rotten eggs came drifting up to the pulpit and Father Danyluk sort of gagged in mid-sentence and he lost his train of thought and the place on the page that held his notes.

A few people got out of their seats and moved towards the back of the church and a few more just used the side door to leave entirely.

Father Danyluk began talking about game 2 of the Warriors and how important it was to play the game with integrity, and the Holy Trinity was the Coach -- no HE was the coach, the priesthood were the coaches and the Trinity was the Referee, and he struggled with getting back to the lilies of the field, but by this time he had gotten pretty far afield himself with the smell getting stronger. And so he said the uniforms do not matter -- they change all the time. The game was not about the uniform it was about the ball and the player and Communion of Team and even his own robes did not matter as a priest for he would still be a priest were he to stand up there in front of everyone naked. . . .

And at that point, the unfortunate soul with the intestinal problem let loose a tremendously loud series that went Blat! Buh, buh, buh, fffffffft! BLAAAAAAAAT! and the last one was so loud that it caused the nave to reverberate.

A very red-faced Old Joe got up out of his seat and walked stiffly to the exit to find the restroom he should have used some time ago.

Father Danyluk continued, "And that is the word. Let us all rise and go in peace -- I think today we shall skip the recessional and everything else besides. Just go in peace. . .". Which was just as well as most of the front half of the church was making its own exit at this time

A Zen monk threatened Zen terrorism, which caused a great deal of stir downtown. Bill Fong went and sat in the rotunda of City Hall threatening to meditate on world destruction and nothingness as he sat cross-legged in his purple robes and the Mayor was very put out about it. He was joined by several other radicalized Zen practitioners and they all sat in a circle, chanting while a couple monks destroyed a small statue of Elvis Presley and a big painting of the King done on velvet with sticks and pinking shears. Then they sat down among the ruins of the priceless artifacts after stomping around in a circle chanting Daess! Daess! Daess! There is no god but the one god of Nothingness!

Some people claimed this religious extremism had gone entirely too far and what was the world coming to.

The Rinpoche for the Tibetan monastery on Santa Clara had to come down and berate the radicals for being a bunch of idiots and only then did the monks get up shamefaced to go.

"I have a right to No Mind!"

Murphy, of the Island Sun, did a story about radicalized Zen elements lurking in the heartland and revealed that social media had been exploited by Zen practitioners who desired to create a Zen State that would be governed by the Principles of the Fivefold Way. Everyone would have to shave their heads and practice yoga twice a day. The idea of practicing Mindfulness and Compassion under duress really ticked off members of the motorcycle club the Beanplant Giants, and they drove out to the Monastery to protest the Zen religion, which is not really a religion per se, but Bernie Klotz of the BG Club was not a man to nail down distinctions. So they all stood around with guns and signs saying, "Violence is American!" and "I have a right to No Mind!" (Mindfulness did not fit on the sign) and Bernie beat his head with two bricks in front of the TV news cameras until he fell down and was arrested for blocking the sidewalk. He afterward blamed the Media for his headache.

Inside the monastery the Rinpoche shook his head. Some people. He sat before the congregation there after ringing the little bell and, returning to the subject which he had begun before the City Hall affair, held up his left arm. "Today I want you to make the sound of clapping with one hand."

Suzi, watching the coming and going of lives in front of her

In the Old Same Place Bar, which is a sort of temple of the spirits so to speak, the discussion was all about how crazy the world had become. Suzi, watching the coming and going of lives in front of her from behind the bar. She poured highballs, shots and beers and listened to the stories about relationships and marriages or the lack of them and when it got quiet she sat down on her stool and took out her Anthropology textbook to read about the Bonobo, those gentle souls of the jungle who soweth not, nor reapeth, who practice compassion and mutual concern for each other and all living things, who bow neither to the East nor to the West, who have no laws compelling anyone to do or not do anything, and who never, never, never ever go to church, temple, mosque or synagogue where practicing yontif is never more than caring about one another.

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 in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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



MAY 31, 2015


More than half a century ago Andy Pagano put a hardware store into this old building and built it up to a local tradition, a fixture of the island City and a delightful reminder of things past.

Now, another casualty of the ongoing property greed and the march of Time that is destroying one landmark after another, including Boudin's Bakery, the Central Cinema, the Drive-in Theatre, Jim's Barber Shop, Vines Coffee Shop, and any number of businesses that have been around since the end of World War II, Pagano's on Lincoln is no more.

Dave Giovanelli, one-time partner to Pagano, has shifted operations to the Neptune Plaza which coincidentally happens to be at the cross of Central and - quelle surprise! -- the disputed McKay Avenue.

To add yet more interest, that old building that housed the old Pagano's was built so long ago that none of it is up to code and so any new business in there will have to enjoy several thousand dollars in major upgrades. Given that the storefronts in that block can hardly remain open for more than 18 months at a time as it is, the realty company may have seriously shot itself in the foot by carping about the rent.


It's moving out of the Spring Season, typically a die-down time for the footlights and concerts as Mainliners gear up for the Summer, the movie industry holds its horses back for the Blockbuster Reely Big Shews, and the theatre venues change over productions as the Season rolls over to the new lineup. One item to watch for here will be a daring choice for Altadena which shall be presenting the caustic Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet -- not a play known for pleasing small town conservative audiences. Should be very interesting to see the critical response here.

Death of young and old took the front pages this week. Niel Tam, 69, passed away after contracting Leukemia. He is best known for serving as a trustee for the Unified School District. Before becoming a trustee, Mr. Tam taught in the schools here and served as Washington Elementary Principal for a total of 30 years in pedagogy. He is generally remembered for possessing a voice of quiet common sense and for initiating more recently the anti-bullying curriculum that caused a bit of a stir. Personally, we remember him working as a volunteer for the Island Food Bank, also in a very quiet and understated capacity.

It is sad to lose an elder statesman of experience. Sadder still to lose a young person just starting out on Life's journey. Clay Harding was just 17 and a senior at Alameda High when he mixed prescription drugs and alcohol at a friend's house with fatal consequences. The popular teen was a talented skateboarder and will be remembered June 6 at the City View Skatepark out on the Point by way of a tournement.

In perusing the Police Blotter we see that the rate of 5150's continues at about 7 detentions per week. 5150 is the code for putting a person on three day psychiatric evaluation at John George. We do know that John George has been releasing persons before the 72 hour period has elapsed, so we don't know how many of these are repeats. Our in-house psych nurse tells us that a 5150 is executed only if a person appears to be a danger to themselves, to other people, or property. It is interested that we have so many of these, and yet there was the case of the man who was beaten by a patrol officer badly enough to require hospitalization and extensive rehab.

On the upbeat news we are pleased that Oakland held its first Book Festival this Sunday. Due to a confusion of dates (we had the Festival down for 6/6 - 6/7 which are the dates for the Chronicle Bay Bookfest) we missed out on that significant event. The event is significant in that, despite the large cultural richness of literary talent here, we have not had anything like the events hosted in New York City. Not even San Francisco has held anything like this recently, and it is interesting that this event, organized by NYC transplants Kira and Timothy Don, is being held in Oakland instead of across the water. This may be another sign of a culture flight from the City that Rents High.

If you did miss this one, Chronicle Books will have its own book extravaganza next weekend for two full days of literary explosiveness. This one also takes place in the East Bay in the Downtown Berkeley's Arts District.

An evening with popular children’s author Judy Blume and a keynote by Google’s Laszlo Bock are just two of the headliners at the Bay Area Book Festival, June 6-7, 2015 in Berkeley, California. The two-day, free festival will welcome 300 local, national and international authors in 145 keynotes, interviews, panels and performances on indoor and outdoor stages throughout a 10-block radius of downtown Berkeley.

See the full list of authors and the weekend schedule. Highlights include conversations and interviews with Paolo Bacigalupi, Michael Chabon, Peter Coyote, Daniel Handler, Pico Iyer, Kim Stanley Robinson, Rebecca Solnit, and the Icelandic novelist Sjón; Lauren Oliver on the Teen Stage; Mac Barnett regaling the kids on the Children’s Stage—and, this being Berkeley, Cal Peternell, head chef at Chez Panisse, on a panel on the joys, perils, and practicalities of writing cookbooks.

A centerpiece installation will be the "Lacuna", a structure composed of 50,000 books.

You will want to go to for information and schedules.


So anyway, this is the week after Memorial Day week, when people who don't know or who have not been there, put away their BBQ tools and their charcoal and return to work, while some other people take this time of quiet to revisit that grassy place up on the hill or some such similar locus for what what lost. When the traveling Wall had come around the Editor had stood there searching and searching, finding this and that name, but not two more. An officer sat in a hot tent out on the tarmac of the decommissioned Navy base and had found one of those names -- Raymond of Falls Church -- but not Johnny, in a binder book of many names all of which for one administrative reason or another had not wound up on the wall. He had stood there, knowing the entire story -- members of Johnny's unit had told him everything, but the boy had enlisted underage and the officer, probably knowing quite a few stories similar to Johnny's kept saying, "Sorry. Sorry I can't do anything for you." A stock phrase, repeated many times.

And all the many lost who lived through that time, seeking some mooring in an imagined loss that must somehow be real the longer it was clasped to the heart because the entire Country seemed to have lost so much as if a recognized name on the Wall, no matter how distant, could somehow bind the lost person to an emotional truth that made sense amid this national agony. But the names on the Wall are real and what happened was real and the concrete trivia of a soldier's life is real, as the Officer well knows and his commitment is to the men and women who truly served. Sorry. Sorry, I can't do anything for you."

And it bothers the Editor that his own search to find resolution for two people he has known is conflated with amorphous psychological fictions.

In the end, it all comes down to red tape and administrative issues. Volunteering to sit in an unairconditioned tent to look up names. Some names lost because the forms had not been properly completed. Pretty much the entire way of the US Army from time immemorial. Situation Normal. Code FUBAR.

At the Unitarian Church this week's sermon was about the Good Samaritan and the Sufi who encountered the Mystic on the road to Mecca. This being California, we tend to get quite a mixture when it comes to the Gospels as you can imagine. Most people on the Island know the parable of the compassionate man from Samhara. The story about the Sufi who encountered the Mystic goes as follows. The Mystic riding upon his ass knew of the Sufi's wisdom and so posed a conundrum he imagined might be difficult to resolve, so he asked, "Who is greater, the Prophet Mohammed or Bassam?"

A thunderclap threw the Mystic from his ride to the ground and the Sufi exclaimed as the hills quaked in the distance, "The Prophet, of course!"

Now, if this story seems abstruse and difficult to understand, it would pay the inquirer well to hold back judgments as he or she pursues greater knowledge. It seems nowadays people trend to the unthinking and prepackaged set of opinions about a great number of things that require some thought and consideration. Of course when we act, we must act decisively, but we should not adhere to the doctrine that it is better to do something stupid than do nothing at all for the moment.

Reverend Freethought had no idea whatsoever where her sermon was going to take her and she had some serious doubts about connecting the parable of the good man from Samhara to this Moslem story. The windows of the Unity chapel were open and the sky had shifted from its dull slate of recent weeks to dappled blue heavens and the seabirds were winging in from a storm offshore and a great change in the air was blowing all that cogitation over a glass or two of wine last night out into the fields of lilies, they that soweth not nor reap.

Just as this marvelous weather begins to turn fair, Eugene's landlord finally got around to fixing the furnace, providing central heat to the lower floors after a month of hemming and hawing the way slumlords are wont to do. And the Island seems to have developed a fair number of these slumlords in recent years. Eugene's landlord was named Bang Banana Bing and he hailed from Vietnam, from which he had been airlifted as yet another casualty of our foreign wars. Since the country which had forcibly adopted him and his family refused to recognize his foreign medical degree, he had elected to throw his intelligence into property acquisition and management.

Since the US is given to asserting itself around the world in such destabilizing terms frequently we are likely to receive quite a number of folks just like Bang for years to come. All give thanks to Bushie and the Project for the New American Century.

Recognizing that the locals were bent on capitalizing upon his limited language skills and seeming lack of control, Bang resolved to do things the American Way, and provide as little upkeep as possible, to keep the local vultures at bay, and extract what he could from the property. It was clear after the first re-wiring job these locals were set to rob him of as much as they could extract while still providing substandard work that arced and sparked and consisted of tape-wrapped three-pole plugs that possessed no ground.

As the lilies, you shall reap as you shall sow.

At Marlene and Andre's Household the denizens were restive, longing for the change in seasonal temps that would release the pressure valve of too many people crammed into a small space due to the obscene rent situation. Fifteen people lived in that one bedroom cottage set to rent by Mr. Howitzer. And the situation was gradually being duplicated all over the Island due to the property greed that had infected the place like some vile disease exported from the Congo.

All the studios now held two people. All the one bedrooms held three or more. Two bedroom units now held four or more people. And the population continued to increase and the problems of parking and crime also rose with the population density. No one person could afford these prices and the rare few who could bopped along the street like ignorant, happy apes, unaware of the damage happening all around them. Until they were robbed at gunpoint or mugged. Quelle surprise!

The corner of St. Charles and Lincoln looks desolate these days, but on the revivified Webster A Touch of Wonder is going great guns with its massage business run by Borg Rubbitsum late of St. Paul and the new Dragon and Phoenix that slings out Loh Fan salty-sweet dishes that could make a pelican gag, but which seems to garner grand reviews ever since Mei Mei has been schtupping the reviewer at the Island Sun.

In the Estuary, the Iranian spy sub El Chadoor continues to ply back and forth on its long forgotten charge to keep tabs upon the Infidel port of Oaktown.

The captain claps the handhelds of the periscope up in disgust. They got all the names of the Bassam story all wrong. What are we to expect of these people otherwise. And the Chadoor dived and ran silent, ran deep out beneath the Golden Gate to the grand Pacific.

Out upon the fishing lanes, Pedro Almeida flicks on the cabin light to better read the maps as Ferryboat, grown a bit larger in recent months, snarfles and snurfs on the borders of the housing. When the light goes out there remains the pale illumination of the running lights and the instruments.

An El Nino was developing north of the Hawaiian islands and even now, even here, Pedro could feel the changes, caused by vast movements of water and wind and air over millions of miles of ocean and land. There would come relief upon the land, grief upon the sea when that thing finally hit. Water would unparch the thirsty fields, water would rage upon the sea-lanes. Water would rend the sodden hills into avalanche and water would stir up the hidden treasures below. Grief upon the land, relief upon the sea.

A great change was coming and he could feel it. Yet he was powerless in the knowledge. For storms and floods and disasters will come, regardless of all our best plans for the imaginary future.

For all of us are travelers upon that road, be it sea or land. All of us have the chance to prove ourselves humane or otherwise demand superiority, to say that we individually know the mind of the Prophet. All of us are fishers of men. All of us come from Samhara.

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 in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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


MAY 24, 2015


The skies have been leaden of late, preventing clear, sharp photos around town, so for this week we pull one from the archives. This shot is unusual for a couple of reasons. One, you cannot take this picture anymore; not only would the view be obstructed by security apparatus, including barbed wire and concrete anti-tank blocks, and two, the passageway would be secured after dark with no admittance.

This shot was taken at 11:00pm from the side of the Lincoln Memorial in 1979, and even then guards came to warn about the danger of hanging around such a dangerous area at night in D.C., then the Murder Capitol of America. Still, on this Memorial Day weekend, its kinda worth looking at the physical representation of the centuries of the world's oldest Democracy. The battered Washington Monument still standing, the Capitol with all its faults and glories, and the hallway of the memorial dedicated to the man who kept things together during a time of wrenching national agony to put all current points of view in perspective.


Printed version of Mule Sonata is now ready for order by the avid throngs eager to delve into dusty history lessons. There is also the Kindle version for those seeking to travel lite.

Well, maybe not avid or throngs, but its ready nonetheless.

Here is the hyperlink to Amazon. Sorry it costs so much, but lean, sallow solicitors and publisher wonks had more say in costs than the Authors. So you wrote a book and you think YOU own it? Ha! Welcome to the world of publishing and such.


The big elephant in the China shop here is getting restive. With obscene rents rocketing to $1500 for studios with ratty carpets and obnoxious neighbors and rooms that only recently went for $500 per month, the heat is being applied for some kind of formal governance over the rampant greed that is wrecking the place. We at Island-Life did a little round-about sampling of the temperatures regarding the development issues here, and, boy, did we get an earful.

Pretty obvious, both landholders and renters are not happy at all with the way things are going. In this weekend sampling of some half a hundred folks, not one single resident spoke optimistically about the currrent course of development.

One homeowner near the old DelMonte cannery said he was looking to sell and get out as soon he could, seeing the writing on the wall for the neighborhood. This homeowner had been to all the community meetings and all the planning session and had concluded that a passel of attorneys had gathered to formulate their own plans and be damned to all the people who live here now as far as getting in the way of what they have already decided. The latest plan is to rip out and destroy Lincoln park with its swards and its basketball courts in favor of a parking lot to benefit the proposed development inside the old DelMonte Cannery. Didn't Joni Mitchell write a song about this sort of thing?

Talked to members of the Island Renter's Association, who are developing connections in City Hall in an effort to stem this ugly tide, and they were filled with wan hope that convincing local landholders to adhere to local priciples of decency in the face of foreign investment here may preserve something of what used to be called our quality of life.

This is our Island and this Island is our home to our families, our kids, and our descendents if allowed. This "if allowed" should be put on the table and argued and defended, methinks.

If you really do not want legislated "Rent Control" the local landowners need to get on board and halt this hideous progression towards extracting every last penny for the moment.

Because you just know the boom will bust, the dot commers will depart, and we will be left holding the bag of empties when the bubble collapses. We are the ones who live here, not as tourists, but as generation after generation of Californians who have endured drought, fire, earthquake and plagues of locusts like these development vermin.

In other news, people are still disputing the Shoreline bicycle lane, when it seems to us, the real problem is not the bicycle lane, but the parking slots combined with the new bus intermodals that are the real culprits in subtracting a driving lane from the once broad boulevard. The bike lanes are barely three feet across, whereas the bus intermodals and parking slots take up six or more feet across from the travel path.

In hindsight, it seems had the City just painted parking slots along the existing path and zoned some sections for the bus, we would have been far better off. Heck, this does not even address the idea of expanding the shore path by a few feet to allow pedestrians and bikers to co-exist above the curb.

Seems a lot of ideas that are more sensible got tabled by well-wishers.


So anyway a sort of dull effusion of miasma suffused the Bay Area even as thunderstorms headed east. We have had a time of low fog that usual precedes the rites of Spring here, a bit late and a bit chillier that usual, but still, the harbingers of Spring have arrived.

Jeanmarie came into the Old Same Place Bar and started talking with Denby during the set break. Jeanmarie, a woman into her seventies, had once been a stunningly beautiful woman in her day and even now, with her hair gone silver, she remained a strikingly lovely woman the way some women who age well sometimes do, looking a little like Emmylou Harris, with the firm toned body of an outdoorswoman who loved to ride horses on her ranch up in Mendo County. She showed Denby pictures of one of her horses, a beautiful chestnut mare named Victoria.

She had lost her husband of 35 years to cancer not long ago and whenever the anniversary of his death came around she got out of town and away from reminders, so she had travelled south down the 101 until she came, as some spirit wanderers do, to the Island.

Denby could see that here was a person who could use the distraction of a story and so he told her this picture of her horse reminded him of when he had first learned to ride horses back in the day. The family had come down to California from Helena to visit Uncle Bob who had retired from the Navy on the Island. At that time, the Base was still in operation on the West End. Well visiting Uncle Bob was a fine thing for adults to do but there remained little for the young Denby in sitting around the livingroom and he was not allowed to go over unattended to the City for sightseening, but the County Fair had come to Oaktown across the estuary, and there could be no harm in that, so with a whole five dollars in his pocket he had gone over there to occupy himself.

When he saw the pony's there in the pony paddock he had a mind to ride one -- he had been watching reruns of Roy Rogers and the Lone Ranger. But the man said he was too big to weigh down one of those minature Shetlands, so Denby pointed at one of the bigger horses that were used for stunt riding and the man said go ahead if the owner didn't mind.

So Denby went up to one of the hands brushing down a full sized stallion standing 11 hands high and asked if he could ride, which the man took with a lot of amusement.

"So you think you can handle this horse, young feller?"

Denby said he was down with his family from Helena where everybody knew how to ride.

Another roadie chimed in "Harry, you aint gonna put that boy on Vickers are you?"

Denby didn't wait for an answer but bounced twice on his toes before jumping up to hook one foot into the stirrup to hoist himself up into the saddle of Vickers. His legs were not long enough though to hook both stirrups so there he sat.

"Well looks like that boy does know something." said the roustabout, whose name was Spats.

Harry asked Denby how much money he had on him and Denby answered, "Five whole dollars!"

Harry led Vickers into the tent which was empty, the show having finished 20 minutes previously.

"Betcha ten he gets tossed before two circuits," Harry said to Spats.

"Yer on."

Harry adjusted the stirrups for Denby and then shouted, "Hiii-yup!" and slapped Vickers on the flank.

Vickers took off on a fast canter around the ring with Denby holding on for dear life and the two roustabouts laughing and laughing, until Spats commented there would be hell to pay if the boy fell and broke his neck. Harry got real serious when he thought about that so he stepped to grab the bridle, missed and tripped and fell under the horse who stepped over him. Seeing there was some kind of problem, Denby pulled back on the reins, and Vickers responded the way he had been trained to do in performance. He reared up on his hind legs.

"Heigh ho Silver?" Denby said, wondering what to do next.

Vickers came heavily down to earth with Harry right behind him. That is when Spats stopped laughing and ran into the ring. Unfortunately, Harry got up -- always a bad thing to do when behind a horse and Vickers, sensing unwanted activity behind him neatly and sharply rapped Harry in the head with his back hooves, knocking the man for a loop and a siesta of stars as he tumbled over Spats.

"Vickers, you behave!" Denby said.

In response, the horse bolted around the circuit again at a gallop, once again running through the routine that usually featured Marlene, the Queen of the Indies standing on the seat. After completing the circuit, seeing the path obstructed by two circus clowns, Vickers once again did as trained and trotted right out the exit where normally a roustabout would take hold of the bridle as Marlene dropped to a normal riding position. There being no roustabout at the exit, Vickers kept on going out the channel to the broadway where he turned left. Taking the jouncing boy's body as encouragement Vickers broke again into a fast canter.

"You really didn't know how to ride a horse, did you?" Jeanmarie said.

"I love horses, but I still don't know how to ride worth beans," Denby said.

Anyway they cantered right past the rubarb baked goods tent with everyone staring and past the parasailing booth when he shouted at the man to throw him a parachute.

"A what?!"

"A parachute! God's teeth throw me a parachute!"

Denby had it in mind to slow this animal down physically since nothing he said or did made a difference. He tried yanking the reins left and that only led to Vickers doing a mad dance in a circle and then doing another one of those forefeet in the air high rears.

The parasail guy threw him what looked like a dufflebag with a metal bar attached, which apparatus Denby put on his back as Vickers kept on cantering down between the tents, scattering men, women, clowns and children in his path.

"Heigh Ho Silver!" Denby said. "To the Estuary we go!"

Vickers broke into a gallop as the rodeo clowns appeared with ropes.

Down by the water, with the breeze coming in across the Bay, Denby pulled the rip cord to release the parachute.

It was not a parachute -- it was a full sized parasail. Which caught the wind and lifted Denby clear of Vickers as police, rodeo clowns, roustabouts and curious spectators gathered about Vickers who began calmly grazing at the edge of the shore.

Denby rose up over the Estuary, gripping the metal bar for dear life, going higher and higher on that prevailing wind until he went over the Island where the warmer air took him higher still. He was so scared he nearly peed his pants, but the view was pretty cool.

Down to the right the immense container cranes that inspired Steven Spielberg for the Star Wars robots looked like toys. Ahead he could see the Navy Base and the airfield with its AA guns and the lagoon and the Old Same Place Bar and all the churches along Church Row and the gilt statues of the Tibetan Temple and the City Hall with its odd gap that used to be filled with the bell tower and Washington Park with its Dog Section and the hundred foot palms that hosted the nesting cranes and Wood Middle School and Encinal with its jet on the lawn and all these things he knew nothing about yet because he did not live there, but he thought, what a charming place and what kind of odd people must live there.

There was Grand Street and to the left the old section, the East End of fancy houses and the Disputed Bicycle Bridge that connected to Harbor Bay and the broad grassy knoll of Mount Trashmore that had been once upon a time landfill. At the time of this event one of the last drive-in theatres still had its screen and lot hard by the entrance to the Tube and the Mastic Senior Center was a baseball diamond.

There was the freshly minted lagoon below and the new shoreline and the Strand and then the broad expanse of the Bay which chopped and sloshed all the way to the distant outline of the City with its strings of pearls.

As he passed over the water of the Bay, the cooler air brought him down and curious parasailers approached him.

"How do I get down?" he shouted. They did not hear him. As he headed outward, still going higher, the City looked mysterous and ethereal in the distance and he wondered if this was the vision of the New Jerusalem Uncle Bob always talked about. Uncle Bob was a Born Again and he talked a lot about the New Dispensation and the Rapture and lots of other crazy stuff. Denby wondered if he was going to die when he crashed down in the City somewhere and if it was okay to get into Heaven that way.

He kept on going out over the Bay and experimented a bit with changing direction, losing some altitude in the process. At one point he found himself turned around and headed back to the Island where sail boarders looked up at this kid who seem to always be coming from some strange direction.

"How do I make this thing stop!" Denby shouted.

"Just drop in the water!" one of them shouted. "I'll come get you."

"Just drop?" Denby pulled on this rope and that rope. In the end he just tilted the metal bar in front of him until the air slipped out and he went down fast and hard into the Bay 100 yards from shore where he thrashed around scared to death of drowning.

"Calm down," said the sailboarder who approached him. "Just stand up."

"Just stand up?"

"It's only three feet deep."

Denby stood up. The guy was right.

Later, his dad insisted they go back over there to check up on Vickers and Harry. Vickers was fine and Denby gave the horse an apple. Harry had a long-lasting headache.

When his family returned to Helena, Denby realized he had undergone a Life Changing Event, and forever after that he remained a quiet, introspective sort of person, someone regarded as a little odd. And he resolved that he would eventually find a way to get back to that magical Island where he had been given a vision of the New Jerusalem.

"I am glad about one thing in this story," Jeanmarie said.

"What's that?" Denby said.

"Nothing bad happened to Vickers."

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 in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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


MAY 17, 2015


Facebooker friend Stan has been taking pictures of this mama raccoon dropping by for freebies. Hard enough feeding for two, but imagine feeding for eight.

She "dropped", says Stan, appropriately sometime around Mother's Day.


We are pleased to announce that the book Mule Sonata, another Island-Life production, is now available for Kindle e-Books on A hyperlink in the sidebar leads directly to the store. will carry this title in printed format in a couple of days.

The Mule Sonata is a lively history of Alta California from the perspective of three families from the Beginning of Time as told by a mysterious Narrator to a man known only as The Visitor, an Everyman sadly in need of an history lesson. The Narrator tells his history with whimsy and humor, beginning with a family feud that unwinds over the course of millennia through insurrections, wars, plague, shipwreck, gold fever, massacres, murder, and the construction of the Trans-American railroad to resolve itself during the infamous San Francisco Earthquake and Fire in passionate romance.

Throughout this fanciful tale a preposterous family of mules impossibly continues to breed and beget generation after generation. The narrative is sometimes silly, sometimes deadly serious as the members of each generation battle the elements, the European and American conquerors, and each other as the history of Alta California plays out on a stage of epic sweep and grandeur.


The Park Street Bridge will remain closed to pedestrians and motor vehicles from 8:30 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. Sunday through Thursday until August 13. Maritime traffic must notify the bridge authorities at least two hours if they need a span to be raised to allow passage.

It does not seem to matter for some kinds of people if you innocent or not, or if you comply or not with regards to police these days. In any case you are bound to get hurt, and at least in running away you stand a slim chance of survival. Not so much for Jeffrey Navarro who failed to stop when ordered to to so by police who imagined he looked like the person who shoplifted a charger from the Verizon store July 27, 2012.

Jeffrey apparently got frightened and rode his bicycle into a cul de sac where Officer Patrick Wyeth followed him, striking down the boy with his baton moments after ordering him to lie down. Wyeth apparently continued to strike Navarro, who suffers from schizophrenia, fracturing Navarro's left arm and right wrist.

No stolen items were found on Navarro who had to stay four months at a rehabilitation facility to recover.

Although the City maintains Officer Wyeth acted within protocol and entirely properly, acting Assistant City Manager Amy Woodbridge decided to settle the legal civil rights case initiated by the Navarro family so as to avoid a costly, lengthy and image-damaging lawsuit.

Cost to the City for use of excessive force on a disabled man will be over $430,000.

There has been a classic tit-for-tat between bicyclists and cage-drivers who refuse to let up what will become something of an anachronism as time moves forward. To those who say "America is about automobiles," (like America is "about" anything save personal opinions), here is a factoid. The streets were originally paved not for automobiles, which easily negotiated the rutted dirt roads, but for the Pennyfarthing bicycles owned by the well-to-do. Seems a common hazard to those machines was "coming a cropper", or doing a sometimes fatal header over the handlebars as a consequence of hitting a bad rut.

So the wealthy lobbied for paved roads to replace the cobblestone city streets and the rutted dirt throughways so as to protect themselves. Later, the "safety bicycle" with pneumatic tires made this less important, but by then the automobile also had developed technologically and people got used to driving in their horseless carriages without the need for the famous riding "dustcoat."

Next time you drive down a paved road, give thanks to the big wheeled Pennyfarthing bicycle and the fractured skulls of the toity toity gentry.


As David Byrne says in the song "Once in a Lifetime" , "You may ask yourself, 'Well, how did I get here?'"

Howard Schecter is back from his travels with another technical report from Mammoth. You gotta love this part-time scientist (by day he is a Realtor) for ending a long discourse on millibars and wave trofs and degree changes of +1C north of Hawaii with a statement like, "If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck . . .".

Good news is that the powder is still good for people catching the tail-end of ski season, and the recent spatterings here have translated to storms adding 5 and 8 inches of snow at a time up top. It does not end the drought, but it ameliorates some if its bad effects a tad.

As for the "duck", we are talking El Nino for sure now. It is not just projected or foreseen -- it is happening now, although the ever cautious Howard and the Dweebers say its all still wait and see. Even though the mass movements happening now are like "geenormous", which is Valley Speak for really, really big. Like bigger than entire oceans and continents. It is possible, but extremely unlikely, that something that big and complex is going to shift direction.

And of course the question that goes wagging its tail and begging to each of us is how we 1. survive the dry spell until this massive Rain-a-geddon and 2. how we survive once it does hit, given that San Diego got just a smidgen of taste recently when three foot waves started coursing down Main Street.

Last season we predicted Islanders would be needing sandbags, and lo! Behold! The DPW started handing them out at the Corporate Yard. If you still got 'em, better keep 'em.

As for the recent activity we collected the following from KTVU whose Steve Paulson said 1/3 to an inch of rain fell from Livermore to Clayton. The South Bay also received some relief from the historic drought conditions with an inch of rain falling in the Cupertino-Sunnyvale area. Some flooding was reported in the Novato area in the North Bay while San Francisco saw zero precipitation.

But the rain was doing little to ease water woes in the drought-parched Golden State.

"Any kind of rain, like we had last night, is certainly welcome. Anything wet is welcome," said climatologist Bill Patzert of NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab. "But it's not getting us out of the drought."

Meanwhile, a second round of rain from a rare spring storm swept into drought-stricken Southern California on Friday, along with heavy winds and snow in the mountains before heading inland, where other states were also feeling weird late-season weather.

In San Diego, rain poured steadily a day after the regional water authority decided residents can water lawns no more than twice a week -- a measure aimed at achieving sweeping state-mandated cuts to water consumption during drought.

Drivers were urged to use caution on roads in the San Bernardino and San Gabriel mountains, where between 3 to 6 inches of snow was possible above 6,000 feet. Temperatures hovered around freezing at higher elevations.

In northern Arizona, a rare springtime snowstorm hit a small town just west of Flagstaff, dumping more than seven inches of snow. The area has seen more than three inches of snow on May 15 or later only a handful of times.

Firefighters rescued six motorists and a dog who became trapped in 3 feet of water on a San Diego street, and they pulled a man from the rushing water of a flood control channel in Northridge, about 25 miles north of Los Angeles, authorities said.

"One minute it's a little bit of water and all of a sudden it got deeper and deeper really fast," Capt. Joe Amador of the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department said about the flooded street.

Flooding and debris flows are possible if thunderstorms form over foothill areas stripped bare by wildfires.

The downpour caused rare rain delays at the San Diego Padres' game against the Washington Nationals at Petco Park and the Los Angeles Dodgers' game against the Colorado Rockies at Dodgers Stadium. Meanwhile, snow in the forecast for Friday forced organizers to relocate the Amgen Tour of California bicycle race from Big Bear Lake in the San Bernardino Mountains to Santa Clarita.

It also soaked the Hollywood Walk of Fame, where flowers were being laid on the star of blues legend B.B. King a day after his death.

An outdoor commencement ceremony at University of Southern California went on despite the wet weather, with attendees told to leave their umbrellas behind. Many people, including graduates, wore crimson and gold Trojan ponchos. The recent downpours caught local forecasters off guard, but Howard Schecter had predicted the three punch system weeks ago.


So anyway, a series of wharf sizzlers blew through on cold winds, leaving behind Magritte skies of deepest blue dappled with strange clouds after the morning's leaden cover of high fog lifted from the chill, dank landscape. The weather has been so strange it would not set anyone aback to discover a rain of men wearing overcoats and bowler hats descending silently between the blank houses.

This sort of atmosphere drives people indoors, to occupy themselves with books and cats and Earl Gray tea and schemes of making money. Martini has gotten Jose and their neighbors Oleg and Joe together on a plan to market and sell "Tantric lightning bugs" to tourists big on the whole foods holistic medicine thing. Martini found a way to harvest LEDs and mini-batteries from discarded circuit boards and cobble them together with solder to make a blinking sort of "bug" that he embedded in tinted polyacrylate from molding kits from Beverley's.

The trick was to come up with some marketing that would convince people who seriously wore magnetic bands and dosed with homeopathic remedies that supposedly contained just one molecule of active ingredient. Jose was dubious.

"I don't think it is right taking money from people with a lie," Jose said. His abuelta had been an honest woman.

"Motivational speakers do it all the time. Hey, anyone who indulges in this stuff instead of heading right for the ibuprofen has money," said Martini. "And anybody who thinks aromatherapy and ear-candling works will buy anything so long as the logo features a Cherokee dreamcatcher."

"Ear candling?" Pahrump said. "My people believed in none of that."

Meanwhile Denby had ventured out, seeing as the Spring had been rendered harmless by the cold weather, sending that naked child of Venus, Eros, off to other places just to warm his cockles and de-ice his cherub wings. He headed over to the Old Same Place Bar where Padraic had a guy sitting there playing a solo guitar.

I got the key to the highway
Babe, I am billed out and got to go
Gonna set out running
'Cause walking is most too slow . . .

Denby sat there and nursed the one beer he could afford while the guy ran through his set.

I am going to roam this mean old highway
Babe, you know why
I am going to roam this mean old highway
Until the day I die

The man had all the right feel with the right notes in the right place, but beyond that he had the right feel, because the Blues is more about the feeling than the right notes.

