Island Life

Vol. 22 - No. 11Bay Area News and Views since 1998 Sunday March 29, 2020

{Formerly Island-Life}

Current Edition - Year 2020

Welcome to the 21st 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 2018, visit the Archives.

The Editor
Denby -
Bea -
Chad -
Tammy -
Hildegard -
Europe News

MARCH 30, 2020


This week's headline foto and the following photo essay comes from the front lines of California's battled with the novel coronavirus. It is a triage nurse sitting all alone in the hallway of Herrick Hospital outside the door of the Urgent Care clinic.

Seems there are a lot of songs including the word "fever", or some variation of feeling bad, from "Rock 'n Roll Doctor" to Springteen's "I got the fever (for the girl)", and of course Skip James has several as he definitely knew all too well the agonies of illness. Since most of you are staying home in this time - as you should - play this game among your loved ones. How many songs can you name that mention feeling unwell, from love "sickness" to things like St. James Infirmary. Suppose mentioning hospital settings should count, but to keep it interesting, leave out things like Death Letter Blues. Death don't count, because it is the suffering of the living we are talkin' about here. All I know is I have had my fun, if I never get well no more . . . .


Testing tents. So infected people do not enter a room and spread the virus indoors.

Screening station outside Sutter Hospital.


So anyway. One wonders what everyone is doing in being absent from their usual haunts. The Old Same Place Bar is closed during the quarantine. Suzy can do some things as offered by Dawn and Padraic in cleaning the place top to bottom, fixing broken things, flushing the beer lines, etc., but it hardly made for a night of work six nights a week as before and of course no tips. Eugene could always go fishing, but he could not go hunting poodles for they were out of season and there was no replacing lost leads and flies from the stores that were all closed. Pedro could still go out on his boat each day, for he did not have a crew like the bigger enterprises, but the dock facilities were all closed up. He had to anchor out and ferry the catch laboriously in the dingy to the food chain trucks -- most of the restaurant suppliers had stopped sending trucks, although a very few still did.

For the rest of the Almeida family, life at home with no school was chaos as the 12 children ran amok and Mrs. Almeida went out to see peace and solace among the chickens in the backyard.

Speaking of chickens, Mr. Spline had given up his watch upon the Greek Orthodox church where Joshua had taken sanctuary. It had been a few years since Joshua had become a whistleblower and it had become clear even to one as stiff as Mr. Spline that Joshua had found some hidden back way out of there. Besides, there were bigger fish to shoot in a barrel now. Out in Area 52, Mr. Spline kept watch with his loaded Mauser, his Glock, his AR15 and his night vision goggles along with any number of items ordered from Soldier of Fortune Magazine -- Mr. Spline had an annual budget for Defense Enhancement and he always used up all of it. The way Government works in this country, your department has a line-item budget and if you do not use it you lose it. So it was that the American taxpayer shilled out $$$$ for Mr. Spline's mushroom bullets, his silencers, his disappearing inks and many other trick things besides to make any adolescent drool. He had hooks and paracord and spikes and gas bombs and many taser guns and taser batons and all sorts of fearful armaments and defenses, for he loved his job and every Thanksgiving season he would fly out to the DC area and have dinner with his idol, Oliver North with a number of operatives. Maybe not on the exact day, undoubtedly because of his GSA rating, but nevertheless important nonetheless.

So there Mr. Spline was in his Hummer, armed with all his armaments and overseeing his charges. The secret Government herd of chickens.

All around this containment of barbed wire and guard towers called Area 49 there was a Keep Clear Zone of one mile. Why? Because vaccines are developed in chicken embryos as media. And the Government had scientists and technicians nonstop working on vaccines for all kinds of Coronavirus germs, along with anthrax, ebola, and the nextgen bacillus that China or Russia would develop by their teams with their own protected chicken herds. There were several facilities scattered around the country like this one, but because of the Cell theory, Mr. Spline would not know where they were. That is why there is an Area 51. Think of all the protected Areas from the terrible Area #1 to #50 and up to the ghastly Room 101, famed in legend and documented theory. Sends chills down the spine it does.

Our Government in action.

We think first of our own people, but consider how other countries are protecting their own citizens.

The crew aboard the Iranian spy submarine El Chadoor groaned when they got the news about the quarantines. Iran has a navy, do not forget, and that navy now was needs quarantined from the Nation. That meant no rotation back home for months. And Iran was particularly hit hard. El Chadoor had been commissioned decades ago to spy on the shipping activity from one of the busiest seaports in America, the arch-demon. Years had passed as the Commander had continued to issue weekly reports about his observations. But all governments change and revolve and undergo political redesign of internal functions. The original mission had been long forgotten over decades, and so the response from Teheran had always been an official, "Keep on with established procedures until otherwise notified. Praise God for all your good work." Now it would be a very long, long time before the sailors in the Iranian navy got to smell the redolent fragrances of the gardens of Qom or taste fava bean stew made at home. For fresh provisions, the captain had wisely sent crew members who spoke English ashore to the Island and so shop at the markets there under cover, but now that was all but impossible. Eyes were everywhere watching the few who dared to go out during the mass quarantine. So the men were stuck with MRE's and tins of ful muddamas. And still the crew of the El Chadoor had to continue their mission.

It did seem that formerly revolutionary Teheran had fallen into the same trap of established government bureaucracies everywhere. Flexibility had been lost and hidebound rules had supplanted efficacy and intelligent response. Hence the terrible response to the Coronavirus there.

The Captain was in a quandary. He needed to maintain morale and still conduct his mission as originally assigned. So he had the Chadoor surface regularly beyond the Golden Gate so men could do calisthenics in the sunlight. He also conducted what he listed in his notes as "reconnaissance raids" in which he had parties go ashore and secure fresh provisions from markets on the Island. Really it was a matter of getting some crew off ship and on shore for brief periods. But now that was all kiboshed by the aforementioned quarantine.

In the past few decades the Captain's hair had gone from jet black to salt and pepper and now was quite gray. As he sat at his desk, with the lamp pooling its light over charts and logs while all around there was darkness, he felt that his position still had some meaning, some purpose, if only in keeping his crew, his people whole and safe. If it was true that when a man took one step towards God, he would enjoy the fact that God will take two steps towards him, then it must also be true that somewhere out there beyond the muttering darkness that shrouded the submarine, there was a like mind. A human mind. Because his life had been devoted to service, the Captain had never found the time to marry, and now here he was, many thousands of miles away from home with no chance of any further connection.

With that thought. the Captain arose and went to the periscope for one last gaze upon the land that they had come despite themselves to love as the light faded from that part of the earth. "Dive," he commanded as he slapped up the handles of the periscope he knew were old fashioned devices. "Dive!"

And so the El Chadoor sped out of the Estuary and across the Bay and beneath the Golden Gate, running silent, running deep.

In the Island-Life Offices the Editor walked down the silent aisles of the place where reporters and technicians sat at desks spaces dutifully 6 feet apart, while wearing whatever mask they had found in the garage. He returned to his glass cubicle and sat at his desk with the pool of light cast by the lamp creating the illusion of walls of darkness all around him.

The staff left the offices one by one at the end of the day, leaving the Editor by himself all alone. He could just as well have been in a submarine out at sea. Somewhere out there must be a like mind, like him engaged in doing all for Company.

In the distance he could hear the odd sound that the Valley neighbors had started to do each night. They all on the agreed moment started howling out their open windows like wolves or coyotes. It was their communal reaction to the stay home quarantine. When the going gets strange, the normal go weird.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary, echoing off of the embankments of the Island to wend its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.


MARCH 22, 2020


This week's headline foto comes from Carol Watkins Press who used to live in the Bay Area, but now lives up north around Willits. She is finding the positives in our present Social Isolation situation in the Golden State.


So anyway. 40 million Californians are ordered to stay home, but Denby works the medical gig these days so Pahrump has to drive him over the Larkspur Ferry which gets him to Babylon where he takes the largely empty BART train to downtown Berkley and walks then to the Herrick campus of Alta Bates\Summit each day. Back in the Valley, the Editor never saw so many people taking walks on the byways of the place. In the beginning of the Stay-home orders people felt too inhibited to venture more than a few blocks from their domicile with the dog. Only recently have families piled into cars to go to one of the park trails for day-long hikes, picnics, fresh-air outings. Time will tell what this increased family cooperation will feature. Almost certainly in another nine months we shall experience another baby boom. Indoor activities are of course limited to TV, internet and . . . cooking.

The places one normally goes during a crisis are closed. It came around to the time of the wearing of the green and obesience to St. Patrick. One dark night this past week a small figure could have been seen scurrying along the alleys of the Island. As it was raining he wore a mantle and a high top hat which added a foot to his otherwise three foot frame that arose from curly toed shoes to the gold hatband adorned with a four-leaf clover.

He came to the doors of the Old Same Place Bar and found them shuttered with a notice thereon that due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the establishment would remain closed until April 7 at the earliest.

A truck carrying members of the Angry Elf Gang drove by and they were all laughing, for pain and suffering are things that always delight the AEG.

The Wee Man, for it was him, stroked his chinny chin chin and thought and thought. Finally he said, to no one in particular for no one stood there with him and the streets were dark and bare, "This cannot do!"

The Wee Man raised his hands and shouted "Mach de Toor auf!", which is not Gaelic, but worked nevertheless. The door sprung open and all the lights came on and the Wee Man strode with powerful strides and said, "Inhabit!" And so suddenly there they were. Padraic and Dawn were behind the bar and Suzie was serving Guiness (which is good for you) to a table of Not-from-Heres and Eugene sat at the rail at his usual place and even Old Schmidt sat there with him, causing Eugene to exclaim, "I thought you were dead!" to which Old Schmidt responded, "Rumors of my death are sadly mistaken."

And the two of them began to talk about what it was like living in the DDR after the War and there was a cheerful clatter and chatter from within.

And the Wee Man clambered up on a stool and ordered a Guiness and a shot for the stack wait and everyone was momentarily stunned as things in the past had occured so magical and scary, but the Wee Man waved his hand to say, "Carry on as usual."

And so everyone who was there, did.

Wednesday morning Padraic awoke late and stretched his no longer limber arms as Dawn fluttered her eyelids.

"I had the most strangest dream last night," said Dawn.

"Indeed so did I," Padraic said.

"I dreamed that we were all back in the Bar and everyone was there and there was no talk about the virus going around. Everything was grand. And the Wee Man appeared as usual, but I don't remember the rest."

"I dreamed the same," said Padraic. "But the Wee Man was not so frightful. Still, I wonder what to do with the rest of the day. Maybe clean out the Guiness lines again in advance of schedule."

"I don't know, " said Dawn as her fingers began to walk down Padraic's body from his face and torso and down further. "I can imagine a few things. I am absolutely sure I can occupy the day with something delightful and better than flushing the beer lines."

"Good heavens!, " said Padraic suddenly. "He's done it again! He has transformed me knickers into something unusual!"

"Same for me!" said Dawn.

"Sodding pervert! Did you check the door before shutting up last night?"

"I thought you did that," said Dawn. "Lets take these knickers off right now and find other things to do. . . ".

On the Island, all was quiet as the sun sank behind the hills of Babylon and the promotories of Marin in flaming rooster-tails of crimson and gold. As the night advanced no sirens rent the night and few cars shushed down the little streets. It was a peaceful night on the Island with no screaming and no one got shot and no one got stabbed.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary, echoing off of the embankments of the Island to wend its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

MARCH 15, 2020


This is the image of our times. The Corona virus is causing massive changes in our daily lives. This sign appeared in the halls of Herrick Hospital in Berkeley.