Everyday, everyday I have the blues
Everyday, everyday I have the blues
When you see me worried woman
And it's you I hate to lose

Nobody loves me, nobody seems to care
Yes nobody loves me, nobody seems to care
Speaking of words and trouble darling
You know I had my share

I'm gonna pack my suitcase, move on down the line,
I'm gonna pack my suitcase, move on down the line,
Where there ain't nobody worryin', and there ain't nobody cryin'

There was so much feeling there that the world should crack. One listens to a thousand tedious dunta-duntas to finally get to hear somebody playing like this man.

It serves me right to suffer
Serves me right to be alone
It serves me right to suffer, suffer
Serves me right to be alone, alone
Because the life I'm living
I'm living in memories gone by.

During the set break Denby went up to the man and talked to him about the music. He said he sometimes played the guitar himself, and after a while the man asked him a question.

"White boy how is it you choose the Blues?"

Denby thought for a moment. "Nobody chooses the Blues. The Blues choose you."

The man thought for a moment, reflectively. "Sounds like that would make a good song."

"I think I will write it," Denby said.

In the offices of the Island-Life newsroom, the Editor went down the aisles, shutting off this and that lamp, logging off computers, packing up the end of the week's issue. The Book, first of three, including the reissue of stories, had been put to bed and now awaited proof approval before production. A long project had finally come to term. As any writer knows, you never really finish a novel; you basically just walk away from it to start another one, leaving so much unfinished it is impossible.

From upstairs the Spurlock family was playing traditional Irish folk together. Maeve and Susan and Oisin down from Mendocino. Music is an art that exists, like dance, for the moment and then is gone, leaving memory of that which was. At the end of the weekend the family will disperse to the far corners of the Golden State, their link the melodies.

Out beyond the windows of the Offices the people who made Humanity worth the name flickered across the galaxy's Milky Way, each a Light of Earth. Musicians, scientists, poets, the Company of Saints and Scholars . . . .

The Editor returned to his cube of glass and pooled light. Here he bent to the task, his remaining white hair flying about his head, glowing in the half-light an aureole. Each work a failed meditation seeking for that unity with the Creator, no frippery or gaudiness or anything getting in between. While all around through the curtains of darkness there flickered the remaining lights of Humanity's hope.

As the World aged with the Editor and Time, successively each Light of Earth winked out, leaving him there progressively more alone, surrounded by the muttering darkness with his longing. Doing all for Company.

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 in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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


MAY 10, 2015


This week's shot is of the powerbox at the entrance to the library parkinglot. This combination of bicycle and ride-share motif is likely to become a major theme in the Island's ongoing history. Will we live to see trains running down Lincoln again?


Howard Schecter has been out of town since his last post of May 6 when the current cold front was forecast to bring snow to the High Sierra. Here is what Howard had to say:

"It is interesting to note that some scientists called for a wet spring because of the California Nino (not to be confused of an actual El Nino) for this season. I suspect that more will be on the way as the global models continue the trend of an active pattern over California well into the following weekend. The timing still seems to be Monday or Tuesday of next week and/or about the following Friday for another upper low capable of producing more rain or snowfall in the Mono Sierra.

El Nino:

If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, is it really a duck? The Models that forecast El Nino are not all that reliable at this time. So….. More time is still needed seasonally to know with a greater confidence. . . that a Significant El Nino is going to take place next winter. . . .

The prospects for a strong El Nino are very important to the Eastern Sierra for many reasons. For one, the prospects for a deep snowpack and filling local reservoirs of water is most important. And although even a Super Nino most likely will not undue the damage of 4 years of drought, it will pose a sizable dent."

In the absence of the Dweebs we have a first hand report from mammothsnowman who gives us today's report from Mammoth Mountain. "We had a taste of the winter the last few days, spring will return today with highs in the 50s at Main Lodge with highs in the 30 and low 40s up top.

We do have a east wind flow this am so that should keep the snow up top in a winter state for now.

Yesterday was one special day with 12-18 inches of fresh up top. The snow skied great and everyone who made it out had a blast. With the new snow Mammoth Mountain will not close today but stay open until things melt out.

The forecast calls for more snow late in the upcoming weekend into next weekend, so we should be good to go for 2-3 more weeks unless it gets to warm.

So at this point we have a base of 6-50 inches out on the hill. "

Well, its not the normal 84 inches of accumulation, but we will take what we can get.

It may be good for travelers, but it is disheartening to hear this event happened so early. The Tioga Road opened on Monday, May 4, 2015. The Glacier Point Road opened on March 28. Tuolomne Meadows is clear of snow, but snow persists down to 8,500 in some protected areas.


This weekend saw the 31st iteration of the annual Park Street Art and Wine festival under gradually clearing skies on Saturday and full bright blue skies for Mother's Day.

As usual, we strolled past the tchotchke booths, which appeared this year to have gone significantly upscale in quality and scope, to pay head to the music. For its music for which we live and music makes life worth living.

Best of the Faire we must award to Fu Man Chu, which took the Lincoln Stage on Saturday. This trio managed to do more with just three instruments than many bands do with an entire orchestra. They were tight, disciplined, energetic and fun to watch.

"Shred-rick" Dennis played fluidly, with assurance and with clear enjoyment in what he was doing. We heard a piece by Jacob Pastorius and what seems to be a festival tradition, Santana's Black Magic Woman.

No American outdoor Faire is complete without the essential staples that make Americana what it is.

Of course, dogs of all kinds are welcome, especially the homey hot dog.

Well, there are hotdogs and there are Hot Dogs.

There is always room for hopeful whimsy among the crowd. You never know when a Goddess might walk among us. Or ride.

Speaking of bicycles, the Island has a strong, vocal pro-cyclist organization here. They provided free valet parking for your steed.

Sunday Steve Graves took over the Lincoln Street stage with a jazzy smooth ensemble which was stunning in its instrumentals, but lackluster in vocals. It seemed that Graves was enjoined to tamp it down for Mother's Day as we could sense a bottled-up energy longing for release. The saxophonist was absolutely superb as was Graves himself on guitar.

Back to the crowd. Where is that "wascally wabbit?"

At the Encincal Stage we had one of those "tribute bands" that seems in vogue for special events these days. Heck, work is work, right? This one focusses their attention upon the Doobie Brothers. The Doobie Brothers were wildly popular in the early nineteen seventies, but vanished during the eighties, only to experience a resurgence in the following decade. They are still alive and performing now after fifty years on the road.

This band calls itself Long Train Running and was notable by the clear, crisp vocals.

The unsung heroes on the margins should get a mention. At his usual corner on Park and Santa Clara sat the Pee Pah man.

They attend every festival with their Italianate flavor, playing Amore and the Godfather theme.

At the end of the day, a fine time was had by all.



The Letters to the Editor indicate that both the usurious rental situation and the dismay over unbridled development will not be short-term matters, but which very well may persist into the next electoral cycle.

Outrage over the ludicrous EIR report that claimed current development will lead to an increase in traffic of only one car spread out across all Island access points showed itself in a Commentary piece in the Sun, titled "Don't Let Point EIR Fantasy Fool You." Interestingly a retired civil engineer -- who also happens to be Eugenie Thompson's husband -- called for an honest traffic study that puts away the seriously flawed Point EIR which has been inadequately defended by City Planner Andrew Thomas.

We observe that our new Mayor Trish (Spencer) has already voted at least three times against major expenditures for which provision has not been established, but each time has been voted down by a Council majority. We are thinking that Mayor Trish may need to step up to the plate and proactively get some momentum going with support of the Community or she very well may turn out to be known as the longest term lame duck ever in office.

We are already seeing consequences of development impacting the Island as we note that there has been a consistent range of 12-14 psychiatric detentions on 5150 per week for the past few months. In a front page sub we note the police performed a local prostitution sting, netting six people.

Finally we are seeing continued complaints about the new bike lanes combined with shore-side parking. Since a similar project is proposed for Central Avenue, interested folks should come to express their views -- calmly -- at the Transportation Commission meeting May 27 at City Hall at 7 PM. There is an online open forum at

Of course prior to all that will be the annual Bike To Work Day on May 14. Look for the Energizer Station near you. Last year there were a couple up Fruitvale Avenue north of the Station.


So anyway, this Sunday was Mother's Day all over and everybody who had a mother they knew about paid observances, each as to their wont. Mr. Howitzer drove over the bridges to Colma with his pellet gun and flowers to attend to the mausoleum of Dame Edna Howitzer. The flowers were for his mother. The pellet gun was for the crows which seemed to like to gather around the family plot for some reason, and he could not get the groundskeepers to pay heed to his complaints. Which served to confirm his patrician opinion of the hoi polloi's course temperament.

The Cribbages got together with the Blathers to trundle their surviving mums over to Scott's Seafood for the elegant champagne brunch there. As the elderly Maryanne Cribbage was helped out of the limo, she remarked, "You don't have to go to such a fuss over me, Sonny. I am going to give it all away when I pass away to that group you call 'pinko commies'."

"Now, now mother . . .".

"I am. I am giving it all to Greenpeace. So you can just relax."

Sonny Cribbage muttered something under his breath.

"What is that you said?"

"I said the anchor-outs were turning the estuary into an old, nasty ditch. A ditch is what I said."

"It looks fine to me."

"It's getting cleaned up. Come along, mother."

Over in the Plushly Apartments a phone rang.


"Hi mom."

"It's so nice to hear your voice. I so seldom see you and you never call."

"I tried calling you on the cell I got for you but you didn't pick up. Did you get the voicemail?"

"Uh, well no. It sort of broke."

"It broke?! Did you drop it?"

"Now the man at the store said maybe if I let it dry out it might start working again. After a few weeks. Do you use the rotary phone I saved from when did the switchboard for Ma Bell?"

"Mom, we don't have rotary service here. It will not work."

"Well what kind of cheesy place do you live where a plain old telephone won't work? Genie are you living in a dive?"

"Mom nobody has rotary service anymore anywhere in California. Eventually even the regular pushbutton phones are going away."

"I don't believe you. How come mine still works?"

"Is that the phone Tim got you from Sharper Image?"

"Well yes, the other one stopped working. I guess it was just old and tired -- like your mother."

"Mom that phone just imitates the action of a rotary. Inside it acts just like a touch-tone."

"Well that sounds like going backwards against progress if you ask me. Here I am alone all the time with no one to talk to or care for me and I never get out . . .".

What happened to Susan? And Tim and Mona? I thought they were coming over with the kids . . .".

"O they are so delightful! Joshua and Kate and Stevie and Nicholas and the baby . . . ! At least Mona gave me grandchildren. Not like some of my children . . .".

"Mom . . .".

"Whatever happened to that girl Valerie you were dating?"

"Mom, that ended fifteen years ago. She didn't like trout, remember?"

"Always such a loner type. Never wanted to share his toys with the other kids. You know Genie, there is a girl at the bowling alley where the Senior Group goes to relax . . .".

"Mom . . .".

"Listen Genie, her name is Darlene and she is divorced, but that is okay because I said you live in California where they get divorced all the time -- except not you. You have never, ever been married. Not even once."

"Mom, you live in Boston."

"She lives in Worcester. Which brings me to ask, when are you coming home?"

"Home? You live in a retirement community. I was born in Atlanta, Georgia. I have been living here for forty-five years."

"You could come for a visit; maybe you would like it. You know Darlene really knows how to handle the balls at the alley. She's divorced, you know. She really knows how to handle the balls . . .".


"Don't be shocked, Gene, you are old enough to know how to do it. Now we are going to have a party for Kate and I want you to come, because it is very important. She is almost engaged to Ari Cohen and in June she is going to be circumcised in their religion and we have . . .".


"It's important in their religion when the children come of age, you know. The girls get circumcision veil and the boys get . . . uh, I forget . . .".

"I think you mean Bat Mitzvah. Girls don't get circumcised."

"Oh Bat Mitzvah! That sounds familiar! But whatever. You have to come out for that because this is the union of two very different families. Maybe. Possibly. Gene I want you here. And Darlene will help with everything."

"Why this Darlene?"

"She's half Jewish. Gene, come out and meet Darlene. We can all make yontif together. We have trout in Boston . . . ".

"Mom, no, I can't get away . . .".

"Oooooooooowwwwwwwww! All my little ones are growing up and getting married and moving away from their poor, lonely mother! And I raised them when they were such cute little babies, mewling and puking and full of crappy diapers. All by myself. Your father never helped. Ooooooooooowwwwwwwww . . ."

"Mom, please."

"Remember that Halloween when you put on your pirate costume and you had that accident at the Steinhauser's?

"Mom. No I don't remember."

"You went pissy boo in your costume and that's when we found out you didn't put on any pants underneath! How everybody laughed! You were so cuuuuuuute. Not like now."

"Mom, I don't want to remember that . . .".

"You never call, you never drop by. I could slip and fall into that toilet and wind up just like that sad cellphone all dripping and useless and no one will hear me calling 'help!' Help a poor old abandoned woman left all alone. Helllllllllllp! Oooooooooohhhhhhwwwwwww . . ."

"O for pete's sake."

"That's okay Eugene. You just go ahead and enjoy your live all by your self with your trout for company while your poor, dripping mother stares out at the flakes of snow falling, each flake as cold as the hearts of some ungrateful people . . .".

"Okay mom. . . "

"Ooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww . . .".

"Mom. I'll come out."

"O that's super. I tell Tim to fix up one of those airline deals with his company. He can come pick you up at the airport. I am sure I can get him to drop everything as this is so important."

"Yeah, I am sure he'll like that. Happy Mother's Day, mom. I gotta go now."

"Okay, I gotta get things ready. So many things to arrange. And tell Darlene!"

"Bye mom."


At the other end of the spectrum, the Household of Marlene and Andre took their mothers out as part of the annual ritual to Mama's Royal Cafe in Oaktown, those that still had mothers here on the West Coast. This included Sarah and Suan and Pedro. Tipitina's mother had long since passed away in Shreveport and Marsha's mom lived back in New Jersey at the Weehawken Maritime Retiree's Home. Rolph, of course lost his mother suddenly that fateful day on the bridge over the River Spee in Berlin, so they gathered together with Xavier, Piedro, Jose and Jesus who all had mothers living in various parts of Mexico to whom they sent such money as they had managed to scrounge up, and the group collected to make a day's outing in a Ride Share car up to the Berkeley Rose Garden.

Occasional Quentin, who at any time could have been called a motherless child, got with Marlene and Adam and the waif Little Adam, who had come to the Household after being thrown from the car by his cruel stepfather. They went down to the beach until Snuffles the bum called Quentin over for company and to share his gallon of ninety-nine cent wine.

Of Javier, nothing had been seen for days, and it was expected he was either getting into trouble with another wild woman or had already been murdered by one of them and they would get the news from the police any day now.

"Wussup with Quentin? How come he is so wierd," Adam asked.

"Hush now. No one in the Household is wierd, only troubled in their own way. You can call him simple if you like," Marlene said.

"Yeah, well, why is he so simple then?"

"Adam, he lost his entire family in a ferry accident years ago," Andre said.

"After that some people . . . took advantage of him with the drugs and so he went simple," Marlene said. "He actually has a kind heart. Remember how he showed you how to make a sailboat out of paper?"

"Yeah, I guess he be cool." He paused a long time before snuggling up to Marlene, the girl with the barren womb who would never have children of her own. "I seen kids who sure be messed up. I guess not everybody as lucky as me. Sure enuf."

Andre looked at him and the creases on his face turned up so the scars on his face given him by both his father and mother back in the IDU days of his own early childhood seemed to fade out into the tats. "You make us feel luck, Adam."

And the girl Marlene let her long black hair fall over the child that was become theirs, safe for the moment from all that is out there that would steal the laughter of a child.

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 in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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


MAY 4, 2015


Well, we printed a shot of the Fruitvale Bridge so we might as well show the main gateway bridge that takes traffic to and from Park Street past the Kaiser concrete processing plant in Oaktown. This one, courtesy of May Day, showcases the dirty fingernails aspect of workingman's Oaktown and the Island. That is a dredging barge in the foreground.


Lots of events took place this weekend and the last weekend of April. Last Saturday Congressional Medals of Honor were awarded to the USS Hornet CV-8 and to surviving members of the Doolittle raid which launched via aircraft carriers that set out from their base on the Island on April 18, 1942. Gen. Jimmy Doolittle himself was an Island native. Honorees last Saturday were Lt. Col Frank Kappeler and Rear Adm. Henry Miller. The bronze replicas were handed to their children, as the men could not attend in person. Kappeler, also an Island native, died in 2010. Miller passed away at 83 years of age in 1993. Because it was believed the carrier armada had been spotted in mid-Pacific, the raiders took off earlier than planned, knowing that this early start meant there would not be enough fuel for any of them to return. Fifteen of the sixteen planes crash-landed in China, and one crashed in Russia. Three airmen died in the crashes and eight were captured. Of those eight, three were executed by the Japanese. Kappeler escaped to fly 53 more combat missions during the war. The original Hornet (CV-12) did not survive the war - it was sunk during the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, and its namesake swung into action in the winter of 1943.

In a martial-related them, the Vietnam vets held their annual picnic at Crab Cove near the spot that had been the source of a war of a different kind between the GSA and the EBPR when the land got put up for auction in a bad faith action by GSA, who had previously promised the land to the East Bay Parks organization to help fulfill a voter's measure to expand the parkland Strand.

We had our own Earth Day last week again at Washington Park, which featured the usual AMP presence of its lime-green eco car, booths and tchotchkes and a bicycle rodeo.

This weekend featured Cinco de Mayo festivities again at the Fruitvale BART complex and once again it was packed with the madding crowd. Our representative came away with some handmade silver and stone earrings.

Cinco de Mayo, contrary to gabacho opinion, is NOT a celebration of Mexico's day of independence, but a commemoration of the Battle of the Pueblo against the French and has come to be much like St. Patrick's Day a celebration of a particular ethnicity as well as of polycultural America. California was Mexico once, so it makes sense to remember our roots.

It is Poetry Month, if you did not know, and Julia Park Tracy has been writing articles for the homegrown weekly, The Sun, on why poetry matters.


The disputation over the new bike lane and bus intermodals along Shoreline ticked up a notch when a licensed traffic engineer named Eugenie Thompson wrote a Commentary piece deploring the bad design, citing the placement of the lane, while cost effective, does little for safety of people exiting their cars on the beach side.

We did notice that there is no bufferzone between parking and the bike lanes and saw several near misses. Ms. Thompson does have a point in that licensed engineers should have designed the bike path, not well-meaning folks who know little about formal road design.

In a bicycle-related theme, one letter to the Editor complained about a deliberate assault on him while stopped at a stopsign on Walnut Street. As the man looked for cross traffic a black SUV came up behind and to the side of him. The passenger door was flung open, striking the rider to the ground. The SUV then drove off as the passenger closed the door while laughing. The victim obtained only a partial license plate of 5-M-A. Incident took place Tuesday, April 21 at 2:40 p.m.

Now people can be rude and obnoxious on the road, and often ignorant of turn signal niceties, but striking someone with a motor vehicle is a crime and so is driving away from the scene of an incident. Anyone who knows of these people and this incident should contact the APD. This sort of thing turns the Island into a very, very ugly place. It must not happen again or someone could die.


You may have noticed the wackjob table that has posted itself in front of the main post office at Southshore Mall. Although the guys have removed it, this table is part of the not-forgotten Lyndon LaRouche movement. LaRouche was a presidential candidate in each election from 1976 to 2004, running once for his own U.S. Labor Party and seven times for the Democratic Party nomination. He originally claimed to be a leftist Socialist, but soon, through associations with ultraconservative George Wallace and the Ku Kux Klan and his close association with the Reagan administration, he revealed himself to be a far right radical rather than a Socialist. After moving his base of operations to a heavily fortified and militarized compound in Leesburg, VA, he began denouncing people who disagreed with him as "Soviet sympathizers, commies and homosexuals."

After a raid on his headquarters in Virginia, which very nearly ended in a bloodbath due to the heavily armed presence of his guards, on December 16, 1988, LaRouche was convicted of conspiracy to commit mail fraud involving more than $30 million in defaulted loans; eleven counts of actual mail fraud involving $294,000 in defaulted loans; and a single count of conspiring to defraud the US Internal Revenue Service. He was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison but was released on January 26, 1994.

Thirteen associates were sentenced to prison terms ranging from one month to 77 years for mail fraud and conspiracy.

His defense in this case and in other matters was typical of Larouche ideology: i.e., a vast conspiracy is in league with a number of parties to derail his political efforts and succeed in assassination.

The trial judge called LaRouche's claim of a political vendetta "arrant nonsense," and said "the idea that this organization is a sufficient threat to anything that would warrant the government bringing a prosecution to silence them just defies human experience."

While in prison, he shared a cell with televangelist Jim Bakker. According to Bakker, LaRouche received a daily intelligence report by mail, and at times had information about news events days before they happened. Bakker also wrote that LaRouche believed their cell was bugged. In Bakker's view, "to say LaRouche was a little paranoid would be like saying that the Titanic had a little leak."

LaRouche was released on parole in January 1994, and returned to Loudoun County. The Washington Post wrote that he would be supervised by parole and probation officers until January 2004. Also in 1994, his followers joined members of the Nation of Islam to condemn the Anti-Defamation League for its alleged crimes against African Americans, reportedly one of several such meetings since 1992.

In the 1996 Democratic presidential primaries, he received enough votes in Louisiana and Virginia to get one delegate from each state, but before the primaries began, the Democratic National Committee chair, Donald Fowler, ruled that LaRouche was not a "bona fide Democrat" because of his "expressed political beliefs ... which are explicitly racist and anti-Semitic," and because of his "past activities including exploitation of and defrauding contributors and voters." Fowler instructed state parties to disregard votes for LaRouche.

He continues to attach himself to any number of causes on a whim, appearing to do so only to secure publicity for himself and his organization and at least temporary support.

This, then, is the nature of the group that has posted itself in front of the Post Office, which denied his initial application to place his table inside or on federal property.


So anyway, David has been over at the Native Sons of the Golden West meeting hall at the marina, preparing the place for the Annual Golden Poppy Spring Fling with the help of Pahrump and Jose and his wife, Columbia. The Spring Fling is one the Island's most popular, well attended events for this event marks the high point of Spring and provides all sorts of opportunities for people to hook up, those that wish to, so as to get through the Summer with some companionship.

Companionship through the Summer is highly desired by many people here in NorCal during the period deplored by Mark Twain as the beds can become cold in those old houses lacking central heating.

Eugene, who long ago dropped the idea of "hooking up" from his activity list, has been preparing for the beginning of fishing season in the High Country. The magic date has passed and now the boy is champing at the bridle to get up there soon as the Tioga pass is cleared, for up there swim the desirable rainbow, the brookie, the cutthrought, the imported brown, and the wily, intelligent and coyly evasive beautiful golden trout.

Through the winter, Eugene spends his evenings after coming home from the recycling plant meticulously tying flies, imitations of insect life that lives at various Sierra altitudes. Caddis flies, nymphs, ants, mosquitos and the ever utilitarian hares ear, each small body held in a jeweler's vise as he works with minute materials and glue with a loupe strapped to his forehead, taking hours to make a single bug that will, hopefully, look irresistibly tasty to a trout. Then, once finished, he removes the almost finished creation from its gripper and holds it aloft for a moment before dropping the object to the floor and stamping on it with his combat boots several times. Then he lifts it up again to examine the newly minted artwork. And then into the tacklebox it goes.

The first of May is notable in Island History because long ago, during the Jazz Age, whenever that was, the City Council banned dancing. The Island had always been a Bay Area preserve for the more restrained of the people who came to California from other places, even during the Gold Rush, that wild time of unbridled avarice and bad behavior, but as things swung into a certain sepia-toned period of flappers and drink and Gatsby staring out across the water to a certain lighthouse, some people felt that things had gotten a little loose here. Then came prohibition and with that the houses of ill-repute and the speakeasies, among them was the notorious Leaky Peter out on the West End, which featured dancing girls who were not fully dressed and who would perform on stage and for a certain fee of a certain amount would dance with any gentleman, or any man who wore pants.

The sentiment began during Earl Warren's tenure as Oakland City Prosecutor who sought in the 1920's to regulate, and close down, the large number of dance halls which substantially employed Filipino women during a time of rabid anti-Asian sentiment under the aegis of laws that forbade "mixed color dancing". Filipino's are not Asian, properly speaking, they are Pacific Islander, but this kind of prejudice tends to avoid looking at both obvious and fine distinctions.

So the Council decided to ban dancing, seeking to put an end to "vulgar and obscene" behavior, but did so in such broad language that it included tea cotillions, the Senior Retirement Home Gala and the basic waltz, which had been banned already in parts of Germany and Switzerland as "too provocative".

The Leaky Peter sought to step around these issues by claiming to be a "dance academy." That one did not work so well.

This is, in fact true; it is not made up.

The anti-Filipino issue continued to work itself out in an ugly fashion for a couple decades after this, but Prohibition is what saved dancing on the Island. That and the Eagle's Hall, the Rotarians, and the Masonic Lodge, all of whom counted as members influential members of society and all of which had counted on formal balls to raise revenue. Them as well as the Chief of Police.

The Chief of Police for San Francisco had issued warrants and a summons to "Boss" Abe Ruef only a few years prior to these events and went mysteriously missing from a packet boat while crossing the Bay; his body was later found floating near Wharf 2. The Island Chief of Police, Brendon O'Malley, wisely decided to hold back his hand, in what has become classic IPD behavior, and do nothing about the existing dance halls; he lived a long and prosperous life. The ban was revoked by popular acclaim on May 1, 1930.

The waltz had been saved.

Now, Rachel goes out during the week to the Metrodome to teach couples the Lindy hop, the jitterbug, and the waltz. Beating time with a ferrule on her palm. "And 1,2,3 and 1,2,3 and step and turn, and step and turn . . .". And the couples turn and turn about, Asian-Americans, Black Americans, Filipinos, Whites and Hispanics, First Peoples and Europeans, Bostons and Californios, Midwesterners and Southerners, Nevada cowboys and mestizas, all arrayed together like a garden of many flowers in that room on Santa Clara.

Down at the Old Same Place Bar the old timers are all lined up and talking about the crazy things they did as kids. Martini is talking to Old Schmidt about cars. "Did I ever tell all of you about the time I drove a hot rodded Mustang off of the Sonora Pass?"

Old Schmidt puffed on his pipe. "I don't sink zo."

"Well," Martini said. "The crane operator said it looked like I was accelerating just before I went airborne off the edge of the road." Martini paused. " I will have to tell you next time. I have to go now."

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 in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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

APRIL 26, 2015


This week's beautiful photo was taken by Lifer Tammy from the windows of her new job out on Harbor Bay.


A wharf-sizzler dashed in here Friday, which may alleviate in a minor way some of the regional reservoir lack, but the better news is that Fishing Opening Day looks to be entirely ruined in the Sierra as storms brought in a few inches as low as Lake Crowley (c.6,000 feet elev.) The weather wonks were saying Mt. Mammoth got up to 10 inches with accumulation down to 6,500 feet.

Bad news from the Dweeb Report is that dry, warming trends will melt a lot of that, meaning our Stage 4 Drought -- as set by EBMUD -- continues. Our reservoirs stand at 50% full in total with our largest at Comanche (which is located outside of Sacto) at 27% of capacity.

Island-Life Offices have shut down all garden watering save by "gray water" left over from showers and dishwashing. The sprinkler setup has been disconnected. We also put out collectors during the recent storms and use a dehumidifier to collect atmospheric moisture in the basement.

You cannot let those outdoor collectors sit, however, as still, unclorinated water attracts mosquitos and let it be known West Nile virus has been detected in the County. It takes about 24 to 36 hours for the chlorine in tap water to offgas, so don't let the kitchen sink sit too long either.

For those with no garden aspirations, it takes about a gallon to flush your toilet by pouring directly into the bowl.


DPW announced it has finished early with work on the High Street Bridge deck repair by about 10 days. The bridge hours are now back to normal. The main bottleneck will be the Park Street Bridge, with work starting May 11. The bridge will close to all traffic, including pedestrians and most sea vessels needing the drawbridge from 8:30pm to 5:am until August 14. Coast Guard will communicate the limitations to marine traffic.

On the other side of the estuary, plans are in the works for expanding the bridge, sometimes called the Embarcadero Bridge, that goes over the Lake Merritt channel. This work is slated to begin any day now and will cause some traffic issues close to home until the summer of 2017. Questions regarding the bridge project can be directed to Mr. Philip Fung, Resident Engineer at or (510) 238-2938.

If that were not enough for you, BART announced work to the equipment and tracks between Fruitvale and Coliseum stations. The effort will ensure safer and more reliable service. When the work is completed, riders should experience a faster and quieter ride. The work requires that the entire track be shut down and that no trains operate between these stations while it is being performed. To cause the least amount of inconvenience, BART is scheduling this work mostly on Saturday nights and all day Sunday on some weekends.

The schedule is as follows but is most certainly subject to revision. Check the website and monitor station announcements.

May 2-3 Starts Saturday at 7pm and all day Sunday
May 9-10 Starts Saturday at 7pm and all day Sunday
May 23-25 All day Saturday*, Sunday, and Monday
June 6-7 Starts Friday at 7pm and all day Sat & Sun
June 13-14 Starts Saturday at 7pm and all day Sunday
July 11-12 Starts Saturday at 7pm and all day Sunday
July 18-19 Starts Saturday at 7pm and all day Sunday
Aug 1-2 Starts Saturday at 7pm and all day Sunday
August 15-16 Starts Saturday at 7pm and all day Sunday

You can get automated BART Service Advisories (BSA) on your phone. BART offers both e-mail and text options. To sign up for BSAs, please visit at Or, follow on Twitter @sfbart for news or @sfbartalert for automated service advisories.


So anyway, we had a wharf-sizzler blow through town, leaving everything dank and sodden. It's not enough to relieve the drought though, and everyone is adapting in their own way to the circumstances. We have bricks in the toilet tanks again, and the retention of "gray water" from washing things for whatever might need some watering. Sprinklers have been shut off and you can bet that if any hapless fool sets off the lawn system there will be a Water Nazi sure to leap upon the hapless homeowner for wastage, just like we have Parking Nazis performing similar duties against those who fail to park between the lines.

Mrs. Cribbage ran out into the street the other day to chastise one of those ragpickers who harvests bottles from the blue recycle bins, shouting, "You know that is illegal you! Stop this stealing immediately!" and she whacked the man with her umbrella and scattered the stolen bottles from his stolen CVS shopping cart. Of course it says quite plainly on the blue bin that only licensed carriers may take from this container, and of course it is stealing as we all pay for this service with the bins, and of course they are trespassing when they enter your yard, but in every district we have these control freaks and that man can no longer read signs written in English than he could read in his native Chinese.

And if everything is hunky-dory why are people collecting stolen plastic bottles to make a living?

Officer O'Madhauen, wearing civvies, came out of his apartment building where he has worked as an unpaid live-in manager for 45 years to yell at Ms. Grenouille, whose dog, was busy sniffing O'Mahauen's Monster Truck, which the officer had spent many thousands of dollars to prettify. He spent more time polishing the thing than driving it, for he took CalTrans buses into the City where he worked as a security guard for Macy's when he was not being parking enforcer for City College. The veins bulged from his neck as he screamed at Ms. Grenouille, who at first just stared at this apparition. The dog, a mixed terrier, too looked with curiosity at the man.

"That mongrel better not piss on my truck! Don't walk so close to it!"

Ms. Grenouille answered back that the Officer was being extremely rude and that she had a right to walk where she pleased on any public sidewalk and she was going to call the police about him.

"Go ahead!," said O'Madhauen, who always parked in the same spot directly in front of the building, a spot he considered his by right of having lived in the same apartment in that building for 48 years, an apartment he had shared with his mother, who had been the unpaid manager before him. He also had friends in the IPD. "Go ahead ya old bag!"

Ms. Grenouille made a gesture of annoyance with her shoulders and shook her head. "Come along, Ribbit. Let's get away from this awful man."

Across the street, Mr. Andre Malderor was putting angry notes on the windshields of cars that were not parked squarely between the faint and sometimes badly eroded lines. He would later call Parking Enforcement to have them ticketed.

"You better not ticket MY truck!" O'Madhauen yelled at him.

Andre looked at him from across the street. "How long is that truck parked there? It's a three day limit."

The Officer folded his arms, steadfast. "I can park in front of my building as long as I want. Nobody else parks here."

That's when the two of them started yelling at each other and Carol on the third floor slammed her windows shut as the noise was bothering her cats.

Northern California seems to have more than its share of Control Freaks, who variously dominate apartment buildings, city blocks and neighborhoods. No one knows what makes them appear, and no one seems to have an answer for these idiots who think by threatening other people, their own world will be made so much better.

This may be why the avalanche of Dot-Commers has overwhelmed the Bay Area -- it is the Natural Selection response to Control Freakism. You want to control something? Okay, pay $9,000 a month for your studio apartment. Control that.

Mr. Howitzer, seeing the real estate figures and knowing the processes going on behind them as well as the rampant and unstoppable juggernaut of development on the Island, was on Saturday night in high spirits and he commanded Dodd to bring him the finest cognac in the cellars to as to celebrate the economic recovery that was hitting every part of the United States, save for California, late.

That this recovery might be due to the sober-sided actions of the incumbent President, a notorious LIberal, was a fact Mr. Howitzer chose to ignore.

Cheesin Loy, a basket lady, pushed her stolen shopping cart a bit faster at the end of the block. She knew better than to try her luck rifling the blue bins on this street. She had made that mistake once and once only after O'Madhauen had wheeled out the bins on trash day. Her ears were still ringing months later.

The sermon at the CFSM was all about the beer volcano up in heaven and how midgets and strippers were equally blessed by God. Reverend Arrabiatta then led the congregation in a rendition of "Onward Pastafarians," while Mr. DeCapo performed upon the organ impressively well as usual.

1. Onward, Pastafarians, marching off to dine,
with the plate of spaghetti and a glass of wine.
Pasta, the royal Master, leads against the foe;
forward into supper, see His red sauce flow!

Onward, Pastafarians, marching off to dine,
with sauce and parmesan and a glass of wine.

2. At the sign of triumph Dummheit's host doth flee;
on then, Pastafarians, on to beer and whiskey!
Tummies quiver at the shout of praise;
brothers, lift your forks, loud your slurping raise.

Onward, Pastafarians, marching off to dine,
with Chef Boy-R-Dee and a glass of wine.

3. Like a mighty army moves the sauce so red;
brothers, we are eating where the saints have fed.
We are not divided, all one body we,
one in peace and pasta, one more plate if you please.

Onward, Pastafarians, marching off to dine,
with Hunt's meat sauce and a glass of red wine.

4. Diets and demagogues may perish, School Boards rise and complain,
but His noodles for eternal thyme shall never wane.
Hunger can never gainst that meatball prevail;
we have His own oregano, and that cannot fail.

Onward, Pastafarians, marching off to dine,
with sauce and parmesan and a glass of wine.

5. Onward then, ye people, join our happy chorus,
blend with ours your cheese in the delicious sauce.
Onions, meat, and mushrooms unto the Flying Spaghetti,
through countless ages men and pirates stand at the ready.