I'm waking up to ash and dust
I wipe my brow and I sweat my rust
I'm breathing in the chemicals

[Inhale, exhale]
I'm breaking in, shaping up, then checking out on the prison bus
This is it, the apocalypse
I'm waking up, I feel it in my bones
Enough to make my systems blow
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, I'm radioactive, radioactive
Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, I'm radioactive, radioactive
I raise my flags, don my clothes
It's a revolution, I suppose
We'll paint it red to fit right in
I'm breaking in, shaping up, then checking out on the prison bus
This is it, the apocalypse
I'm waking up, I feel it in my bones
Enough to make my blow
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, I'm radioactive, radioactive
Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, I'm radioactive, radioactive

[Imagine Dragons, Dan Reynolds]


So anyway. This issue was delayed due to the Coronavirus outbreak and Denby's V-day injuries. The most Dangerous Season seems to have begun around here even though the tulips had not finished poking up through the crust everywhere. Seems everyone is in a hurry these days. The CORVID-19 virus has everyone on edge and Bernie is running against Joe with everyone understanding that we have to get people together after this part of of the contest to end nonsensical foolishness for a while. Used to be the GOP was all about common sense, but these days that sensibility has been abandoned in favor of the scent of raw power.

Denby is recovering from his abortive foray into the realm of Eros. He is now being a good employee executing the Organization's Mission. Denby wore an N95 mask going to work but the abuse inflicted by the Angry Elf gang was still obvious. His face exhibited contusions and his eyes were blackened.

Right now most of the Bay Area is under mandatory orders of Shelter-in-place. Of course our Household people are enforced to get about and risk contagion because that is the way things go for the Household. Everyone in Marlene's office had to evacuate but Marlene had to go into work because the lesser species had to keep things running. So Marlene sat there in an empty office, safe so long as she did not venture out for lunch, and made the enterprise lumber onwards through the stock market crash. Getting there proved an experience as everyone on the BART platform made the utmost effort to keep social distance at six feet or more.

People with bicycles yelped if their hands accidentially touched each other. Others selfishly loaded up their shopping carts with paper products as if shitting was the highest order of process in their narrow minds. Use a rag and toss it into the washing machine? What are people thinking if thinking at all?

It was like the AIDS crisis magnified ten fold. Since it did not seem to involve gay people as target, now this thing was paramount of importance.

The Editor looked at the empty rows of desks and the silent computers before taking a walk past the empty and dark Silvan Acres Improvement Center. At least that much we are allowed to do.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.


MARCH 7, 2020



So anyway. This time Denby got let off with a mild reprimand from the Judge after this year's V-day Sucky Valentine episode.

It should be considered that the Comissioner at the Court in San Rafeal is a strict disciplinarian and brooks no nonsense in his court.

"Stop coming into my court with your failed romances, disturbed sexuality, and violent amaranta seeking revenge!" thundered the Commissioner. "We do not support any such presentations in this district. You and your charges are dismissed with appropriate fines applied. Seek the Clerk of Court for payment. Now get out of here!"

Denby went to his office job, which is the one that pays the rent, as well as all of his legal fees, as opposed to his Island-Life job which pays for his soul's redemption and nothing else. He worked as a lowly step-n-fetchit for a medical group called LongLife that owned several buildings in Oaktown.

In a dark, dusty office with poor light and bad furniture stood a chair. In that chair sat one nurse named Mariah hunched over her workstation. Miriam sported khaki pants, a simple shoulder-strap shirt and a waist-length rope of chestnut hair. Her arms were liberally painted with tattoos. Her face presented full lips, a pert nose and the largest blue eyes Denby had ever seen.

The time was March and the beginning of the Most Dangerous Season and Denby was quickly and irrationally head over heels after that notorious martial artist named Eros armed with a lethal crossbow banged him 30 seconds after entering the building.

He checked with Walter about deliveries and then went down the dismal hall, passing the room with Mariah who turned to face him with searchlight blue laser eyes. That is when Eros did his work. He was pierced by the agency of desire.

She had a problem with eFax and Denby helped her out and could not help but inhale the scent of her chestnut hair. She was a blue glow of a jewel amid the detritus of trash and dust and tangles of wires and bad reception that evidenced a Light of Earth who glowed in the darkness of that cave.

Spring is 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, ducks performing sorties, Canadian geese streaking overhead in formation 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 than 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.

Save us all from Spring's violent terrors.

Observe Johnnie, happy and carefree as a lark, striding with ruddy cheeks and full confidence down San Pablo Avenue. 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. And now Denby was captivated by the nurse Mariah with her tatoos and everything besides. Her beautiful eyes glowing in that dark pit. His daydreams featured images of Mariah riding on top of him with her luxurious rope of chestnut hair flying about like a cowgirl riding a rumpus. In short, he was hopelessly smitten and tottally lost. Ah the poor sod.

As for Denby there is fantasy and then there is acting upon impulse. Some things are better left to the warmth of imagination's oven. Or at least left to simmer a while so as to learn the best way to cook the pot. When Denby mentioned going to a concert together the nurse slapped him, issued an impressive volley of sailor's language and ordered him to take his aging carcass from her office before she had the DON write him up. A red-faced Denby departed, still thinking Mariah looked rather adorable as she spewed that torrent of profanity.

Heading back through Fairfax, still mooning about the nurse, Denby got off the bus to pick up lotion for his psoriasis at the CVS when a truckload of gangmembers from the Angry Elf consortium spotted him.

"There's the old guy!" one of them said.

A few hours later, Denby crawled up to his narrow cot, bloody with torn shirt and stockings, a bent nose and missing teeth and flopped down. It was the perfect end to another day in Paradise.

In the Island-life offices, now located in the San Geronimo Valley, the Editor considered the options that lay before him. Spring would be sure to come but then there was the coronavirus to consider. And the leggy Joanne who remained on the horizon with her desire and her charms.

All things considered equal, the Editor decided to sequester. The CDC, no less, had said that men of his generation needed to absent themselves from public life because of the coronavirus. Then again there was Eros flying about smacking people right and left with his errant arrows. Another violent danger in this time of cholera.

The Editor purchased a stack of Michelina's Ready Meals and prepared to stay in for the duration, avoiding all contact and the leggy Joanne for several months. Spring would have to happen without his participation this time as this sun of York overcame the winter of discontent. Only to leave a legion of still-breeding thoughts. And so Richard II breeds another Richard III in afterthought. A conundrum of one mal-formed king creating the predecessor before his time, while time continues posting on proud Bolingbroke's horse in advance of his own time.

Even so Denby gave at least a try, for the Editor strategy was his strength and not disaster. Our Lady of Carlisle would not leap at him coming out of the lion's den, no sirree. You decide who was wise.

Let my inspiration flow, in token rhyme suggesting rhythm
That will not forsake me, till my tale is told and done
While the fire lights aglow, strange shadows from the flames will grow
Till things we've never seen will seem familiar

Shadows of a sailor forming winds both foul and fair, all swarm
Down in Carlisle he loved a lady many years ago
Here beside him stands a man, a soldier by the looks of him,
Who came through many fights, but lost at love

While the story teller speaks, a door within the fire creaks,
Suddenly flies open, and a girl is standing there
Eyes alight, with glowing hair, all that fancy paints as fair
She takes her fan and throws it in the lion's den

Which of you to gain me, tell, will risk uncertain pains of hell?
I will not forgive you if you will not take the chance
The sailor gave at least a try; the soldier, being much too wise,
Strategy was his strength, and not disaster

The sailor, coming out again, the lady fairly leapt at him
That's how it stands today. You decide if he was wise
The storyteller makes no choice, soon you will not hear his voice
His job is to shed light, and not to master

(text by Robert Hunter)

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.


FEBRUARY 16, 2020


A neighbor snapped this quick one of a bobcat running behind the house. Seems this animal is using this route as a daily passage. Keep your hot-tempered terriers indoors people!


Recently someone in Marin resurrected an old argument about who is to blame for the seeming degradation of quality of life in a particular district.

Now let us put this into perspective first with some facts.

In the late 1970's the population of San Francisco was marching just past 680,000. The 2010 United States Census reported that San Francisco had a population of 805,235. Today the inhabitants of Babylon by the Bay top 1 million souls. The entire Bay Area hovered just over 5 million people back in 1976. The 1981 Arbitron Radio Market Report listed 5,304,600 persons over the age of 12.

As of the last Census 2010, 7,150,739 persons lived in the 9 counties of SF, San Mateo, Alameda, Contra Costa, Solano, Napa, Sonoma, and Santa Clara.

Of these counties Marin contributes just 252,409, up from 2,000's 247,289.

It may disturb a number of people to know, and please a number of others to learn that Marin is sparsely settled and the slowest growing in population of any of the other 8 counties. That there really are not that many people living in Marin is hard to believe if you need to get anywhere by car at certain times, or if you need to find housing. The reasons for high prices and for the housing problems in Marin have nothing to do with population growth or any influx of "bad people." The truth is that the population density is so low that foot traffic barely supports merchants who cannot capitalize upon economies of scale the way stores in the 2 million inhabitant Alameda County can.

But prices and housing are entirely separate issues from the original Nextdoor post which states that every neighborhood seems to include at least one "bad apple."

To start with this issue on a less provocative note for Marinites, we will look first at the Island City down south which shares a narrow water border with the City of Oakland. Which also allows us to establish some sense of perspective. In Oakland the bad neighbor is the house of drugs, gang activity involving firearms and prostitution, which is a far cry in level of annoyance from minor vandalism and irksome lawsuits.

The City of Alameda is a story of transition. Back when the Navy base was there, the hard core stuff of fights, prostitution, drugs and other messiness restricted itself to the zones immediately adjacent to the garrison gates. When the Navy gradually moved out there was a time of about 10 years in which the rough stuff declined. A couple problem housing centers closed (for various reasons). In the 70's an ordinance was passed putting height restrictions on new buildings, protecting the Island's many Edwardian "painted ladies", and otherwise putting hindrances upon development. This was done so that homeowners could protect their housing values in a place that was not seen as a desirable place to live for decades.

In fact one such ordinance dating from the 1800's threatened the life and livelihood of a favorite neighborhood mascot, Bosco the Pig around the time of the 2010 Census. Seems a zealous bureaucrat tried to enforce an ordinance forbidding livestock from being housed closer than 100 yards from any dwelling. Bosco, a toy pig who never would ever exceed 15 pounds in weight was perplexed as were his owners. The entire neighborhood stood up for him at City Hall and so Bosco was saved. That is being a good neighborhood example.

Prior to the Navy moving in, the place stood as remarkable and singular instance in which three White men paid a fair amount in honest deals to the Native Americans and former Mexicans who owned the place. The Trans-American railroad first terminated there as the Oakland Terminus had not been completed by the 1860's. The old Beltline was the last strip of railroad tracks still in operation through the 90's

I did not think to take a picture of the last yellow donkey locomotive as it stood there waiting for me to cross over the tracks.

The Island up until fairly the mid 1990's was a blue-collar haven for electricians, sheet metal fabricators, welders, plumbers and a few knowledgeable professionals. Many of them still own homes there. By then most of the factories had been empty for years and so developers quietly began cutting up the parcels, demolishing the old factory buildings and shipwright facilities along the Estuary, replacing them with high-end condos and lavish housing developments. Funnily enough, the actual Navy base still remains largely undeveloped as the islanders began to realize their lack of resistance to development on the grounds of preserving housing values for themselves was costing them big time as the Island became more unaffordable. People did not want the place to be known as "antidevelopment."