Onward, Pastafarians, marching off with cheer,
with bowls of pasta and tankards of beer!


It may have been coincidence but the sermon at the Unitarian Church down the street was taken from John 6:1-15, which is the parable of the loves and the fishes getting duplicated better than with a 3D printer.

These congregations meet late in the day, there being a desire to allow some rest on the Lord's day, so afterward Jason led his group over to the Old Same Place Bar. Late in the evening Mr. Pooter of the CFSM, mindful of Heaven and the sacredness of the stripper trade suggested Padraic get a few ladies into the bar with a stage and a pole.

Padraic appeared to contemplate this proposal with some seriousness until Dawn whacked him upside the head.

"Don't even think about it."

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.

APRIL 19, 2015


Up along the well-matriculated slopes of Marin there stands an house with an hillside bedecked with grave markers, most of which are spurious. Among the collection stands this item:

Obviously somebody in San Anselmo has something to say about the state of things. Best pay heed.


The Silly Council is finally getting going on its promised Slow Growth program. But, darn, it sure is taking a while. Which is sort of emblematic of our "festina lente" attitude as voters. High rents, bad traffic and development remain the hot button topics in the Letters to the Editor. Interestingly a pattern of the Mayor casting the sole dissenting vote so as to save money during meetings of the Silly Hall Council, which just approved a pot of gold for a consultant to do a study on traffic. A study we hope is more impartial than the preposterous traffic EIR which claimed adding 9000 people to the Island population will result in a net increase one single automobile during rush hour, adding together every single access point to and from the City.

Also interesting were the numbers Lauren Do discovered regarding the max throughput of the Posey Tube after a citizen went down there with a clicker to actually count the real traffic. (The guy came up with something on the order of 5900 cars from 7:30 to 9:00, but then number is not relevant unless this stat is gathered over many days and different times, as Ms. Do indicated in her Blog.)

It appears CalTrans has rated the Tube for a max capacity of over 8,000 cars per hour, which number also smells a bit humorous, as this figure cannot assume that the cars will disperse evenly on exit. No way that number could all file around the corner, through the two lights there and smoothly merge single file onto the packed freeway above, where 95% of the traffic is heading. The Tube itself might be able to shunt that number through, bumper to bumper, but the streets on the Oakland side cannot, for there are metering lights on the 880 onramp that throttle traffic.

The truth is that the Island might have open space which causes Developers to salivate and makes people feeling pinched by exorbitant property costs have hope that more buildings will ease the pressure, but the facts of geography provide the real growth limits. Of course one could just do away with the Marinas, make all the bridges fixed structures, and build out over the estuary, as they did in Harlem to the point that no one alive can remember what the Harlem River looked like. Just imagine what that would look like here.

They are going to be "lowering" the lagoon, starting Monday, so get ready for a bit of ripe seaside odors as cleanup begins over there.

Took a drive down Shoreline the other day to get a feel of what that route really is like now that the bicycle path is in place.

Traffic moved at a moderate pace, but issues developed when a truck parked on the side to unload furniture. The two lanes became one and a half, which did cause a minor bottleneck. Once again the beach was packed with people going down to enjoy the moderate weather.


So anyway, as mentioned last week everyone on the Island is preparing for the post-Winter season. Which, given the cloudy skies and occasional sprinkles and rather chill -- for California -- evenings dipping into the forties has not exactly arrived quite yet.

Yet nevertheless it is unwise not to prepare in advance for the Most Dangerous Season. Yes, Spring is the most dangerous season. Maybe it is different in other places, but here, wise men remain indoors and order pizza for dinner, hunker down by the TV to watch endless reruns of Monster Truck Destruction and Terminator I, II, III and IV. It's safer cuddled there in the dark lit only by the blackout curtain blocked TV set glow.

Bees dive-bombing the clover, hummingbirds bayoneting the jasmine that keeps throwing out punches this way and that while sending wafts of chemical weapons of mass disruption. Army ants on the march in great phalanxes and squirrels conducting reconnaissance forays add to the mayhem, while raccoons begin nightly raids. The daisy bush bursts with yellow ack-ack blooms while the poppies erupt with tiny explosions across the fields. Squadrons of swallows swooping and diving, duck sorties, and Canadian geese streak overhead and then, worst of all, there are the girls in their summer dresses.

Meanwhile, somewhere overhead, flying in stealth mode -- that naked, blindfolded, fat boy keeps firing off at random his erring arrows of wanton mishap, those IEDs (Improvised Erotic Designs), wreaking chaos in a wide swath more terrifying that Sherman's March to the Sea. Squadrons of women and girls swelling with fatal charms stroll on patrol, their smooth lithe legs flashing beneath their uniforms: thin summer dresses, haltertops, daisy-dukes, and god knows what else underneath that armor - if anything. It's all agitprop left to the imagination.

Observe Johnnie, happy and carefree as a lark, striding with ruddy cheeks and full confidence. But after him comes Jane, armed with those sharpshooter eyes, that flippy short skirt, and strappy high heels. Now Johnnie is down! His face wan and his appetite poor, his breath coming out in ragged gasps as Jane cradles his head among the wildly blooming, victorious daisies. Right in the heart, poor lad. A goner for sure.

Yes, Spring is the most dangerous Season.

When the fog rolls back and feminine panzer divisions cruise the Uptown district in search of some likely target holding his pinsel in his hand at the galleries, when the leggy Joanne strides forth into the night on six-inch stiletto heels and Danielle puts on that short black dress and a European accent spoken with a sultry je ne sais quoi wafting pheromones among the randy artisans, that is when Don Giovanni and Lola Lola stalk the Salons for luscious prey.

That is also when The Editor, avoiding the leggy Joanne, stocks up on Redbox flicks (Netflix now passe), and a fridge filled with Michelina's frozen dinners so as to avoid the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, especially those arrows sent by that obstreperous hoodlum, Cupid. For the artsbeat he sends his representative, the hapless Jose who safely has no more a clue about Eros than Faber's Euphonia, and Javier, who knows a good deal more about Eros than someone in his position ought to and nothing at all about Art save for ogling the odalisque.

Spring is also a time when Mother Nature grabs your attention and, be you the most rigid, retentive personality on earth, try you and vie you, you shall not be able, for at least one day, to hold attention as the mind skips the light fantastic to places that, for all we know, are far better, more productive, more useful than that blasted spreadsheet demanded by the CIO by noon. The boxelder branches are stroking the windowpanes with trembling fingertips and you cannot get that fey Emma off your dirty mind even as the demand for the spreadsheet swells in the background to the rumble of the kettledrums of Business.

Which demand shall not be met and shall not be disciplined quite yet, for that same day the CIO is herself skipping through the sun-dappled buttercups in the bee-loud glade of her own mind and she is listening to timpani and a lyre on the golfcourse, not kettledrums.

The Valkries shall ride anon; for now, there is the boxelder and thoughts of Emma.

As a consequence, the Editor prepares in his own manner as does Denby, who gathers up those .89 cent Knorr's rice sides at the Foodmaxx and downloads the entire box scale system along with all the tabs for every Bob Dylan song ever transcribed so as to diligently devote himself to Art, stat Eros.

In the Old Same Place Bar Suzie observes the nightly courtships, the flirting and the disappointments from behind the bar and after serving the customers with their anesthetic or stimulation, take what you will, she retreats to the back and her anthropology textbook. Those last few credits towards earning her BA degree at Community College.

Eugene is of a mind that she should take Botany and get a BS degree, which would be more useful in the long run, but Suzie is not so sure.

Ms. Almeida comes out to check on things around the chicken coop in the backyard, sees the long black ropes of scat. Either the Opossum or the raccoon has been scouting again with the weather changing. She looks warily about the hedged fences and the border palms but sees no sign of glowing eyes. All is dark and dangerous out there in this time.

Beneath the estuary waters thrums the engines of the AIS Chadoor, the Iranian spy submarine, still diligent upon its vague charge issued long ago from an office in Teheran that very likely may no longer exist.

Governments come and go with the winds and the sands of Ozymandias, but bureaucracies persist for ages on end and very likely will do so until the end of time. And so, given no countermanding order, the El Chadoor continues its mission from month to month, from year to year, keeping tabs on the port of Oaktown with its periodic reports, its officers getting gray about the temples, its crew maintaining contact with distant families via encrypted communications. How is little Avram? He is doing well in school, getting good marks. That is good as he must provide for the family should I not return. Say it not so, Ari, we all long for your safe return . . . .

Such is the life of the military man conscripted into service. There are no real choices; only the endless ticking of the clocks as people wait and wait and wait . . . .

"It looks like some sanity may be coming to bear at last and the fiendish DAESS, our common enemy, will be destroyed by the grace of God and the necessary treaty with the Americans," said the First Mate.

"Common sense is never something combined easily with politics, " said the Captain. "Necessity, however, that is something entirely different. Necessity is always a part of politics."

"I do not know what this has to do with nuclear power for Iran, which we badly need, but I think it sounds wise." The First Mate said. "Truth to tell."

"Truth and trust have nothing to do with anything, and less to do with politics. Each nation does what it must out of necessity. You must surprise your distrustful ally with gifts that follow through out of necessity. That is how truth is gained."

"Indeed, Captain, you are deeper than I can go."

"Deeper we shall go yet. Dive! Dive!"

And with that the spy sub dove out of the estuary into the Bay and out the Golden Gate to the silent fog-shrouded sea, running silent, running deep.

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.

APRIL 12, 2015


It does not get as much publicity as the Park Street entrance -- nobody has petitioned to raise the height limit for buildings at the foot of this one, but the Fruitvale bridge is nevertheless part of heart and soul of the Island. Trains once regularly crossed this structure to run the length of the Island down Lincoln to the Webster Street Terminal, which briefly served as the terminus for the Transamerican Railroad, as the Oakland Terminal was still under construction when the final golden spike was driven home.


Sympathies if you happened to be on the road Friday which saw a two-car USPS big rig burst into flames and then hit the divider just over the Richmond San Rafael Bridge near San Quentin. The rig skated on the concrete barrier for 400 yards before coming to a stop, spewing an heavy slick of diesel fuel behind and effectively closing all lanes on the Marin side. This happened at 7 am and it was not until 6:40pm that day the way was made clear, causing a major traffic snarl.

If he wasn't a praying man, he sure is now; the driver escaped unhurt.

People who knew about the accident joined already heavy traffic heading north on 880 to cross at the Carquinez Bridge. Some people turned around and headed over other bridges. Reports of 4 to 5 hour drive times came in for trips that normally lasted 45 minutes.

In San Francisco, a key section of Van Ness was closed for construction while at the same time heavy construction continued at the Bay Street and Lombard Street approaches to the Golden Gate Bridge, causing yet more traffic misery.

Later that day, a fatal accident on 880 in Hayward created more headaches for CHP and drivers.


The first report of extended travel times Friday came from the group we drove up to see, Blame Sally.

"How many people got caught in traffic today?" one of the band said from stage. "We left Oakland at 1:00pm and got here at 5:30!"

If the faces that comprise Blame Sally look familiar, they should. All of them were individual singer/songwriters before forming the band in 2000, and each of them continues to pursue side projects. The end result is a surprisingly energetic, kick-ass band composed of women ranging in age from forties to fifty-something. Save perhaps for the bassist, token male Rob Strom who looks to be the youngest of the lot.

The core of Blame Sally consists of Pam Delgado (percussion and vocals), Renee Harcourt (guitar and vocals), Jeri Jones (guitar, bass and vocals) and Monica Pasqual (piano, accordion and vocals). Reviewers usually state the band is based in San Francisco, however two members live in Marin and two others live in Oakland. Monica Pasqual hales from Utah, but has lived in Mexico and is bilingual in Spanish (her mother was born in Spain). Pam Delgado was born on Ellsworth AFB near Rapid City South Dakota. Jeri Jones is from Hawaii and, no, the guitar does not make her butt look big. (We have to say that, because she admitted she learned how to shoot a pistol at age 5).

Stylistically the music draws from draws from a variety of musical styles, ranging from roots to reflective pop influenced by jazz, folk, gospel and classical music with a healthy dose of Fleetwood Mac. While they might want to claim the energy of people like Chrissie Hynde, Joan Jett and Annie Lennox, they really are more folkie than any of those, although they do have a few hard rocking numbers like "Living Without You." Think more Jane Siberry, Indigo Girls and Joy of Cooking, to whom the SF Chronicle has favorably compared them.

We actually thought of getting close aquaintance Toni Brown to come out, but those two (with Terry Garthwaite) have long ago put aside music for other interests.

Despite the hellish traffic, the band did tear the roof off of the place in two long sets, with Jeri Jones putting in alternatively eerily soulful slide work with incendiary burn down the house stomping rock easily the equal of anything Chrissie Hyne and Ani Di Franco have done while Monica Pasqual ripped through some piano that would have had Franz Litzt rocking off his bad, bad hair. When called by the arrangements to soften up, Monica presented delicate etudes tastefully and well.

Yes the group does focus heavily on "women's issues", but the scope and breadth of Renee Harcourt's songwriting puts the band in a class above niche acts which the evil media has pigeonholed into sub-genres. They can do the Lilith Faire thing, but they also have toured internationally to great success in Europe. This is a group that transcends boundaries and genres, doing traditional Mexican ballads as well as Americana and socially engaged tunes. Its the ability to vary the dynamics by blending all of their various skills together that has held the band together for a good 15 years and nobody dominates center stage overlong. In a way the estrogen levels on stage are a welcome relief from the usual dynamics. Rob Strom, on six string jazz bass, provides just the right touch of subtilty to fill out the rhythm section supplied by Pam Delgado. Monica Pasqual's piano (looked like a Hammond B3) does not overwhelm everyone else, but she can pound away when called to do so.

Friday night they did the Fort Bragg song about the soldier suffering PTSD, Night of 1000 Stars, Vie for Love, Disappear, Big, Big Bed, Living Without You, Her Name is Knife, Countdown, Bird in Hand, and the Fleetwood Mac cover Never Going Back Again. Oh yes, plus Pass the Buddha and the internet hit If You Tell a Lie, which sort of hit popular liftoff for months after appearing on Neal Young's Living with War and a powerfully rocking gospel-style Hurricane.

At the end the entire packed hall stood up for a thunderous well-earned ovation.

There were also some new things from Renee Harcourt's new CD as well as some Blame Sally things that seem headed for the studio along with a neat song that deromanticizes the musician's life as a series of Holiday Inns, "where it's always bigger than you expect, but the rooms all look the same." Still we are glad they do it, presenting excellent music as well as strong, positive images on stage for women of all ages.

We think those are good things and you could do worse than become a groupie, as one couple admitted, having attended some 50 shows over the years -- in addition to some of the side projects.

Always support live music. For live music stimulates the brain, cheers up a rainy day, enlivens the mood, brightens the outlook, cures all manner of diseases -- including but not exclusive to, chilblains, heartburn, dandruff, dysentery, clap, hangnails, anomie, social diseases, antisocial diseases, most forms of neurosis, reactionary tendencies, rampant uptightness, stick in the ass, mugwhumpery, ebola, walking pneumonia, rheumatoid arthritis, intolerant pseudo-Islamic stomping, Pentagon dissillusion -- as well as resolves economic dysfunction, improves the constitution, firms the blood, rightens the moral turpitude, abolishes quackery, gives you those abs of iron and buns of steel you always wanted, and eases nervous jumping up and down to the delight of the great majority, bringing smiles all around.


So anyway. The nights have drifted into their usual chill, but the days burn with a sunny brightness as prevailing winds and inland seagulls remind us that things are changing here on the Island. The box elder is beginning to leaf out as well as the crab apple tree. A skein of clouds keeps things from getting too hot, yet warm enough for people to toss up the sashes, but at night the high altitude winds are keeping away the high fog, revealing Orion tumbling over the Veteran's Hall and that secretive Harvest moon. From somewhere out of an open window two extraordinarily beatiful women's voices are drifting over the yards, singing an old Neal Young song, a duet.

Makes a man want to fall in love. Take that dark one, the one who is really an angel of light. Chain up her heart. Get into a bit of role play and deliciousness. Tease and please. And the light one, she who is really dark and fey and of the faery Se, tie her up too and do all kinds of things, like cover her with roses. As if that had not happened to her before. What is a man to do? Especially an old man in dustcoat, waiting, standing out in the alley, listening to the concert with no more than a tattered bouquet in hand.

Spring. It's a time when things start to happen. Imaginations start to run wild. The ivy goes crazy and the squirrels act even more squirrelly than usual with manic industry.

Pedro Almeida, on board El Borracho Perdido, with his new first mate in training, Ferryboat beside, angles out toward the fishing lanes beyond the Golden Gate. People who do not know think NorCal has no Seasons, but those people do not know the lives of fishermen who cast their fates upon the seasonal restrictions upon their trade. In this month you may not take crab nor oysters. In this month you may take herring and sole. This year you may take no tuna or salmon.

Nevertheless the fisherman's lot is his to choose. He is the sole proprietor of his domain, the Sea. Woof! says Ferryboat. And the chop and the radio provided all the accomaniment required.

Out toward the lanes pilots Pedro with Ferryboat beside and another galloping across the waves, the ghost of Tugboat, his companion of many years who fought the Great White and died on the blood-soaked decks of the ship, for all mariners must suffer their ghosts to attend from day to day, ship's bell to bell, hour to hour. For that is the way of the Sea, and perhaps also those vast acres of wheat or alfalfa blowing in waves for miles upon miles to the horizon and those who tractor across them in their iHarvester cabs like small ships scudding across the waves.

The nights remain chilly, but the bright days increase in number. After the calla lilies, the tulips and other harbingers of change are popping out all over. It has been quite a winter for people east of here, but the snow shall melt soon even in Boston.

At the Church of our Lady of Incessant Complaint, everyone was just knackered after getting through the pastoral Eastertime, what with pageants and egg hunts and the swapping out of color schemes in the hangings and drapery and Sister Profundity getting into a snit over washing the chasubles and Sister Incontinence tripping and falling down the stairs and the rolling morality play wagon losing a wheel at just the wrong moment, dumping all the prophets and apostles and Mary Magdalen into a heap and thank heaven He is risen and its all over, hopefully for another 1000 years, or at least next April. The exhausted priest just wanted to plotz down with a fishing pole and not be bothered when up comes little Imbecilla Cupkake to complain that Danny kept sticking his "thing" in her ear.

"Tell Danny to stop it."

"I did but he wouldn't stop. So I bit him. I bit him on his pinna."

The Father dropped his fishing pole. "You bit him on his WHAT!?"

"His pinna. I grabbed his head and bit him on his earlobe. . . ".

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

"Then I shoved him and he started to cry and I felt good about it. Is that a sin? Pinna -- that's a funny word. Sounds like something else. A dirty word maybe." She giggled.

Father Danyluk sighed.

No doubt about it, things were happening all over the Island. Tendrils of fava been shoots had started to curl about the ironmongery in the back of Marlene and Andre's Household. In Wootie Kanootie's paddock, Eunice the moose shifted her feet, guaged the height of the fence and considered the timing of her next escape. Night draped itself langorously as an odalesque over the flat roofs of the town and Orion re-appeared, doing his gymnastics over the Veteran's Hall. Sargeant Rumsbum twitched his moustaches and sniffed the air for something suspicious, but it was only the lemon verbena tree across the way and so he marched on down to the bus stop to catch the O Express into the City where he would serve and protect the Macy's basement Women's Intimate Apparel Department for a few hours as a security guard.

In the Offices of Island-Life the Editor came in at the end of the day to restock the cabinet with good scotch and the fridge with Michelina's frozen dinners in preparation for the Most Dangerous Season. What can one do to prepare for a Season of Danger? And why is the upcoming Season the most Dangerous of all?

A raccoon crept along the Old Fence and climbed on over to the other side in hopes that maybe just this one time the door to the Almeida henhouse had been left ajar. Little white clover flowers hung like silent bells, moving ever so gently back and forth in the wake of his passing.

One will just have to wait until next week to learn all about the Most Dangerous Season of all, for 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.

APRIL 5, 2015


This week the headline comes from distant New Mexico where David Phipps, friend, facebooker and sometime genius from a family that features Stanford-Binet quotients that postively shock the monkey to the far .01% of the bell curve and tip the old Mensa over on the patio. In any case here we have a delightful sign of Spring on the march.

Yes, the pun was intended.


The song by Nathalie Merchant is not about atmospheric conditions, but severe depression, yet the two might be conflated here in California. Nothwithstanding the most recent storm, the Dweeb report was dreary. This is what Howard had to say:

"The DWP snow survey was completed yesterday April 1st. It is as dismal as it has ever been historically. This is “The driest winter on record” as reported by DWP. The manual measurements taken yesterday at Mammoth Pass showed a water content of 1.4 inches or 3% of the April 1st norm of 43.5 inches of water in the snow. Mammoth Lakes itself had 0 and so 0% of normal. The Minarets 2 site had an 1 inch. So the Mammoth Lakes Area averaged .8 inches or 3% of normal. The average of all snow courses south to Cotton Wood Lakes, down though the Southern Sierra was not much better, with an average of 4% of normal over-all.

NASA has indicated that this particular 4 year drought is a once in a 1000 year event because of its severity.
- See more at:"

To give you some perspective on the numbers, the driest year on record during that last drought in the '70's featured 10 inches of water content at Mammoth Pass, and here we are finding barely 1.4 inches.

This is significant because over 50% of our water comes from Sierra snowmelt and right now, there just isn't any up there. The NASA statement derives from a combo of analysis of geological metaphorphic rock strata as well as tree core samples from those long-lived Sequoias. Last time it was this bad, the Black Plague was ravaging Europe.

Howard accurately predicted the present conditions several months ago with an El Nino forecast that might be a dry (for California) carry over to parts East. That is precisely what did happen. We got precious little water and the East got body slammed with snowstorms. Governor Jerry Brown was not just grandstanding when he declared a water emergency in the Golden State.

We have reports of farmers cutting back already 33% of their allotments from sources like the San Joaquin, attempting to cover the loss by drilling wells that need to go ever deeper as the cumulative water table drops as well.

Last year we got reports of wholesale failure of the State's cherry crop. The fruit you saw in stores all came from the Pacific Northwest.


If you did not read last week the warning about the 29th Avenue overcrossing, nor heed our other articles on the subject, Friday started off really bad for your commute and Monday is likely to be about as nasty.

Even as the High Street Bridge remains closed during the mid part of the day to the 27th of this month, now the overcrossing closure will cause periodic hiccups in traffic that has no intention of going that way as people who normally do use that route find alternatives and heavy equipment moves all around that area, performing major demolition and construction to last into October of next year. Work goes around the clock on this 100 million dollar project, so expect both north and southbound I-880 to shut down at night as multi-tonne blocks of reinforced concrete drop down to the road surface below.

Work is not restricted to this specific structure as surrounding streets and access points also will undergo a rehab.

Look at last week's entry for a picture of what the new three lane overcrossing will look like.

The work also will include the 23rd Street overcrossing, which has always been a curiously odd way to enter the Island City, necessitating a hairpin turn off of 7th onto a substantially unmarked passageway that only People Who Know can find.

Much of the emphasis seems to be on expanding the access for both cars and off-roadway traffic featuring bicycles and pedestrians.

Whenever we feel blue, have a need for stimulus, or want a pleasant jolt that is far more healthy than an other cup of java, we turn to the Letters to the Editor.

This week, the letters published put aside the Disputed bicycle path on Shoreline to tackle other topics of lesser impact. We have a commentary in the Sun advocating for teachers (hear! hear!) There is a letter jabbing the Sun for doing an op-ed piece in the name (ostensibly) of journalism when it was an opinion piece about Rob Bonta, a former Vice Mayor who used the position to lilypad to State office. Well, the Sun might have a bias, but Bonta did cynically employ the City position to leverage himself up the political ladder. And we have seen no benefits from that process, which is worse.

The flack about Trish Spencer issuing a no vote on an issue that she knew would pass anyway in re rehab of Firestation 3 continues with a logical defense of Mayor Trish. Seems the Mayor is concerned about paying for things for which we do not have the money and this causes some disturbance even as health benefit costs for retired firefighters and police are coming under scrutiny.

Um, best be careful right now how you draw attention to yourself.

Looking to the Island Gerbil, which is looking more and more each day like some rag that has less to do with our town than some corporate aggutination of populace that just happens to include us. Why is there a discussion about cutting down eucalyptus in Oaktown when this thing has nothing to do with us at all? Then there is the wierd epistle that says developers are pulling out and "leaving in droves". If developers are pulling, out then fine! Go! We have plenty under development now that will add thousands of souls to this island. Go away. We don't like you.

If this is supposed to express concern that the new go slow attitude in City Hall may discourage development, then ok, that's fine.


So anyway, a proper wharf sizzler blew through here to soak all the remnants of Pesach and the planned egg hunts this weekend.

Sister Incontinence and Sister Bombast had to run all around the grounds of Our Lady of Incessant Complaint to gather up the Easter eggs and stow them about the Rectory and the School and the Library where normally urchins of small stature were not allowed so as to let the Hunt go on.

The Lutherans had their Easter Egg Hunt run around the parking lot

Pastor Nyquist had the same problem out at Immanuel Church and same for the Methodists and the Episcopalians and the Unitarians, all of whom had to employ such real estate as was available each to each. This is an Island and there is only so much land for each Church to be allocated. The Lutherans had their Easter Egg Hunt run around the parking lot maze under several dripping tents, which worked really well until Tubby sat down in a blubber and a wail out of frustration of getting through the maze to find any eggs at all. Eunice went out in some sympathy to hand the boy a plastic egg which he opened with great joy to find a one dollar bill. And so he jumped up and celebrated and we suppose this is supposed to teach the young the values of Christianity and Capitalism at the same time.

The Unitarian church fortunately shared a boundary with the CFSM next door and the Bishop holding forth during the absence of Rev. Jason, who had left with a Mission to convert the people of Indiana to sensibility, was able to combine resources to bring the whole thing off quite well, for both of the pastors knew that it really was all about the kids just having a good time.

Everyone knows easter eggs and the Divine Rabbit who visits the most Sincere Egg Coop in the world have nothing to do with Xianity or any of its trappings -- its all a game for kids to enjoy and pretend to be Capitalists exploiting natural resources and all descended from ancient pagan rituals. So for Reverend Freethought, of the Unitarian Church, it was all good anyway. So what if your neighbor believed God was a Flying Spaghetti Monster -- there was truth in all religions.

The Tibetans held a brunch and the Island Agnostics Society held a crab boil that got rained out at the Cove, so they all went over to Mountain Pizza to finish up their gathering.

the Daess . . . do not read the Koran

This weekend everything pretty much shut down in an unusual fashion, much as is the style in Old Europe during holidays of the Saints. This may have something to do with murdering cartoonists in Paris and it may have something to do with the slaughter of the innocents in Egypt and it may have something to do with the Stompers stomping all over the Middle East, the Daess trying to generate the Apocalypse because they are nihilistic and do not read the Koran or the Bible, which has caused the local people to re-attach themselves to their own religions, for good or for ill with greater fervor. Or at least rope in their families who now are seen as something which can be destroyed by blind, ignorant, foolish, bumptiousness armed with AK-47s. That certainly, did not exist before this time.

In the Household of Marlene and Andre the annual Seder drew to a close on Friday. Occasional Quentin passed out under the table due to too much wine. This celebration was to commemorate something that happened a long time ago.

There was a plague of toads and then of locusts and then it rained for 40 days and 40 nights while all the Second Borns got together for a really nice lamb dinner after escaping slavery. Which is why they all eat library paste and drink wine. The library paste is supposed to remind you of bricks and the wine helps forget your troubles and take away the taste of bitter herbs, which is not a bad idea, really. God knows why you would want to stick something bitter in your mouth and chew on it, but people do it anyway.

Over at Marlene and Andre's, everyone settled in for a feast. Marlene and Andre celebrated Pesach at the Household on Otis in the usual haphazard manner. A table got laid out, actually it was the coffee table in the main room, with the usual condiments of horseradish and walnut mush and salad from the dollar store. Marlene had saved up her pennies and gotten a donation from Suan to get a lamb shank from the Encinal Market, so they had the meat and the bone at once. All the parsley was doing well, so they had the dipping greens from the ironmongery garden out back. Occasional Quentin, as the obvious childish one, got to ask all the questions, even though Adam really was younger in physical age.

A visitor named Baba kept insisting on her needs. "I need to have clean and kosher napkins. So give me yours," Baba said to Quentin.

Given that the household was normally chaotic, so went the Seder once again this year as per Tradition. Island-life Tradition.

Instead of asking the proper questions from the Haggadah, Quentin came up with his own. "Why did G-d let Hitler kill all the Jews?" Quentin asked, and naturally it was all at the wrong moment. Martini came in then and drank up the glass of wine left out for the Prophet on the edge of the table, which caused Andre much grief and severely put out Marlene who put her head in her hands.

"I need to sit where it is warm on account of my condition," Baba said. "Since you have the comfy chair, I am doing to take the divan and the settee for my feet. We are supposed to be comfortable on this night of nights anyway."

"Is anybody going to eat that egg?" Tipitina said. She had given up on her own Catholic upbringing to attend this dinner and all of it was confusing to her.

"Where's the damn cracker I saw around here earlier?" said Marsha. "I wanna get into that sweet stuff there with the walnuts and raisins."

"That's the afikomen," said Marlene. "You gotta go find it now. It's hidden. What are you doing with the effing prophet's wine you dimshit!" This last part was screamed at the hapless Martini.

"Because there is no god and he hated the Jews," shouted Andre at Quentin. "Now read the questions we gave you on the list!"

"How can I find any damn thing in this effing s***hole of a place! It's an effing s***storm here!" Marsha said. She was a woman with a tongue on her, so to speak.

"Gimmee some more of that wine," Snuffles said, for the bum had also been invited in as the token foreigner, or maybe the prophet, although there was a lot of doubt about that last part.

The new kid, Adam, also was there. "Yo dude. Don't bogart that bottle man!"

Why is this night different from any other?

"Why are we doing all this crap," Quentin asked. "Why is this night different from any other?" Adam was younger in physical age but all agreed that Quentin was much more childlike, so to him were given the questions.

"I need water," Baba said. "You have the napkins already over there. So the water jug should be over here by me."

"There you go," said Andre approvingly. "You finally got it right. We basically doing this to commemorate our delivery from slavery."

"I dunno about that. We be free? I think we be pretty effed up." Adam said.

"Dude," said Arthur, who had returned from far off Minnesotta and his failed attempt to hook up with a gospel singer there. "You don't know nothing about slavery. Lemmee tell you about my man Malcolm X . . .".

"Adam, I am watching you on the alcohol, buddy! You gotta go to school Monday!" Andre said. "I mean it!"

"Yuck! This stuff is bitter!" Adam had a mouthful of green silage from the odd plate in the center with its four divisions and he spat the mess into a napkin.

"Dat odder stuff is schweet," Snuffles said, and he ploughed a matzo into the haroset then shoveled the pile into his toothless mouth with only a moderate amount of flying crumbs, dripping wine sauce and spittle trajectories.

Adam got shut off from the wine and after that things went a bit smoother. And Marsha told her story of escaping across the wide country from the servitude of Jersey, her beating by her husband there and her shame and her battle with the booze, and Javier talked about crossing the vast Sonora Desert and then the Border at the Rio Grande and working in the fields with los Migras and sleeping under the trucks to get away from the sun, and so it was learned that each of us had been slaves in some form, either in Egypt or some other place and had crossed the vast ocean on dry feet and soaked straw and clay bricks with the hot salt of tears and sweat. All knew exile and wandering and the pain thereof.

this year in fear and shame, next year in virtue and justice

The matzo bread was found by Adam after a great deal of clambering under Andre's shirt and so the proscribed was allowed now and with each glass of wine the far off hills began to skip like rams and old stories were told and so, although it was not a perfect Tradition, it was a Tradition of that household, this year in fear and shame, next year in virtue and justice, with the next year always getting postponed until the next and this sort of delay had been going on since the time of Moses when they refused him a Visa to Palestine.

"Hey I led the people through the desert for 40 years and kicked serious ass over that golden calf idol thing, I deserve entry to the Promised Land."

"Sorry dude. Go back to the desert and do not pass Go, do not collect 200 shekels. You should'na busted up those tablets I gave you. Talk about a law breaker! Your papers are not in order."

"Oy, I knew it; G-d is a German. Vey iss mir!" Wailing, sackcloth, ashes. The whole bit.

"When I invent Germany, then you really will be sorry. You stiff-necked people I parted the Red Sea for you and got you out of that Egypt where the cockroaches are as big as housecats. I have no idea why I chose you."

"I am not so sure it is to advantage to always be Chosen. 40 years in the desert without even a decent map."

"Okay so I relent a little bit. I give you a peak on what the place looks like. The place your family gets to settle -- maybe with some quibbles with the neighbors -- every neighborhood has got to have neighbors. So there! See that . . . !"

"Oy, mein Gott, mein Gott! Is beautiful!"

"Hey what did I say about taking my name in vain? There you go again, Moses. You always get yourself into trouble."

"All right you said that, but you never wrote it down . . . ".

"Yes I did!"

"Like where?"

"On those effing tablets you broke in a rage, you imbecile! Moses, Moses, Moses! In you I have entrusted the patriarchy for five thousand years worth of generations and this is the way you act."

"I don't get to go in for just, like a little bit?"


"Not even a short vacation?"


"Maybe some fruit from a tree there . . . ".

"Don't go there Moses. I am still sore about the last time fruit was involved."

"How about like one of those house-swap deals like they do . . ."

"NO!" Voice of thunder. Mountains cracking. Skies clouding over.

our Jesus (pronounced hay-zoos), went through all that in his dream last year

Jesus Contreras, in order to avoid that terrible dream in which he became the actual original Jesus, who suffered all kinds of mean, nasty, cruel things like scourging and thorns and piercings and crucifragem and heaps of insults on top of that even, and Jesus, our Jesus (pronounced hay-zoos), went through all that in his dream last year, so he made the effort to stay up all night. So Jesus went to hang with his buds at Silvio's place and they all sat around watching Incredibly Strange Wrestling and drinking beer. Naturally, this sort of thing petered out for most of his homies in the early hours of the morning, precisely the most dangerous time for dreams.

In terror, Jesus snapped abruptly awake amid all his snoozing mates and made a beeline in the dim light of the DVR screen to the bathroom where he ran into Maggie, the Irish girl who had fled her hometown of Wicklow so as to escape getting sent to the Magdalene Launderies on account of getting pregnant out of wedlock. The boy absconded and the child died. In any case Maggie stood there in her nightshirt, woozy from Trazadone, and Jesus stood there, unsteady from beer and lack of sleep and anxiety.

"Whats your problem," Maggie said.

"I can't sleep," said Jesus. "And I gotta piss."

"Don't let me stop you," Maggie said. She was an Irish girl with red hair and could be short.

Jesus stumbled to the loo and managed to get most of the stream into the pot, splashing a bit, and all was fine until he reached for a paper towel with his pants still down and fell over into the tub, taking a towel rack and a shampoo shelf amid a great clatter of noise with him in his wooziness. In a tangle there he freed himself from his pants and the towel rack and that is when Maggie came in wondering what the hell as the entire house was then asleep save for those two.

"What the hell are you doing?" Maggie said.

"I am taking a piss if you mind," Jesus said.

"It looks like you are trying to bathe with the laundry." Maggie said. "Are you all right?"