Problem neighbors surfaced in the form of long-term live-in property managers who had to face a new sort of tenant paying much higher rents. The new people were not going to put up with vermin infestations, property appliances that failed, and so they started to complain. The live-in managers responded by trying to bully the tenants. It was not unusual to see some burly man come bursting out of the building with red face and veins bulging, screaming at a tenant or even at any innocent passerby.

In my block there were two managers like that who would institute any number of authoritarian decrees. The one fellow had lived with his mother in his unit all his life until she died and he became House Manager and with that title he felt he had any number of privileges. He often would toss clothing he felt had been hanging on the dry line too long into the trash. By "too long", he understood to be 24 hours.

The man living across the street had come from somewhere else, but was even more abusive. I came home one day to find him straddling a female tenant in the driveway, savagely beating her with his fists. When her boyfriend attempted to intervene the man cold cocked him with one punch then resumed hitting the woman until the police arrived.

A few blocks away lived another manager with a bad reputation.

Problem buildings and problem people increased over the course of 27 years in the Island which houses over 100,000 people now. I moved away from the abusive manager who seemed to have something against women's underthings to a place with no manager, but which was next door to the house where the owner's brother lived. The owner's brother believed he was entitled to occupy the lion's share of the back garage with construction equipment he did not ever employ and have the right to enter the premises at any time without warning so as to conduct "repairs" in violation of the lease agreement. He was quite mentally ill and otherwise harmless. Delusional but harmless. We put a lock on the gate, so he would just climb over the nine foot wooden fence to come in. The man was from Vietnam, but was quite unlike any of the other Vietnamese with whom I had dealt.

The woman who lived upstairs earned a living as a sort of self-help guru engaged in a plethora of greylight schemes based on dubious skillsets. The only skillset I could observe was her obnoxiously demanded personality that constantly extracted favors from unwilling people. She went through 9 roommates in 8 months. When six months with no roommates then promptly went through three more, including a doctor who did not last 24 hours. We called her "the Toad". The Toad possessed a larger sense of self-entitlement than Donald Trump. She ordered us to move our furniture to suit herself, took most of the back garage space for her things, attempted to physically enter our apartment several times to the point we sealed the front door and put a wardrobe in front of it to halt also her persistent door knock requests. She stole and damaged seasonal decor hung outside. We believe she came in to the apartment to use my housemate's computer to book a flight to LA.

This person was from some place back East. She possessed a sort of Brooklyn or Jersey accent, but schools based in Virginia sent her alumni material.

Now, the East end, the location of this new place I lived for a couple years has a similar population density to New York. In the latter few years the Island saw an Housing problem become an Housing Crisis which propelled a series of City Hall meetings that big property management firms attempted to control by packing the room and dominating discussion. This, of course, infuriated the newly formed tenant associations and as the crisis worsened, with one absentee developer with the name of Farad buying house after house to split them up internally to make extreme high end rentals charging thousands of dollars.

Finally, one night, during a City Hall meeting there was a melee that the police handled badly, breaking the nose of one tenant rep. A council member suffered a broken hip in what nearly became a full fledged riot. And so pools of blood collected on the once august marble floors of Alameda City Hall.

Not long after that, another bad neighbor turned out to be a criminal running a small organization that deals with stolen IDs, credit cards, bank accounts, arson, extortion and petty theft. This man imagined I had seriously offended him and after a number of life-threatening as well as petty incidents caused by members of his gang, the Island Police advised me to move.

I have known people living in Marin for over 40 years, so that is how I came to live here.

What I think is happening is that the obnoxious people have always been here, but the housing situation causes people to move around and break up communities of like-minded souls, putting people in proximity to other people who do not share their value sets. I talked with a pest exterminator who has owned a house out past Danville his entire life. A woman moved next door and threatened to sue him because of the noise his rooster makes. One could ask what on earth resides in the head of someone who moves to a rural area despising the sounds of the countryside.

So in Marin we have problems of a different order. But we still have people forced to move around because of the state of Housing. No amount of growth restriction will fill Marin; only fixing the Housing Crisis as noted in Alameda will fix Marin. A couple moves in, cuts down all the trees on the property and sets up pastel-colored umbrellas everywhere. They then begin ringing the phone off the hook at San Anselmo city hall to complain about the behavior of neighbors -- everything from the noise of power tools, to delivery trucks to landscapers and contractors driving by.

Another neighbor decides to sue all the owners of property abutting a creek which has an informal easement path connecting one road with parkland paths up on the ridge.

I would not go so far as to say these people should not be here, but rather that since they are here by right of ownership, they should contain their personal problems within their own property boundaries. You don't like roosters? Buy some earplugs.

As for the destruction of property that involved one neighbor tearing down a fence because they felt the fence was "too close" to where they decided to put a hot tub, that action would have had very different consequences in a place like Oakland.

Now if that had been my fence, in the past I would have wrung my hands and cried and done nothing. As of this date I have faced off with a petty Mafia capo, been nearly killed a number of times and attacked on the street several more. Nowadays if that had happened, I would force the police to respond that night by force of arms and a call of "shots fired" as well as a call for EMT response.

You don't like the hot tub being near the fence? Move the fucking hot tub. Destruction of property is a violent act and violence will beget violence. This stuff has to stop pronto. Believe me. I have lived her long enough to see how it ends up: With a petty Napoleon calling the shots with his gang and a brute pounding on a woman in the driveway. And you can forget any iota of your hippy dippy love conquers all shit. Again, no growth restrictions will fix Marin's problems -- they will continue to grow until the Housing Crisis for us and our neighbors is addressed.


So anyway, Denby returned from work after a hard week of trying to meet the unreasonable demands of staff in a large nonprofit medical organization. He stayed awake for 24 hours to monitor the work of guys running data cables in one building because Freeman demanded he attend a meeting at 7:30 am in Administration whereas the cablers started work at 3:30pm. So he was out the door at 4:30am only to return at 4:30 am the next day because the cablers ran into trouble in the old decrepit building. Then the IP migration for the new EBCRP migration took place Friday and Denby was out there in East Oakland from 8:00am to 8:00pm following orders and migrating PC's. He returned to his stall at the new Island-Life offices to collapse into a chair, fully clothed and dreaming of computers swimming upstream through Alaskan rapids to spawn in their original datacenter.

The smell that awoke him was the smell of the dinner of tandoori he was supposed to have had the previous night. It was still in the smoking oven.

Right then all the smoke alarms went off. Because of that, someone called 911 saying there was a fire. Denby did what he could to dispel the smoke with fans and opened windows and when Household members came down from the loft he said it was just a case of burned toast.

Nevertheless the EMTs showed up and they wanted to take his pulse and make sure he was not high on something and the CMP showed up because they are supposed to do that, and the Fire department showed up because they are down the street and have nothing to do.

The Fire department guy looked at the burned pan and fired a volley of ABC foam, covering the pan, the stove and the surroundings.

Why did you do that? Said Denby. "It was not on fire."

"Protocol," said the fireman.

"What's all this then?" said responding officer Pince Nez.

"Well, " said Denby honestly. "I burnt my dinner."

"Sounds like a case of arson. Are you from around here?"

"I am from the Island," said Denby

"Not from around here," noted the officer. "I think you better come downtown to answer some questions."

"Downtown? Silvan Acres has no downtown. There is no place within distance worthy of the name. Where are you taking me?"

"You are going to San Rafael City Jail my man and I would advise you to stop dissing my burg."

So that is how Denby, once again, found himself in a city jail on V-day. And this time, he kept his pants on.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.


FEBRUARY 2, 2020


This week's image is courtesy of Linda Ross.


So anyway. Seems we are counting down to an election as well as an impeachment trial that will produce unfortunately predictable results. At last report it was Monkey see, Monkey do in that the GOP Senate closed ranks to protect one of their own despite all clear evidence that the Trump is a vile criminal who broke the law and placed personal gain over national interest.

More important news: we have it hot over the wire that Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow, which means that Spring shall arrive -- according to legend -- 6 weeks earlier, and for some people back East and in the middle of the Country Spring cannot come a minute too soon.

Around here we had a windstorm Sunday, but because of the general sogginess of things no planned outages were announced by PGE. Nevertheless, now is a good time to put in your order for a power generator.

You may want to also reduce the frozen supplies of things like Grandma's Hot Dish. We are still finding those white boxes containing Juanita's Improved Minnesota Hot Dish that featured jalapenos in the oddest of places. Eugene Gallipagus found one tucked under the arm of the statue of the Unknown Conquistador during the last Poodleshoot. The strange thing is that even after several years have passed, the stuff always appears unchanged and just as appetizing as the day it was made in Juanita's kitchen as a good faith gesture toward the Norwegians who had come southwest in search of their missing pastor quite a while ago. She made a lot of it in barrels, but it does not appear any of it made it back to Minnesota aboard trains or whatever convoy Lutherans prefer.

Juanita never learned that adding jalapenos to Hot Dish was considered an abomination by people who keep Velveeta and Campbells cream of mushroom soup and Lay's potato chips in business. These were honest Midwesterners gifted with unfailing politeness and they never would have dreamed of insulting a gifthorse. So they all said something like, "Thank you so very much. I have just had lunch by Mountain Time and so I will bring this back to my room and have it later for dinner or bring it home to Bear Lake on our return."

So that is how so many containers of Juanita's Hot Dish Modified v.2.0 wound up in so many places. To add to this confusion, the Minnesota delegation elected to send a case of lutefisk to Juanita as a "gesture of thanks", including a note that said "this is what we eat all the time."

Juanita received the smoldering, odiferous lutefisk shipment and quickly realized no human being could possibly eat this stuff unalloyed and so enlisted Mrs. Almeida to provide a bacalhau recipe that removed the objectionable rotten stench subsequent to drenching the salt cod in tomato sauce with spices and so rendering the substance tasty.

Juanita sent off a response to an email and thanked the Midwesterners for a delightful contribution to their cuisine, which puzzled Karl Krepsbach for a number of weeks. The Mexicana took the shipment and realized it was entirely inedible as sent, so she enlisted her friend from Portugal to convert the salt cod to Portugal's native dish, Bacalhau -- a stew steeped in spices and tomato sauce that completely obliterated the objectionable qualities of fish soaked in lye solution for months.

The Editor found a small white box of this fabled improved hot dish down by the bus stop and was reviewing its dubious contents that seemed as well preserved as the 5 pound blocks of cheese provided by the Reagan administration during its tenure of the Oval Office as a sort of sop for its misadventures at the time despite having never been refrigerated. He took it back to the offices and set it on the mantel above the unusable fireplace beneath the oar given him in advance by the Staff as an advance portion of a boat that would eventually be assembled, bit by bit. This would take time, but Island-Life has existed for 20 years. The Staff figured it would take another 20 years to accumulate all the parts to make an entire boat, and the Editor mused as he gazed upon the oar that by that time he would be a shade stepping aboard.

Martini, ever industrious, had already begun construction of such a vessel in the side yard where stones, gophers and skunks made gardening unfeasible. His plan was to construct no simple dory, but a 40 footer sloop to replace the lost Indomitable.

In addition to this project Martini had the new Household garden deer and rodent defenses to improve as well as an expanded Habitot environment that ran the length of the house for Festus and friends, plus all the House projects meant to turn a former horse barn into a domicile for some 15 people.

Martini knew a thing or two about making do with found materials, but Mr. Whingy down a few houses in the flats did not. Mr. Whingy thought he would save a few bucks by welding some exterior water pipe, using rented equipment and trying to mate copper with galvanized, and only succeeded in setting the hedges on fire, which called the fire department out to douse his experiment and earn a fine for lighting a fire on a Save the Air Day.

As the sun set on the San Geronimo Valley, Martini stood back in the cooling light and said to himself, "Today we live in these mist covered mountains, but one day we shall return to our homes down below."

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

JANUARY 20, 2020


This is a red shouldered hawk visiting a neighbor lately. There are a number of hawk families that call this area home, Coopers Hawks and golden hawks among them. He is all fluffed up for winter and well fed as the small mammals reliably come out to feed during the respite between downpours. Red Tails tend to inhabit the higher elevations.
The song reference is to the smaller red tailed hawk as described by John Hiatt in Before I Go.

I've been sleeping for some hours
Just woke up and you were there
Like the morning, like the flowers
Sunlight whispering in my ears
Red tail hawk shooting down the canyon
Put me on that wind he rides
I will be your true companion
When we reach the other side

I will try, I will stumble
But I will fly, he told me so
Proud and high or low and humble
Many miles before I go
Many miles before I go

Can't decide which way to travel
On the ground or in the sky
All my schemes have come unraveled
All that's left is you and I

And I will try, but I will stumble
And I will fly, he told me so
Proud and high or low and humble
Many miles before I go
Many miles before I go
Here I go


A reader, Thomas Hodge, has taken on disaster preparedness for California and has supplied us with content focussed upon post fire slide prep, but including a few other things pertaining to our situation in the golden State. Look to the Sidebar for these in the future.

The Ultimate Mudslide Safety Guide
8 warning signs that a landslide is about to strike
Post-Fire Debris Flow Facts
Ultimate Guide to Drought Safety
The 7 Most Common Signs of Sinkholes
Drinking Water Safety Guide to Use During & After a Flood
Disaster Preparedness for Pets



So anyway. the news is scattered. Der Donald is up for impeachment in a Senate that will cowardly and surely exhonerate the filthy and sinful bastard along party lines. No surprises expected there.

The 2020 Census is coming up and we encourage everyone to lie and say they are ethnic Armenian. Would not that be fun?

Well, no. The Census carves up territory and divides the resources according to report. The Census is supposed to accurately report who lives here in the general numbers and that is important for allocating money that otherwise would be granted to waspish, self-entitled, schnubs driving European sportscars and living in places like Kentfield. It also is supposed to be used in re-districting efforts to counter Gerrymandering. If you do not want government resources to be allocated based on 1950's conceptions of what America is, then contribute honestly to the Census. Your offspring will thank you.

A number of the Household signed up as Census Takers, which is one of those seasonal jobs that come around every ten years or so. You do not need great qualifications to be a Census worker; no experience required, you need to be circumspect, non-threatening, don't be taking drugs, just count people by collecting forms, and work under the taut supervision of self-deluded inspectors who imagine their job is a stepping stone to a federal career.

Here's the news: it is not.

Jose, Pahrump, Denby, and Martini all signed up for Census Worker jobs. A temporary local Census Bureau office is normally set up in every community to handle local affairs but this time around the parsimonious mood of the goverment allowed for half of the centers employed across the board and across the country at all levels. So the guys were looking at hiking up to Santa Rosa, which had been made the County Center for the area, actually including two counties to get bang for the buck. Also this thing about Gerrymandering redo was likely to offend one particular Political Party extra hard, given the mood of the Country, as distinct from the Mood of the Government.

Important People were discussing this kind of thing at the Congressional level and as of yet the boys had not yet been sworn in. They went down to the library in Fairfax to fill out the online forms and submitted their official information and now they were sitting back, playing hacky-sac in the meadow when it was dry, waiting for the goverment to deem they were worthy of employment. It did look like this operation would go forth like many others that were semi-organized: the Big People would have all their plans done and drawn up in their private back rooms, concealing what needed to be done out of pride or avarice or any sort of goddamn hairbrained idea of self-importance, and then would demand at any given spontaneous moment suddenly the Little People to hop to it on the double as there were deadlines to suddenly meet. That is generally how things work out.

.In the Old Same Place Bar the regulars gathered to watch the 49ers defeat the Packers on the tube while getting soused as per Tradition. On the fumble recovery every man jack in the place stood up and cheered.

The new year has begun. The President is under trial under articles of impeachment and his best defence is that abuse of office is not impeachable. Rain has halted fire season, but another one is sure to begin soon, leading to power outages and the new normal in California.

The coyotes are out each night, hunting for poodles and stray cats. All is well.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.


JANUARY 12, 2020


Image is from Island-Lifer Carol who presented this image of Fall a while back.


So anyway Pedro was out on the fishing lanes in his boat El Borracho Perdido with his trusty Second Mate Ferryboat, when he heard the special radio broadcast over Sirius from his favorite televangelist Pastor Rotschue. The pastor had been disgraced and ejected from PBS by an overzealous Me-Too movement action but had rebounded back after a number of months to keep his hand in and promote Lutheran values, modest living, and sane actions of thought and deed. It certainly is an object lesson if people generally would proceed as a Minnesottan over glatt-eis in the dead of winter, carefully and thoughtfully, instead of plunging ahead with all the horses loose from the bridle and the carriage careening around the blind corners to result in any sort of damaged success or catastrophe.

In any case, the Pastor talked about Bliss as if he were already in heaven. That state certainly is foreign to the Catholic Pedro and most certainly to most certain Lutherans on earth to the best of his knowledge.

A writer may experience Bliss, but should seldom write about it. Milton, a writer more admired than read, found out as did Dante, that the really juicy stuff is found in despair and suffering and bad guys being bad. Take this from Paradise Lost when Satan speaks to his damned crew after losing the battle for Heaven

What though the field be lost?
All is not lost; the unconquerable Will,
And study of revenge, immortal hate,
And courage never to submit or yield:
And what is else not to be overcome?
That Glory never shall his wrath or might
Extort from me. To bow and sue for grace
With suppliant knee, and deifie his power,
Who from the terrour of this Arm so late
Doubted his Empire, that were low indeed...

This is great stuff! This is our Bad Boy clad in a leather jacket and chains giving a great speech. When we get to Paradise Regained, not even the stuffiest don of the Department references one single line. All the dons have fallen asleep during the reading with their brandy snifters unfinished. The Archangel Gabriel has gotten boring, boring, boring, just by being happy as a nitwit poodle in verse.

And then Dante finds he loses his way in the middle course of his life and is led by hand through all the circles of hell with all sorts of adventures and meeting colorful characters along the way. After descending the river of piss streaming from Satan Virgil then leads our hero up the mount of Purgatory, getting more and more tedious along the way until we get to a tendentious account of a blissful heaven that few ever complete on account of the ennui of happiness and the overly elegant language that stresses the nerves.

Nobody wants to read about happiness. Most people lead lives of quiet desperation and discomfort. We want to read about the bitter cold of Minnesotta and Nordic stoicism, Stanley Kowalski howling "Stella!" up the stairs, and we want to see the undertaker pleading to the bad Godfather in the movie because that stuff is vastly more entertaining than lives presented like edenic car ads where everyone is beautiful, neat and perfect and entirely unlike ourselves. Reading about Bliss is like an adolescent devouring a Playboy magazine pictorial. Beautiful enough, but far from any realization in this life. You have not an icecube's chance in hell in even meeting that woman in the pictures young man, so get over it and take out the garbage after shoveling the snow from the driveway.

Then again when Andre was about to begin one of his concerts with the Monkey Spankers someone called out, "Play some happy songs!"

"Sorry homey," Andre said. "We don't know no happy songs." And people got that because punk is not about being happy with your poodledog.

As Richard Thompson has said, you do not want to play more than three "wrist-slashers" in a row or you risk losing your audience. We would say Mr. Thompson does know a thing or two about performance.

When Denby had finished one of his sets, someone said, "Why do you always depress us?"

Therein lies the rub. You need to be true but you also need to play to the field. Denby learned after that episode to include Jackson Brown and Dylan in his sessions.

An artist has many choices. Pastor Rotschue has described the Bliss that perhaps some of us may attain in the afterlife. So have Milton and Dante. Let the rest of us struggle on in this Vale of Tears without depressing anybody else.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.


JANUARY 5, 2020


This week we feature a non-local photo of Australia as seen from space with much of the country burning out of control. Our local fire districts have sent crews to help out the Aussies as their Nation is consumed. We know well the heartbreak and disaster of fire.


So anyway. This past year the annual joint pageant between Pastor Nyquist's Lutheran congregation and Father Danyluk's flock from the Church of Our Lady of Incessant Complaint went off fairly well despite one of the donkeys deciding it was the star of the show and the whole program was about itself, which apparently has happened elsewhere northeast of here and is a hazard when working with live animals.

When the donkey refused to move from center stage Eugene Gallipagus came in with a rope and tried to drag Imelda to the wings, only to get donkey kicked in the chest for his troubles. As Eugene lay groaning on the floorboards, Wootie Kanootie jumped up to scatter mule treats in a line to the exit, and so people were treated to quite a spectacle that included a Canadian topped with a fur hat retreating backwards before the Christchild and Mary and Joseph in distress as paramedics removed a man with broken ribs from up front.

The rest of the pageant went well and people said it was the most interesting show of this type they had ever seen, and very different from the usual seasonal treacle, so it turned out to be a kind of success.

As per custom, Pastor Nyquist and Father Danyluk adjourned to the Rectory to enjoy the fruits of the Catholic cellar and discuss matters of theology before the fire attended by Sister Profundity on New Year's Eve.

Much had happened this past year to concern both of the clergymen. It seemed that with all of the mass shootings, civil unrest, climate events, and wanton behavior by leaders that the Nation had lost its way spiritually and it was up to the rank and file clergy to set things right again.

The two spiritual men discussed these and other matters, including the fishing possibilities at Crab Cove and other places inland and dipped liberally into the brandy cellar of the rectory as the old year and the old decade revolved into the start of the new, when, surely, things would be better as they had been bad for so long.

Some time after midnight after the firecrackers and whizzbangs and ball droppings had passed, Sister Profundity came in to find both men snoring in their chairs and so she damped the fire and placed blankets over each of the men and so that was NYE for the Island as others whooped it up elsewhere with loud noise and streams of confetti.

Up in the San Geronimo Valley, no one would ever have known the New Year had come and gone for all was silent and dark and calm. At Marlene and Andre's Household, everyone retired well before 11:00 pm because people had to work all that day and they wanted the following day for sleep. It remained silent all through the San Geronimo Valley. No sirens rent the night and no one got shot and no one got stabbed. Happy New Year everyone.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.


DECEMBER 29, 2019


This unfortunate fellow was photographed in Marin and was not trying to out-do Rudolph with the glowing red nose. Good news is that the animal is expected to shed his antlers soon and so be free of this holiday encumbrance.


So anyway. We've had some rain the past couple weeks, featuring a few real dockwallopers. All the streams are running and couples can be seen strolling along the banks of the major ones draining the lakes to observe the age-old ritual of the salmon heading upstream to get it on at some piscine disco located in an eddy pool.

It has been quite a year this end of the 20-teens. The past ten years have seen the election of the first Black President who reigned for two terms with welcome grace and intelligence that was not appreciated by those who prefer the Executive branch to be led by someone dumb as an ox.

At least that desire is what we must intuit by the nature of his predecessor and his successor, both quite challenged in the departments of intellect as well as magnaminity.

California has suffered several major catastrophic fire disasters in successive years.

The Rim Fire consumed more than 250,000 acres of forest near Yosemite National Park, in 2013.

The Thomas fire in Ventura, Santa Barbara consumed 281,893 acres, destroyed 1083 structures, and killed 21 people in 2017.