"I fell," Jesus said. "So is the nature of man."

"Let me help you, you sodding fool," Maggie said.

So that is when Maggie disentangled Jesus, but without finding his pants and when they went back to find where Jesus was to sleep, Jorge had already taken the cot in a drunken stupor, so Maggie offered her bed and so that is how Jesus got through the final hours of the terrible Easter time -- by sleeping with Maggie in her bed without his pants and when both of them awoke the following morning there was a resurrection of a kind that was handled in the usual way. As is the nature of man. And Woman.

The Editor strolled the aisles of the Island-Life newsroom, shutting off this and that desklamp with a feeling a great change was coming. Soon there would be another parting of the Red Sea, another passage across the desert. The moon was waning, but still glowed with three-quarter force from that red eclipse of last week.

Something may have arisen, but there remains more to save

We may have evaded disaster but yet more is to come. Something may have arisen, but there remains more to save. Spring erupts as it always has with tremendous force, scattering seed pods hither and yon. And the girl on the ferry with the dancer's tights and short skirt still haunts the dreams of Denby as he trolls for another gig to take him out of this place, this broken place of dying dreams that always smells of cheap wine and cigarettes.

Out in the estuary the Iranian spy submarine El Chadoor continued its patrol and observed all of these things. From far away came news that the Daess had been defeated in Tikrit and that the US had finally lifted the sanctions off of the Country and allowed nuclear power development to go on with some stipulations.

"I think it is strange that we combine our resources with the infidel to bring down the Daess," said the First Mate. "And now we help to liberate the lands of our former enemies, the Iraqis."

"It is not so strange to find friends among those with whom we have common cause. So it was in the time of the Mongol Hordes, we also collaborated with the West to save the world." said the Captain, who knew something of history, peering through the periscope. "After all, blessed is the man who takes but one step towards God, for he shall enjoy the fact that God will take two steps towards him. This means, there is always some hope."

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.


MARCH 29, 2015


BAR people know of the locally famous Waldo grade that drops down on the 101 to the fort at the Marin side of the Golden Gate. The Bill to rename The Waldo Tunnel to The Robin Williams Tunnel passed unanimously Friday.
It now goes to assembly appropriations committee.

Waldo Tunnel was the unofficial name of a tunnel on U.S. Route 101 between the Golden Gate Bridge and Sausalito. It is named after Waldo Point along Richardson Bay between Sausalito and Mill Valley. Waldo Point is named after William Waldo, a California politician in the 1850s who became well known for his relief efforts on starving immigrants coming West who got stranded in the Sierra Nevada Mountains on the Nevada side during a winter snow storm. He later ran unsuccessfully as a Whig candidate for the governor of California in 1853.

The first bore of the tunnel was completed in 1937 and the second in 1954. The archways at the ends of the bores were painted in rainbows by a Caltrans employee, Robert Halligan, and for this reason the tunnel is occasionally referred to as the "Rainbow Tunnel".

Robin Williams was an American actor and comedian. Starting as a stand-up comedian in San Francisco and Los Angeles in the mid-1970s, he is credited with leading San Francisco's comedy renaissance. In a State where entertainment is a standard business, Williams stood out as a most unusually humane and caring individual.

n 1986, Williams teamed up with Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal to found Comic Relief USA, an annual HBO television benefit devoted to the homeless, which has raised $80 million, as of 2014. Bob Zmuda, creator of Comic Relief, explains that Williams felt blessed because he came from a wealthy home, but wanted to do something to help those less fortunate. Williams made benefit appearances to support literacy and women's rights, along with appearing at benefits for veterans. He was a regular on the USO circuit, where he traveled to 13 countries and performed to approximately 100,000 troops.

Williams and his second wife Marsha founded the Windfall Foundation, a philanthropic organization to raise money for many charities. In December 1999, he sang in French on the BBC-inspired music video of international celebrities doing a cover of The Rolling Stones' "It's Only Rock 'n Roll (But I Like It)" for the charity Children's Promise.

In response to the 2010 Canterbury earthquake, he donated all proceeds of his "Weapons of Self Destruction" Christchurch performance to help rebuild the New Zealand city. Half the proceeds were donated to the Red Cross and half to the mayoral building fund.

For several years, Williams supported St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Robin Williams took his own life after a very long struggle with clinical depression as well as medical problems August 11, 2014.


Just when you thought there is too many of us, the East Bay is about to get body-slammed with a transportation triple whammy, starting off with BART taking out the line linking the Fruitvale with the Coliseum on the weekends.

Here is the official release to the Community:

-----Original Message-----
Subject: Critical Repair Work Begins April 5 between Fruitvale and Coliseum BART Stations

Dear Community Leaders,

Vital repairs are needed to the equipment and tracks between Fruitvale and Coliseum stations. The work requires that the entire track be shut down and that no trains operate between these stations while it is being performed.

To cause the least amount of inconvenience, we are scheduling this work mostly on Saturday nights and all day Sunday on some weekends. Please see the attached passenger bulletin for full details.

Bus Bridge between Fruitvale and Coliseum To accommodate your travel while the work is being done, we will have a bus bridge providing lifeline service for customers who don't have other options. The buses will carry customers between the two closed stations.
There will be no additional charge for the bus. The bus bridge will cause
30-60 minute delays for some customers.

We recommend that you avoid travel between Fruitvale and Coliseum on the designated weekends if possible. If you are driving, we recommend that you park at the station (Fruitvale, Coliseum or Bay Fair) that will allow you to avoid the bus bridge.

Revised Service in Effect During Track Work:
We plan to run trains at 20 minute intervals during this modified service, but there may be unavoidable delays.
Service will not keep to the published schedules, timed meets, etc.
Listen carefully to Train Operator and in-station announcements.
Digital platform signs may not give the correct information.
Staff will be available to assist you in the station

Service to Oakland International Airport (OAK) The BART to OAK Airport service will be operating to and from Coliseum Station. If you are going to the airport you may go into the station as usual and take the shuttle train. Enter the station through the fare gates and go through the station, up to Platform 3 to catch the shuttle train.
From the Airport, you will take the airport shuttle train to Coliseum Station and go through the fare gates and down to street level to access the bus bridge.

Before traveling, we advise you check our website and look for updated bulletins in the station for new or updated information.

Far more pressing to Islanders will be the long anticipated/dreaded work on both the 23rd and 29th Street overpasses. Even as High Street Bridge remains closed.


The future 29th Avenue overcrossing.

Image courtesy of CalTrans

CalTrans crews will close the overcrossing between Ford Street and East 10th Street on April 3 in order to demolish the existing crossing and build a new one. Construction activities for the overcrossing project are expected to take place through October 2016.

Construction activities will result in some nighttime closures on I-880 in both the northbound and southbound directions, as well as some occasional on-ramp and off-ramp closures.

The overcrossing reconstruction is part of a $100 million effort to construct operational and safety improvements on I-880 at the existing overcrossings of 23rd and 29th Avenues in the City of Oakland. Improvements include replacement of the freeway overcrossing structures, safety improvements to the northbound on and off ramps as well as the freeway mainline. A soundwall will be constructed in the northbound direction between 29th and 26th Avenues.

Construction activities are expected to take place through 2018.

CalTrans plans to replace a pair of two-lane 23rd Avenue overcrossings with a single three-lane span; the 29th Avenue overcrossing, which holds two lanes now, will also be replaced with a three-lane crossing.

Other project phases include construction of a new I-880 North off-ramp to 29th Avenue and a roundabout on East 9th Street, and reconfiguration of 23rd Avenue. CalTrans has already constructed a portion of a planned retaining wall on East 8th Street in Oakland, between Portwood and Lisbon avenues.

CalTrans is hosting a public meeting to discuss the planned closures from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Main Library, 1550 Oak Street. Addition information is available on the 29th Avenue overcrossing project page on CalTrans’ website.

The project is one of several that will be affecting Island commuters over the next 19 months. The Alameda County Public Works Agency has initiated daytime closures for deck repairs and rehabilitation of the High Street Bridge that will be in effect from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. weekdays through April 27, and nighttime closures of the Park Street Bridge for repairs are expected to follow.

The Bay Farm Island Bridge is also set for a $3.4 million makeover to begin in October, with nighttime closures planned to take place through May 2016. The Bay Farm Island bike bridge will also experience daytime closures during weekdays, and boat traffic will also be affected.


Vehicle traffic

From Alameda Park Street Bridge to Oakland 29th Avenue:
Left turn on Ford Street
Right on 23rd Avenue
Right on East 12th Street
Left on 29th Avenue

From Oakland 29th Avenue to Alameda Park Street Bridge:
Right turn on East 12th Street
Left on 23rd Avenue

Pedestrian and bicycle traffic

From Alameda Park Street Bridge to Oakland 29th Avenue:
Right turn on East 7th Street
Left on Derby Street
Right on Elmwood Avenue/East 8th Street
Left turn through the pedestrian walkway towards East 9th Street
Left on East 9th Street
Right on East 29th Avenue

From Oakland 29th Avenue to Alameda Park Street Bridge:
Right on East 9th Street
Right through the pedestrian walkway toward Elmwood Avenue/East 8th Street
Right on Derby Street
Right on East 7th Street

Can you say "Commuter Hell"? I knew you could.


Snooze and you missed it. Pagano's Hardware, in business on the corner of St. Charles and Lincoln since 1952, started liquidation of goods in preparation for moving further to the West End. The building that houses old Paganos was built in 1898 and housed a store that sold ice and coal. The new store space is half the size, but there may be an opening in the new Neptune Plaza location next month.

Still seeing blowback about the Shoreline new bike lane layout with a couple of Seattle tourists loving the new streetscape with its "traffic calming" features, while a longer letter in the Island Gerbil from a mid-term (24 years) resident finds the situation a "nightmare."

Adding to the chorus of complaints about development changes, we have people getting up in arms about the way the new ferry repair facility design and location was pushed into place with no public discussion -- this was of course prior to the new "slow growth" council getting seated.

The WETA facility, in itself is a good idea. The problem is the smoky backroom manner in which the whole project trundled forward and now many people are up in arms about government transparency prior to the Trish Spencer era.

That ought to be enough news for you to chew on this week.

O wait. There's more. Just got word that a road leading to spectacular views of California’s Yosemite National Park opened to drivers on Saturday, marking the earliest date for the occasion in at least 20 years.

Glacier Point Road takes drivers to a lookout perched at 3, 214 feet above the valley floor, where visitors can view spectacles such as the Half Dome rock, Yosemite Falls and Yosemite’s high country. The road closes each winter blocked by snowfall, and last year the park reported an April 14 opening. In other years, the road remained closed until late-May.

This year’s March 28 opening is the earliest listed in records dating back to 1995 published on the park’s website. California is struggling through its fourth consecutive year of drought, with a mountain snowpack at a fraction of normal.

Rangers say that the park’s Tioga Road remains closed for now.

TV on the Radio is coming to the Fox March 31 while guitarmeister Johnny A will hold forth at Yoshi's April 1, so don't be a fool and miss out. Bassist extraordinaire Victor Wooten will occupy Yoshis through the weekend, April 4-6.

Okay, that's it. If you don't like the news, go out and make some of your own.


Old ladies from St. Paul will be issued language cards containing. . . George Carlin's "7 dirty words"

So anyway, Indiana set a new level of boorishness, which just tells you that those Midwesterners are gosh darned tired of carrying the reputation for niceness and politesse for so many years. Pretty soon you will see people from Lincoln practicing with flick knives their Brooklynese. Old ladies from St. Paul will be issued language cards containing instructions on how to use George Carlin's "7 dirty words". People from Fargo are going to start refusing to serve pie as they swear like sailors. Why the hell should I bother even making rhubarb if I do not feel like it!

God knows what is going to happen to Willie Nelson. They may run him out of town -- any old town in Wisconsin or Ohio -- and he will have to hide out in Fullerton, or -- god forbid -- a trailer on the outskirts of Palm Springs.

Willie is too cool for Reno, so there are some places already off limits.

In any case we always had a strong suspicion that people living in Chicago really, secretly wanted to be like New Yorkers, and fully inhabit their gangster aspect. You know. Obnoxious, pushy, loudly opinionated, full of themselves and goddamned if they would lift a tongue to help somebody with directions. Where's Hal's Pizza? Why are you bothering me? Go look in a phone book. Why did you come here anyway?

Midwestern people have chafed under their duty to act polite

Same for the outlying districts. Like Minneapolis. It is a full-fledged City like New York and Midwestern people have chafed under their duty to act polite and step aside and ignore obvious fools like the kid who wears that hat and shouts on the corner about how he is really Jesus, their uncle who drinks like a fish, and that kid named Ted Cruz. People in Minneapolis actually long to flick the bird at everyone else at the slightest provocation, to shove ahead to the front of the line, to assert themselves the way New York people seem to do all the time, at least in the movies.

All of this brought Jason Arrabiata, CFSM, to the conviction that it was incumbent upon him to bring a mission to the Heartland, there to preach the gospel of the FSM, which features tolerance, love for all living things, and a diet rich in pasta sauce.

So Jason has gotten together a traveling Mission bus, which he acquired from Greyhound, which now is enjoying the pleasures of its foo-foo Belgian VanHooligan imports, gotten by means of the usual graft and bribery and backroom shenanigans from CalTrans, no stranger to these kinds of deals.

So this mission bus, a 30 year old Kenworth, took a great deal of upgrade and maintenance. Which chiefly involved copious spraypaint on the bland exterior and the insertion of a mechanic's bag into the bay and the purification of sage and the smoking of much wacky tabaky.

apostles who were to convert the heathen of Indiana

Jason went forth not unlike the prophets of old so as to canvas the neighborhood and gatther unto his fold his acolytes and his apostles who were to convert the heathen of Indiana who had fallen into evil ways under the spell of Cthulu and Boehner. And he gathered unto himself his followers who consisted of Occasional Quentin, and Snuffles the Bum and other worthy prophets of this time, including Pahrump who enlisted so as to make sure none of his friends got hurt or into serious trouble even though he was, not properly designated a Pastafarian. Nevertheless, he knew how to drive a multiaxle commercial vehicle and had for that a license, which made him well qualified in the eyes of the Church and the CFSM is most liberal in attitudes towards Unbelievers, holding them a bit screwy in the head, but often of great use, as in being busdriver.

And lo! The sun set and the Followers of the CFSM mission set forth upon their holy quest to convert the savages of Indiana unto the one true Faith, or least unto the conviction of tolerance and reason.

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.


MARCH 22, 2015


Seems a good time to quote Richard Shindell again. Spring began Officially on Friday, although some of you may be still having some troubles with ice and snow because of that irksome Easterner Pennsylvania rodent named Phil who predicted 6 more weeks of Winter.

Ok, here is our Californian rodent begging to say otherwise with a pissed-off expression.

Spring is at hand. The trees may still be bare, but the freesias have come and there are rumors of tulips. Stuff is budding out, even beneath the snow, and if you look down there you will see that something is going on. A bit of pneumocystitis, a bit of damp and cold, another lover gone off leaving you with nothing more than a matchbox to hold your clothes. You had to roust a group of guys in your driveway throwing dice for the robe of Jesus. What of that? Good time to start anew.


Front page news in the Sun gave the good word that the current City Council quashed the exception to Measure A, which was passed in 1973 in an effort to save the Island Victorians from being replaced with lavish condos and big apartment buildings.

Recently developers have been asking for numerous waivers to the provisions of the Measure to push forward plans that got the voters riled enough to oust the power bloc of the former Silly Council, which was all too cozy with development against the wishes of the people who live here.

Finally, somebody is living up to their campaign promises -- in this case, the promise to slow down the juggernaut of development here.


Caltrans will begin the reconstruction of the 23rd Avenue and 29th Avenue overcrossings in Oaktown Friday, April 3. This work is slated to end October 2016.

The projects contain many stages and feature underground tunnels for pedestrians in the area. Preparation work has been going on for many months at the Oakland side already, including brush clearing, materials drop and general rehab at the bases of the overpasses.

The representative from CalTrans, when queried directly by Islandlife at a planning session many months ago, looked us directly in the eye and said during this work "no serious impact on existing services will happen."

OK Joe. We do have numbers to call, should it prove otherwise.

High Street Bridge will remain closed during the middle part of the day until April 27 as the deck is repaired and the center lock is replaced.


So anyway, some signs that changes are in the offing have started to appear. Trees are bare and the oranges are gone from the trees and each morning starts with a ritual of throwing on a parka to get the coffee going, but in the delta, the trout stir beneath the freeze. The Official date of Spring's beginning was March 20th, and on the porch of the Universe, Old Gaia slowly revolves her ravined and forested face back towards the light shed by her son, Phoebus Apollo, the coverlet of stars and comets and planets and galaxies draped across her ancient knees as she rocks back and forth in that chair.

This week the Old Same Place Bar was again the center of attention during St. Patrick's Day, a day that is celebrated all around the world, save for in the Emerald Isle itself, for the Wearing of the Green is meant to hearten the Irish Diaspora, who number, as some estimate, at some 32 millions, while a bare 8 million actually dwell on the Island itself.

So said Hamlet's friend

Various things account for these numbers. The Great Potato Famine sent many abroad of course, while hardship, better opportunities, lousy weather, the incessant screaming of the Bann Sé, and a savage, unregulated priesthood sent many more to seek such fortunes as young people may find better than at home. So said Hamlet's friend and it is as true now as it ever was.

But such Irish as may live in America stand to profit much from this truth that there really are only two kinds of people in the world: the Irish and those who wish to be.

you should be wishing you were Irish

So it is at Island-Life we celebrate the Irish the day or week after, just as we commemorate Martin Luther King the week after his birthday, because you really should be thinking about the benefits all year long MLK brought you instead of just on one day with a BBQ and you should be wishing you were Irish and thanking the fact you are so far from Troubles and roofslates every day of the week instead of just once a year with a Gaelic coffee along with a shot of Arthur Power.

So there y'are.

Tuesday night everything was roaring along at a fine clip at the Old Same Place Bar, an unusually lucrative evening for a midweek night when things normally went slow. But on St. Patrick's Day, all the amateurs came out in force, wearing the green and downing pints of Guiness like it was good for you.

somewhere down the street warbled a sultry saxophone

It was late in the evening and somewhere down the street warbled a sultry saxophone playing Harlem Nocturne. The Depuglia brothers sat at a table with a pitcher of Guiness for each of them. Bjorn Rubbitson schmoozed with a table of Not-from-Heres who had come over from the mainland to check out the Island and see The Longest Ride at the Paramount. Officer O'Madhauen, off duty and dressed in civilian clothes sipped an O'Douls by himself after watching Mall Cop 2. Nurse Betty and her friend Gardenia from the Hospital flirted with a couple off-duty Coast Guard guys.

And all was a chatter and a clatter in that home snug

All was going quite fine and Dawn was slinging out the Gaelic coffees by the gallon, so called because Padraic refused to label them as Irish, for no daycent Irishman would so malign the Water of Life by adulterating uisce que bah with unnecessary ingredients. It was fine as it was in the cruiskeen luin with nothing perhaps, perhaps, but a wee block of ice to cool it down some. And all was a chatter and a clatter in that home snug of so many for so many years with Denby laying down a quiet bluesy backbeat on his guitar in the snug and the boys at the bar talking about the Villanova game that just ended and the upcoming fishing season.

The Man from Minot was talking to Maeve, Jackie's helper at Jaqueline's Salon about bromeliads while Eugene was discussing with Latrena Brown sea slug eversion and other topics that almost certainly would ensure that he go to bed alone again this evening with placid countenance.

No, she is not a Terrorist

Only that Suzie sat there in her loneliness with her Anthropology book behind the bar during the quiet times, wishing she, too, could join the conviviality and common rapport after her disastrous affair with Jorge, who turned out to be a Basque Separatists during a trip to Italy. This caused a great deal of grief and required Padraic to fly out there and straighten things out for the American. No, she is not a Terrorist, and no she has no Islamic sympathies either and what the devil has that do do with the Basque people anyway?

O why do smart women get involved with such devious men? Especially when they are so beautiful. It is all quite frustrating. And on this particular night, Suzie was mooning about that episode when so many people seemed to be so artificially happy.

That was when then the door was opened and the wind appeared. The candles blew then disappeared. The curtains flew then he appeared, saying don't be afraid.

Red, too was his full beard and cobalt blue his eyes

It was Him -- the Wee Man. What did he look like? For a start he wore a twill newsboy cap on a head of bright red hair. Red, too was his full beard and cobalt blue his eyes. He wore a green checked waistcoat which sported a gold chain that went into the side pocket and green checked pants. And on his feet a set of green suede brogans with tassels and toe tips that curled up and about in a merry way.

Jason Arrabiata, CFSM, turned from the bar and looking at the Wee Man, exclaimed with joy that one of God's Chosen had arrived.

The Wee Man seemed to take this in stride as he climbed up onto a stool and ordered a pint and a shot. While waiting for the pint to "stack" he made inquiry to Jason as to what he meant.

"All midgets are preferred by God . . .".

"All midgets are preferred by God for he has touched them so repeatedly on the noggin from above that their stature has remained diminutive. It is a sign.

"I am not a midget," said the Wee Man.

This so startled Jason that his body jerked and his eyebrows went up and down to such an extent the Wee Man smiled despite himself.

"Then what are you," Jason said.

"What am I?" said the Wee Man, reflecting. "Well I have been myself all day."

"Well I most humbly apologize sir," Jason said.

"Apology accepted," said the Wee Man. "What then are you, pray tell?"

"Me? I am Jason Arrabiata, a pastor of the faith of the Flying Spaghetti Monster."

"A man of the cloth. And a bit daft besides. Well then, I shall not kill you," said the Wee Man who downed his shot of Jamison's with satisfaction and shot a small derringer pistol into the ceiling without so much as looking before putting the weapon away. A bit of faery dust rained down and everyone remained quiet.

others say he was of the legendary Firbolg

As to what the Wee Man really was, besides himself all day, which most of us can claim at nearly the same rate, the matter was open to speculation and never-ending discussion. Some say he came from the Spanish Armada that sank off the coast and others say he was of the legendary Firbolg that harried the ancient Romans loose from the Emerald Isle thousands of years before. Some say despite his stature he was related to the mythic giant Finn ni Cuchulain, Finn McCool, whose body extended the length of Howth, and that his apparent manifest physical size was merely a kind of trick, and some say that he was of the tribe of the Bann Sé that howl about the chimneys at night and therefore a sort of faery, but with some disreputable attributions, including cigar smoking and farting.

A faery fart is something about which to contemplate at a later time.

In any case the mood of the bar settled back into an easy rhythm of drinking and conversation and all would have been fine had not the Depuglia brothers got it into their heads to harass the visitor by tossing peanuts at the back of his head. Suzie saw this and came around the bar, followed by Dawn ready to give both of them the weight of her tongue, but Tom Depuglia slapped Suzie on the ass, calling her a fine piece of meat on a stick and Dawn made to punch the hoodlum as Padraic came around the end of the bar with a look in his eye and with his blackthorn stick beside.

the violent themselves shall bear it away

The Wee Man stood up on the stool and clapped his hands once and everyone froze in motion, unable to move forward or back save roll their eyes. All save Suzie who stammered apologies for this dreadful behavior and that they were good folk here. The Wee man then drained his Guinness in a single draft and said, "I know Suzie, I know. But alas I truly deplore violence, for it is said that from the days of John the Baptist the kind and the good have suffered violence, but the violent themselves shall bear it away. And as for you two," here the Wee Man indicated the Depuglias. "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the hell, whither thou hasten."

they beat themselves up ever more vigorously

And he waved his hand with an almost indifferent attititude and the bodies of the Depuglias became free to move, but instead of running out of the bar they came at the Wee Man as if to attack him. Tom Depuglia threw a great roundhouse punch that continued in a circle until he punched himself in the nose with astonishment. To everyone's wonder, the fists they made launched at their own heads and they beat themselves up ever more vigorously the more energetic they tried to come at the Wee Man until they staggered around in circles with breaking knuckles and bleeding noses.

The Wee Man sighed. "O dear, dear, dear. Such a sad display of pugilistics I have not seen in many a day. I would like to see both of you improve, but I simply must be on my way now." And so the Wee Man clapped his hands twice. There was a blinding flash of light, followed by darkness as all the lights went out for a moment before coming on all by themselves. When they did so everyone was free to move at will again.

"O drat, the scamp has done something to my knickers again!" Dawn said. While everyone look surreptitious looks beneath their waistbands the Depuglias hopped up and down in what appeared to be great pain. "Ow! Oww wow oww! He's turned them into cactus!" They finally ran out the door Suzie held open for them.

"Look at that wilya," Padraic said. "Cute as a pansy in a lunatic asylum florist shop." His blackthorn stick had been transformed into a bouquet of long-stem gladiolas.

Suzie returned to behind the bar while the flirting between couples resumed with a little more heat.

"I'd like to see what he did to yours," Maeve said to the Man from Minot.

"That was Ecclesiastes," said Jason aloud.

"Verse 9:10," said Reverend Freethought, who came over to his table. She was Pastor to the Island Unitarian Church on Santa Clara Avenue.

Suzie served up the next rounds while Dawn and Padraic went to the back restrooms to change whatever it was the Wee Man had done to their knickers. Padraic returned very red-faced with something clenched in his big fist and Dawn had to pry his fingers open to see what it was -- a g-string. She hung it up behind the bar next to the golden knickers of a couple years ago. "At least they are green," she said.

"The man is a sodding pervert," Padraic said with energy. "What about you?"

"Show you later," she said coyly and turned away to fetch another case of Harp from the back.

Suzie meanwhile returned to her anthropology book. It's a dark night on the Island that knows how to keep its secrets, but in the Old Same Place Bar sits one bartender still puzzling Life's persistent questions.

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.

MARCH 15, 2015


J.J. Cale probably had a different magnolia in mind when he wrote the song magnolia, but we do have a few tulip magnolias blooming right now in the yards of the older houses in town. Because the climate here is nothing like in the South, tulip magnolias grow very slowly. This tree is probably about 110 years old looking at the age of the house in front of which it is growing.



People who work the weekends in the East Bay or who need to get about better be aware that next weekend Oaktown hosts its 6th Annual Marathon within the City limits March 22, 2015, which is a Sunday.

Besides the main event, there will be other races, including a half-marathon and a Lucky Kids Fun Run for those of, um, lesser stride. So expect traffic effects from the massive event to last all day.

ACtransit has kindly sent out alerts to the community. Here's the info for those not participating.

From: AC Transit Marketing & Community Relations []
Sent: Wednesday, March 11, 2015 10:39 AM
To: AC Transit Marketing & Community Relations
Subject: Service Disruptions and Detours in Oakland on Sunday, March 22

On Sunday, March 22, 2015, from 6am to 3pm, the Oakland Running Festival will temporarily close streets in many parts of Oakland, including downtown and the West Oakland, Fruitvale, Rockridge, and Montclair districts. There will be significant service delays and route detours in and between these areas, and we encourage you to visit AC Transit's website for more details.

Note that lines 14, 54, and 62 will be canceled. There will be a shuttle operating in a one-way loop via MacArthur Blvd., Chatham Rd., Park Blvd., 4th Ave., E. 15th St., 14th Ave., Foothill Blvd., 23rd Ave., Ardley Ave., and MacArthur Blvd. Please refer to the online map for more details (

Line 26 will only operate in a one-way loop serving downtown Oakland, West Oakland BART, and Emeryville. Please refer to the online map for more details (

For people wanting to participate or at least observe, go to the site website here.


Got a hankering to go to sea? Tuesday about 50 vessels, ranging in size from dingy putters to 70' motor yachts will be auctioned off, all sales as-is and where-is. The City padlocked Nelson's Marine in 2013 for failure to address building code violations and failure to pay utility fees. In May of that year the City seized the property, where hundreds of boat owners had been storing their vessels. Owners scampered with little time to remove their property, leaving about 150 frustrated owners complaining about the lack of notice. Many others had seen the troubles coming and had eloped before the seizure.


The City is going ahead with a new mid-island fire station on Grand Street along with an Emergency Operations Center close by on Buena Vista. The idea is to replace Station #3 which was closed in 2001 due to concerns about structural earthquake resistance in the 91 year old building. The Department rents the building next door to house firefighters.

In the 4-1 vote, Mayor Trish was the sole dissenter, arguing that the City had no way to cover the cost of the projects or pay off the conceivable loan save by using the General Fund, which is projected to run out of money before the loans could be fully serviced.

Jeff Delbono protested in a subsequent press release that the Mayor "demonstrates a lack of regard for the safety of our community."


People sure do get upset about the darnedest things when they have the rest of their lives pretty comfortable. Latest community flap is over the newly dedicated bike trail along Shoreline, which added two directional bike lanes, bike parking, intermodals for southeast bound busses, plus a couple strips for auto parking, and took away an automobile lane for each direction.

This has produced shouts of joy and howls of dismay.

If you bicycle, well you like the idea. If you want to drive on that road and get somewhere without hassle, well, you are in what we call euphemistically a "traffic calming zone." People initially against the project said that bicycle traffic on the existing path always had been sparse. People supporting the project said that the bike traffic was sparse because on the one hand, pedestrians sharing the path caused problems and that using the road where people have been killed by speeding cars produced the sparse usage. Heck, people have been killed on the path above the curb by errant drivers, no less.

Now people complain the scenic strip looks ugly with lines of cars, that the road is more dangerous now because of congestion and tighter maneuverability room and that pedestrians are more at risk crossing the road because of obstructed and cluttered views.

So okay, everybody has their crotchets. Some people just do not like change at all and some people want change no matter how bad an idea it might turn out to be.

We went down there and rode a bicycle up and down the bike path, parked a bicycle at one of the intermodals, and crossed the street to take a look at what had happened to the views.

Here are some pictures. Keep in mind right now all the paint is brand new. This is of the southside at the Post Office where a street joins the road. No parking is allowed at such intersections, hence the green paint.

Here is a shot of a bus intermodal plus intersection area.

Here we see the parking. Pretty much all parking areas were fully occupied on Sunday.

What about the view from the other side of the street?

As for the views, well, if you live in an oceanfront property, you might object, however all those people also gained nearly 100 parking spaces for themselves. Cross to the bike and pedestrian paths, those users have no cluttered views of the Bay, the Peninsula across the water, or the beach, which we found packed with far more people than we had seen in years.

As for traffic, we sat and watched and observed as we rode along. We saw everyone driving far more slowly than we have noticed in the past. We also saw a lot more continuous traffic. Also, we noticed that the landside parking has become more of a hazard when someone has to parallel park. Basically it is no longer the case that when you see someone opening a door, you could simply shift to the far lane to avoid hitting someone. Also the landside has no intermodals for busses, so a stopped bus means everyone following must also stop.

There is also the situational inattention factor that ramps up risk for pedestrians, who typically lock eyes on the beautiful ocean rather than moving objects that could injure or kill them. Heck people got out of cars and invariably stepped into a bike lane and invariably turned their backs against the traffic direction. Is Darwinian Evolution going out of practice? I saw athlete bicyclists out there and I know from talking to them they can easily do a neat clip at 35mph on the flat while barely coasting on the pedals.

Have to say that for people driving cars it is worse without question. Have also to say that might not be a bad thing, for everybody who lives here will soon learn to avoid going down that road. Saw people trying to turn left from the south side and boy, giving up was the best option for all of them. They just drove blocks down the way until a stop sign or streetlight could make a left anything possible against the unrelenting northbound traffic.

As for stopping the people who used the road as a bypass to 880, some of them might stop doing that. Some of them will not. Others will simply wend their way through the neighborhoods as was done in Berkeley for so many years. Some of you may remember what Berkeley did about that.

In any case, the slower, more cautious traffic on Shoreline can be cited as a plus, one not immediately observable by drivers, but people will get used to it. It will be harder to clobber someone on the paths when a line of parked cars is providing a steel wall between people and maniacs as well.

As for sparse bicycle traffic? Observed a count of upwards of 30 or more bicycles going both directions inside an hour. Never saw that much before. They all looked pretty happy, but there were not a whole lot of graybeards among them. A couple, but not many.

Which brings us to the Traffic Impact Summary presented last week in the Sun, but which had been hotly challenged prior to that on its assumption that adding 9,000 inhabitants will result in net increase of one single car over several years, including all gateways.

Which, of course, is preposterous. Just this weekend, with one change to lanes on Shoreline, driving around the Island ranged from just okay to sheer misery for all of the congestion. Which should cause more inner thoughts in more people wonder if the car is really necessary to get done what needs to be done. The bike way is not for everybody -- can't see our 67 year old neighbor with mobility problems hopping on a red Specialized 10 speed, but there sure are a lot of unneeded, unnecessary, antisocial, hulking vehicles out there on the road funneling gas money into the pockets of Middle-Eastern terrorists.

Some people claim that they drive SUVs because they are safer than small cars. They are not. Look at the statistics. One half of all auto fatalities per year occurs in the SUV class. The rest of the fatalities get divvied up among four-door sedans, two-doors, sport cars, hatchbacks, stationwagons, light trucks, heavy construction vehicles, limousines, busses, motorcycles, scooters, etc. It is not what you drive, it is how you drive, and people who drive SUVs learn to drive badly. So said even the Tappet Brothers.

OK, that is probably more than enough news to chew on for a week. And as Scoop Nisker used to say, "If you don't like the news, go out and make some of your own."


So anyway it looks like the Valentine's Night Dance fundraiser at the Sons of the Golden West parlor hall went well. A stiff Lionel showed up with the subject of his torch-bearing of many years, Jackie of Jacqueline's Salon.

By stiff, we mean a bit awkward. During one slow dance, Eugene Gallipagus leaned over and whispered to Lionel to dance "a little closer. That's the way it is supposed to be."

Things went better after that and Jackie smiled and actually seemed to enjoy herself. She figured that going out with Lionel for once would get her at least a good supper at some place good, but it turned out by the end of the evening she was starting to like the guy.

He had been exposed to Shakespeare . . . by his grandfather, born in slavery

Lionel, born and raised in Carbondale, came West for some of those, what some people called at the time, "social unrest" benefits. But he still remembered the night rides of the local KKK in that part of the country, and the terror of some of his friends and so he slept with a loaded .45 under his bed even after all these years. Still, there were many sides to him, for he was by no means a simple man to understand. He had been exposed to Shakespeare and to Plato and Aristotle before college by his grandfather, born in slavery in Louisiana and who never finished a year of high school

Such were the times and such were the men in those days, for if you thirsted for knowledge, you went and got it yourself, for sure as certain, no schoolhouse in the Nation would provide it for you.

and nobody lynched them

So Lionel arrived in the land where the Free Speech movement was born and where Bobby and few other brothers hung out with AK-47's and the Zebra killers were caught and tried and convicted and sent to prison and nobody lynched them, despite them being even more despicable than most of the oh fay out there. And although some things were different, and some things changed, some things stayed the same for the man overlayed with the Classics and Romanticism and .45 caliber guns and ownership of the Pampered Pup hot-dog shop, Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Amendment.

a Man with a Past in the arms of a beautiful woman

So there was this man with this checkered consistency of soul -- with quite a lot more personal history above and beyond anything related here -- a Man with a Past in the arms of a beautiful woman and the desire of his dreams and as it turns out -- quelle surprise -- a woman with significant history and character development of her own and she feeling things on which she had not counted at the start of this, this thing.