The Tubbs fire in Sonoma and Napa Counties burned 36,807 acres and destroyed 5,643 structures including parts of the City of Santa Rosa and killed 22 people in 2017

The Camp fire in Butte County burned 153,336 acres, destroyed 18,804 structures including the town of Paradise and killed 86 people in 2018

The Kincade Fire became the largest fire of the year 2019, burning 77,758 acres in Sonoma and prompting large planned power outages affecting millions of people.

Local meetings have been held in several Marin cities to arrive at planned pre-emptive response to these devestating events. Some proposals make sense and some do not as one would expect.

People handle this new reality of Planned Power Outage Programs (PPOP) and potential fire disaster in various ways. The Villaflores family has taken to stockpiling gallon jugs of water. Because Tio Rubio has a taste for red wine and goes through a couple gallons a week they are not without plenty of those five gallon Gallo jugs. Then there are the plans for evacuation and where to meet and the dry runs with the children scampering to their positions and everyone shouting in mixtures of Spanish and English.

"What are we going to do with Cambio!" says little Nina.

"Cambio, what or who is Cambio?" says Tia Antoinette.

"Cambio -- esta el Gato. El est importante!" She was about to cry about leaving Cambio behind even before a fire had started.

"Can we not use a cardboard box when it comes to it?"

"No no no. They will not take him in the shelters. It must be very formal."

"All right all right. I will go get a carrier. All these things I must think about and get the flashlights and everything while Edwardo sits on the couch watching futbol."

California is a state which consists of an high percentage of people who have fled their families or who have had their families emplode. These orphans establish communities of friends that become surrogate families to replace what was lost or damaged.

The Household of Marlene and Andre is just this sort of a community.

From Little Adam, who was ejected from a moving car by his foster father as an unwanted object to Marlene who suffered terrible abuse from her uncle and Occasional Quentin about whom nobody ever cared at any time in his life all the members of the Household get through the Holiday Season by leaning on one another for support. Solamen miseris socios habuisse doloris.

Life does not always supply you with a family that fits within the parameters of a Norman Rockwell painting.

If you say that all stories begin and end with families, then you must examine what you mean by a family, for not everyone has what you have. Remember Tolstoy who said, "All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. " And do not forget Nabokov who turned the phrase around. “All happy families are more or less dissimilar; all unhappy ones are more or less alike.”

It comes down to point of view. If you come from a happy family, well fine. If you are currently in a situation where people are smashing plates against the wall and shouting about insurrection, well, your pov is going to be different.

Let's not harp on the bad things. Some good things did happen in 2019. A record number of women elected to Congress were key to Democrats reclaiming the majority in the House. Further on the distaff side, 34 African-American women graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point. It's the largest class of African-American women to graduate together. Taiwan approved a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in May of this year.

Former President Jimmy Carter is still with us, doing good work after leaving office (unlike some GOP counterparts), along with Ruth Bader Ginsberg who successfully beat back pancreatic cancer. Both remain inspirations for us all.

Again a nod to the women. NASA astronaut Jessica Meir waved at the camera during a spacewalk outside the International Space Station. Fellow astronaut Christina Koch joined her in what was the first all-female spacewalk.

While it is not nice to celebrate the violent death of anybody, we can celebrate this one. ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in a US raid in northwest Syria.

And look at this: December 18, 2019 the House voted to impeach Donald Trump and no matter what the Senate does at this point, he will go down in history forever and for all time as the third sitting US President to be impeached. Richard Nixon escaped by resigning in advance of a certain vote against him..

The year is spinning down to its last hours and a new decade shall begin. On the Island, Mr. and Mrs. Sanchez (nee Morales) still have their little apartment on Central Avenue across from the Mastic Senior Center and their child, Aurelio, stares up from the crib with big brown eyes and earnest anticipation of what discoveries the new year shall present.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.


DECEMBER 22, 2019


This week we have an image taken of the wet trail around Lake Chabot after the recent rain.


So anyway. The rain's are back in force. We've had a few dockwallopers some pounding in to put an end to this year's fireseason and now crews are out cutting back the foliage like mad all over the Valley. All the incidental streams are running again along with San Geronimo Creek running high with salmon travelling their age-old journey back to the Source.

Last night witnessed the beginning of Winter as the Solstice ticked over on the ancient stone clock and the sun's rays streamed through the portals of Stonehenge. Old Gaia sits there on the rickety porch of the world. Now is the time when Gaia tilts her weathered face creased with valleys, arroyos, hills, deserts, plains, mesas, continents and the liquid seas of her deep dark eyes away from gazing at her son, Phoebus Apollo riding in his bright chariot as she sits and rocks ever so slowly in the ticking wicker chair, the folds of the quilted Universe draped across her lap, the rocking becoming the dance of Shiva, the creaking rails marking the ever ceaseless count of time's advance, ticking each second, each century, from the first moment of creation until that rocking chair stops at the moment of that last, terrible, motionless silence.

As Gaia turns her face away from the light, her ravined face gradually cools with measured shadows covering the valleys of her eyes, all the world chilling under the frost that puts all of Nature into a deep sleep, and everything is precisely where it needs to be right at this moment while Phoebus Apollo gallops in his low-rider at an angle to her repose, harder to see in his daily journey, a sort of sideshow to beat all side shows.

Now is when the Goddess walks the cold furrows, morning the temporary loss of her daughter, gone to spend a pomegranate season with the Dark Lord below, and the sere stalks crunch beneath her sandals.

And so we pass through the longest night of the year. All shall be brighter henceforth as each day lengthens gradually minute by minute.

On the 22nd Night it never will be as dark as it is now, December 22, 2019, which marks the end of quite a dismal decade of adventures.

The Twitter in Chief has insulted most of the intelligent Free World over which he supposedly is in charge. He has been Deposed or impeached, which we take to mean that the bad man has been spanked for committing crimes, but faces further punishment for his badness.

Malcolm Wellbred was out supervising cuttings along his property line today along with Max Smallcap who are busy making their properylines legal with 100 foot cutbacks for fire protection. They were running the chipper machine over by the Kundalini estate and somehow one of Mrs. Kundalini's rex begonia vines got tangled up in the debris and Jose kept feeding the chipper as it pulled the vines along with much of the wisteria on the fence behind him until about twenty feet had been stripped bare and Max came shouting for Jose to stop, which he did not hear at first becase of wearing noise-cancelling earmuffs.

Meanwhile, back at the Household Martini finished building a homemade generator to supply power during the periodic PGE outages. It consisted of Honda minibike motor bolted into a frame that had once seen life as a bed along with an assortment of wires and found outlets connected to a wire-coil turbine that had been several GMC truck alternators. He had wired up rectifiers and regulators that had been salvaged from several other vehicles include a motorboat. He figured it could produce a healthy 8,000-9,000 watts and when he fired the sucker up it back-fed current to the pole on the corner, causing a box mounted high on it to burst in a shower of sparks and several houses in the neighborhood went dark.

He shut off of the unit and hid it behind the house and then set about making a bypass switch.

Night fell and all was quiet in the Valley, save for the PGE truck that arrived to work on a three-phase transformer that had inexpicably failed during the day. It was a peaceful night and there were no sirens or screams and no one got shot and no one got stabbed.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

DECEMBER 15, 2019



So anyway, plans are to hold the next Poodleshoot in Marin as it seems that locus is the site of the worst Poodledom behavior in the Bay Area now, where rabid dogs run about unsocialized and a high percentage of people elevate the hound species above the human to the detriment of relations, neighbors and children.

This week the rains poured down, washing away all the evidence of Poodleshoot carnage and blood, leaving the Island pristine and clean -- for a while.

Ebhard Sprocket, former Hells Angel captain, stepped out of his cottage in the East End on the Island and sniffed the air and pronounced it good. Which was a good thing as rainbows arced over everywhere on the Island for that meant nobody would be murdered today.

Bear, a member of the exclusive 1% group, was never a member of the Club of distinction was making plans to move to Marin. As a One Percenter, he had hopes of being welcomed by the Born and Raised over across the Bridge. Lately he had been exploring Petaluma and Sonoma where it seems a lot of Born and Raised Marinites had gravitated away from the Hot Tub culture that had infected their hometowns.

Some of you might not know what it means to be a GDI biker. Go look it up.

Meanwhile all the people who had been arrested during the last Poodleshoot had been released and the Seasonal celebrations were well underway. Full moon is scheduled for 12/12, Thursday.

The streams are all running in the San Geronimo Valley, which means that the salmon have started their runs. Weekends couples are seen gathering on the banks to watch the salmon as they perform their mighty return to the Source so as to have sex and make more salmon. This is a great education for the local teens, this spawning process. We suppose this is also education for the older couples as well, but we have not done a canvass of opinion.

We do not have birds and bees so much as birds, bees and fish in the Valley.

Up in the San Geronimo Valley mountain lions have been seen roaming up on the north ridge near the Scout camp. The morning fog has been thick, but has been burning off by late afternoon. Now is the time of long shadows cast in the middle of the day as the days grow short.

Pedro drove his truck into the City to see a live performance of his favorite Lutheran televangelist, Pastor Rotschue, returning to the stage after an hiatus on the radio. The Pastor had been forced to leave his radio program of some 35 years after being caught by complications that involved the **metoo** movement. The program began at 7:30pm at the Sydney Goldstein theatre. Pedro was graced by the Parking Goddess to find a space on Gough and hurried in after spending 1.5 hours driving from the Island to get there. The show featured much of what Pedro had enjoyed over the past 35 years, listening to the show on his ship to shore radio. But those 35 years had featured him being diverted during the show to attend to the practical matters of commercial fishing. And he had listened to the show on the return trip from the fishing lanes in the early morning while attending to the cleanup of the end of the work day.

The show began at 7:30pm and first intermission was at 9:10. The show ended at 10:30pm and Pedro, whose day typically ended at 6pm with sleep had eyes of glowing coals and a ferocious headache. This show featured an Xmas theme and every Xmas carole ever written was performed either in parody or in actuality, preceded by an hour of love song duets and by the end of it Pedro thoroughly hated Xmas in all its religiousity and harbored a few doubts about love as well. It was too much. It was as if one were subjected to DAESH or ISIS propaganda for 3 hours while chained to uncomfortable chairs with waterboarding offered as a respite. An audio show when you are free to get up and move around for two or three hours is different from a physical presentation.

By the time Pedro got home around midnight to collapse into bed with exhaustion, he resolved to minimize Xmas as much as possible, stay mostly on the boat, and have a quiet dinner with the family in so far as it was possible on the actual day. A tree would be fine with some modest lights. And if Tio Alberto showed up spouting nonsense about Wonderful Trump and the terrible Liberals he would punch him in the nose and send him away.

Family is family but one must have limits.

As for Pastor Rotschue Pedro still harbored some affection. The man had, after all, carried him through 35 years of rough times with inspiring readings. And the guest that Heather with the red dress gal was a treasure with her voice. So long as she kept it in key.

Microtones are a dangerous field in which to play.

Pedro drove back in his rattling truck with eyes burning like coals to arrive home around midnight, one hour before the usual start of his day. Like farmers, his day began typically well before sunrise. And so into exhausted sleep he fell, still hearing the sweet sounds of the thousands in the auditorium singing Silent Night.

This is the thing about people who would present an extravaganza to people for people who actually in reality toil the soil and work the sealanes. For whom is it all really?

Day dawned and now is the time of long shadows, even after the noon passing. Cars shush along the now drying roadways jammed with puddles. We are approaching the shortest day of the year: the Solstice. And spirits are gathering to celebrate this time. People are scheduling meetings and affairs with relations and friends not seen for a long time. It is a time of scampering from curbs to doorways with packages and gifts. This is the time of Solstice change and remembrance of loved ones lost. On the Sunday night the clouds covered the new full moon and all was still and silent. No one got shot and no one got stabbed and all was silen throughout the San Geronimo Valley and the Island.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.


DECEMBER 1, 2019


We had a couple nature shots for this week and felt that the image of a spotted owl was better than the ones of deer slain by what appeared to have been mountain lions. As for the title, remember Donovan?



(corrected 12/02/19)

So anyway. What with all the fires and power outages in NorCal, the Annual Poodleshoot report has been delayed. But this being the 21st Poodleshoot on the Island, there is no rushing to press on this.

It is hard to imagine that 20 years ago a daft group of lads decided to hold a humble Poodleshoot in defiance of misdirected sentiment, obnoxious aesthetics, and hideous twisting of values where an asinine species we will never truly understand gets more attention, devotion, and preference than members of our own species. It can be argued that in this present day in the 21st century we still have problems understanding each other, let alone another species.

20 years of Poodleshoots and still people lavish more attention and affection upon a miserable scrap of fur and teeth than suffering fellow human beings. Well, that is why the Poodleshoot came to be.

All that aside, the 20th Annual Poodleshoot proceeded as follows.

The annual Island Tradition took place again, beginning with the usual, traditional ceremonies.

As per Tradition, on the day of the 20th Annual Poodleshoot, rosy-fingered Dawn arose from the horizon's dark bed and pushed back the shutters of night to allow Phoebus to mount his golden chariot and so, preceding the day, she trailed her gauzy banners across the firmament, traveling across the yard from the battered old half-moon privy hard by the weeds to the house back porch, leaving behind a sort of dew after her passage. Gently, she flushed, and gently she tugged upon the coverlet, and gently she kissed the eyelids of the sleeping Padraic, but he stirred not. Gently she nudged the man, who only mumbled and snorted as he remained held fast in the soft, woolly folds of Morpheus. Playfully, she noodged him once again, but he remained walking in that shadow kingdom of the somnolent God.

Her fingers becoming rays of sunlight, turned the dial so as to allow the sweet strains of muse Calliope to thrum the air as guided by the goddess Rosalie Howarth of KFOG, but Padriac snored and stirred not.

Then Dawn reared back with her rosy fists upraised and brought them down heavily to smite Padraic a mighty thwack, and that got him up all right, for Dawn O'Reilly was not a woman to be trifled with at any time of the day. And so Padraic bestirred himself to make ready for the Annual Island Poodleshoot and BBQ.

So it was that Padraic rolled out the barrels of the Water of Life and set up the Pit for this year's festivities under bright, chill skies, which had cleared briefly from the storm clouds for the day, once again down by the disputed Crab Cove.

The ceremonies began with the traditional playing of the Paraguay National Anthem, as arranged by Terry Gilliam, and performed by the Island Hoophole Orchestra accompanied by the Brickbat Targets chorale ensemble. This piece has been favorably compared to John Phillip Sousa's Liberty Bell March, with which work the modalty is inextricably entwined..

This was followed by the devilish meisterwerk composed by Marie Kane entitled, "Die Sieg der Satanische Landentwickler", an adaptable work which allows insertion of alta-contemporary chorales at the whim of the Conductor at the pleasure of any municipal governing body.

The ensemble group which has made something of a name for itself by inventing entirely new parts for voice, consisted of Mayor Izzy as soprano alla triste in the Misericordia segment and Councilperson Daysog as mezzo soprano mournful did a fair version of Iago's treacherous soliloquy, with former Councilperson Frank in his basso triste "You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone" performance in the esoteric work La Chambre à l'arrière Enfumee Boogie by Brooks and Dunne.

Vice Mayor Malia Vella adoped the key of obsequious for her duet with Roger Dent of Jamestown Properties in "It's a Shopping Mall by Any Other Name."

John Knox White and Tony Daysog performed a lovely duet as well as a lovely pas de deux in pinstriped pinafores with nunchucks. The two sang "Our Town" and "I got you Babe with astonishing verve.

Many reviewers have called this piece amazingly impossible to accomplish, and quite a pastiche. The East Bay Express found "this game of smoky backrooms is too much to believe." Karen D'Souza of the Contra Costa Times has called it "devilishly complicated" and "hard to believe it goes on. And on. And on still more," while Jim Harrington has called this performance, "the most dreadful rubbish since the last time I wrote a mixed review. I never fully approve of anything but this gave badness a new name."

The Chronicle, always more reserved due to the heavy influence of conservative ACT in the City, has commented, "It should be interesting to see how well this thing floats in the future amid this stormy time for companies. We almost were convinced Trish Spencer was really a City Mayor, a role she continues to adopt despite the necessary qualifications required -- none of which she seems to have ever possessed. Was her portion supposed to be farce or tragedy? We were confused the entire time and are quite glad about the results of the recent Midterms as she has made the entire City Production look ludicrous."

Of course, their theatre/music review got mixed up for that issue with the economic report and the mid-term elections special, so the meaning of that is up to interpretation.

The East Bay Express got the dates wrong on its Calendar section, so they had no review.

The Examiner, as usual, ignored Reality and talked about the batboy who had been abducted by space aliens.

In any case, after spirits had been revived with a sloshing round from the kegs, the Hoophole Orchestra launched the proceedings with spirited instrumentals. The elaborate instrumental section performed Sousa marches and works by Debussy in true Island tradition, and featured vocals as well as strings, horns, thorns, woodwinds, and bloodhounds.

Performing on the Pushy Manager Organ were Carol Taylor and Rachel Linzer of St. Charles. Michael Rumsby of St. Charles marched in circles playing the bagpipe-tuba in the key of F## while the horn section played in the key of B13.

Brian King and Toshie of Park Avenue performed upon the Mendacious Dieben and Sneaky Pete while Little Nichtnutz executed the Shoplifter with Stolen Keys until the Tac Squad entered with fanfare and removed them for questioning.

Neal T. of St. Charles noodled on the Meyer Lansky Kazoo and stamped his tiny feet for percussion while The Henchmen crooned Barbershop Quartet style behind bars. Neal followed up with a slam-bang sale on dime bags of Crystal and Horse. When caught, Old Neal commenced to sing in several keys at once, which concluded with a parade of zoot suits conducting the perp-walk down the aisle. Quite a challenge and great drama.

Mill Valley, which has been courting the Island on a number of issues, sent a former Mayor who performed "The Little Chick goes Cheep, Cheep, Cheep," to a mixed reception of bystanders, who saw this rendition as a sop against MV's notorious wealthy exclusivity.

Antimacassars and doilies were supplied, as usual, by James Hargis, who also performed the Effexor Waltz.

Once this essay at musical endeavor was done to everyone's great relief, the Native Sons of the Golden West, Parlor 34 1/2, gathered in a circle for their Invocation, led by Doyle McGowan of San Francisco, and chanted in the language of E Clampus Vitus.

The men, wearing their ceremonial robes and colorful fezzes, moved in a circle with their pinkies interlocked, first clockwise, then anti-clockwise, before intoning, "Heep heep Hepzibah!" before all jumping into the air simultaneously. They then sang their parlor charter song, "Die Launische Forelle," After they had done this, they moved again in a circle as before, concluding by bowing deeply, dropping their drawers and thence emitting a sort of 21 gun salute.

After the ritual pouring of Wild Turkey libations, the Official bugles were blown by Pat Kitson of Mountain View and Tally of Marin, upon which the hunters moved out into the field. Soon the air was filled with the gleeful holiday sounds of AK-47s, the cracks of freshly oiled Winchester rifles, the occasional crump of percussion grenades, cries of "Poodle there!", and the homey whoosh-bang of old-fashioned home-made bazookas and modern RPG's. In short it was a jolly, fine beginning for a Poodleshoot with overcast weather that soon turned quite overcast.

This year the official delegation from DC featured Rudy Guliani, spearheading a phalanx of lawyers that shot randomly at everything in sight as Rudy waddled across the greens with his Poodle Blunderbuss Cannon, destroying household pets and crockery and the Truth with great abandon.

All of the scandals in the past year in the Crystal City of DC produced quite a number of Poodleshoot candidates, however those that did not go to jail turned out to have a great deal of moral turpitude and so none of them were available for the Poodleshoot.

Sarah Palin wanted to come back for another go-around, as she so much loved killing things from the safety of aerial position where neither weather nor fierce animal retribution could be encountered, but organizers found a rule against multiple Sarah Palin Parasailin' in consecutive years and so she declined in a snit of Twitter.

Mrs. Frippary, of Mill Valley, came down Southshore Blvd on a visit with her adored Snickers on a leash with a collar of bright LED lights that captured Eugene's scope and so he drew bead, squeezed carefully, and let loose a round that blew Snickers to heaven with a sort of somersault in the air.

Shoot officials and also Poodle-Favor complainants responded quickly.

"Score of 8.9 for the somersault," said one official. "I would give it a 9, but he used an unimaginative 30 ought 6."

Eugene proudly held up his dripping kill for photographs.

"This man just shot my sweetums!" Mrs. Frippary complained. "That ought to be illegal! Just look at my oochee coochee poopee now!"

"Madam," said Official Banks. "You have been known by report to ignore Snickers attacking other dogs, biting children and adults and chasing the postman."

"No," said Mrs. Frippary. "He is a good doggie."

"Madam, you have been known to give preference to your dog over human beings at every turn. You gave him treats from the table when people are dining, encouraging a begging behavior. When people pass by him he snaps at their feet. You have demanded others feed your dog scraps from their own meals, and you have ignored his violent antisocial tendencies, ergo you have failed to socialize your dog."

"I do not understand what you mean by 'socialize your dog.' He is a good doggie!"

"That is exactly the problem. You still do not understand the importance of socializing your dog in a crowded metropolis like the Bay Area where service animals and the like need to be trained so as to interact with adults and children safely and without pretense."

"I live in a small-town environment surrounded by trees and wildlife. Why should I tame my dog?"

"If you kept your dog in an isolated kennel 24x7 away from humans that would be fine. I also see complaints from your spouse that your dog attacked his genitals because you insist on having the dog sleep upon the bed with you each night and the dog intervenes during sexual congress."

"That is a misrepresentation. Snickers just wants to join in on the fun. Wait a second . . . how did you know that?"

"Madam, you are promoting then disgusting bestiality?"

"Well, um, that's .. . that is entirely out of line of what I meant . . .".

"Madam, you are either revolting or totally ignorant. Which comes down to how we treat this poodle problem. The kill is judged valid and points are granted to Eugene Gallipagus for a vaid contribution to the Barbee and to Society at large. Madam you are free to take part and enjoy the last of Snickers, with E&J BBQ sauce. Everett and Jones is a Bay Area Tradition, enlivening BBQ meats for all occasions."

"I think not!" Mrs. Frippary said.

Surprisingly, the rest of the Poodleshoot went off swimmingly. There were a few contretemps when Mitch McConnell tried to shunt the 'Shoot towards a GOP pro-gun caucus and the TwitterHead in Chief sending fullisades of short missifs declairing illegal witch hunts and all sorts of nonsense until Padriac simply shut the stream off with irritation, giving all a sense of relief.

The Marin Dogwalkers Association had brought in truckloads of poodles on flatbeds and the hunters had a field day popping these effete morsels one after another. Plans were in the works to move the 'Shoot to either the San Geronimo Valley or Fairfax environs due to the plethora of misguided sentiments found harboring the savage canine in great numbers.