If all of us were so sure and definitive of what we truly desired . . .

If all of us were so sure and definitive of what we truly wanted and what we truly desired and knew precisely how to get it without fuss, the theatre could close up shop everywhere and there would be no Blues, no Gospel, no Albert King, Freddie King, nor BB King. The courts would all close down and all the attorneys would turn to more useful occupations like short order cooks and conga musicians. We would all be living in a land of candy hearts and the temperature in St. Paul would remain a constant 75 degrees all year around.

Not that such a set of circumstances would be desired by everybody. Plenty of people enjoy the healthy vigor of minus 40 degree temperatures, but someone up there would desire it and they would figure out a way to get it while people who like ice fishing would be operating on some other principle.

So as the dance winds down and the Monkey Spankers conclude their live presentation with a Tom Waits song, we draw the curtain gracefully across the set that hosts the Lionel/Jackie opera and let whatever comes out, come out as best it may.

This is what far more authors should do with their romantic descriptions. For even the best of the most randy "bodice rippers" leave the best to the imagination. For in that perfect world of the imagination, everything, including hot-dogs and sex, tastes better. Taste, of course, is that about which we are speaking.

March has come on here in California with unfortunate dry weather. This past week the coastal morning fogs yielded to stunning sunshine which populated the beaches, such as they are in NorCal, where people born in Santa Barbara claim there is no serious beach of any kind here.

"This is not a beach."

Emma, a short and sweet girl working here as a clinical therapist, walks around stating emphatically that there are no beaches here in NorCal and Baker Beach is a cold anomaly that is not really a beach if you look at all its characteristics. There is no squid shop, for example. When brought to the Strand on the Island, she looks at the signs warning about skin parasites and looks at the area zoned off for mating of the snowy plover, and says, "This is not a beach."

But there are people in the water and children frolicking in the sand and sunbathers and of course quite a lot of sand.

"That is not a beach and those are not people"

"No, the sand was imported and the water is cold and there are no waves, no ocean out there -- only a view of the industrial skyline of Babylon and the parasites hurt and there are rules. A beach is broad and warm and sunny and the people frolic in the waves that are the very nature of the ocean, our mother and the source from which life crawled millenia ago. This place is cold and the images do not frolic. That is not a beach and those things are not people, they are automatons or projections."

People from SoCal are odd, but they probably say the same about us in NorCal.

It is getting on to the only fake holiday that both annoys and thrills the Irish diaspora in America -- St. Paddy's day.

Suzie has been posting up cardboard shamrocks

They are all getting geared up for this profitable and irksome day at the Old Same Place Bar. Once again, Padraic has designed an embarrassing miniskirt outfit for Suzie to show off her long legs, along with himself and the missus, Dawn O'Reilly, to show off their respective sturdy assessments. Suzie has been posting up cardboard shamrocks and bearded leprechauns on the windows, while Dawn has been preparing for what seems to have become a regular annual visit by the mysterious Wee Man, who always appears near midnight and always has something amazing to say and always causes mischief of some kind to vex both the clientele and the management.

some say he comes from the legendary Fir Bolg

Some say he is a leprechaun, if that is any sort of explanation at all, and some say he is, because of his magical powers, of the Bann Sé, who are known to howl about the chimneys during storms, make the roof slates fly off into the yard, and cause other mischief. Some say he is an elf of the old nasty type, and others say he is an Elv of the newer, nicer,Tolkein type, and some say he comes from the legendary Fir Bolg that were the original inhabitants of the Emerald Isle.

That he is of an Island and therefore a kind of Islander there is no doubt, for he is impish, unpredictable, full of strong opinions, dedicated to action regardless of consequences, nostalgic to a fault, an antiquarian of renown, a randy gossip, perverted to a devious degree, a bit magical, and endowed with anachronistic inventions and sentiments that are sure to cause charm as well as irritation in providing obstacles to the momentum some people call progress and others communal degredation.

And so the nights before his appearance everyone has taken to taking precautions. All on account of the Wee Man and his powerful effect upon the universe and people's knickers. Both Dawn and Suzi are packing extra pairs. Just on the off chance he returns. For he certainly has a curious fixation and he is impish.

There is not much to occupy people's minds and senses since Mardi Gras ended and Lent has started for the Xians. Even the Wiccans lack a significant sky sign during the Ides of March, so everyone is left renting Netflix and Redbox movies and catching up on who won the Oscars. Seems for about 5,000 years nobody celebrated anything during these weeks, even though it is entirely probable that the Xian Jesus was born in this month, and not in December, when you look at all the data. It would be just like that rabble-rousing Socialist named Jesus to get born in March and then lead the world on a merry chase about December and Xmas for about 2,000 or more years. People do not imagine that Jesus had a sense of humor, but please remember: his mother was Jewish and so was his earthly father. How could he not have a sense of humor?

Well the details don't matter much; it is all in how it comes out in the end.

Pastor Nyquist was quite at a loss for a sermon this Sunday and in desperation he took the entire congregation out of doors, which sort of thing stood as unusual and entirely unprecedented for the normally regularized Lutherans. Ms. Martinez had to be wheeled out in an electronic motorchair to the daisy field outside.

"I don't know what to say today," the Pastor said. "Here we are and this might be all it is. Don't look for someone to provide the reason you are here. You are here because this is where you are and that is all you need to know. So do your best to do your best and be the best you are. Think of who invented you and go from there. Look at these lilies -- they sow and reap not and nevertheless are beautiful . . .". And so the Pastor went into the classic "lilies of the field" sermon, but everyone who listened heard it as if they had never heard it before. This is only possible at the incipience of Spring where there springs a bit of false hope.

In the darkened offices of the Island-Life Agency the Editor wrapped up the week's edition and prepared for changes to come. Some of the Directors were thinking of expanding, becoming a bit more formal. Some were thinking of diversifying. The Editor was not so sure about all of that. The Online World is like the Radio world, is temporal, evanescent. Each show lasts so long as an audience attends, then vaporizes save for memories. The doing is the thing. Why complicate matters?

not unlike our entire lives

Eventually the last office light is turned off and all is darkness and there is nothing but the memory of things that once were glorious, performances that astounded those present, moments that made all the drudgery worthwhile during the brief term of its presence -- not unlike our entire lives.

The Editor put his hand on his left side and felt the silent, still beating of the aging heart, still capable of some minor deeds, still possible.

Been left for dead before, but still fight on. Don't wait up leave the light on. I'll be home soon.

Round about the pool of light provided by the last desklamp burning upon the Editor's desk hung the muttering curtains of night while the Editor labored over the manuscripts, darned slippery galleys. Somewhere out there, enshrouded by the curtains of darkness, hovered a like mind, while he remained islanded in this oasis provided by the lamp, laved and tossed by waves of ignorance and foolishness and all the powers of darkness, all the World's crazy blathering that blocks the soul's link to creation, like the caveman of old beside his fire with the all the creatures of the night moving around out there beyond the reach of the luminosity, watching him doing all for Company while beyond the firelight, reflecting back, the gleaming eyes of sentient and insentient beings.

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.

MARCH 8, 2015



Some of you may have noticed that we wound up Black History month with a visit to the Berkeley Black Repertory Theatre. Others noted that we are winding up significant half-century anniversaries, such as the famous march across the bridge in Selma, Alabama.

The year 1965 seems like only yesterday for some of us, but that was an era that ended the ban on voting rights for Black Americans, starting with nonviolent demonstrations that seemed to arouse furious anger simply in happening at all. Those marchers suffered a great deal at the hands of the State Troopers and private citizens, but they knew they were in the right and would eventually prevail -- by incremental degrees -- and eventually they did.

Many good and dear friends and acquaintances suffered also from that day forward. But what good is a comfortable easychair when a single location exists as part of the United States that does not enjoy freedom and equality for all people?

Encinal High held a symbolic march around Lake Merritt in Oaktown on February 27 to commemorate the 1965 Selma march and Senior Malcolm Jackson, President of the Black Student Union, thanked all participants. This commemoration march was interesting in that it aimed to educate -- always a good goal for high schools -- and inform and recognize that we indeed have come a long way, but know that the Dream of which MLK spoke has morphed into strategies on how to accomplish the "next step", and the people are by no means unified as to what that next step might be.

Certainly a lot less than what happened in Ferguson, but that is not a clear objected as obtaining Voter rights was in 1965.

One thing now unites high schools and middle schools across the country during these Modern Times, a common anxiety that our parents and grandparents never suffered. These past few weeks someone broke into a Bay Farm Island kindergarten classroom and trashed the place. Someone else assaulted a USD employee in the offices of Edison and fought with responding police. A couple schools in Oaktown and here have gone under lockdown because of reported shooters.

It used to be -- a phrase that is often repeated nowadays -- that the kids were way off limits, and now we hear of demented maniacs slaughtering entire schoolrooms abroad and barely a month goes by without hearing of another attempt at a Columbine-style massacre.

That the Columbine-style mass murders were thwarted points to increased vigilance in the world where the authorities treat this sort of things as part of daily reality risk.

The nutcase armed with an AK-47 and thousands of rounds walking into a shopping mall, a church, a school has become the modern equivalent of fear of the A-bomb all of us oldsters went through.

It would be good for us as Islanders to put aside our quibbling about inconsequentials and address the common disaster.

In other news, Development seems to have captured an entirely new news category all by itself, along with Weather, Politics, street repair, School funding, and Taxes.

Truth is the Island is about to change and by way of people who do not live here and who do not care about the people who do.

Latest development proposed is the proposed 58 units for 2100 Clement Avenue. The proposal features 46 single-family houses and 12 triplexes. Problem with these is that since the avarice here has risen to boiling point, single-family "homes" become subdivided into multiple units. Sometimes single houses get split into 9 - 12 units that cost over $2,200 each to rent.

We had an "on the QT" talk with a local realty employee who admitted she did not like what was happening here on the Island and was making plans to move quite a long distance away.

We are hearing from yet another realty employee that buying property here and jacking the rent to "market value" is the best way to make money right now.

Which adds up to people who remember how things used to be here being forced out as these temporarily wealthy invade the vacated spaces, with no manners or morals or memory of how it was.

In an interview with Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the poet describes how big money turned San Francisco into a carbon copy drone of every other big city, devoid of any nuance of uniqueness that once made it interesting. There is nothing different about San Francisco any more, according to Ferlinghettii. This is interesting coming from a man who once was identified with pride as an example of what made Frisco different. We wonder what as happened to Jack Hirschman, a former poet laureate of the City, who lived in a room 6 x 8, space enough only for a bed and one table.

If you enjoy fiction all of you will enjoy the 2014 EIR Point impact report. This one is full of comical howlers -- comical if it not affect the quality of all our lives.

This report insists, in all seriousness, that developing the Point will result in a total, aggregated increase of exactly one (1) car during morning commute.

Um, this does not include the other 13 development projects adding several thousand more inhabitants to the island. It also is blatantly ridiculous, delusional, and a colossal, preposterous lie.

There really is no more to be said about this stupid, foolish, insulting piece of fiction than that. Unfortunately it is key to getting any number of other projects approved.

The ADP will host "A Tale of Two Cities" with a panel discussion about the last election and impact on the Island and Richmond, where a similar groundswell against rampant development greed occurred, resulting in Big Money candidates being dumped.

A quick gander at the East Bay Express confirms our suppositions that the Best and the Brightest are now performing the East Bay. Seems the booking agent that once serviced the Fillmore has now shifted skills to the Fox. Umphjrey's Mcgee performed with Joshua Redman this Saturday.

Railroad Earth will fill the bill with the Infamous Stringdusters March 14, while Widespread Panic will testify from 3/19 through 3/21.

You will have to wait until June 6 for Susan Tedeschi to blow the doors off the Greek Theatre with the Tedeschi-Trucks band, with an enviable warm-up of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. The lineup promises to blow the doors of the town.

Can you say, "Night of the Blues?" I knew you could.

The Warfield looks a little pallid this month save for OKGO coming in 3/21. Wonder if they will bring any of those treadmill things for their act?


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.

The Islander Motel is full of hookers and crazy people

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.

at least they serve decent meatballs

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.

They blither to you on the bus, they hop over fences . . .

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.

the Bay Area is chock full of crazy people

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.

what kind of place is this that produces such desperate measures

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."

The Bonobo always help one another with joyful abandon

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.

MARCH 1, 2015


This headline photo comes from John Curley who claims to take random photos using is Apple iPhone 4s. If so, the man has some award-winning talent regardless.


The new year is underway and gloves are off for all the politicos out there. People are on high alert now regarding the various developments going on and it is going to be very difficult for things to slide by via the smoky backroom as they once did.

WETA is aiming for an upgrade to its facility at the Point, and is remaining mum about any protection for the harbor seals which have used the area to generally carouse and hang out for many years. The Sierra Club is recommending that a new haul-out be setup to compensate for the loss of habitat after the facility expands with new fueling stations and tanks. The Silly Council will be looking at the issue this Tuesday in the regular Council meeting.

Once again we lose another major City Administrator, using the lilypad of the Island to hope to better and bigger diggings. This time the City Manager is jumping ship to scoot down to SoCal to handle Riverside, a decidedly larger municipality than this one. Riverside's population is some 304,000 souls according to the 2010 Census.

While everyone is being very professional and cordial about this, we wonder what it is about the Island that leads to City Managers, City Attorneys, Councilpersons, Healthcare District people to leap out of their positions as soon as opportunity presents itself.

Could it be the property values are overinflated and the rents too high and it is just too damn expensive to live here now?

O no. These people all make six figure salaries. They can afford to pay four bucks for a cup of coffee.

More on Development. Seems parking has become an issue at the Harbor Bay ferry terminal. You know, that area where Ron Cowan wants to pack more development in via the construction of a massive hotel complex across the street from the elementary school. Yeah, that place. Now Weta and the DPW want to restructure parking in the area and remove 2 hour parking limits and generally muck things up for people who live in the neighborhood. Why? So as to bring in more people.

Have we heard this mantra before?

The Angry Elf gang has been at it again, starting a big fire in the 2400 Block of Shoreline because somebody was late with the extortion payments. Since no traffic ordinances were violated, the perpetrators got clean away. Again. Fire was brought under control with no serious injuries.

A reminder: The DPW has begun work on the High Street Bridge, which shall remain closed from 9:30 to 6:30 Monday through Friday until around April 27th. This will definitely impact traffic over the Fruitvale Bridge as well as boating traffic.


Langston Hughes remains one of the giants of American letters to this day long after his death in 1967 at age 65. He is generally known as the father of the 1920's Harlem Renaissance which featured Zora Neal Thurston, Wallace Thurman, Claude McKay, Countee Cullen, Richard Bruce Nugent, and Aaron Douglas. Also contemporary but on prickly terms with Hughes were W. E. B. Du Bois, Jessie Redmon Fauset, and Alain LeRoy Locke.

He wrote novels, short stories, plays, poetry, operas, essays, and works for children and was generally considered successful and popular in his lifetime. With the encouragement of his best friend and writer, Arna Bontemps, and patron and friend, Carl Van Vechten, he wrote two volumes of autobiography, The Big Sea and I Wonder as I Wander, as well as translating several works of literature into English.

Although successful from the 1920's through the Great Depression, Hughes national literary reputation seesawed as times changed into the 1950's, even as the Beat Poets picked up on the "jazz poetics" he had created. Some American critics felt that his writings about Black pride were out of date and he felt that much of the Black Power movement was too strident. This occurred even as his reputation continued to soar abroad -- much of his work heavily influenced writers in the French-speaking Africa who were forging a new post-colonial pan-African identity similar to what Hughes espoused.

Now we come around full circle and the younger writers, such as Alice Walker, look to Hughes with favor.

Ah, the fickleness of fame. Regardless of fame, the position of Langston Hughes will remain cemented for all time now as a major intellect of American letters.

The Berkeley Black Rep is celebrating its 50th year in continuous production, as well as Black History month, with several plays that promise to be exciting, difficult and inspiring. We toddled on up to Berkeley on a long, long, long delayed visit to the BBR which saw its humble origins flower on Adeline near the Berkeley/Oakland Divide from its inception in a storefront in 1964 in an area that still has some urban troubles. In 1964, that area was hooker, homeless, and heroin haven. But the founders had just fled Vicksburg after three visits from the KKK, complete with crossburning, gunfire, and threats to come back and "finish the job". So that is how the little college town of Berkeley became home to the longest running Black repertory theater in the country.

Saturday we took in a matinee run of Langston Hughes' "Mulatto: A Play of the Deep South". Mulatto was the writer's first full-length play. Although it was not published until 1963, when it was published in Five Plays by Langston Hughes, it was written in the early 1930s and first performed on Broadway in 1935. This stage production set a record for the number of performances of a play by an African American but, nevertheless, only hurt Hughes's image. The play was produced by Martin Jones who dramatically changed the written play by adding a rape scene and other sensational elements to make it sell better on Broadway. The play was so controversial that it was banned in Philadelphia. Black intellectuals and activists decried its depiction of less than desirable stereotypical qualities of African Americans of the time, such as uneducated speech. And the presentation of Southern Plantation Whites as ugly, stupid, cruel, violent, and everything else decried later by an angry Franz Fanon also caused an uproar.

Briefly, the play concerns the tumult that ensues when one of the children fathered by the Plantation owner, Colonel Norwood, is called back to the plantation from college where the Colonel has sent him to study "how to work hard." Not surprisingly the now educated half-White man refuses to do field work and begins to outrage the town and his father by assuming all the rights and prerogatives of a man equal to any White by using the mansion front door, driving the Colonel's car and claiming Norwood to be his father in public.

His mother, portrayed extraordinarily well by Carla Hardiman, knows that this sort of behavior in deep Depression-era Georgia will led to no good.

Hughes portrays well the rigid social and economic hierarchies of Jim Crow South where Blacks had to "know their place and stay in it," and it was common for affluent Whites to take Black female mistresses and thereby procreate any number of children -- who all had to remain unacknowledged.

The Colonel, an admitted racist, nevertheless grants his illegitimate children special favors as well as the mother, who after being taken into the Big House from her shack, enjoys a life of privilege without have to work the fields or even do housework. Will, her oldest child, gets his house paid for by the Colonel, and at the start of the play a daughter is being sent off to school, ostensibly to learn "practical skills", like cooking and sewing. In reality, the two daughters sent to school learn business skills applicable to women in the 1930's, but without informing the Colonel.

In spite of some favoritism, the unspoken rule is that this system means that the children are never acknowledged by the father, and as suggested when a more strident racist neighbor of the Colonel comes to visit, this system is indeed a system where it is common knowledge to keep mistresses and produce any number of offspring. The system of "kept women" is well described in one of Ann Rice's better non-vampire books, Feast of All Saints. The fact that it happened at all is terrible, but the fact that it was universally accepted and perpetuated in the White communities on people of color is horrific.

As the young Robert Norwood clashes with his own father who refuses to accept him, and the Georgia townspeople become irate at his insistence on equality, the play moves through a stately three classical acts to its tragic conclusion, with at one point Colonel Norwood pointing a pistol at his son, but unable to fire the fatal shot. The character of Norwood has some interesting streaks of regret and humanity, but he is far too much a self-limited man to arise much beyond a limited regret and a limited compassion to rise above the social structures that made living in the deep South such a hell for so many Black Americans.

Our sympathy resides with Robert who has the terrible job of confronting who he really is and what that means in terms of social reality. Clearly the social reality is that it varies from place to place, and the place where he was born is the most limiting place of all. Had he been able to remain in more cosmo Atlanta, he would have lived a longer life.

To say that Mulatto remains a "difficult" play would be an understatement. Hughes, a former student of Columbia University and as many intelligent Black Americans an autodidact in Classicism, packed the structure of the play with a pretty heady mix of Aristotelian and Shakespearean poetics. The fact the play succeeds after so many years is entirely due to Hughes' extraordinary poetic gifts. Indeed it is very likely he will be remembered as America's Shakespeare long after the shallow Neal Simon and Andrew Lloyd Webbers have crumbled to dust.

Still, the play's three act classical tragedy structure is very blocky, with characters given tremendously long speeches to recite at one another and with the concluding extended monologue delivered by a mother driven insane by the impossibilities of her life, and the death of her son, as well as her benefactor, at an empty chair. It is very difficult for a director to block out actor's movements during these speeches. In this case, the director has the actors sort of shifting aimlessly back and forth on their feet and pacing a few short steps, as if the characters are trapped in some sort of prison. It may be to suggest that the prison is the society in which all of them are forced to live.

The play is, indeed a tragedy, following all the rules, with the principal figures being highborn and endowed with the fatal character flaw of pride, the essential feature of both Black and White Norwood. That the young Robert Lewis Norwood, the titular "mulatto", like all the great tragic heroes, goes through a tragic realization at the end, seems clear. He wanted to put aside being Black and adopt being White with all prerogatives, but realizes that this path, set in the framework of Depression era rural Georgia, leads to disaster and that adoption of Whiteness also means adoption of his White father, who has clearly rejected him. In the end, he has to reject his White father, and so is left with nothing but the last bullet in his stolen pistol.

Unlike Shakespeare, who always has some figure enter the scene to restore the order of the State, as does Fortinbras at the end of Hamlet, in Mulatto, we have only the savage overseer, Talbot, enter to discover the dead body of Robert before striking down the weeping mother in savage anger.

"We came too late," Talbot's final words are the caustic last works to the play.

As for the production, it is sad there is no playbill or website breakdown of the cast or any press release information, as this means we have no attribution for any of the actors save for Carla Hardiman, who pretty much carried the play with an extraordinary performance of a woman living in a house as a "kept woman" and trying to make deals as best she can to care for herself and her five children, all born as mulatto sons and daughters of the White landowner who never acknowledges his parentage.

Langston Hughes, also a product of mixed racial ancestry, was abandoned by his father, who left the United States to live in Cuba and Mexico so as to escape the racism. Hughes went to live his with father in Mexico and was pretty much rejected by the man who disliked the writer's ambitions and his "effeminate" nature. His father only agreed to pay for Hughes to go to Columbia under the stipulation that Hughes would study to become an engineer. Langston lasted a few years there before racism drove him out.

Certain one could stop at the depiction of harsh mistreatment of Blacks by Whites in Jim Crow South, as the Whites all enter as despicable ogres, with only a few strains of humanity suggested in the figure of Colonel Norwood, the Plantation owner, who runs the place pretty much the same as if the Emancipation Proclamation never happened. However, the more interesting meat of the play resides in the ways in which the sons and daughters handle their identity of being half-white. There is also an interesting and topical suggestion in Robert's aggressive self-assertion for equal social prerogatives in what has been happening in the news regarding the horrific death rate of unarmed Black men at the hands of Authorities.

As Cora tells her more unambitious son William, who stands with his head bowed and shifting from one foot to the other, "You never stood up for yourself. You will be all right."

In truth, an educated and aware Robert would have been a threat to the racist White community no matter what he did, for he would always have suggested that the system is wrongly built. The various sub-characters keep saying, that the Blacks need to know their "place" and stay in it. The same response can be seen in the tragic deaths of Trayvon Martin, Garner in New York, Oscar Grant here in Oakland, Ezell Ford, and others. These young men all, regardless of any sort of supposed criminality, were killed when they wriggled a bit too much while someone was kneeling on their neck, for confronting a bully following them without reason, for speaking up out of turn, for not responding quickly enough to orders.

Robert Norwood died, essentially, for being "uppity", for not knowing his "place." The more things change, the more things stay the same.

The next production by the Berkeley Black Rep will be "Amen Corner", which promises to be a romping presentation of Pentecostal old time religion. We hear that Ossie Davis and Alan Alda will be showing up on the boards at this venerable institution in Berkeley. Just don't go for no starchy "entertainment" with predictable lines. We have ACT for presenting yet another Shaw, another Ibsen. The Berkeley Black Repertory Theater presents living theater that matters.


So anyway, we had a brief wharf sizzler here. Sporadic storms spat out a few drenchers and soon the sky returned to its usual moody. Trees all down Santa Clara remain bare and Winter riven and as the nights get into cool with the days remaining just a tad into sweater weather.

We hear that Boston is digging out of its Snowmageddon and now the cold is approaching normal for what it is in Bear Lake Minnesota and all the ice houses have been pulled from the lake and everyone has finished taking wagers on when the Ford sitting out on the ice will break through.

Here in California, where we are all hoping for rain at any moment and the temperatures remain stubbornly above freezing, at least here along the coast, we have other concerns. Some powder has dusted some parts of the Sierra, with Tahoe enjoying a healthy few feet of cold stuff, but the outlook is that the snowpack remains only at 25% of what it needs to be to shunt aside drought.

The Depuglias got into a bit of trouble recently when someone found that a sort of tunnel and cave had been dug out near the Disputed Bicycle Bridge. The Bicycle Bridge, a sort of lifted passageway that goes over to Harbor Bay Island beside the main bridge there, has long been a source of contention. It was built because dogwalkers complained about bicyclists riding on the main bridge walkway, but nobody really set hard and fast rules as to its use. The dogwalkers insisted that the more elegant bridge was clearly designed for them to walk their poodles and the bicyclists insisted that the bridge, built to resolve the original dispute, was intended for them and walkers continued to use both spans.

This, of course, meant bicyclists continued to use both spans and so the controversy seesawed back and forth for years with both sides claiming damages.

In any case someone found that a great pit had been dug with a tunnel near the base of the bicycle bridge and the suspicion arose that someone meant to do something really nefarious, like blow it up or launch a terrorist attack of some kind. The tunnel featured an electric fridge stuffed with Fat Tire ale and a microwave which had been used to heat up Michelina's Frozen dinners and chicken wings. There were lights and a heater and everything was powered by a diesel generator.

The entrance was covered by boards and dirt.

Everyone wondered what the intention for such a thing happened to be and nobody wondered about who owned this land, but eventually it turned out the Depuglia brothers had built it for personal reasons, which is what they told Officer O'Madhauen, who would only say that no traffic laws had been impacted by the tunnel.

Then, of course, this being a small town everyone wanted to know what kind of personal reasons involve digging a tunnel several yards long like that and everyone started keeping tabs on their daughters to an extraordinary degree to the point that Paul Depuglia had to come out and admit he had built it as a survivalist bunker and also a good place to watch the Superbowl with his buds. The terrorists were coming any day to convert the island into a stomping Islamic Caliphate called The Dish of the Prophet Dude. Or the Prophet's Dish. Or the the Isle Pizzle of Prophet Poo (IPoPP). Or something like that. Whatever. Wall Street was gonna crash any day and ivy will cling to the library steps.

The Depuglias, not the brainiest of the survivalist bunch, built their tunnel too close to the Estuary, so at the next Supertide, the whole place turned into an underground swimming pool, shorting out the generator and ruining the chicken wings. They were really put out about that and the City made them fill in the hole, which -- since everyone knew about it and where it was -- didn't provide so good a hideout. Certainly not from their wives.

When the bottom does drop out, you might not want to hang out with the Depuglias.

This is generally a time of expectation and of slow, silent mutations. In places where there is snow, things start to slump, to steam a bit. It stays pretty cold for sure, and you still have to get out the scraper to clear the car windows each morning, but something about the light in the afternoon becoming more yellow, as if to suggest that warmth might come sneaking around the corner any day now. Beneath the snow, things are starting to happen. No sign of it yet, but you just way for that slow surprise. In the deltas, the ice rimes over the sleeping trout where it seems no life could ever survive. All across the hills, the golden European grasses are waiting, dormant, for something to happen, some word that everything can cut loose.

And the calla lilies. The Calla lilies are in bloom again on the Island.

Some people think there is no continuity with the past. There is always continuity to the past -- we simply need the poets to remind us of our humanity from time to time. That is their purpose in life.

The Editor sits at his desk, the lamp making its pool of light while all around hovers the dense, impenetrable darkness. All of the machines have been shut down and all of the staff have left to go to their homes and their real lives separate from this artificial world of work, which always in America's cities shall be a place that is apart from real life, almost like every corporation is a work of fiction that has little to do with how people really feel about one another.

But now all of that corporate speak is shut down and there remains the Editor. His desk is a legacy. This desk was once a schoolroom desk for children in the 1800's and was brought from Omaha in a covered wagon by pioneers quite a long time ago when the old schoolhouse was broken up. The desk served as the main writing desk for some decades before circumstances improved and it wound up stored in a garage for a few more decades. It got used as a lemonade stand and a work bench and returned to the garage from which it was fetched to be sold at a garage sale for $20 with its chair to the Editor who needed a serviceable piece of furniture.

In cutting a piece of wood with an electric saw, the Editor discovered by accident that the chair, and probably the desk as well, was made of cherrywood. Probably a cheap source of timber in the place where someone's grandmother had once learnt her sums well over 150 years ago in that Iowa schoolhouse.

After the Editor discovered this fact, he treated the desk with its warped top and its battered legs with some significant respect and he glued down the veneer top, which looked to be a single plank of wood and he oiled the rest and he taped up the mistake with the saw to cover up his ignorance. Then he sits down to work with the muse of History.

And so Island-Life gets typed out each week on a newfangled computer sitting square on top of a desk that came across the Prairie over 150 years ago. In the hovering darkness, someone's grandmother stands, observing these things, sometimes approving, and sometimes disapproving.

The Editor stood up from that desk and walked out to the deck where the swelling moon hung over the yard with Jupiter hovering nearby. Somewhere from the packed apartments across the way, someone was playing Bob Dylan's new album, which consisted of old crooner covers. Frank Sinatra...

And the Editor was called to remember a memory of a woman he had known named Aoife, which is an Irish name. She had been a mighty handful, and largely the reason he had remained single all these years. He had a photograph of her with her hair all flying from the wind and her lips cherry red like Sheela na Gig, all filled with passion and anger. A woman to avoid, but like Javier his taste in women had never been wise. Funny how you always pick the person who is worst for your soul and body.

Things continue, despite our best efforts to wreck the past. They really do.

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.

FEBRUARY 22, 2015


This week's photo is of the former Thomsen Garden Center on Lincoln. John and Iris ran this combo garden center /cafe with art gallery for 33 years until retiring at the end of last year. The place was a quiet, magical oasis and had been providing the city’s most exquisite collections of plants since 1943 when Bob Thomsen set up shop there. Iris bought the company in 1981.

At the time Iris knew nothing about plants, but that quickly changed. Iris read every book she could and went to many seminars to grow her knowledge of gardening. "I didn’t know how to run a business," said Iris. "I remember having to deal with invoices for the first time and other things and I would say to myself, ‘what have I done?’"

She and her husband John turned the upstairs unit into the Vines Cafe and Gallery in 1986. Poets and people seeking calm amid the chaos found there a quiet place for many decades.

The property will be turned into a residential unit with a garden court.

The neighborhood is likely to change substantially, as the neighbor across the street, Pagano's Hardware, will be leaving in May the spot it has occupied for over 60 years.


We got sunny but cool days with cool nights continuing through the week, leading up to some cloudy stuff but no sign of rain in the short term.

As for the Sierra, report from Mammoth ski country is as follows: "We have light snow falling at this time with 1-3 inches of new fresh light powder snow.

Up top it’s a cold 9 with a 19 at Main Lodge. Winds are out of the NE to 60 up top with gusts to 21 at Main.

Mammoth Mountain Weather: Today into Monday cloudy skies with snow showers at times. We could see 3-5 inches of more snow by the time all is said and done.

Winds are NW 15-30 at 9000 feet and should be double that later in the day. Up top wind gusts of 50 – 60 by late in the day are possible.

Expect highs in the 20s thru Monday, then 40s Tuesday through Friday. Lows will be in the teens and then 20s mid week for some great snowmaking.

As for the word from Howard, we have this as of Thursday last: "A Transition in the Weather Pattern from Warm to Cold this Week is Certain….Light snowfall looks likely….Cool Breezy Weather is Expected Next Week….Then March Roars in Like a Lion…".

"Amounts in general still look good in the 4 to 8 inch range over all by morning. The highest amounts would be over the higher terrain and boosted a bit due to the Snow to Water Ratio. The storm track for the up coming week looks like it will be down over the interior of the west coast. Although there may be some over water trajectory to boost amounts next weekend, no long fetch or subtropical entrainment is expected."

Howard did indicate that he has found a reason for the unusal dry weather, but unless you can parse an highly technical jargon-packed discussion that features " I challenge anyone to find a +PDO indice for the months of December of 2014 and January 2015 for the past 115 years as off the chart as it has been! Not since 1941 has the +PDO been so wacked out!"

Well, ok Howard. We are glad you are excited about the +PDO.

Furthermore, "According to the Jamstic, the AMO will crash this year and so the Atlantic will cool, especially over the western Atlantic north to the NW Atlantic. Odds are the +PDO will weaken at some point before the end of this year. The new ENSO outlook from Scripps shows El Nino taking another run for the tropics. "

What this eye-glazing stuff means, together with the usual patterns of wet weather up high through March and April, is that some drought relief will come after some gale force winds across the summits followed by radical temperature drops severe enough to endanger the citrus groves at lower elevations as global systems gradually work their way literally around the world. In short, March will be good for skiers and the snow resorts, but serious drought relief in toto is not likely to occur until 2016 when El Nino #2 picks up steam.

Given the history (in our recollection) of 10 year weather cycles in California we ought to be due for some gully-washers in 2016 or 2017.


In following several feature articles in the Island Sun, we notice that there has been a pattern here of minor victories of modest citizens against seemingly unstoppable Development forces. Recently we know about the Jean Sweeney Open Space Preserve. Latterly we learn that Roemer Bird Sanctuary is the result of another successful battle against Big Development. We will not recap the already well written article by Klaus Mitterhauser which describes how Elsie Roemer fought the Utah Construction and Mining Company and won to preserve salt marshes at Bay Farm and at the end of Broadway. Suffice it to say that nothing is written in stone and nothing is predestined here, for others have battled seemingly unstoppable juggernauts of development in the past and this energy and aptitude can continue here.

Visitors are always amazed when we tell them that the island population is hovering around 79,000 souls and slated for increase of some 20%.

79,000 people packed into a space barely three miles long and one mile wide is a lot of people already. And we do not need a "gateway" over thirty feet in height.

The sign at Fruitvale does not hold its message for long as you drive past, but you should know that the High Street Bridge will undergo repairs starting next Monday from 9:30 am to 6:30pm, which might dent your commute somewhat. This will also affect maritime traffic. Work is slated for completion around April 27. Note that this is Phase I of a multiphase project. This bridge will also face closures at the end of 2015 for additional work.

The Jewish Music festival is in full swing and Kitka is in attendance. Check out

Florence and the Machine has a new CD out, so expect that powerful voice to come rocking to your hood some time soon.

The Fox is ramping up for quite an unstoppable series that makes it totally unnecessary to go over to the City that Use to Know How for anything.

Ledisi kicks off a decidedly jazz-heavy March on the 1st. Umphrey's McGee bings its quirky jazzy rock with special guest Joshua Redman and the The Revivalists on the 7th, the following weekend

Railroad Earth brings it down to real on March 14th, with surprise Bill Maher showing up 3/15 for what promises to be an engaging and challenging evening of controversy.

Widespread Panic holds forth from the 19th through the 21st, after which Bill Maher promises to return on the 28th to press any buttons he has not already pushed.

Yonder Mountain String Band starts up your Friday on April 3rd.

As for the Paramount, Bill Clinton came and left already, but Gloria Steinem is winding up March 31st her on the warmer side of the Bay.