The shift was being administered in large part by the West Marin Expats Association which had found that the folk who had ousted born and raised possessed little in the way of decent manners or common sense and that something had to be done about it. West Marin Expats had been all forced to leave their hometowns due to the rising prices and gentrification of the one-time blue-collar area and they were wroth with desire for vengeance and a return to good, old-fashioned family values.

As a result the weekend featured a lively Poodleshoot event which, for once, was not marred by mischance or disaster, allowing the to recoup losses incurred due to lawsuit and funeral expenses in past years.

And so there was a great route of Piddler contingents involving great loss to them and great addition to the Barbee which smoked with the seared flesh of poodle for fully a day and never was there seen such a triumphant poodleshoot as this one in the year 2019 even as the heavens opened up and poured down a tremendous deluge to end the Fire Season of 2019 with joy. So ended the 21st Annual Poodleshoot and BBQ and perhaps the last to take place on the Island.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.


NOVEMBER 10, 2019


And in rice paddies and obscure hilltops with numbers for names and on rocky mountain sides and in desert locales and dusty villages. Monday is Veteran's Day. Remember 77th Cav and the 101st Airborne.


So anyway. Mercury once again was in retrograde. In the early morning, before Dawn afflicts the sky with shards of painful light. Pedro courses along toward the fishing grounds in his boat El Borracho Perdido. In recent days he has found his old radio friend Pastor Rotschue appearing here and there with increasing frequency after a period of hiatus caused by MeToo hysteria, which consequences might have been amplified by a rising desire to retire while still alive and kicking in the world.

The fog bank has arrived again, announcing the change of seasons. Summer is now entirely gone and the dense morning pogonip has arrived. Through this white world of white-out Pedro pilots his ship. In this time, between preparations, he has time to reflect on mortality and life. Recently he has attended memorials for old friends and for family. His abuelita, Lizabet, passed away after a long time of hanging on in that in-between state of life and vegitation, and they set up an ofreta during los Dias de los Muertos, with pictures of her dogs and her favorite foods.

Death is not something that ever waits for you to finish what you are doing. It takes you by the hand and you must go there and then, whether you are a soldier in battle or a salaryman working a desk in an office or a grandfather doting on his grandchildren.

Life is a vale of tears full of sorrow and suffering. There is wan comfort in knowing it does not go on forever. Yet there is no guarantee on what comes after, not reincarnation and not heaven or hell. We only know this life ends at some point. And because of this, Pedro thinks, there is nothing you or I can do about it. Death will come and that is that and there is no fighting against it.

The boat chummed along through the fog with Pedro navigating by instrumentation. He turned the dial in search of his favorite program, knowing it was gone, but perhaps there would be reruns, however he found only static instead of that sonorous, avuncular voice that had accompied his sea voyages for over 30 years. There is, however, for radio at least a sort of afterlife and so he hummed and scatted a little song as he put on a CD labeled "12 Monologs".

"I hear that old piano
down on the Avenue
I smell the snow, look around for you.
O that sweet sweet someone comin'
through the door
It's Saturday. The band is playin'
Honey, who could ask for more.
Woh, woh, woh wohhhhh ...".

In the East, the trees have all revolved into colors of burnt orange, reds, vivid yellows and browns. Word has it from the Elders of the Miwok and the Lakota that a cold wind shalll come down from the North, bringing an early Winter, for it must be that Demeter is especially displeased this year to make her annual grief for the loss of Persephone happen so soon and so violently. In truth Old Gaia has not been treated well and the recent devestating fires are evidence of that along with the polluted air and waters.

Denby has been sitting on the bench outside the Household since his return, staring into space. Not even Snuffles with his gallon of 99 cent wine can bring him out of his funk after the last visit to the Underworld on the last day of Dias de los Muertos. This time the trip was especially bad.

Javier came out after a day of philandering and people mentioned there was something going on with Denby so he went out and sat down on the bench as the evening cool grew and the moon swelled for it was soon to be pregnant and full.

"So my friend I bring some good mezcal with me from Mexico City and I want to share with you because I hear you have had a loss in your family. Here is a glass and the bottle I put down here."

"That is kind of you Javier."

"In my life I have seen much passing. I am older than you and believe me it does not get any easier as each passing year there are more and more empty places at the table of celebration."

"The curse of survival and getting older is that many of our dearest friends and relations do not."

"That is true. That is true. But the answer to that is not to stop living any more, for that is surrender to the Adversary. I have always felt that every sexual release is a small blow against the Empire of Death. That is why I live my life the way I do."

"You are an Odd Fellow," Denby said. "I guess that is one of the reasons I like you."

"Have another shot of mezcal, for you have many more valuable sufferings and enjoyments to experience on this earth."

"Slainte," said Denby.

"À t'santé," Javier said.

"That is French," Denby said.

"Of course I speak French as any cultured gentleman should. Besides the ladies love it and you know I dearly love the ladies."

"I know you love women - as many at one time as you can. But their status as 'ladies' I would have to question, Javier," Denby said.

Javier guffawed. "Touché! I am glad grief has not cost you your wits!"

"You would have liked my friend Chad. He had a trenchant wit."

"You know in Mexico we have Los Dias de los Muertos in which we play games, make sugar skulls and dress up in costume with many skeletons as a theme. This is not to mock the departed or make light of our suffering grief, for we are indeed sad whenever we lose someone. The skulls and all the decor is just to remind us that this life is but a show for a time and that afterwards there will be reunification and resurrection to eternal life. It is a wan hope, but some hope is better than cynical despair."

"I did not take you for being religious."

"I am not. These things of eternal afterlife began with the Azteca and the Tolmec. They are far older than Christianity and they remain embedded in the souls of our people. It is the reason modern Nahuatl people face the four directions and chant 'Ta Hui" in a language that has been forgotten these five thousand years. Cortez and Columbus and the missionaries all came one after another to erase the past, but they could not entirely succeed. I cannot say for sure, as I am unlearned, but all around the globe I suspect the old ways persist despite the sternest of Church Fathers. And look now -- the moon has arisen through the fog."

Indeed the swelling moon now hung over the ridgeline that bordered the San Geronimo Valley.

Pahrump came out to join the two on the porch.

"What says Pahrump tonight?" Denby said.

Pahrump remained standing and pointed a few houses down where a blur of white motion appeared. It was Missy Moonbeam, entirely naked and dancing her lunar dance in her not so well screened backyard. "Despite everything, joy abides," he said.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

NOVEMBER 3, 2019




(revised 11/16/19)

So anyway, the time came for Denby to make the annual crossover, which had remained as a Tradition even though the offices and the Household had been transplanted by force during the Night of Shattered Fires. Tradition has its own powerful force as some of you may know. And the Night of Shattered Fires, begins with its present day immanence to overwhelm the memory of a terrible night of broken crystal for we have continuing struggles in the here and now that demand attention.

The sun descended and shadows grew long across the little avenues of Silvan Acres. Because of the creek passing through, and then the long absent train line and now the road, this place had been a traveling place for many hundreds, if not thousands of years.

The Editor said, "Go now," and so Denby took his walking cane and went out to the uplift where the earth was embanked higher than in other places along the road.

To his great surprise a train came trundling along the way beside the Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, even though Denby could not recall such tracks ever having been there.

The machine heaved to a stop with steam and groaning and Denby climbed aboard and took his seat in a cabin with no other passengers in the car. The train proceeded down Sir Francis Drake, stopping at Yolanda Landing and various points not known to Denby and then proceeded south and east through a dense fog that made identifying landmarks difficult. For a long time everything outside the windows was entirely black and Denby assumed they were somehow crossing one of the bridges.

"Endstation! Endstation!"

At one point the train stopped and the conductor, a gaunt man wearing a robe, came down the aisle announcing in a foreign accent "Endstation! Endstation!"

Denby disembarked to find he was on the Shoreline Road on the Island. He walked along the path there that bordered the brightly lit condos and the seawall until he came to the Iron Gate. He undid the latch and was greeted by any owl. "Who? Who are you? Who?!"

An iron bell began to clang and then he saw the vast expanse of bonfires lit upon the beach. Those bonfires lit by the souls waiting passage to redemption or eternal fire.

A distant dog or set of dogs set up a jarring sound of barking.

He used his cane to push open the gate and so step through a veil of mist to the Other Side where a long reach of strand with bonfires extended to north and south, broken only at this height by the extension of a stone landing.

As in years past, as he approached the Portal, the Voice bellowed to him from some echoing deep cavern.

"Lasciate ogni speranza voi ch'entrate!"

"Lasciate ogni speranza voi ch'entrate!" and the words flamed inside the skull as if poured in molten steel. Just as it had for the past 19 years.

For pete's sake. As per Tradition, dammit, Denby muttered.

A large owl, about two feet tall, perched on a piling scolded him with large owl eyes.

"Hoo! Hoo! Hoooooo!"

Okay, okay. Poor choice of words.


On the other side the ground sloped down as usual to the water for about thirty yards, but he could not see the far lights of Babylon's port facilities or the Coliseum. A dense, lightless fog hung a few yards offshore, making it appear that the water extended out beyond to Infinity. The sky above was filled with black cloud and boiling with red flashes of lightening and fire although not a drop of rain had fallen.

All up and down the strand he could now see that countless bonfires had been lit, as is customary among our people in this part of the world to do during the colder winter months along the Strand, and towards one of these he stumbled among drift and seawrack.

Sitting around that fire, he recognized many faces. And many more all up and down that beach.

"ch'io non avrei mai creduto / che morte tanta n'avesse disfatta"

Strange words in another language reverberated inside the skull: "si lunga tratta / di gente, ch'io non avrei mai creduto / che morte tanta n'avesse disfatta" echoing and echoing down long hallways of echos into eternity

A small child, barefoot and wearing a nightdress ran past and disappeared as quickly as she had come.

A blonde woman figure appeared before him, glimmering with an internal light and gauzy fabric blown by an invisible wind. This apparition greeted him.

"Denby!" said the woman. "Here you are again!"

"Hello Penny," Denby said. "Back again."

"A year has passed up there in your world, I guess. Here another year is all the same for waiting. There are several here who are new and they would like to speak with you."

Several little girls, all between the ages of six and nine ran barefoot across the sands between them and vanished into the misty beyond.

A man with bright blue eyes and wild reddish hair came running up and ran circles around the two of them several times before stopping and doing severa bouncing jumping-jacks.

"Denby! Look at me! Ha ha ha! I can run and jump again!"

"Hi Chad," Denby said. "Good to see you are in top form!"

"And look at this what I found!" Chad bent down to pick up a shiny guitar from the grass tufts. "It's my old Martin D-28! God, I was so heartbroken when I put my foot through the soundboard and broke the neck when I was drunk as all hell. I never could bring myself to replace it I loved it so much so I got that $50 nylon string. But here it is, just like new! And I can sing again!"

Chad began strumming away and singing in a powerful voice.

"Hello there my old friend
Not so long ago it was till the end
We played outside in the pourin' rain
On our way up the road we started over again
You're livin' out dreams of you on top
My mind is achin' oh lord it won't stop
That's how it happened livin' life by the drop.

Whaddya think about that!?"

"Glad to see your health has improved in the afterlife," Denby said as Chad began jumping up and down with the guitar.

Chad stopped jumping and said, "You ever schtupp my wife?"

"No, Chad. It never occured to me."

Chad got teary eyed. "Y'know, you are a real gentleman. With that COPD and emphasema I wasn't much effing use. You know it occurred to Tammy . . .".