Can you say Oaktown Rocks? I knew you could.


So anyway, word coming from Boston is that Snowmageddon is in full swing out East. Indeed, these are hard times, hard times indeed and the hard time killing floor is sweaty with the blood that has been spilled just to get by and put meat on the table.

Now is the harsh time of bitter wind against the cheek and the scarf pulled up and the ice reaching past all crevices to steal into the chambers of the heart and there seize with a cold grip the last defences against cruelty until the savage beasts of commerce and rule laugh and shout in echoing halls over the smoldering, gleaming heap of their riches, the coiled worm dozing in the halls of victorious Smaug, the dragon of winter's avarice.

Now is the time when black tree bones scratch against the pearl-grey sky when the wind picks up and the white flags of winter chimneys, pleading truce against the moon. From the mirrors of a modern bank. From the windows of a hotel room.

And some of us sit in cafes, drinking Earl Grey tea, defectors from the petty wars that shell shock Love away.

When Denby got out of the jail on Seventh Street, after last week's St. Valentine's Day massacree debacle, the hookers let out about the same time strode into the street boldly, still dressed in red negligee's and pouffy boas, chilly in the mouth-breathing clouds of air, hailing taxis to take them back to some place for a shower and a meal or someplace warmer. As for Denby, he had to walk down to Webster and go through the Tube and walk along through the fumes and the shopping-cart people, rumbling along with their plasticbag loads and mumbling to themselves, to get home.

He had hoped to avoid his usual bad luck with V-day by going to the movies and hiding in the dark, but things had not worked out according to plan. They never do.

And why was the theatre showing 50 Shades of Grey, a raunchy B&D flick with Spongebob Squarepants anyway?

There is a flu going around. And a nasty infection associated with it. Everyone is getting this thing and offices everywhere are full of hacking, wheezing people suffering through chills and coughing and loads upon loads of phlegm upchucked into wastebaskets and sinks.

There is the flavor of Halls menthol and Vicks and Robitussin and metallic clang of antibiotic and loads of chicken soup from a can because everyone's grandmother who knew how to make the stuff right is dead. Dead as rocks. And there is another terrible reminder.

We are all looking forward to an end to this particular winter, not just the Bostons.

Meanwhile an incensed Javier wants to go and toilet-paper Sean Penn's house in Marin over his comments at the Oscar ceremonies, but Jose, the younger man, feels this would not help the image of hardworking, decent Latino emigrants and Pahrump refuses to give him a ride over the bridge on his scooter. So Javier was left to stomp around on the porch, angrily cursing in Spanish.

"Hey Javier, I heard your girlfriends had a run in with a flasher at the theatre," Marsha said. "Some naked guy and he wasn't even you."

"Todos los gabachos son estupidos!" Javier said. Marsha laughed.

"He have anything worth looking at," Suan said, idly.

"Eh," Javier said making a planar guesture with his hand. "Que colgaba."

"Ask him if he needs a job. We are building out the Apollo Center at the Crazy Horse," Suan said.

"I didn't know the Crazy Horse swung that way," Sarah said with some interest. She had spent Valentine's Day performing for the Cupid's Ball fundraiser at the Native Son's of the Golden West.

"Baby, we got something for everybody at the Horse," Suan said.

Valentine's Day, like many of these artificial holidays, is a time for some people to make money, like Suan and Sarah, and for others to get into trouble, like Denby and Javier.

President's day is one of those odd ones shoehorned into the annual schedule which seemingly benefits no one save for mattress salesmen. Perhaps it is fitting that this one follows hard after Valentine's Day, for how many people really spend any serious time thinking about their mattress unless someone else makes a comment. Or some event causes wan hope to rise in favor of future opportunity. Most bachelors don't even wash their pillow cases more than twice a year. Admit it.

In any case another week passes and its all back to work, leaving the nights of disappointment or mad passion, whatever has been one's luck this past V-day, to leave ashes, bottles and wrappers as forgotten reminders in the gutters along the curbs.

Over at the Old Same Place the paper hearts and pink bunting remain up on the windows and unused candies with cute sayings remain littering the tables. A disconsolate cupid with flaking gilt dandles at the end of the Snug with his arsenal of projectile weapons chipped and blunt, his bow waving a broken string above Denby who plays his instrument quietly with his fedora pulled down over his eyes.

Listen: a clarinet oodling its way through passageways. Strains of Benny Goodman drifting through smoke and pinewood trees.

Eugene, whose idea of hot pursuit in Romance is dropping a line through a hole cut in the ice out on a frozen Sierra lake to wait their with a warm hip flask for something to happen, mulls his cider with as much thought as the man can muster at any one time. He is actually debating with himself as to whether a spoon lure should have string or feathers. Obviously, he is not one for Relationships; trout are moody enough.

Suzie, sitting behind the bar has her Anthropology text open to the chapter on the Bonobo while the patrons come and go, the serious drinkers raptly intent on one thing and one thing only, while the ever hopeful and flirtatious hunters and temptresses remain intent on one thing and one thing only, albeit with different goals than the drinkers. Each has his and her dance in the forest. Maeve is sitting there close to the Man from Minot with her legs crossed, one shoe dangling half off her arch.

"Courtship rituals among the Bonobo are remarkably free of pretense or showmanship, as is found among other tribes in the Congo. They freely mingle and mate with joyful abandon with undisguised affection and sympathy for one another. When a Bonobo finds someone he or she likes, they simply take the other's hand and off they go . . .".

"Lifting houses sounds like such fascinating construction work," Maeve says. "Tell me more about the joists and the jacks. . .".

Down the street, The Editor emerges from his mancave with a large garbage bag of whiskey bottles and empty Michelina's frozen dinner containers as the City street sweeper hugged the curb down the block. He drops this into the trashbin near midnight and pauses to regard Orion tumbling over the Veteran's Hall before returning inside as the night unspools and the laughing stars twinkle on a night with no sirens and no screaming. The weekend night remained silent and peaceful and calm and no one got shot and no one got stabbed.

The Editor turned out the light, leaving the town in the keeping of the one who was sweeping up the ghosts of Saturday Night.

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.


FEBRUARY 15, 2015


They added some lamps to Jackson Park, only trouble is that the line of lamps borders not path nor seat nor gazebo, but marches military formation up the middle of the place, completely wrecking any idea of soccer or touch football or Frisbee. What on earth got in the minds of those people at Silly Hall?


The Prairie Home Companion tail-in that goes "I was a quiet week in Lake Wobegon" pretty much applied to events this week. Seemed like as temperatures rose so did certain indoor demands and all the City employees and developers found reasons to make this long Presidents Day Weekend especially long via amorous embraces. Even strong-arm robberies declined on Park Street, indicating that even thugs got smitten with the arrows of Eros.


So anyway, this week has been a time of what they call "false spring" when the temperatures rise and the sap as well. Islanders took advantage of fine weather and a three day weekend to observe Valentine's Day, each in their own way. The Editor holed up in the Offices with a stack of Michelina's frozen and a couple liters of scotch, seeking to avoid the leggy Joanna. Jose hid out under the porch with Snuffles the bum and a gallon of cheap wine when Javier came looking for him with two of his girls.

"Where did that compadre get off to?" Javier said aloud, standing right over Jose and Snuffles.

"C'mon Javier, lets go do the chi chi boom boom again," one the women said. She was wearing a hotpink tube-top and fuschia shorty shorts so tight you could read the care label on her underwear. She had six inch stiletto heels on her feet and her companion was dressed in a skintight nurse's costume with red pumps. Her dress was short enough to be banned from the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition.

"Where's my valentine, you promised me, Javier," the nurse pouted and stamped her foot.

"I have no idea where the boy has gone," Javier said.

"Hey, somebody's down there!" said Fuschia.

Snuffles stuck his head out from the hole in the porch where Javier had nearly burned down the house on his birthday seven years ago.

Javier bent down but then recoiled. "Phew! Snuffles, when was the last time you had a bath!"

Snuffles paused a moment in serious reflection, then brightly said, "December!"

"You're disgusting!"

"Wan' some wine!" Snuffles offered.

"I think not. Ladies, lets go have fun," Javier said.

Lionel stands nervously outside Jacqueline's salon, a bouquet in his sweating hands. The place is about to close and he has been waiting for an hour until the business quieted down. Jackie sees him, but pretends not to as she fusses about the shop. Eventually Maeve takes pity on him and opens the door.

"Hello Lionel, come on in."

"O no, I, ah . . . I".

"O don't be such a fish. Come on in, we are about to close up." Maeve hooks the stuttering Lionel by the elbow and drags him in. "Well Jackie, you have a visitor. I think I'll just neaten up the scrubs in the back. Ta ta!"

"Hello, Lionel," Jackie said, sweeping up loose hair around the barber chair.

"Ah, hello."

Sweep, sweep.

"You have some flowers, I see."

"Ah. Yes. Flowers. They're for you."

"Why that is delightful! How nice of you!" Jackie took the flowers from Lionel who removed his hat and turned about by the brim in his nervous hands.

"Iyyy, ah . . .".

"Were you about to say something?" Jackie said as she trimmed the stems and set the flowers in a vase.

"I, ah . . . got a restroom?"

Jackie laughed. "Yes its back there." And she motioned with her hand.

Lionel scampered to the back only to run into Maeve who was peering from behind the curtain.

"Saints and pebbles!" Maeve said. "Lionel what is it?"

"I just want to ask Jackie to dinner," Lionel whispered. "Don't tell!"

"O for pete's sake, just ask her out would you, man!"

"Shhh! Sshhh!" Lionel said. "What if she just laughs at me?"

"God's whiskers, she won't laugh at you; she likes you! Go out there . . .".

"What the devil are you two up to back here?" Jacqueline said as she threw open the curtain. "Lionel! Maeve! Are you two trying to make love in my closet?"

"O! Pleasenoit'snotwhatyouthinkatallwewerejusttalkingandnothinghappenedIpromise . . .", Lionel said.

"Well Lionel, I never took you to be ladies man . . .". Jackie said.

"I . . .I . . .I . . .".

"Lionel, just ask her." Maeve folded her arms.

Maeve raised her wrist dramatically to her forehead. "O to think with my colleague, Maeve! I suppose I will survive. And to think I thought you . . .".

"NonononononoIdon'tlikeheratall . . .".

"Hey!" Maeve said.


Jackie looked a little cross-eyed."Lionel you are going to have to slow down and stop trying to tear your hat in half".


"It's Valentines Day. Everything is booked, I am afraid."

"I have reservations for Skates," Lionel said.

"I'll close up," Maeve said. "You two go on."

And with that, Jacqueline and Lionel left together. After closing up, Maeve went down the way to the Old Same Place Bar where the 3 day roistering was already in progress.

Denby, seeking to avoid the slings and arrows of outrageous Eros, spent the day listening to Cowboy Junkies CD's and that new Grammy winner, Beck. He then put on an overcoat and took himself to the movies where he watched Fifty Shades of Grey and the Spongebob Squarepants Movie as well as a space opera flick.

He fell asleep during the space opera flick and awoke to find that the kids in the Spongebob movie had glued the seat of his pants with bubblegum and shoved taffy in his shirt and somehow worked cotton candy past his waistband and there were wet jujubes in his shoes. He felt his way in the dark to a side door and let himself into a passageway that was cool and dark. He saw a light shining and pushed open a door to find himself in a restroom where he yanked off his shoes to shake them over the wastebasket. He then took off his pants and his shirt to try to clean them in the sink.

Damn kids.

It was while rinsing his underwear that he heard a woman's voice saying, "I am dying to take a leak." The door opened and a stunning raven-haired woman wearing a skintight nurses uniform stalked in on red stiletto heels followed by a another woman dressed in shorty shorts.

The nurse shrieked and threw up her hands, while the woman in shorts looked up and said, "Nice hat." Then she looked down and said with curiosity, "Are you Jewish?"

That's how Denby wound up spending another February 14th in jail again asking the Creator why this sort of thing always happened to him.

Because you make me laugh, responded the Creator. That's why I really love mankind.

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.

FEBRUARY 8, 2015


This week's photo comes from Tammy who captured these blooms popping out because of the rain in February. Some hint of things to come.


The recent storms brought some relief to local reservoirs, but the big picture for this area and California as a whole is painted further east where the 400 mile long snowpack reservoir got some badly needed reinforcement from 8,000 feet elevation on up. Although snowpack doubled its entire winter storage at the Pass near Mammoth, according to Dr. Howard Schecter, unofficial meteorologist for Mammoth County, meaning the ski resorts will enjoy an extended season, some numbers came out disappointing.

Projections of 12" of snow came out to about 3 inches, with some snow below 9,000 getting wiped out by subsequent rains advancing to 10,000 feet, meaning the freeze level stopped that high up.

On a side note the Round Mountain Fire destroyed 40 homes in the Swall Meadows and Paradise areas near Bishop. Fortunately no one was killed and the fire is now 65% contained. This fire was propelled by winds measured at 60-100 MPH from Mono County and Reno on up north. Sierra crest stations clocked in winds at 135 MPH. The subsequent snow and rain quenched the firesystem.

Now how would you like to spend a night up in one of those Sierra Crest towers under conditions like that? If you want to have a look at nature's fury, go to Jerry Dodrill's posts of what he saw at Wilderness Exposures.

People who have some connection with the area can help out fire victims by contributing at Round Fire Relief.

Our local rain-maven, Mike Rettie, has recorded a total of 1.81" at 6PM since Friday, which also the total for 2015 today. Other areas saw greater or less than this amount, but for much of the East Bay, this looks pretty accurate extending out to Pleasanton and down to San Jose, according to the NOAA readings. So forecasts of a 3" monsoon failed to, um, hold water.

It's not enough to turn the drought around, but if this keeps up after a 6-10 day break, it just might.


Remember Lena Tam, former Councilmember and unsuccessful bidder for County office? Well just to prove you can't count an Island homegirl out until she is ready, she has been elected to the Friends of the Parks Foundation Board of Directors. In addition, Tam manages the water-resource planning for the EBMUD. Before all of this she was a founding board member of the city Health Care District.

We are reminded in the face of all the development threats happening here on the island that nothing is etched in the book of eternity for sure, as the Jean Sweeney Open Space Park is proof that diligence and persistence can succeed against the Moloch. Sun County LLC had wanted to build over 200 homes on the site of the old railway passage, but Jean Sweeny found a clause in the 1924 contract between the City and Union Pacific Railroad that gave preferential buying rights for the City to re-aquire its own land at 1924 prices.

Development issues occupied the Letters to the Editor pages of both the Sun while the Journal had a letter rebutting some Silly Hall sniping, which seems to becoming a sort of party theme around here lately after the elections. Some people are unhappy with the way the elections turned out for their pet candidates. Well, it is a democracy -- or democratic republic (take your pick -- and not everybody gets everything they want all the time.

Regarding what to do with open space at the peninsular tip jutting into the Bay and facing the Babylon skyline anyone ever driven out to the end of 7th Street in Oaktown and seen what they did out there? The drive out is scary in how the last mile resembles passing through the border barricades that used to divide East and West Berlin but the end is heart-stopping beautiful. Do it on a nice weekend and you will not be sorry.


So anyway, a real dockwalloper swept over the Island at the end of this past week, making us remember that what we in NorCal miss in cold temperatures, we earn in double payback via precipitation. Because the weather waits so long between storms, the earth sort of relaxes into that carefree California let-it-ride attitude. Then, the earth gets suddenly pounded by the drums of Wagner's Valkries and powerlines go down, trees uproot and entire hillsides slide away taking with them fences, houses, freeways and entire bowling alleys.

We hear that Norwegian Hafthor Bjornsson broke a world record last week that, had stood for 1,000 years. What did he do? He took five steps while carrying a log over 30 feet long that weighed 1,433 pounds. The legend of the Icelander Orm Storulffson says that he walked three steps with this monster wooden log which weighed over 650kg and was 10m long. Hafthor carried the 650kg and 10m log for 5 steps.

So supposedly the record was meant for years to be an exhortation for Norwegian kids to clean up their dinner plate so as grow up to be big and strong.

"But mom! It tastes like soap!"

"Clean that plate if you want to be strong as mighty Orm Storulffson!"

"O ma! It stinks!"

"Shut up yer whinin' or there will be no more roving for you."

People may not know that the world's most impressive strongman feat took place right here in California. Alonso Seville de Espadrille was a merchant mariner and strongman back in the final days of the Spanish colonial conquest of Alta California. He often was called upon to reset the ship's mainmast His Royal Majesty. He would do this by grabbing the mast in a bear hug and lifting the entire mast, together with topgallant and crowsnest, long enough for shipwrights to fix the mounting chocks below decks. Then he would ease the entire thing down and when it had settled, he would go have a beer.

People wondered from where this 400 pound giant of a man had come, and some said Seville, and some said, no, the Pyrenees rock mountains, and others said Pamplona. In truth, he was a mixture of Spanish and Azteca and Yoruba of Africa, so he was a man made entirely of the New World.

This may explain why he stood a full six feet seven inches in height among a people that generally attained no more than five four at the most. He claimed he drew his strength from the Blessed Virgin, and to emulate her practiced the most steadfast chastity himself. When he would see a group of lovely senoritas strolling down the boulevard, and they would flirt with him, he would quite often grab an ox cart and hurl it into a garden over the fence -- together with the surprised oxen -- out of what one supposes was sheer boyish exuberance.

In any case it may be because of his vow of abstinence he decided to journey up to Alta California with the explorers looking for a good seaport, as Alta California was a place to which decent womenfolk seldom journeyed for all the hardship and lack of culture. This was understandable as the Mexican senoritas in those days were dangerously hot blooded and of fiery temper. This may no longer be true, but who can say?

So Alonso set out with an expedition, beginning first by sea around the tip of Baja and then up to San Diego and then to El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles, which now bears a shorter name, and thence to the splendid place that later would be called the Bay of Monterrey, which turned out to be less of a Bay than a sort of wishful arc that would be a Bay had it only tried harder before giving up.

he . . . threw his arms around the bear

From there the expedition, let by Padre Junipero mi Siempre and the soldier Juan Sebastian Pato, the expedition marched north overland to find the perfect Bay and having many adventures along the way as they mapped the landscape while the schooner tacked along off the coast, charting the seafront. At one camp a group of brown bears came down to nose among the packs and perhaps nosh on a few oxen, while the intrepid explorers all fled shrieking into the night bushes. Save for Alonso who greeted the largest of the grizzlies like an old friend. And like an old friend the grizzly, who stood easily seven feet tall and weighed well over 1500 pounds greeted Alonso with a fierce bearhug, which Alonso took to be a mark of affection, so he too threw his arms around the bear and hugged him back just as fiercely. The grizzly howled and racked the back of Alonso's armor-plated back and Alonso obliged by raking his own fingernails through the tangled mat of the grizzly as a comrade. The grizzly tossed down his great head and chomped on Alonso's shoulder and Alonso did the same until the big leviathan of the mountains staggered back and sat down in great distress and defeat with a sigh.

"Don't be sad brother!," Alonso said. "Enjoy life!" And so he grabbed an ox and tore it in half and gave its haunch to the grizzly and he roasted some for himself and they all sat down there and had a great time for an hour or two until Alonso led the grizzly pack off into the wilderness where they roistered for several days before Alonso came back and rejoined the expedition, a bit bashful at all the fuss.

Coming up from the place known as Pacifica, the expedition encountered steep bluffs and cliffs coming down to the sea. Seeing that clearly there could be no decent bay up front, the party met up with the schooner and sailed out to reconnoiter the coast. Encountering the Farralones they felt grateful at sailing so far distant from such dangerous shoals and so about the meridian of Drake's estuary, cut back in again when they noticed a gathering of birds there with the ominous signs of an impending thunderstorm chasing them into that shallow place.

There the sailors and the expedition made a joint camp with the schooner bobbing a distance away while the nervous local tribe of coastal Miwok observed them from a distance.

Always a friendly guy, Alonso went over to them to make peace. This he did well enough and pretty soon they had found ways to talk to one another, "using hand and foot" as they say. They asked him about the "big canoe with the trees growing in it", by this meaning the schooner and mentioned the on coming storm.

Alonso asked, well, what did they do with their canoes and the headman indicated how they had drawn up the tulerush canoes high up the bank to safety.

Alonso looked at the Schooner, and he looked at the cliffs and then he looked at the schooner again.

Then he asked the Miwok for help and they agreed.

They all went out to the schooner where Alonso weighed anchor while ropes were fastened to the ship. Then they all got into the canoes and started paddling, some 100 or more canoes, pulling the ship toward the beach where a sort of cut made by a stream allowed the ship to ride up close.

Rain began to pelt down at the start of the storm and the ship still was not entirely out of danger with its keel slurping in the deep mud now. So Alonso jumped out of his canoe and motioned for everyone to grab the ropes and pull the ship up higher until its hull would fit snug into the cut. He grabbed the forward rope and began hauling while all the Miwok pulled their boats to safety before running off into the night and, presumably shelter.

He fell down exhausted . . .

So Alonso entirely alone put his great shoulders to tugging the schooner, with each step gaining a foot, but also digging down with his feet into the soft bank until he had made himself a groove into the slope. After hours of this labor he heard the grinding of the hull as it wedged itself into its natural berth at the stream outlet, whose waters flowed merrily past the hull to either side. He fell down exhausted into the swampy groove he had dug for himself and fell asleep.

That night there was a tremendous storm that brought out the sky titans who rolled thunderballs at one another as gales of rain beat down the land and stirred the once placid estuary waters into a rage. Had the ship remained where it had been left, with on mariners on board, it surely would have been destroyed much as what happened to Cermeno, who came to this same cove a bit later in history.

In the morning the expedition awoke, fearing the worst, but to their surprise, they found their ship bobbing safely during high tide at the mouth of a new river that had previously been only a rivulet.

Alonso was nowhere to be found but they made haste to pull the ship back from shore and climb aboard. Numerous extra ropes were found lashed to the ship and trailing idly -- these the men cut loose. One thick hawser ran deep into the sand where a shallow depression marked a place that had been recently filled in by the force of the storm.

The men had no idea what had become of Alonso, but they felt that as expeditions go, they had come out well ahead of some of them and so they all headed back to Mexico City with their maps and their stories.

The legend of Mighty Alonso grew, and the tale of how he had grabbed the hawser in his teeth and dragged the ship doing the backstroke across the estuary got more and more fanciful and how he died fighting off the terrible Kraken, which they could elaborate because of course they had left him behind. And some said he did not die on that beach but climbed up out of his rut there and looked around to find all of his companions gone and so he had settled among the Coastal Miwok whose ladies taught him to put aside all of this foolish chastity business -- wussup with that? -- and so he lived a long life eating oysters and giving the ladies a good time, which is a much better ending, as all can agree.

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.


FEBRUARY 1, 2015


This week's headline comes courtesy of artist Catherine Harris, who spends most of her time in Atascadero, but who occasionally wanders East for visits. The native Californian is married to a gentleman from Virginia.

We keep getting notes from acquaintances and family that say things like, "You make a good choice to live in California! The weather here is dreadful!"

One earthquake with a fire and all those Bostons crowd down the 101 to catch the first plan back East, suddenly remembering that weather teaches humility and forbearance better than any preacher or deacon ever did from the pulpit.

In any case, the kids decided to get raised here, so we had to stay . . .


Most of the music scene is geared toward the Spring Season however there are a few gems here and there among the plethora of local bands filling the clubs. Devil Makes Three played the Fox on Saturday. Sergio Mendez brought Brazilian sounds to Yoshi's mid-week. Rufus Wainright will be doing Yoshis February 10-11.

Oakland's Uptown District is still going strong with The Parish, Brick and Mortar, and Leos all presenting local talent.

In a sign of our times and the way the real estate thing is really wrecking the neighborhoods, iconic island institution Pagano's Hardware will be moving from the location it has occupied for 65 years. Dave Giovannoli, current owner of Pagano's, said "We just could not come to terms on a lease."

The new location will be at the corner of Webster and Central on the West End. The site was the former home of Blockbuster Video.

Andy Pagano, original founder of the hallmark store, and partner Giovannoli had an opportunity to purchase the building in 1994, but that plan never came to fruition, due in part to the death of the senior partner, who had opened the store in 1950.

On the upside, you no longer have to pay the dump to discard your old mattresses, nor need you plotz the old cushions into the Bay. DR3 will actually pay people for old mattresses at its facility at 9921 Medford Avenue in Oaktown due to a new County waste program seeking to reduce ugly litter and landfill material.

In other news we have the new City Council getting thoroughly dissed even though they have not done anything yet. It may be related to the various developments in progress, many of which appear to be unstoppable and fait accompli right from the drawing board with the assumption, "well somebody is going to develop this parcel anyway."

Let it be said each and every project in motion and on the boards has something really obnoxious about it, whether it be nomenclature, parking, density, and/or height variances. No matter what they come with there will something troubling about it, so that itself is a fait accompli. Why on earth, as we all wring our hands about affordable housing, are they planning to demolish the affordable housing we do have at the Point where perfectly decent bungalow apartments have been serving low income people safely and effectively for years? Because, as the EIR said, "it is difficut to monetize the existing structures . . .". Yeah, that is the real reason. Echos of "greed is good" roll across the decades.

It's not like we do not have historical precedents for bad development in the Bay Area. Someone recently posted an image of the Bay Area BART plan, which looked so reasonable and logical when it was devised in 1965. Had that plan been pursued before the dreadful property booms that began in the mid 1970's, we would have a sane metropolitan transit system the equal or superior of other metro areas around the world.

But had sanity ever governed development, the sweet San Bruno hills would still be sweet refuges for deer and rabbits, San Mateo would not have ticky-tacky boxes on the hillside, the Geneva Towers would never have blighted the area for decades until neighbors all cheered as they were demolished, the Fillmore Pink Palace would never have been painted hideous pink and San Francisco's downtown would still be San Francisco instead of a poor imitation of Manhattan.

And more than likely San Franciscans born and raised in San Francisco would still be living there instead of herds of blithering, condo-dwelling mouth-breathers bashing into each other with their Google-Glasses.

Why does the height-limit for the "gateway to the island" need to be raised thirty feet? Because the savages cannot "monitize" the thing to their satisfaction. To hell with what the people who live here want.

Don't get us started.


This past weekend we bid farewell to Ilona E. Riley, Iola E. Riley was born in Lake Charles, LA on August 13, 1915 to parents Laura and Harold Ricks. Iola was baptized at an early age, attended Baptist church and schools in Lake Charles, LA and Houston, TX, where she graduated high school. Iola moved to Oakland in the late 1930's and worked various jobs including Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company where she was employed for 40 years.
It was at Golden State Mutual where she met and married Harold Jack Riley who preceded Iola in death. Iola was a lifetime member of the NAACP - Oakland chapter and was a member at Beth Eden Baptist church in Oakland. Iola was the last surviving founder of The Church for the Fellowship of all Peoples founded in 1944, where Iola was on the board, as well as church treasurer.

It is here we would like to interject just a few comments about why Ms. Riley, called by many with affection "Aunt Ricky", was a remarkable Californian. The story is told that she came to California with her mother, who was such an accomplished seamstress that her dress creations stirred up murderous envy in the hearts of some people in Lake Charles who did not like the fact that a Black woman walked around town dressed so well.

Despite this beginning in life, Ms. Riley remained open to all people of every color, every stripe, and after meeting Bayard Rustin, was inspired to co-found the first integrated church in the Nation with the eye that the really important thing is to convey The Word to all men and all women and that what really mattered was the personal relationship a person had with the Creator. This in 1944, a time when all the churches, even in San Francisco, were completely segregated.

Although without child her entire life (she would claim, with some tongue-in-cheek, that the key to living such a long time was that she never smoked, never drank, and never had children) she provided a main pillar of support for the numerous nieces and nephews, some of whom became quite famous in their own right. Curt Flood, the man credited with completely altering the professional baseball draft system, was a nephew. Also related by marriage was NFL Hall of Famer John Henry Johnson, who was part of the Miracle Backfield for the San Francisco 49'ers after starting with them in 1954.

Dr. Dorsey Blake orchestrated memorial proceedings at Oakland's Chapel of the Chimes this past Friday, and also delivered a moving eulogy remembering her extraordinary spirit. Dr. Blake was joined by Dr. Kathryn Benton who delivered the Sacred Reading and Prayer, both individuals from the church Ms. Riley had co-founded.

Kevin Marshall delivered a powerful and flawless rendition of "Precious Lord, Take My Hand" with a segue into "A Closer Walk with Thee."

Iola E. Riley was preceded in death by her parents: Laura and Harold Ricks, Stepfather, Herman Flood Sr.,brothers: Alvin Ricks, Herman, Carl, Curtis Flood and sister Barbara Flood Johnson. Iola touched many hearts and will truly be missed by family and friends. Iola leaves to mourn a host of nieces, nephews and friends.


So anyway, we are hearing about Severe Weather in the East, with people getting stuck out there due to the tremendous snowstorms causing thousands of flights to be cancelled, while the reports are that Minnesota is suffering an unaccustomed period of balmy temperatures.

Something about this report caused us to question this -- not the Eastern storms, those are real -- but it being Minnesota we did a little check up and found the current temperature in Minneapolis is 18 degrees, which certainly is not balmy. And the forecast calls for the unusual climb from 19 to about 36 by the weekend, so this leads us to wonder about the trust we put in some people. True its not minus 20 or minus 30, which is probably what people would prefer so as to preserve some sort of self esteem. So we checked the seasonal average and found the city gets about 13 degrees.

Frankly we are shocked, simply shocked.

Could it be that people in Minneapolis are suffering classic weather envy syndrome because of those snooty people in Manhattan enjoying blizzards and howling gales enough to justify their normally bitter dispositions?

We have a resource here in California that could help -- its not like we are inexperienced with handling disaster, which criteria this seems to meet. We have thousands of MFT's -- lord a-mercy we are packed up to the gills with MFTs well versed with treating all sorts of anxiety and self-image issues and we would be all too happy to ship several hundred of them up to the Great White North. Hopefully to stay for a good long, long, long while.

New Yorkers and Bostons don't need any more therapists. They have figured out a way back East to incorporate therapy into daily lifestyle and conversation to the point the entire system of affluent mental health acts like an immense hamster wheel that does nothing really, but does seem to calm some people down simply by virtue of the routine.

It's getting a little like that here to the point some MFTs give up on the crowded people field entirely and go become specialists in psychiatric veterinary medicine.

"The problem with your dog, Mr. Smith, is that Gerald has unresolved issues surrounding mother. He is going to need quite a long series of therapy sessions to work out this emotional baggage he has been carrying...".

In any case the way it would play out, our Marriage and Family Therapists would begin gently with selected Bachelor Farmers sent on referral.

"So Mr. Nordstrom, when exactly did you start to have anxiety about snow?"

"Aboot a month ago."

"And how do you feel about snow?"

"It's cold. Ya sure, it is cold."

"Does the snow bring back memories for you?"

"O ya sure. Mostly shovelin'".

"Shoveling. And in the past you always did this alone? When did you first start to shovel snow."

"As a kid. With my dad."

"With your dad! AH HA . . ."!

It may be just about time to talk about Rafael, said Wally. Rafael comes from on the one side were brothers who worked the Comstock lode after the gold fields played out, and on the other from the Casias family who descended from the original Californios who herded cattle in the area just east of Rancho San Antonio with an original desueno from Eschandia that they keep still in a glass frame, despite turning out to be as worthless as a brass nickel after the tidal wave of Americans arrived.

Wally was holding forth in the Old Same Place Bar, getting pretty lubricated after completing a fuel oil deal with Chiton Manioc and Bowtie Souvlaki earlier in the Bearflagger Cafe. Wally, himself, had grown up in Antioch and going to school with the likes of the Mitchell brothers who even back then had been spitball throwing, back of the class clown jerks before establishing the O'Farrell adult theatre in Babylon, a place where the daughters of otherwise decent families went to flip their fingers at family values and take their clothes off for fun and profit.

Rafael's ancestors, like some, and some say like many, Californians saw their dreams dash up against the hard granite realities of the way things just happen to be, calling it bad luck when the gold played out and the only successful miners at the Comstock turned out to be the big mining concerns endowed with deep-pocket investors and huge earth-moving equipment and the men who worked for them.

One branch of the Stockwell family built a small resort near the town of Brawley, looking to take advantage of a brand new man-made lake down there, only to watch with wooden eyes as the lake became ever more saline, more acidic, more poisonous as each year passed, until no one dared bathe in its toxic waters and any birds who made the mistake of eating its few fish died quickly by the stinking shoreline.

Now the shutters of the abandoned place swing back and forth in the hot desert wind and a kind of grit coats the empty dining room tables that remain and chemical salts encrust the wooden pier pilings of the wharf that cannot decay for all the stuff dissolved in the water preserves things past all use.

Rafael grew up in Moraga, which back then was a sleepy rural town where it was the habit of some to step out the back door so as to bag a deer to supply the freezer with venison for a few months, Wally said. Some visitor from the East might be passing by on very rare occasion, and since Californians have always been raised to be hospitable and share what we have in abundance, just like the Ohlone and the Miwok used to do, Rafael would offer up some steaks or lights to take home and the Bostons would get all bug-eyed at the dripping meat and exclaim, "I can't take that on the plane!"

Well, to each his own. Deer meat is good meat.

When people from elsewhere think of California, they usually picture San Francisco, LA, Hollywood, San Diego and all the cosmo coastal towns where a hare krishna is likely to skateboard past a kid with fluorescent green hair.

They seldom think about Sunol, Gustine, Calpatria, Ione, or Weed or any of the dirt farm towns strung out along the 400 mile Valley between Lodi and Maricopa; God's country where the American Baptist was forged out of hellfires and damnation spewed from orangecrate pulpits and a homeboy aint worth nothing until he learns to hop up a Mustang and work sheet metal. Nobody dreams of being a movie star or a guitar god there -- if they do, they move away to the coastal metropolis and wind up becoming aromatherapists in Beverly Hills. And the only gold is in the invasive European stalks that replaced the evergreen bunchgrass over the past several hundred years.

In these towns the ghosts of the old patriarchs still rule things with toughened, weathered pioneer fists, or at least with the intransigent, flinty attitude their sons carried forward in anger at the civilization brought here by their fathers, which exfoliated like a cancer all along the coast and across the interior, bringing people who had never known want, never fought for what they have, and have yet to know disaster sure to come. Only a matter of time.

Anybody need some good fuel oil -- I got hella barrels of it coming cheep, Walley interjected. Got plenty for the regulars and more besides.

What about what you was saying about Rafael? Eugene asked.

I'll get to that, Wally said. I gotta piss. And with that the man wandered with his beer over to the head which had been signed by Padraic for years in Gaelic as "Fir". Distaff side was labeled as "Mna" and generally there were few errors in orientation. Once people got used to the way things were.

Conversation passed to the weather, which in California meant lack of rain down below and serious lack of snow up above. Farmers were already cut back to 38% of allowance, which in other places would have meant death to the farms. But we had gotten insured to privation and the periodic drought. Nobody liked it, but there it was. Drought was a fact.

When Wally came out with his beer in hand, someone from Oaktown had come in during his absence to take the place where he had been sitting and Suzie had already served up a bump and a glass.

"That's my seat," Wally said.

"I am sitting here," said the man who stood about six two and weighed from the look of him about 220 pounds.

"That's my seat," Wally said. "Scoot."

The man looked at Wally calmly and calmly said, "Eff off."

"O just give Wally what he wants," someone else said.

"No!" Said someone else. "Wally is being a prize a-hole!"

Denby took his prized Tacoma D-9 that he had been playing in the snug and put it away safely in its hardshell case.

"You're a pantywaist, sleek otter aren't you?" Wally said. "Mind if I piss in your arty craft beer to give it some strength, you female cat you."

"You talk too much," said the man. "Eff off."

"Mind if I ask if your mother was a hooker on San Pablo or a plumber in Frisco?" Wally said.

"You are valueless. Eff off," said the man.

In answer Wally swung at the man, who anticipating this, knocked Wally's punch aside with his left and landed a good one with his right on Wally's forehead.

Things decayed substantially in the bar from that moment. Suzie and Dawn grabbed all the loose bottles and glasses and hid them away so they could not be used as weapons as the encounter turned into a savage atavistic orgy of violence amid breaking chairs and splintered tables.

Pretty soon the sirens and lights of Officers O'Madhauen and Popinjay came down the street.

O'Madhauen came in with his nightstick drawn and Padraic put away his shotgun behind the bar.

"You sir, better not be planning to drive a motor vehicle anywhere within the confines of this municipality!" Office O'Madhauen said to Wally, who stood there weaving on his feet with one eye half closed from swelling and blood streaming down his face."Not in that condition!"

"I have not had a drop to drink all night," Wally said and someone guffawed in the back.

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.


JANUARY 25, 2015


Because this structure represents so much of what is about to change on the island, we thought we would toss in a pic of how the old lady looks today with her leaf-strewn loading dock and grassy railbed and chainlink fences all at once. This is the Old Cannery that has seen many uses in its nearly 100 year history. It began life as a warehouse for the Del Monte brand and saw life during various world wars as a small arms munitions factory and transit point. It has been used as a staging point for truck shipping since the old Beltline railway stopped running past here for the last 20 years.

Tim Lewis Communities has a plan to convert the place into condos and offices with some height additions, although they have claimed an intent to preserve both the brick facade and the loading dock area. In this earthquake-prone part of the world, brick structures of any type tend to be as rare as snakes in Ireland, so we have high hopes what results from development shall be least offensive.


A few items that surfaced in previous years have returned to occupy the minds of our citizens. Everyone is wondering about the "mystery gunk" that is killing shorebirds from Oyster Point to the East Bay and now off Crown Beach. People should recall there was a massive fuel oil spill off Oyster Point about a year ago, and it is highly likely that residual chemicals from that event sank to resurface. Also please remember the Costco Busan which tore open on the Bay Bridge a while ago. This petroleum stuff just does not wash away, people.

Now we are hearing about this "gunk" appearing along the Hayward and San Leandro shorelines. With all the construction and debris happening along the Bay, together with all the dreck we are dumping into our Bay, do we have a Silent Spring in operation here?

In a truly sad case reflective of how badly our society handles both medical care and senior issues, people are talking about the Jerry Canfield case in which the 72 year old man allegedly placed a vase of roses next to his wife in bed before shooting her in the head. The man subsequently went to the police station to turn himself in.

They were married for 37 years. Their neighbors say they were very much in love.

The stated reason he had killed his wife was that they had made an agreement previously to end each of their lives should pain become an overwhelming issue and that she was suffering constant pain. Canfield apparently withdrew his wife from the nursing home where she had been living to their home on Clinton Avenue prior to the killing.

Sympathetic neighbors have called this action a "mercy killing", however there is no provision in California law to address such an act with such a term. Canfield remains detained at Santa Rita with an offered $100,000 bond, itself an unusual provision for someone accused of murder.

For the record, there are resources available for caregivers who may feel overwhelmed. The Family Caregiver Alliance works with people all over the country, and their representatives will visit your home to see how to help you best. You can call them at 415-434-3388. Or to visit their website, click here

In other areas of contention we see a firm, resolved and persistent continuation of organized renter response to the present rental crisis in which rents have rising to obscene rates along with nauseating assumptions among some greedy landlords.

On the upside, some local landowners have perceived the problem and are working to ameliorate the conditions that threaten to destroy the town in which they live and own property.

This last part cannot be understated in its importance. If we are going to preserve anything of the quality of life we have here, renters will need to work with local landholders to block the effects of landrush greed. Rent control by itself will not stop this thing, nor will individual good intentions from the handful of landholders who understand what is going on.


The Island-Life Holiday CD is now in production and copies soon will be going out to unsuspecting and innocent recipients. This is the first CD we are producing which consists entirely of originally orchestrated work. (cheers and applause). This does not mean it is any good. (Sighs of dismay). In any case you can expect an unwanted delivery in your mailbox in March and another obnoxious posting to the youtube channel.

People in foreign countries use this thing to teach people how to speak English, so you better be careful.

You know if any of you ever bothered to DONATE we maybe could afford singing lessons.


So anyway, now is the time when the gelid light congeals on the morning floor and everything takes a while to warm up: the the coffee in the pot, the Ford in the driveway, the house after work, the girl who lives across the way, your wife, your overcoat. Outside the world looks like a chiaroscuro drawing of the way things should be, everything harsh stone white and black and perfectly defined. In places where they have snow, shallow dimples hold pools of bluish shadow and the robin peck pecks with little to show for all the trouble.

Near the Island-Life offices the sentinel owl persistently queries anyone who passes by. In the morning hollowed shells of orange indicate the opossum has been busy in the citrus tree overnight with his marsupial investigations.

Round about this small island with its trees and fields and small wildlife the ramparts of the industrial metropolis stand across the Water, with its glowing backdrop and forefront of smoking chimneys and skyscrapers that march impudently right up to the edge of the hills where the forested green stands up through the dense fogs that roll down the slopes with some quiet persuasion, whispering, "all is not what it seems, you city man."

Across the Bay, the gleaming jewels of Babylon twinkle in ropes strung for miles along the peninsula rollercoaster slopes, while even there the inexorable fog streams and dreams over the humpback hills.

All down Santa Clara and Lincoln the sad castaway Xmas trees have started to vanish, squirreled away by the local Scout Troop.

In the shadows of Oaktown the Angry Elf gang torches another business that failed to pay its protection money and runs away gleefully as the shadows redden with flames.

On the corner of San Pablo and 40th new flesh Amy Holliday who has just crash landed from Virginia Beach into NorCal stands offering love for sale in a short skirt and boots. A way to pay for the cost of CSU tuition. Which just went up.

Officer O'Madhauen sits in his cruiser at the pullout down by the Old Cannery with the lights off and eyes on the radar, watching for speeders and red light runners.

The opossum who had briefly lived in the Xmas tree at the Household snarfles quietly along the Old Fence to the orange tree.

There is a clatter of glasses and chatter in the Old Same Place Bar. People are talking about the usual news. How the recent rainstorms failed to dent the water shortage. The current price of gas and oil. The "anchor out" problem in the Estuary. Will the Fighting Otters finally get a shot at contending for the championship this year? How can deflating a football possibly be of advantage to anyone on the field? Are not the Refs supposed to check the regulation PSI for those things every time the ball changes hands?

Football is a weird sport to begin with. The Island has hosted any number of famous pro wrestlers, Jiu jitsu masters of world renown, baseball players like Willie Stargell, soccer stars, and even a squad of munchkins who performed with Judy Garland in the Wizard of Oz. Well okay, acting is not exactly a sport, but we sure loved those little guys, most of whom came from Germany as it should be pretty obvious to everyone that a munchkin is no way a member of the Master Race and they were all likely fodder for the terrible cattle cars scheduled for Bergen Belsen.

Beside being cute as the dickens, they were all full of great humor and extremely foul mouthed, for cursing in a language not your own is always great fun, and they would march around in circles during filming set breaks, stamping their feet and singing off color made-up songs, like "Ding Dong, the Wicked Witch is a nasty B-----!" and "We're Off to Pee Our Gizzards" and "If I Only Could'a Fart."

So anyway, our only claim to football fame was Jorge "Pincers" Garcia, a wide receiver who weighed some three hundred and fifty pounds in high school. He developed significantly more weight during his career with the Oaktown Raiders to the extent that in those occasions where he caught the ball he proved to be virtually impossible to tackle without risk of serious injury to the members of the opposing team.

His shoes had to be specially made in Hong Kong by master shoemakers who invented a new size, size 25, just to accommodate his own dimensions. His workout towels were made from Sunfish sails which had their grommets removed and his protective equipment featured futons sewn into canvas duvet covers. His helmets were made from the hoods of discarded VW Beetles, so he was one of the first of that era of leatherhats to get a hard-shelled piece of headgear.

The inevitable happened and Jorge fell upon the hapless body of an opponent, crushing him so badly that his mother could barely recognize him.

He was exonerated by the Commission, but felt personally so bad about what had happened that he gave up football entirely and retired to a mobile home in Grass Valley, where he lived out his days earning money on odd jobs, like lifting stray cows out of ravines and pulling tractors free from bad situations.

There are many extraordinary stories about unusual people in the West, and you can go crazy listening to all of them, to paraphrase an old acquaintance. But California is part of the West, as much as we on the Coast sometimes pretend to believe we are not. We like to think that we are reasonable, but we are not reasonable at all. No reasonable person would put up with so much nonsense. Nobody reasonable deals with so much outrage from day to day.

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.


JANUARY 17, 2015


This week's photo comes from Tammy and is of a leaf during the recent downpours.

We have not seen much more weather since then, so we will need some might storms in the next few months to pull us out of a drought.


Development projects occupied people's attention during the second full week of the new year. The hurried last minute approval of the Cannery project passed by the lame duck administration in City Hall could not be easily overturned without risk of litigation although new council members did comment that the density bonus failed to incorporate affordable housing elements and that the City cannot afford to rubber-stamp these bonuses for every project.

Tim Lewis Communities will build 380 multifamily units on the five acre site as well as retail space, while preserving the historic brick facade. They also will pitch in $2 million for improving the Jean Sweeney Park on land that used to be part of the old Beltline.

In another project, Alameda Point Partners has submitted plans to build 800 condos on the 68 acre parcel between Main and Seaplane lagoon out at the Point. They also will be building a new ferry terminal at Seaplane Lagoon, which may possibly alleviate some of the traffic congestion as locals take the ferry to SF for the daily commute instead of driving. In answer to who will pay for habitation infrastructure improvements to land that had been used for military/industrial use, APP promised to run a sewer line in from the north side. APP will save on some construction costs by repurposing seven existing buildings for commercial space.

With the Coliseum gentrification `project about to launch across the estuary, this part of the world is set to change dramatically, and not necessarily for the better.

In broader area news, Barbara Boxer's announcement of retirement means that a prime Senatorial slot goes up for grabs. The GOP has glitter in its collective eyes in the possibility of seizing a senate slot in a key state of 35 million souls, but the chances of them placing a starchy conservative in place of Boxer are slim. It is far easier to shoehorn a movie celebrity into the governor's office than the Senate.

On the GOP side the best options appear to be Neel Kashkari, Kevin Faulconer and Kevin McCarthy, none of who are especially gifted with pizazz.

On the Democrats short list we have former Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi, Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, Attorney General Kamala Harris, former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and a few curiosities who would be good picks, but don't have the media exposure, as in Jackie Spier.

There is another reason why the GOP is unlikely to capture the seat vacated by Boxer. KPCC, 89.3, said it best in a recent online article, "Jostling to replace Barbara Boxer in the Senate shows minority influence." (, January 17, 2015)

"When the California Democrat won her first term in 1992, 8 of 10 voters in that election were white. Far more Hispanics and Asian-Americans call the state home today compared to a generation ago, and her recently announced exit has revealed a diverse field of potential candidates.

The maneuvering showcases the growing influence of minority voters and a challenge for the Republican Party, which has struggled for years to make inroads with many of them.

Attorney General Kamala Harris, the first Democrat to enter the 2016 contest, is the daughter of a black father and an Indian mother. Her possible rivals include prominent Hispanics, such as Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Reps. Loretta Sanchez and Xavier Becerra, and state Treasurer John Chiang, whose parents came to the U.S. from Taiwan.

"It's a huge sea change in the electorate," says Democratic consultant Bill Carrick, who notes that only 25 percent of California voters today were registered in 1992."

In other state matters, assemblyperson Kevin McCarty has introduced legislation that would establish and independent oversight review of all fatal shootings by police, which panel is likely to be housed in the state DOJ, pulling investigative decisions away from local DA offices. It is noted that the DA's and local police tend to be in bed together on many issues, making pressing charges difficult.

Governor Jerry Brown released the State $164.7 billion budget this past week, and presented therein few surprises, albeit many unpleasant features. Brown's focus is to build the rainy day fund and pay down the existing debts to the detriment of practically all other services save for the funding of prisons, which will enjoy a $160 million increase. From health care to human services to the universities, K-12 schools, and even the state parks, everyone will feel the pain.

Not included in these figures are the bond measures assigned to accomplish tasks, such as establish a water reservation system that is supposed to ease times of drought.

A bit late to take that one one, as it seems the horse has left the barn long ago, while we rank dead last nationally in school spending per pupil.

In the Live World, we see Rufus Wainwright is coming to Yoshi's for two nights February 10-11. The Wainwright family is so fabulously talented, their ova and semen should be banked and distributed around the world, just to raise the general IQ level of the population.


So anyway. The nights have been chill, with the fog wrapping itself around everything, seeping deep into the bones of things and people to make the overtly moderate temperature feel much more frigid than it is. By morning, everything is damp and the sky is pearl grey until before noon, when the sun cuts loose and all the birds go off like mad in a tremendous racket, as if preparing something to come next.

Some say California has no seasons and the people are as mellow as sloths indolently munching lotus leaves, and that may be true down there in SoCal, the LaLa Land of the West, but up here in NorCal we track the seasons by the pogonip, old Ohlone word for that dense bank of moisture that creeps over the hills like some kind of Tolkein dream. Oaktown hosts the nation's first bird sanctuary -- bet you did not know that -- and it is out there on a spit jutting into Lake Merritt. Each year thousands upon thousands of birds pause there on there journey to and from Canada, Sault St. Marie, Frontelac, and Bear Lake, Minnesota.

As for the people, NorCal has its snobbery and its intense Bear Flaggers driving ancient pickup trucks with angry gleams in their eyes, upset about how they rammed that I580 through the neighborhoods and Manhattanized Babylon and built the Pink Palace Filmore (Do Dee Do Dee Oh) and pampered the schoolkids until they can't do their sums or recite the list of Golden State counties anymore, turning them into lazy day trippers who can't work without a foo-foo latte in hand and never strung wire or used a posthole spade, ripped up the railway tracks on the Bay Bridge, and as for that Golden Gate, they never should have built that bridge. Turned Marin from a decent blue collar place into some well matriculated yuppified section of pallid gentry who couldn't tell the difference between a sawsall and a Peterbilt truck.

No, those people are certainly not mellow. They've watched their world change from when a family trip to Brennans for cioppino hard by the waterfront was a big Night Out, a rare treat, to singles bopping into sushi joints any night of the week.

Martini remembered everyone getting into the Rambler, the car that had handstraps above the windows because seatbelts had not been mandated yet. And his father would drive down the winding Route 1 along the steep escarpments to the working fishing village named Princeton-by-the-Sea. And his mom and dad would get down to the wharves and they would bargain for a fish caught that morning. One time his dad bought an entire baby tuna, which was so large it had to be cut and folded in half to fit in the freezer.

Those fishermen were sturdy men working boats that were barely thirty to forty feet long, if that, and coming back from beyond the Golden Gate where a six foot well was considered calm. By the time Martini's family met up with them at ten am, they were ending up a long ten hour day that had begun before the dawn.

Martini drove down there on the back of Pahrump's scooter, which took them hours to do as the little engine could barely labor up to 55 miles per hour with two people on board. Princeton had turned from a working village into a place with a Visitor Center and a little mall that hosted seawrack and t-shirt shops and Taco Bell style restaurants. A friend of his named Gillespie ran a sort of arty greasy spoon kind of place that served up battered fish and chips come from the freezer, popcorn shrimp and the usual breaded calimari, all delivered in cardboard boxes by the Safeway truck. It had the look and feel of the way it used to be, but not the soul. There were framed paintings of fishermen on the walls that looked like they were made to grace the walls of a motel room or a bank.

"Gillespie, what happened here," Martini asked.

"Had to go with the flow, man. Move with the times. And they done changed." Gillespie said. "Gotta pay the rent that keeps goin' up and up."

There was still a single wharf where boats that catered to the fine restaurants in Babylon moored up after a day of fishing that pretty much had not changed for the fishermen involved, but gone were the fleets of schooners and dorys that had once congregated in this place. And the younger ones looked at Martini sort of odd when he asked about buying a fish for the Household.

The older guys understood and so the pair came away at last with a couple rockfish and flounder. And so the two made their way back up the peninsula and over to Oaktown and then again to the Island as night dropped its curtains of mercy and promise for overnight renewal. But Martini resolved never to return to Princeton-by-the-Sea. The fish in Chinatown were cheaper anyway.

Winter here in NorCal has something of a sluggish quality that makes some transplants briefly long for the sharp bite of cold and snow and the nostalgia of central heating. They only have to hear about the latest freeze and the latest blizzard in Newton or Buffalo to put aside all those crafted feelings. In the Old Same Place Bar, the Man from Minot is talking about walking through minus forty degree temperatures and the terrible anxiety of those who consider placing their tongues upon the iron pump handle. God knows why someone would ever want to lick an iron pump handle at any time of the year, let alone dead winter, but apparently someone did in the distant past, which story sends shivers down the spines of many a young child to this day.

One can imagine the terrible helplessness of that curious boy, stuck on that pump handle until he either expired or, god forbid the thought, someone found him and the fire department all came and the entire school grade to watch as they cut him loose . . .


We have iron pump handles in the Sierra and no one has any recollection of anyone having a pump handle fetish, so we have to wonder if different localities possess different bugbears of a unique type. There may be something about Midwesterners that causes a fascination with licking dirty old pump handles. Heavens to Betsy, Californians pay big bucks to dine on raw fish and call it a delicacy, and nobody else features things in great numbers like Aromatherapy, so go figure. Everyone enjoys their peculiar madness.

"Now I want to tell you about the time the horses broke loose from the stable and ran into the river, which was so cold that every single horse froze in place before getting over to the other side," the Man from Minot said. "This took place only a few miles north of Minot, and the horses remained frozen there in place all winter long and people took winter picnics out there among the herd just to see them. It is all true, I swear."

And all who sat there in that bar were amazed at the extraordinary tale of a cold so cold it froze an entire herd of horses.

"I know one thing," Eugene Gallipagus said. "I aint puttin' my tongue on no iron pump handle. Not now and not ever. Earthquakes are a better bet by far."

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.


JANUARY 11, 2015


This week we welcome the New Year with a shot by Tammy of the Island Marina looking toward Oaktown.

The sea is calm, the way is clear to depart and so lets go on a voyage!


We won't go into detail but here's a handful of beloved -- and detested -- and simply odd people who passed away in 2014.

Phil Everly - singer, musician
Ariel Sharon - Israeli soldier, politician
Hiroo Hinoda - soldier, die-hard
Pete Seeger - musician, activist, humanitarian
Maxmillian Schell - actor
Philip Seymour Hoffman - actor
Amiri baraka - poet
Fred Phelps - religious demigogue, hatemonger
Gabo Marquez - seminal author
Rubin Carter - heavyweight boxer contender, wrongfully convicted of murder
Bobby Womack - R&B singer, songwriter, R&R Hall of Fame
Eli Wallach - Actor
Paul Mazursky - scriptwriter
Johnny Winter - blues musician
Baby Doc Duvalier - hated dictator
Ian Paisley - peace worker for ireland
Joan Rivers - comedian
Ben Bradley - Editor, Washington Post
Galway Kinnell - poet
Jimmy Ruffin - soul singer
Mike Nichols - film director
Mario Cuomo - NY governor
Shirley Temple - Beloved child star and diplomat
Joe Cocker - 1960's folk singer, song writer
Robin Williams - great-hearted and beloved comedian and actor
Ruby Dee - actress, screenwriter, poet, playwright, civil rights activist
Louis Zamperini - Writer, Track and Field Athlete, WWII POW survivor

Most people know of Ariel Sharon as "the bulldozer" for his tough, inflexible political and military service to the state of Israel over a span of fifty years.

The Israeli statesman was a national war hero to many Israelis for his leadership, both in uniform or as a civilian, during every Israeli war.

Many in the Arab world called Sharon "the Butcher of Beirut" after he oversaw Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon while serving as defense minister.

He was a major figure in many defining events in the Middle East for decades, including his decision to turn over Gaza and parts of the West Bank to Palestinian control.

During the Lebanon war in 1982, Sharon, a former army general then serving as Israeli defense minister, was held indirectly responsible by an Israeli inquiry in 1983 for the massacre of hundreds of Palestinians at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. He was forced to resign.

Sharon, who lived on a ranch in the Negev Desert, became Israel's 11th prime minister on March 7, 2001.

He was the man who encouraged Israelis to establish settlements on occupied Palestinian land, but he also was the leader who pushed for Israel's historic 2005 withdrawal from 25 settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, which was turned over to Palestinian rule for the first time in 38 years.

Sharon formed the centrist Kadima in an effort to build political support for his controversial plan to turn over Gaza and parts of the West Bank to Palestinian control.

As waves of suicide bombings by militants rocked Israel, Sharon sent tanks and troops into Palestinian towns, ordering assassinations of Palestinian militant leaders.

Sharon ordered construction of the barrier through the West Bank and confined then-Palestinian Leader Yasser Arafat, whom he called "a terrorist," to his compound in Ramallah, accusing him of encouraging attacks on Israel.

This veteran of all of Israel's wars was a national hero to many.

In 1953, after a wave of terrorist attacks from Jordan, Sharon the military leader led the infamous Unit 101 on a raid into the border town of Kibya, blowing up 45 houses and killing 69 Arab villagers. Sharon said he thought the houses were empty.

In June 1967, as a general, Sharon led his tank battalion to a crushing victory over the Egyptians in the Sinai during the Six Day War.

But what he considered his greatest military success came in 1973 during the Yom Kippur War. He surrounded Egypt's Third Army and, defying orders, led 200 tanks and 5,000 men over the Suez Canal, a turning point in the war.

As defense minister, Sharon was the architect of Israel's invasion of Lebanon, an occupation meant to stop the Palestine Liberation Organization from using Lebanon as a base for attacks on Israel. The attack was disastrous.

After the Sabra and Shatila massacre, he allowed Israeli families to settle in occupied Palestinian land, the same land Palestinians claimed as a future state.

As a result of the inquiry, however, Sharon was forced to stand down and was banned from ever being defense minister again.

His political comeback in the 1990s when he became party leader, came to an abrupt end when he visited the holiest site for Jews, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem -- known to Muslims as Haram al Sharif, "The Noble Sanctuary." The stop sparked violent protests. The incident prompted the second Intifada -- the Palestinian uprising against Israeli rule -- that began in September of that year.

The name Hiroo Onoda is likely to pass into the obscurity of history books. Few know the name of this fascinating individual even today, but his official surrender effectively ended the last hostile activities of WWII.

In 1974.

In 1944, Onoda was sent to the small island of Lubang in the western Philippines to spy on U.S. forces in the area. Allied forces defeated the Japanese imperial army in the Philippines in the latter stages of the war, but Onoda, a lieutenant, evaded capture. While most of the Japanese troops on the island withdrew or surrendered in the face of oncoming American forces, Onoda and a few fellow holdouts hid in the jungles, dismissing messages saying the war was over.

For 29 years, he survived on food gathered from the jungle or stolen from local farmers.

After losing his comrades to various circumstances, Onoda was eventually persuaded to come out of hiding in 1974.

His former commanding officer traveled to Lubang to see him and tell him he was released from his military duties.

In his battered old army uniform, Onoda handed over his sword, nearly 30 years after Japan surrendered..

"Every Japanese soldier was prepared for death, but as an intelligence officer I was ordered to conduct guerrilla warfare and not to die," Onoda told CNN affiliate, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. "I had to follow my orders as I was a soldier."

He returned to Japan, where he received a hero's welcome, a figure from a different era emerging into postwar modernity.

But anger remained in the Philippines, where he was blamed for multiple killings.

The Philippines government pardoned him. But when he returned to Lubang in 1996, relatives of people he was accused of killing gathered to demand compensation.

After his return to Japan, he moved to Brazil in 1975 and set up a cattle ranch.

"Japan's philosophy and ideas changed dramatically after World War II," Onoda told ABC. "That philosophy clashed with mine so I went to live in Brazil."

In 1984, he set up an organization, Onoda Shizenjyuku, to train young Japanese in the survival and camping skills he had acquired during his decades in Lubang's jungles.

His adventures are detailed in his book "No Surrender: My Thirty-year War." The Japan Times excerpted some of the book's highlights in 2007.

Here is a sample:

-- "Men should never compete with women. If they do, the guys will always lose. That is because women have a lot more endurance. My mother said that, and she was so right."

-- "Life is not fair and people are not equal. Some people eat better than others."

-- "Once you have burned your tongue on hot miso soup, you even blow on the cold sushi. This is how the Japanese government now behaves toward the U.S. and other nations."

Pete Seeger belongs to the category of man they just do not make any more, and it is highly unlikely we will ever see his like again. With his lanky frame, use-worn banjo and full white beard, Seeger was an iconic figure in folk music who outlived his peers. He performed with the great minstrel Woody Guthrie in his younger days and wrote or co-wrote "If I Had a Hammer," ''Turn, Turn, Turn," ''Where Have All the Flowers Gone" and "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine." He lent his voice against Hitler and nuclear power. A cheerful warrior, he typically delivered his broadsides with an affable air and his fingers poised over the strings of his banjo.

In 2011, he walked nearly 2 miles with hundreds of protesters swirling around him holding signs and guitars, later admitting the attention embarrassed him. But with a simple gesture — extending his friendship — Seeger gave the protesters and even their opponents a moment of brotherhood the short-lived Occupy movement sorely needed.

When a policeman approached, Tao Rodriguez-Seeger said at the time he feared his grandfather would be hassled.

"He reached out and shook my hand and said, 'Thank you, thank you, this is beautiful,'" Rodriguez-Seeger said. "That really did it for me. The cops recognized what we were about. They wanted to help our march. They actually wanted to protect our march because they saw something beautiful. It's very hard to be anti-something beautiful."

That was a message Seeger spread his entire life.

With The Weavers, a quartet organized in 1948, Seeger helped set the stage for a national folk revival. The group — Seeger, Lee Hays, Ronnie Gilbert and Fred Hellerman — churned out hit recordings of "Goodnight Irene," ''Tzena, Tzena" and "On Top of Old Smokey."

Seeger also was credited with popularizing "We Shall Overcome," which he printed in his publication "People's Song" in 1948. He later said his only contribution to the anthem of the civil rights movement was changing the second word from "will" to "shall," which he said "opens up the mouth better."

"Every kid who ever sat around a campfire singing an old song is indebted in some way to Pete Seeger," Arlo Guthrie once said.

His musical career was always braided tightly with his political activism, in which he advocated for causes ranging from civil rights to the cleanup of his beloved Hudson River. Seeger said he left the Communist Party around 1950 and later renounced it. But the association dogged him for years.

He was kept off commercial television for more than a decade after tangling with the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1955. Repeatedly pressed by the committee to reveal whether he had sung for Communists, Seeger responded sharply: "I love my country very dearly, and I greatly resent this implication that some of the places that I have sung and some of the people that I have known, and some of my opinions, whether they are religious or philosophical, or I might be a vegetarian, make me any less of an American."

He was charged with contempt of Congress, but the sentence was overturned on appeal.

Seeger called the 1950s, years when he was denied broadcast exposure, the high point of his career. He was on the road touring college campuses, spreading the music he, Guthrie, Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter and others had created or preserved.

"The most important job I did was go from college to college to college to college, one after the other, usually small ones," he told The Associated Press in 2006. " ... And I showed the kids there's a lot of great music in this country they never played on the radio."

His scheduled return to commercial network television on the highly rated Smothers Brothers variety show in 1967 was hailed as a nail in the coffin of the blacklist. But CBS cut out his Vietnam protest song, "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy," and Seeger accused the network of censorship.

He finally got to sing it five months later in a stirring return appearance, although one station, in Detroit, cut the song's last stanza: "Now every time I read the papers/That old feelin' comes on/We're waist deep in the Big Muddy/And the big fool says to push on."

Seeger's output included dozens of albums and single records for adults and children.

He appeared in the movies "To Hear My Banjo Play" in 1946 and "Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon" in 1970. A reunion concert of the original Weavers in 1980 was filmed as a documentary titled "Wasn't That a Time."

By the 1990s, no longer a party member but still styling himself a communist with a small C, Seeger was heaped with national honors.

Official Washington sang along — the audience must sing was the rule at a Seeger concert — when it lionized him at the Kennedy Center in 1994. President Bill Clinton hailed him as "an inconvenient artist who dared to sing things as he saw them."

President Barack Obama on Tuesday said Seeger used his voice to strike blows for worker's and civil rights, world peace, and environmental conservation.

Seeger was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996 as an early influence. Ten years later, Bruce Springsteen honored him with "We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions," a rollicking reinterpretation of songs sung by Seeger. While pleased with the album, Seeger said he wished it was "more serious." A 2009 concert at Madison Square Garden to mark Seeger's 90th birthday featured Springsteen, Dave Matthews, Eddie Vedder and Emmylou Harris among the performers.

Seeger was a 2014 Grammy Awards nominee in the Best Spoken Word category, which Stephen Colbert won.

Seeger's sometimes ambivalent relationship with rock was most famously on display when Dylan "went electric" at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival.

Witnesses say Seeger became furious backstage as the amped-up band played, though just how furious is debated. Seeger dismissed the legendary tale that he looked for an ax to cut Dylan's sound cable, and said his objection was not to the type of music but only that the guitar mix was so loud you couldn't hear Dylan's words.

Seeger maintained his reedy 6-foot-2 frame into old age, though he wore a hearing aid and conceded that his voice was pretty much shot. He relied on his audiences to make up for his diminished voice, feeding his listeners the lines and letting them sing out.

"I can't sing much," he said. "I used to sing high and low. Now I have a growl somewhere in between."

Nonetheless, in 1997 he won a Grammy for best traditional folk album, "Pete."

Seeger was born in New York City on May 3, 1919, into an artistic family whose roots traced to religious dissenters of colonial America. His mother, Constance, played violin and taught; his father, Charles, a musicologist, was a consultant to the Resettlement Administration, which gave artists work during the Depression. His uncle Alan Seeger, the poet, wrote "I Have a Rendezvous With Death."

Pete Seeger said he fell in love with folk music when he was 16, at a music festival in North Carolina in 1935. His half brother, Mike Seeger, and half sister, Peggy Seeger, also became noted performers.

He learned the five-string banjo, an instrument he rescued from obscurity and played the rest of his life in a long-necked version of his own design. On the skin of Seeger's banjo was the phrase, "This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender" — a nod to his old pal Guthrie, who emblazoned his guitar with "This machine kills fascists."

Dropping out of Harvard in 1938 after two years as a disillusioned sociology major, he hit the road, picking up folk tunes as he hitchhiked or hopped freights.

"The sociology professor said, 'Don't think that you can change the world. The only thing you can do is study it,'" Seeger said in October 2011.

In 1940, with Guthrie and others, he was part of the Almanac Singers and performed benefits for disaster relief and other causes.

He and Guthrie also toured migrant camps and union halls. He sang on overseas radio broadcasts for the Office of War Information early in World War II. In the Army, he spent 3½ years in Special Services, entertaining soldiers in the South Pacific, and made corporal.

He married Toshi Seeger on July 20, 1943. The couple built their cabin in Beacon after World War II and stayed on the high spot of land by the Hudson River for the rest of their lives together. The couple raised three children. Toshi Seeger died in July at age 91.

The Hudson River was a particular concern of Seeger's. He took the sloop Clearwater, built by volunteers in 1969, up and down the Hudson, singing to raise money to clean the water and fight polluters.

He also offered his voice in opposition to racism and the death penalty. He got himself jailed for five days for blocking traffic in Albany in 1988 in support of Tawana Brawley, a black teenager whose claim of having been raped by white men was later discredited. He continued to take part in peace protests during the war in Iraq, and he continued to lend his name to causes.

"Can't prove a damn thing, but I look upon myself as old grandpa," Seeger told the AP in 2008 when asked to reflect on his legacy. "There's not dozens of people now doing what I try to do, not hundreds, but literally thousands. ... The idea of using music to try to get the world together is now all over the place."

At the height of his career, boxer Rubin Carter was twice wrongly convicted of a triple murder and was imprisoned for nearly two decades. He was exonerated in 1985 and became an activist for the wrongly convicted.

In 1957, Carter was arrested, this time for purse snatching; he spent four years in Trenton State, a maximum-security prison, for that crime. After his release, he channeled his considerable anger, towards his situation and that of Paterson's African-American community, into his boxing -- he turned pro in 1961 and began a startling four-fight winning streak, including two knockouts.

For his lightning-fast fists, Carter soon earned the nickname "Hurricane" and became one of the top contenders for the world middleweight crown. In December 1963, in a non-title bout, he beat then-welterweight world champion Emile Griffith in a first round KO. Although he lost his one shot at the title, in a 15-round split decision to reigning champion Joey Giardello in December 1964, he was widely regarded as a good bet to win his next title bout.

Carter was training for his next shot at the world middleweight title (against champion Dick Tiger) in October 1966 when he was arrested for the June 17 triple murder of three patrons at the Lafayette Bar & Grill in Paterson. Carter and John Artis had been arrested on the night of the crime because they fit an eyewitness description of the killers ("two Negroes in a white car"), but they had been cleared by a grand jury when the one surviving victim failed to identify them as the gunmen.

Now, the state had produced two eyewitnesses, Alfred Bello and Arthur D. Bradley, who had made positive identifications. During the trial that followed, the prosecution produced little to no evidence linking Carter and Artis to the crime, a shaky motive (racially-motivated retaliation for the murder of a black tavern owner by a white man in Paterson hours before), and the only two eyewitnesses were petty criminals involved in a burglary (who were later revealed to have received money and reduced sentences in exchange for their testimony). Nevertheless, on June 29, 1967, Carter and Artis were convicted of triple murder and sentenced to three life prison terms.

While incarcerated at Trenton State and Rahway State prisons, Carter continued to maintain his innocence by defying the authority of the prison guards, refusing to wear an inmate's uniform, and becoming a recluse in his cell. He read and studied extensively, and in 1974 published his autobiography, The 16th Round: From Number 1 Contender to Number 45472, to widespread acclaim.

The story of his plight attracted the attention and support of many luminaries, including Bob Dylan, who visited Carter in prison, wrote the song "Hurricane" (included on his 1976 album, Desire), and played it at every stop of his Rolling Thunder Revue tour. Prizefighter Muhammad Ali also joined the fight to free Carter, along with leading figures in liberal politics, civil rights and entertainment.

In late 1974, Bello and Bradley both separately recanted their testimony, revealing that they had lied in order to receive sympathetic treatment from the police. Two years later, after an incriminating tape of a police interview with Bello and Bradley surfaced and The New York Times ran an exposé about the case, the New Jersey State Supreme Court ruled 7-0 to overturn Carter's and Artis's convictions. The two men were released on bail, but remained free for only six months -- they were convicted once more at a second trial in the fall of 1976, during which Bello again reversed his testimony.

Artis (who had refused a 1974 offer by police to release him if he fingered Carter as the gunman) was a model prisoner who was released on parole in 1981. Although lawyers for Carter continued the struggle, the New Jersey State Supreme Court rejected their appeal for a third trial in the fall of 1982, affirming the convictions by a 4-3 decision.

Inside the prison walls, Carter had long since recognized his need to resign himself to the reality of his situation. He spent his time reading and studying, and had little contact with others. During his first 10 years in prison, his wife, Mae Thelma, stopped coming to see him at his own insistence; the couple, who had a son and a daughter, divorced in 1984.

Beginning in 1980, Carter developed a relationship with Lesra Martin, a teenager from a Brooklyn ghetto who had read his autobiography and initiated a correspondence. Martin was living with a group of Canadians who had formed an entrepreneurial commune and had taken on the responsibilities for his education. Before long, Martin's benefactors, most notably Sam Chaiton, Terry Swinton, and Lisa Peters, developed a strong bond with Carter and began to work for his release.

Their efforts intensified after the summer of 1983, when they began to work in New York with Carter's legal defense team, including lawyers Myron Beldock and Lewis Steel and constitutional scholar Leon Friedman, to seek a writ of habeas corpus from U.S. District Court Judge H. Lee Sarokin.
Life After Prison

On November 7, 1985, Sarokin handed down his decision to free Carter, stating that "The extensive record clearly demonstrates that [the] petitioners' convictions were predicated upon an appeal to racism rather than reason, and concealment rather than disclosure." The state continued to appeal Sarokin's decision -- all the way to the United States Supreme Court -- until February 1988, when a Passaic County (NJ) state judge formally dismissed the 1966 indictments of Carter and Artis and finally ended the 22-year long saga.

The former prizefighter, who was given an honorary championship title belt in 1993 by the World Boxing Council, served as director of the Association in Defense of the Wrongfully Convicted, headquartered in his house in Toronto. He also served as a member of the board of directors of the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta and the Alliance for Prison Justice in Boston.

In 2004, Carter founded the advocacy group Innocence International, and often lectured about seeking justice for the wrongly convicted. In February 2014, while battling prostate cancer, Carter called for the exoneration of David McCallum, a Brooklyn man who was convicted of kidnapping and murder and had been imprisoned since 1985. In an op-ed article in the The Daily News, published on February 21, 2014 and entitled Hurricane Carter's Dying Wish, Carter wrote about McCallum's case and his own life : “If I find a heaven after this life, I’ll be quite surprised. In my own years on this planet, though, I lived in hell for the first 49 years, and have been in heaven for the past 28 years. . .To live in a world where truth matters and justice, however late, really happens, that world would be heaven enough for us all.”

Ruby Dee was an American actress, playwright, screenwriter, activist, poet and journalist, perhaps best known for starring in the 1961 film A Raisin in the Sun. She's also known for her civic work with husband Ossie Davis.

“The kind of beauty I want most is the hard-to-get kind that comes from within: strength, courage, dignity.”
—Ruby Dee

Born in Ohio in 1922, actress Ruby Dee grew up in Harlem and joined the American Negro Theatre in 1941. She is well known for collaborations with her husband, actor Ossie Davis. Dee's film career spans a generation and includes 1950's The Jackie Robinson Story, 1961's A Raisin in the Sun and 1988's Do the Right Thing. In 2008, Dee received her first Oscar nomination for playing Mama Lucas in the hit film American Gangster.

Dee and Davis were well-known civil rights activists.[19] Dee was a member of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the NAACP, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Delta Sigma Theta sorority and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. In 1963, Dee emceed the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Dee and Davis were both personal friends of both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, with Davis giving the eulogy at Malcolm X's funeral in 1965. In 1970, she won the Frederick Douglass Award from the New York Urban League.

In 1999, Dee and Davis were arrested at 1 Police Plaza, the headquarters of the New York Police Department, protesting the police shooting of Amadou Diallo.

In early 2003, The Nation published "Not In My Name", an open proclamation vowing opposition to the impending US invasion of Iraq. Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis were among the signatories, along with Robert Altman, Noam Chomsky, Susan Sarandon and Howard Zinn, among others.

In November 2005 Dee was awarded – along with her late husband – the Lifetime Achievement Freedom Award, presented by the National Civil Rights Museum located in Memphis. Dee, a long-time resident of New Rochelle, New York, was inducted into the New Rochelle Walk of Fame which honors the most notable residents from throughout the community's 325 year history. She was also inducted into the Westchester County Women's Hall of Fame on March 30, 2007, joining such other honorees as Hillary Rodham Clinton and Nita Lowey. In 2009 she received an Honorary Degree from Princeton University.

You will not find the name of Fred Phelps on any media lists of people who died, and for good reason. Mr. Phelps was arguably one of the most detested Americans to have afflicted our country since Benedict Arnold, for he was a self-styled preacher and he preached only one thing: hatred.

Fred Waldron Phelps, Sr. (November 13, 1929 – March 19, 2014) was an American pastor who headed the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC), an independent Baptist church based in Topeka, Kansas. Phelps attained notoriety primarily from his vehemently anti-gay activism and his picketing of funerals of homosexuals and soldiers.

Phelps' claim to ministry stems from a 1954 appointment as Assistant Pastor to Eastside Baptist Church. Phelps promptly established the Westboro Church and broke all ties with any formalized Baptist organization in 1955.

Phelps was a disbarred lawyer, founder of the Phelps Chartered law firm, and a former civil rights activist. He sought public office four times as a member of the Democratic Party. In the election for United States Senator for Kansas in 1992, he received 49,416 votes (30.8%), coming in second after Gloria O'Dell (who subsequently lost to later presidential candidate Bob Dole).

Phelps and his followers frequently picketed various events, such as military funerals, gay pride gatherings, high-profile political gatherings, university commencement ceremonies, performances of The Laramie Project, and mainstream Christian gatherings and concerts with which he had no affiliation, arguing it was their sacred duty to warn others of God's anger. This led a group of motorcycle riders to form the Patriot Guard Riders to provide a nonviolent, volunteer buffer between the protesters and mourners.

An examination of his behavior, starting with the actions that led to his disbarrment prior to this obnoxious picketing presents a portrait of horrid man who truly remained unredeemable in all facets of life.

A formal complaint was filed against Phelps on November 8, 1977, by the Kansas State Board of Law Examiners for his conduct during a lawsuit against a court reporter named Carolene Brady. Brady had failed to have a court transcript ready for Phelps on the day he asked for it; though it did not affect the outcome of the case for which Phelps had requested the transcript, Phelps still requested $22,000 in damages from her. In the ensuing trial, Phelps called Brady to the stand, declared her a hostile witness, and then cross-examined her for nearly a week, during which he accused her of being a "slut", tried to introduce testimony from former boyfriends whom Phelps wanted to subpoena, and accused her of a variety of perverse sexual acts, ultimately reducing her to tears on the stand. Phelps lost the case.

According to the Kansas Supreme Court:

"The trial became an exhibition of a personal vendetta by Phelps against Carolene Brady. His examination was replete with repetition, badgering, innuendo, belligerence, irrelevant and immaterial matter, evidencing only a desire to hurt and destroy the defendant. The jury verdict didn't stop the onslaught of Phelps. He was not satisfied with the hurt, pain, and damage he had visited on Carolene Brady."

In an appeal, Phelps prepared affidavits swearing to the court that he had eight witnesses whose testimony would convince the court to rule in his favor. Brady, in turn, obtained sworn, signed affidavits from the eight people in question, all of whom said that Phelps had never contacted them and that they had no reason to testify against Brady. Phelps was found to have made "false statements in violation of DR 7–102(A)(5)".

On July 20, 1979, Phelps was permanently disbarred from practicing law in the state of Kansas, though he continued to practice in Federal courts.

In 1985, nine Federal judges filed a disciplinary complaint against Phelps and five of his children, alleging false accusations against the judges. In 1989, the complaint was settled; Phelps agreed to stop practicing law in Federal court permanently, and two of his children were suspended for periods of six months, and one year, respectively.

Nathan Phelps, Fred Phelps' estranged son, claims he never had a relationship with his abusive father when he was growing up, and that the Westboro Baptist Church is an organization for his father to "vent his rage and anger." He alleges that, in addition to hurting others, his father used to physically abuse his wife and children by beating them with his fists and with the handle of a mattock to the point of bleeding. Phelps' brother Mark has supported and repeated Nathan's claims of physical abuse by their father. Since 2004, over 20 members of the church, mostly family members, have left the church and his family.

Although claiming to be religious and once an associate of Billy Graham, Phelps considered Billy Graham the greatest false prophet since Balaam, and also condemned large church leaders such as Robert Schuller and Jerry Falwell, in addition to all current Catholics.

In 1997 Phelps wrote a letter to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, praising his regime for being "the only Muslim state that allows the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to be freely and openly preached on the streets."[80] Furthermore, he stated that he would like to send a delegation to Baghdad to "preach the Gospel" for one week. Saddam granted permission, and a group of WBC congregants traveled to Iraq to protest against the U.S. The WBC members stood on the streets of Baghdad holding signs condemning both Bill and Hillary Clinton, as well as anal sex.

The habit of upsetting mourners at military funerals with signs like "Your son deserved to die!" has resulted in the federal government and several states enacting legislation to protect funeral services. On May 24, 2006, the United States House and Senate passed the Respect for America's Fallen Heroes Act, which President George W. Bush signed five days later. The act bans protests within 300 feet (91 m) of national cemeteries – which numbered 122 when the bill was signed – from an hour before a funeral to an hour after it. Violators face up to a $100,000 fine and up to a year in prison.

On August 6, 2012, President Obama signed Pub.L. 112–154, the Honoring America's Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 which, among other things, requires a 300-foot (91 m) and 2-hour buffer zone around military funerals.

As of April 2006, nine states had passed laws regarding protests near funeral sites immediately before and after ceremonies

Ironically, as Phelps lay dying, his own church reportedly excommunicated him because he spoke with the members of Equality House across the road from the church, which was regarded as "rank blasphemy" by the WBC.

Because the Calvinist WBC does not engage in any sort of celebration of any kind, there was no funeral.

Maya Angelou - born Marguerite Ann Johnson; April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014) was an American author and poet. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, and several books of poetry, and is credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning more than fifty years. She received dozens of awards and over thirty honorary doctoral degrees. Angelou is best known for her series of seven autobiographies, which focus on her childhood and early adult experiences. The first, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), tells of her life up to the age of seventeen, and brought her international recognition and acclaim.

She became a poet and writer after a series of occupations as a young adult, including fry cook, prostitute, nightclub dancer and performer, cast-member of the opera Porgy and Bess, coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and journalist in Egypt and Ghana during the days of decolonization. She was an actor, writer, director, and producer of plays, movies, and public television programs. Since 1982, she taught at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where she held the first lifetime Reynolds Professorship of American Studies. She was active in the Civil Rights movement, and worked with Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. Since the 1990s she made around eighty appearances a year on the lecture circuit, something she continued into her eighties. In 1993, Angelou recited her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" at President Bill Clinton's inauguration, the first poet to make an inaugural recitation since Robert Frost at John F. Kennedy's inauguration in 1961.

Her early life includes a Bay Area connection, but hardly proved auspicious for someone who would later charm Presidents and the World.

At the age of eight, while living with her mother, Angelou was sexually abused and raped by her mother's boyfriend, a man named Freeman. She told her brother, who told the rest of their family. Freeman was found guilty but was jailed for only one day. Four days after his release, he was murdered, probably by Angelou's uncles. Angelou became mute for almost five years, believing, as she stated, "I thought, my voice killed him; I killed that man, because I told his name. And then I thought I would never speak again, because my voice would kill anyone ..." According to Marcia Ann Gillespie and her colleagues, who wrote a biography about Angelou, it was during this period of silence when Angelou developed her extraordinary memory, her love for books and literature, and her ability to listen and observe the world around her.

Shortly after Freeman's murder, Angelou and her brother were sent back to their grandmother. Angelou credits a teacher and friend of her family, Mrs. Bertha Flowers, with helping her speak again. Flowers introduced her to authors such as Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe, Douglas Johnson, and James Weldon Johnson, authors that would affect her life and career, as well as black female artists like Frances Harper, Anne Spencer, and Jessie Fauset. When Angelou was 14, she and her brother moved in with their mother once again; she had since moved to Oakland, California. During World War II, she attended George Washington High School while studying dance and drama on a scholarship at the California Labor School. Before graduating, she worked as the first black female streetcar conductor in San Francisco. Three weeks after completing school, at the age of 17, she gave birth to her son, Clyde (who later changed his name to Guy Johnson).

She experienced a great number of personal adventures in the Bay Area, but it was not until novelist James O. Killens recommended in 1959 she move to New York to focus on her writing career that her life began to take shape on an upwards momentum. After hearing Martin Luther King, Jr. speak, and meeting him personally in 1960, she and Killens organized "the legendary" Cabaret for Freedom to benefit the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and she was named SCLC's Northern Coordinator.

After meeting South African freedom fighter Vusumzi Make, she moved to Cairo, and then to Accra in Ghana, where she lived until 1965, returning to the US to help Malcolm X build a new civil rights organization, the Organization of Afro-American Unity; he was assassinated shortly afterward. She returned to New York in 1967 and there renewed her friendship with James Baldwin.

Martin Luther King asked Angelou to organize a march, but circumstances intervened and the great man was assassinated on her 40th birthday (April 4).

In 1968, inspired at a dinner party she attended with Baldwin, cartoonist Jules Feiffer, and his wife Judy, and challenged by Random House editor Robert Loomis, she wrote her first autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, published in 1969, which brought her international recognition and acclaim. This lead to an extraordinary 10 year prolific output of original composed music, articles, short stories, TV scripts, autobiographies, poetry, plays, acting jobs that garnered at least one Tony Award (1973, Look Away), and a supporting role in the television mini-series Roots.

She was given a multitude of awards during this period, including over thirty honorary degrees from colleges and universities from all over the world.

I make writing as much a part of my life as I do eating or listening to music.
Maya Angelou, 1999

I also wear a hat or a very tightly pulled head tie when I write. I suppose I hope by doing that I will keep my brains from seeping out of my scalp and running in great gray blobs down my neck, into my ears, and over my face.
Maya Angelou, 1984

Nothing so frightens me as writing, but nothing so satisfies me. It's like a swimmer in the [English] Channel: you face the stingrays and waves and cold and grease, and finally you reach the other shore, and you put your foot on the ground—Aaaahhhh!
Maya Angelou, 1989

All my work, my life, everything I do is about survival, not just bare, awful, plodding survival, but survival with grace and faith. While one may encounter many defeats, one must not be defeated.
Maya Angelou


Crews are still cleaning up after the big windstorm that knocked down dozens of trees all over the Island. The golf course alone lost some 31 stand of timber and some yards are filled with ten foot high stacks of cut logs that once had been proud shadetrees.

The new Council is in office and already there is bickering about the new development projects, with attention on the proposed Boatworks area and the old brick Cannery, which some want to repeal. There is also a curious event going on at 1207 Union where the owner wants to build out the duplex into a fourplex, which has the neighbors hopping mad.

As for what's going on in the living world, check out the year's updated Calendar in the sidebar. KPFA has some sweet stuff lined up. So does KQED.


So anyway, its been chilly but not cold, not cold in the way some of you may have experienced.

We had a storm, a really big one that knocked the oranges from the tree, but we don't have schooldays when all the schools are closed. Relatives up in Winnipeg say the school never closes, not even when temps drop to 40 below and stay there. When it snows the kids just use the tunnels. We don't have Bad Weather School Days. Save we did have one about two weeks ago due to the rain. People couldn't drive around in their cars for all the flooding, especially here on the Island. All these people in SUV's nosed around carefully through the puddles, a little like newborn hippos or something just trying to figure out the world and not knowing this sort of weather is made for them.

What on earth is the reason people buy these monstrous things? SUV's we mean, not hippos. The things are designed to plow up steep hills carrying loads of concrete and railroad ties, but you see people creeping around in them afraid to get a scratch or dent in their truck.

Speaking of driving it appears a meeting of Floyd's Non Compos Mentis Chapter of the National Association of the Directionally Confused and Traffic Enfeebled is once again taking place. This one day seminar is typically scheduled for eight or nine days -- sometimes a month -- both for its great popularity, but because the members are so hapless that it takes about a month for all of them to have arrived at the same place at the same time for anything.

Again, the main topic is the Stealth Turn, the secretive maneauver practiced by those seeking to attain the height of style in Deceptive Driving. This maneuver involves abruptly changing direction without providing the slightest clue as to the driver's intentions. There is the four lane power shift on the freeway from the fast lane to the right hand exit. Then there is the mid-intersection revision of decision, which is followed by the highly sophisticated left turn at a stoplight from the right turn arrow lane and signal going like mad first one way then, after completion, on the other side.

Some say the drivers of Milan, Italy first originated this technique. Others say this esprit is particularly French or Spanish. All can agree Northern California has perfected the Stealth Turn to such an high degree, Washington is known to send CIA and Secret Service operatives to study the methods honed by Floyd Bender and his group of radical Rotarians.

In an interview by the Examiner, Floyd was asked why and how he came to perfect this technique.

"I realized that if I don't use my turn signal, they'll NEVER know where I am going. Ha ha!"

Floyd comes from stock that traces its lineage to the earliest days of Alta California. It was a Bender, actually Ignacio Behar, who rode with the problematic explorer Vizcaino as the man sailed up the coast, attempting to find a perfect bay for the galleons crossing the Pacific to moor and retro fit before heading south to lower California.

Vizcaino, not an especially talented or capable man, was also charged with finding gold in California for the Archduke of Monterrey. He had failed on behalf of the Duke in a number of other enterprises, and he really wanted a royal merchant ship so as to conduct trading, so he was hell bent on setting things right this time, taking on Behar, who presented himself as an expert navigator. He was not, but he needed a job, and so the ship sailed up the coast for weeks without finding any decent port north of Long Beach.

In desperation, Vizcaino sent back packets on a ship, claiming he had found a perfect, well sheltered bay ideally suited for the massive galleons to make port. This deep water port he named Monterrey Bay with some fictional license before heading north, sure he could find something better than that shallow crescent of water. Along the way, he renamed all the previously christened spots on such maps as he did have with the eye of covering himself once he did find this perfect port with the claim that the Monterrey Bay lay actually far north of where it really is and what map are you looking at anyway?

So it was the Behar, expert navigator that he was, spied the rocks of the Farralones, assumed they were shoals off a dangerous area and so directed the ship to pass far to the west of them, in so doing completely missing the mouth of the Golden Gate as well as what would come to be known as Drake's estero.

Naturally Vizcaino never did find that perfect port for he ran out of provisions before attaining the longitude of Oregon, and so he turned back with his spurious maps and not the slightest indication that gold resided anywhere in California.

When the Duke of Monterrey heard there was no gold in Alta California to be had, his eyes fell.

"O but there's buckets of priceless pearls to be had. Would have brought some back but they fell overboard in a storm", Vizcaino said. "Near that perfect bay I named after your highness. Might I not have a merchant ship as a reward to go shopping in Japan now?"

Vizcaino was sent on his way to thoroughly irk the Japanese to such a degree they closed the entire East until Admiral Perry arrived three hundred years later.

Meanwhile the Behar clan continued to affect the history of California by acting as guides to territory of which they had no knowledge, leading the early explorers with those maps Vizcaino had concocted out of wishes and angel dust.

When the United States pretty much seized Alta California after the Mexican-American War, the Behars anglicized their name, seeing how things were playing out for the old Hispanic Californios, who were getting robbed left and right.

But not before a Behar attempted to guide an emigrant expedition one year over what became known as the Donner Pass with unfortunate consequences. That Behar wound up in a soup pot at the pass during the winter, but other Behars survived elsewhere, continuing to guide would-be explorers and setting up guide agencies that were the prime agents for getting the Oakies out of the Dustbowl and into California.

From the Lusitania to the Titanic to the Andrea Dorea, there was not a famous ship in which the Benders did not have a hand in guiding them to their fates.

Benders served on both sides during WWII. A Polish Benderinski misdirected the Wehrmacht as to the shortest path to Moscow being through Stalingrad when the Field Marshall stopped to get directions, with of course the results we have seen. It was a Von Bender that guided the Germans around in circles during the Battle of the Bulge, which is the main reason the Nazi's lost that one.

So it was that Floyd hung on as one of the last of the Benders -- and barely arrived at that distinction -- for the obstetrician who had delivered him was also a Bender, a man with a serious kinesthesia problem in which he sometimes confused his left hand with his right, and so little Floyd got dropped on his head right at birth when the doctor tried to spank him with the same hand that held him up.

Floyd ran a small travel agency of Kearny Street in San Francisco called Barefoot and Begone Travel. From there he sent people off on vacations to Kazakhstan and Albania and guided tours of the decommissioned Pripyat nuclear reactor in Byelorussia.

Some people have noted that we just experienced a full moon. Hemmed in by the light pollution of the Metropolis, and further limited by the uneven construction that closes in everything here to a claustrophobic binder view, it is difficult to experience the moon and other celestial events the way more open places, like the prairie people do. For wide open vistas one has to go out to the edge of the continent and look out over the lampless vast Pacific. It is there you can actually see the broad band of cloudy stuff that is the Milky Way. Only then do the old sky-myths make sense.

Otherwise we make do with Orion doing his cartwheels past the pale lunar light while the urban skyline glows like Troy on fire.

The moderate weather along the coast sometimes creates the illusion that our resignation in the face of Life's disappoints means that we as a people are mellow, laid back,

One who does have a modest open view and who takes advantage is Senior Don Luis de Guadeloupe Erizo, who has the habit of observing the moon outside his burrow under the hedges of the Jean Sweeney Open Space Preserve, nee Beltline Railroad tracks. Out towards the West End, beyond the assembly of densely packed clapboard and stucco houses where the savage arm of the Developer has yet to reach, the Island opens out to the Buena vista flats through which ghosts of the old donkey trains still chug the Beltline when the moon swells above the nostalgic mists out to the old airfield that is now the nesting ground for the least tern.

Proof enough that open space is worth preserving.

Which is just like the Island to get instead of an imposing Great Auk, or eagles or condors, we got instead the modest Tern, and of the terns, the Least of all of them. It is said that it is as hard as to pass a camel through the eye of a needle, and for all of that, up there if it turns out there is a Heaven, at the gates you certainly will find the Least Tern -- should that be your final destination -- for it is also said that the Least shall be first.

Reverend Freethought of the Unity Church put down her pen after composing these lines for next Sunday's sermon. She then went out to the deck, which was a bit wobbly after the recent violent storm, and removed her clothes before getting into the hot tub so as to look up through the branches of the box elder at the stars and the full moon and consider how to work in the parable of the lilies of the field, they that sow not nor reap.

She was so silent and engrossed that she did not notice the raccoon that came along the fence from the back, nor the self-absorbed opossum that came along the fence from the front. The opossum apprehended the raccoon about the same time as the other noticed it and the two of them shrieked, each in their respective languages, causing Toby and Stella, two terriers that lived on the other side of the far fence, to launch a tremendous confab of barking. Rev. Freethought leapt up out of the water in alarm as the raccoon bounded up onto the outstretched arm of the box elder so as to get the advantage while the opossum leapt upon the fence.

The box elder branch, made heavy by the heavy rains and weakened by the powerful winds, abruptly cracked and came down with the raccoon onto the fence, which tottered, swayed, and all of which gave way with a crash into the street. The raccoon ran off to such refuge as raccoons find at such times and the opossum vanished amid a hullabaloo of terrier barking that was answered by dogs for several blocks in all directions.

Lionel, who had just closed up the Pampered Pup Hotdog Shoppe came around the corner at this moment to see Reverend Freethought standing there naked and knee deep in the hot tub, a new Venus silvered by the light of the bright moon.

"Are you all right," he asked.

"I wonder if you could hand me my robe," said Reverend Freethought, somewhat hoarsely.

Lionel obliged, then stepping back, reached into his shirt pocket, thinking of something to say that would be most appropriate for the situation. He half pulled out his reading glasses to display them, glinting in the moonlight, then said, "Good evening, Sir." And with that he left.

A little distance from that place, Dame Herrisson poked her head out of the burrow and said to the Don, "Les gens disent que les gens agissent fou pendant une pleine lune."

Which, of course, is quite true as it ever was. People say that people act crazy during a full moon.

"Es cierto, pero siempre estoy loco". Responded the Don, confirming both that he was always crazy and that males and females often seem to speak different languages at one another.

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.


JANUARY 4, 2014


This first image of the new year comes from Tammy and displays the bright full moon this past weekend.

It's not like "Full Moon over Alamagordo", but hey! We are good enough for a moody shot just as much.


Hope everyone got what was coming to you this past Xmas and that your New Year was raunchy and safe. Don't go firing your pistol in all directions -- not without adequate protection. You never know what is going to come down nine months later.

All the discussion in re Silly Hall is about Development and possible repeal of the hastily voted Del Monte Cannery project. It probably is okay, given that some kind of real estate vulture is needed to turn the place from a warehouse into something else, still, the idea it needs to be something else is up for debate.

Still again there are other massive development schemes underway and any visitor out to the new Target will get an eyeful of what to expect. We are glad Tim Lewis wisely refrained from continuing with the entanglement out on McKay Avenue, which likely would have spelled many delaying lawsuits and bad feelings.

The new Mayor, Trish Spencer, along with the slate of development moderate Councilmembers are now sworn in on a slim mandate to curb the reckless building and zoning variances that threaten to destroy this little place possessed of firm and inflexible borders.

It has been the pleasure for a couple decades to watch the relatives of Andy Pagano gather on St. Charles Street under the massive oak tree for a children's birthday celebration, featuring the traditional pinata bashing. Those kids rode their bikes and skated their boards up and down the street as they got older. They walked to the bustop on Lincoln and waited patiently for the 51 to take them to school and they graduated and they got jobs in town or in the City and in many cases moved out to the Valley as things got expensive here.

This is our town. We fussed and fought and got into trouble and fixed things up again. This is our home. We all grew up here; let's take care of it.

If you thought the house was a rockin' during the Holidays, you must know it was not due to hard partying. Two earthquakes have struck north of Los Angeles, shaking parts of Ventura and Los Angeles counties, but fire officials say no significant damage took place.

The U.S. Geological Survey says a magnitude-4.3 quake hit at about 7:18 PST on Saturday and was centered close to 50 miles north of Los Angeles near the town of Castaic.

The Los Angeles Times reports that a magnitude-3.0 quake occurred near the same place about 20 minutes earlier.

The Times says there have been three earthquakes of magnitude-3.0 or greater centered in the area over the last 10 days.

On the drought. Reports from the High Country say that all streams and waterfalls are flowing with vigor after the recent rains, but that disturbingly, there is no snow at all in Yosemite Valley and the daytime temperatures are warm enough to go around without a jacket. Photographs indicated sparse snowpack at elevation, which means despite the recent storms we are by no means clear of drought conditions as of this date.


The annual Island-Life CD is in Studio, still, and the last track needs to be recorded while everything else wants mastering and multi-track overlays. The Monologue is 22 minutes of insufferable tedium -- we do hope you enjoy that with stoicism when it finally comes out.

We are proud to say that this is the first year in which all material is original stuff created in-house by our hapless staff.


So anyway, a brand new full moon arose over the Island as we all sailed into another year. Now is the time to put aside the past year's disappointments and make a few resolutions. Denby resolved to drink a little less. The Editor resolved to drink a little more. Larry resolved to eat more cheese. Rev. Howler of Adelphian Iglesia del Luz de los Cajóns de Estacionamiento del Mundo resolved to make more money out of this cash cow he had going with the entertainment club he passed off as a "church".

Sabine, the Buddhist nun, resolved to be more mindful. And forgive and try to understand hapless people like Eugene who had fallen in love with her. Fe Corpuz resolved to be a little more devout. Her friend Mona resolved to help her be a bit more earthly.

Mr. Howitzer resolved to get more money and pay less in taxes -- same resolution for him as last year.

The Native Sons of the Golden West held their annual New Year's Eve Ball at the Parlor hall again. David rigged up a glowing discoball and set it to fall from the top of the main mast to Wally's schooner. Actually Wally's 20 footer had no masts to speak of, so he rented the restored 18th century brigantine that people could charter for excursions and for use as a privateer during pirate festivals. One would think pirate festivals were a thin way to make a living, but ever since Jack Sparrow appeared pirates of a certain type have developed cachet. Not real pirates like they have in the Malaysian islands or off the coast of Somalia. Those pirates have no pizzazz. They don't carry parrots around and go, "Arrgh, me maties!" or say colorful expressions like, "Heave ahoy and blow yer lubbards to windward! Avast abeam and starboard ya luffin' gunwale davit!"

Indeed now that pirates of the Spanish Main have got game, everybody is looking into the family tree in hopes there was a Bluebeard snatching the petticoats off of proper French ladies, when in the past, this sort of thing was kept under wraps and never told to the children.

Kids, of course, love the idea of pirates, because pirates get to swear a lot and go late to bed without brushing their teeth. Furthermore nobody ever demands that a pirate each all of the brussel sprouts on the plate. In fact, pirates don't eat vegetables at all. Pirates eat massive turkey legs and poltroons, which is probably a kind of candy, and hamburgers.

Try as he would, Mr. Howitzer could find no evidence of any English pirates in his family tree. There were a few robber barons who formed part of the railroad octopus, but nobody had ever gone to sea that he could find.

As it turned out both Mr. Larch and Ms. Light had pirate ancestors. So to did Luther, however his family was presently decent and law-abiding and they did not respect this distant relative who had plagued the Mediterranean Barbary Coast. That man, known as "Lashing Leroy", wielded a bullwhip ten feet long in battle and was known to be a rake and a scoundrel to the all the ladies between the south of France and North Africa. He was something of a black sheep, but Luther felt secretly a little pleased that one of his family had terrorized the same people who had enslaved so many others.

Unlike many pirates, Lashing Leroy got out of the piracy game in good time with his neck still attached to his shoulders, for he captured a woman from Ethiopia who proved to be such an excellent cook that the ship's crew persuaded the captain to retain her services instead of tossing her overboard for fishbait. It wasn't long before she was sleeping in the captain's cabin and not long after that she became the First Mate to succeed Old Firepants who got blown right off the ship during a nasty run-in with a British man of war. Once she became First Mate, she made the men start taking baths, dressing in something other than rags -- which meant that many of them started wearing uniforms taken from officers of captured ships. Then she had them pay heed to keeping the ship so tidy and well swept that when a French man of war on the lookout for pirates examined them via spyglass, they were taken for an English military vessel, and so were left entirely in peace.

It was while moored near Tunis that she rechristened the ship's name from Tsunami to Poesy Bucket.

So it was the ship sailed around the West African point to stop at Lagos, where Betty forced Leroy to marry here in an English missionary chapel. Shamed by these outrageous acts of propriety, as well as the crinoline-draped gunwales and all the lace doilies, and especially the toy poodle named Wow Wow picked up in Tunis, the crew mutinied and departed the harbor without the First Mate or the Captain who stood with his bullwhip drooping on the wharf as his ship left the harbor to return to its old ways. There was a little splash and sure enough a white head could be seen dogpaddling to the wharf, where the rather sodden Wow Wow pulled her self up by her front paws. The crew had simply tossed her overboard.

Leroy wanted to get another ship, but Betty would have nothing to do with this kind of nautical life. The last voyage Lashing Leroy made was aboard an emigrant ship that brought them to free state Boston Harbor, and from there the three traveled via many adventures until they came to the new Zion of Utah Territory where they had many, many children on the frontier, who dispersed themselves like flower seeds across the country. Leroy eventually died an old man in his bed, which is unusual for a pirate.

As for the crew of the Bloody Outhouse, formerly Poesy Bucket, nee' Tsunami, that ship was set upon off the coast of Libya by Portuguese warships and overwhelmed. The new officers were hanged, while the remainder were transported to serve hard labor on the then rocky Azores and the ship was sunk.

In the Old Same Place Bar, someone asked Padraic why there were no famous Irish pirates. The rest of the crew there were intent on the horse races starting up out at Golden Gate Fields in Berkeley.

Padraic and Dawn both had to exclaim that quite to the contrary, there had been several notorious Irish pirates, starting with Edward Seagar, who changed his name to Edward England, because nothing to an Irishman was so vicious and bloodthirsty sounding as the sound of that hated name.

Then it was Dawn who referenced the Bonny Anne Cormac, who like many wild Irish girls simply could not stay quiet and demur on the plantation. Her mother had been a servant to Bill Cormac and when their affair came out, they fled County Cork for the American city of Charleston, where Anne got bored. So she married James Bonny, a basic ne'er do well and occasional pirate. Once again Anne fled, this time to the Bahamas after burning down her father's plantation. Here, again, Anne got bored of her husband who had turned to rather humdrum business of con jobs and narcing.

She then fell for a guy because of his pants, a certain Calico Jack. They ran off together after a bit of trouble with the husband, and the romantic duo turned to privateering. During one foray Anne desired to "have her way" with a fair-looking sailor but discovered in her room that the sailor was a woman named Mary Reade.

The two became great friends and they robbed and plundered with zest until, as with all pirate ships, they were captured by an English warship when the male crew hid below decks to avoid the withering cannonfire, leaving the two women to fight alone.

The survivors were all hanged, save for the two women. Mary Reade died in prison and Anne was released to sign a contract with Walt Disney Studios in 1721. Not many people know this.

Then of course, there was the most fabulous Irish pirate of all time, The Sea Queen of Connacht, Gráinne O'Malley. She inherited the large sea trading business started by her father, but soon turned her resources to other means. It seemed logical to here that since Galway collected taxes on ships that traded there, she as chieftain of the O'Malley clan had perfect right to do so as well. Naturally some captains refused this taxation, to which O'Malley responded with what may be termed "excessive force."

She lived quite a long time, exacted terrible punitive revenge on land and sea for offenses against her and her lovers, and in a moment rare for a pirate, after some relatives of her were captured, she sailed to England and was brought in audience to meet Queen Elizabeth, before whom she refused to bow as she felt the Queen had no lawful jurisdiction over Ireland. She did, however, surrender the dagger found under her bodice during the meeting with the Queen. There O'Malley negotiated with the Queen for the release of her relatives, the removal of a particularly odious English governor of Connacht, and the return of property she considered to have been stolen from her lands in exchange for ceasing all rebellious activities.

Her relatives were released, but the property retained and so was the English Governor, and so she returned to supporting the rebellious Irish Lords. She passed away of natural causes about the same time as Elizabeth, having caused about as much trouble as she could during her time. For which the Irish are very proud to have had her as one of their own.

"So you see," Dawn said. "The best of Ireland has always been the women in it. Ain't it right, Padraic?"

Padraic paused a bit, thinking hard, before saying, "It would be fatal to disagree."

"Righ'," Dawn said.

Just then the horn blew and the horses launched from the gate for the last of the trifecta at Golden Gate Fields. They were off on the first set of races for the New Year and the full moon hung overhead to gleam on it all, the dew and the sweat and the challenge.

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 towers bedecked with holiday lights, 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 the unknown future.

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









Another Week Passed


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