"I know, I know. But I am not built that way. I had other concerns."

"The effing world needs more guys with effing integrity like you. Remember that effing hardware store we worked at under the effing freeway in Babylon?"

"That was 35 years ago and I still remember. You tried to teach me the banjo on the steps. I have that instrument now -- Tammy gave it to me."

Chad burped and out popped an obolu from his mouth. "Effing mother of the mushroom king what a place this is! Found my old guitar from 1962 and burping gold now! Eff man!"

"That is your passage fee," Denby said. "I guess you will be seeing some old friends and family soon. Tell Shannon I think of her from time to time."

"Hey, come on old buddy, you can tell her yourself," Chad said moving down to the stone pier. "C'mon man! Come and bonk my sister! Its all okay now!"

"In a little while I will be right behind my friend. In just a little while."

"Ok. I gotta have a few words with that guy I used to play with, Mr. Kantner."

And as he descended the slope, Chad sang and played his guitar.

Mama take this badge from me
I can't use it anymore
It's getting dark too dark to see
Feels like I'm knockin' on heaven's door
Knock-knock-knockin' on heaven's door
Knock-knock-knockin' on heaven's door
Knock-knock-knockin' on heaven's door
Knock-knock-knockin' on heaven's door, eh yeah

"Come on down," Penny said. "Here are a couple more old friends of yours."

The two of them went down to one of the bonfires not far from the old stone jetty wharf that appeared every year extending out into the shallow waters offshore.

There two men sat conversing and laughing with great animation. One fellow had a flowing beard and the other had a head of curly hair above a craggy face.

"Hey guys!" Denby said.

"Denby, here you are," said the man with curly hair and the craggy face. "We were always Los Tres Amigos until you arrived and then with Paul we were Los Cuatro Amigos until Jim checked himself out. Then we were Tres Amigos again. "

"I hear Paul nearly bought it recently due to cancer," said Jim

"Hey lets set up a poker game right here", said the man with curly hair. "Matchsticks and nickles. One hundred dollar pot."

"I do not think there is time for that, " Penny said.

"Ahh!" said the curly-haired man. "I have always liked you. I do not know why, but I do."

"Doyle," said Denby. "You have always been cantankerous. Craggy-faced Doyle."

"Craggy-faced? What the heck in Sam Hill does that mean"

"You are photogenic, Doyle. Always have been."

"Hey!" Doyle hopped up and adopted a fighter's stance. Feinting slightly with his lead.

Denby stood sideways and put up his hands, just like they used to do in the old days, he and Doyle.

"Ahhhh," Doyle said. "You'd probably kill me. Ha ha ha ha!

"Denby, there is someone here you need to meet," said Penny.

"I know," said Denby roughly. "I know already."

In a circle of light that emanated from some unknown source, a woman with chestnut brown hair danced in a circle with the ephemeral children who ran out of the darkness to cavort and then disappear again.

"Ring the Rosy. Parker has a Posey!"

Denby approached and stood a while, watching this dance and then spoke. "Hello mom."

The dancing woman stopped and all the children bolted off into the darkness.

"Hello Sonny boy. You were my First Born."

"I know about the other who did not live. That is another story. So now how are you?"

The woman stuck out her tongue and made a fillip sign with her hands.

"She is so insousciant," said Penny. Everyone here loves her.

"Life does not go on forever. And that is a good thing I have found out. Now I am at peace, but I worry about your father. He is entirely too serious. He wants to control everything."

The two of them stepped aside to another fire circle to discuss important things in the brief hour that remained.

"You wanna play poker?" Doyle said to Pennie.

"I do not think that is allowed down here."

"O common. Matchsticks and pennies." Doyle said. "After all we have all of eternity to hold or fold.

"Doyle you are some kind of rascal wanting to set up a poker game with the Angels in a place like this," Jim said.

"Well, hell, I just want to pass the time like we did before. No harm in that. Maybe teach a few angels some angles. You me and Paul were always Los Tres Amigos. Remember that? Then Denby came along and we were Los Quatros Amigos. Then you checked yourself out and we were Los Tres Amigos again. We could be Los Quatros Amigos again. Except Paul of course is up there still . . . ".

A loud bell began to clang and the souls along the beach started to wander down to the jetty that struck out into the dark Bay. A glimmering in the distance announced the approaching Ferryman.

Doyle responded with astonishment when a gold coin popped out of his mouth.

"What the heck is this?"

"That is the obolu that grants you passage," Penny said. "You are very lucky to depart now. "

A glimmer appeared from far off across the water and many of the souls on that beach began to gather at the old stone jetty that had appeared.

"C'mon Jim!" Doyle said as he moved down the slope.

Jim just shook his head. "Sorry amigo. Gotta stay here a while."

"Well what the . . . C'mon man. This is the trip of a lifetime. Last roadtrip of all!" And Doyle grabbed Jim to drag him down by the hand to the jetty where the skiff docked and the souls began to board, offering their passage obolu.

"C'mon Jim, c'mon! Let's go!"

But the infernal Ferryman turned his visage towards Jim as he stood still upon the sand and his body began to smoke under that withering gaze which consisted of eyes that were wheels of fire and Jim fell back, shielding his own eyes from that terrible punishment.

Up furthur on the beach the woman who had been talking with Denby said it was time to go. An obolu popped from her mouth.

"I have suffered enough. Time for an end to it all. Bye-bye Sonny! You were my First Born."

And with that the woman descended silently down to the jetty, where the Ferryman waited for her, followed by dozens of young girls, all the not born and the never-will, cavorting and dancing and bearing flowers in baskets they strew along the path.

The Ferryman, in an unaccustomed guesture, assisted her aboard with unusual gentleness. And the woman who had been Denby's mother turned to face the shore and she put her thumb to her nose and wiggled her fingers and laughed and laughed as the skiff pushed off to the Other Side.

Meanwhile Jim struggled up the bank to the firepit where Denby and Penny stood.

"Well he is gone and here I am," Jim said. "Waiting for Paul. Last of the Tres Amigos."

"Self-murder takes a long to forgive, " Penny said. "You might be here longer than even me."

Jim sat down heavily on a log beside the firepit. "Well this sucks. How is Paul?"

"He almost joined you with the cancer, but much to his consternation he has been dragged back through the black tunnel of therapy into the living for a while yet." Denby said. "But he is made a very angry and unhappy man having been put through all of that with operations, chemo and radiation that cooked his innards and that is not considering the politics right now."

"Paul is the son of a Baptist minister. Anger would be his birthright if nothing else. For nothing else is what we Californios have earned over time," Jim said ruefully.

"You're father assisted Mullholland as an engineer right up until the San Franciscito dam brake. You should have seen it coming."

A little girl ran up to Denby and spoke. " Hey Papi! I am Sapphire! Remember me! You named me last time! I am not born yet, but maybe I will be some day!"

Denby got down on his hunkers to face Sapphire. "Hi Sapphire! I hope you have been good all this time I have been away."

Sapphire nodded vigorously. "I have not been born yet. I cannot tell a lie! Maybe after I am born!"

"Well I am 62 so we will see about that."

The iron bell began to clang, calling the faithfull to their knees to speak the softly spoken magic spells. And close the gate between the worlds at the time the veils between the worlds are thinnest.

"Time to go, Denby. This one has been quite the family reunion."


Reluctantly Denby turned to go up the slope.

"Denby." Penny said simply and he paused as a wind kicked up with gusts.

She reached out her hands to cup his face. Cold, so cold. He felt a wetness on his lips, on his face. Perhaps the slap of saltwater from the Bay carried by the wind.

"Good-bye. Until next time."

He ascended the slope as the sound of the bell and three dogs became more insistent until he stumbled through the gate which slammed shut behind him. There, an open door to a train compartment waited for him and he climbed in to plotz into a seat in an otherwise empty railcar with salty, wet cheeks. On the return journey, he reflected Penny had become in the afterlife what she had been before. In life she had been a nurse during the height of the AIDS plague whose job it had been to handle the affairs of patients who had been sent home from Hospice as they lapsed and eventually died and allowed her to handle the paperwork of such things, there always the angel to usher souls to the door and through it to the next form of existence, if any, beyond.

The train passed through shadowy regions of smoke and the skeletal forms of houses and the smoke of spooks until it passed Yolanda Landing and eventually to the San Geronimo Station, where Denby disembarked. From there he went dutifully to the Island-Life offices although he felt exhausted unto death.

The Editor awaited him as in years past.

"So this is the 21st time you have crossed over," said the Editor. "How was it this time?"

Denby fell into a plush chair Martini had snagged from a For Free roadside pile. He gave the Editor the one thousand yard stare.

"I can tell you are wanting a drink. And by just the look of you, so am I." The Editor reached into the desk and pulled out a bottle of Glenfiddich and set two glasses on the desk before pouring more than two fingers into each glass.

"Any idea how the elections will go this time and what will become of the Country? You did ask, did you?"

"This time there was no time," Denby said hoarsely.

"That is par for the course" said the Editor. "Anything else?"

"There is nothing else to say," Denby said, his thoughts now far away. The thousand yard stare.

"I suspected not. It is all according to Tradition. At least we have that. Cheers."

"Cheers. Slainte." Denby said.

They sat there until the first glimmering of light appeared above the eastern hills. And so ended the last night of Los Dias de Los Muertos, the time when the veil between the worlds is thinnest..

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.


OCTOBER 20, 2019


This image taken in San Anselmo and shows a Spirit looking somewhat concerned at a delivery from Amazon. I would be concerned. Wouldn't you?


So anyway. The winds and the evening temps announce the change in Seasons. They are holding the annual costume Ball in the Lagunitas schoolhouse, and plans for the Marin Poodleshoot and BBQ are in full swing.

Instead of the Old Same Place Bar, meetings are being held in the Fairfax Same Old Place Bar there off of Center Street next to The Scoop ice cream parlor.

There we have native Cynthia slinging the drinks and pouring the tap, with owners Colum and Aisling supporting the nightly pour.

There at the rail, Snarky Beans holds forth on his personal Conspiracy Theory.

Snarky Beans has this idea that there is a conspiracy to hide alien artifacts at Area 49. He was contacted by Island-Life to explain what evidence did he have for the existence of aliens, largely because we all would really like to know all about aliens among us, which supposedly would explain so much like the Economy, Global Climate Change, Mysterious Lights in the Sky, and donald trump.

"First of all, why Area 49? And where is this location?"

"Ha! You are so gullible. Clearly there is an Area 51, which we all know about, because it was always intended as a distraction. If there is Area 51 then there also is Area 50, Area 49, Area 48, Area 32 and on up to the primodorial Area Number 1, just as there was always Prisoner Number 6, Number 5, Number 4 and so on back in the Sixties television series.

I have discovered the probable location of secret Area 49 which is so secret nobody knows about it save for certain agencies embedded within the Deep State. There we have certain proof of Alien contact.

Okay, so where is this Area 49?

It is Top Secret and I cannot tell you directly, but I suspect it is located in Sunol.

Why Sunol?

Because people are very close-mouth around there. They have a biker bar at the crossroads and the folks in there are pretty cagey. At first I thought it was Alameda Island, largely because of the Navy Base there, but that location has always been far too stridently self-involved to be very important. I would place that location as Area 89.

So what kind of evidence could be at Area 49 that is so important?

Alien toes.


It seems that during an hasty escape from Sunol a door came down suddenly severing the toes of one particular, unfortunate Alien. The toes have been recovered by our Airspace Research Division.

Why were the Aliens in Sunol in the first place? Sunol is not exactly a significant location by itself.

Aliens always appear in areas where they will not cause serious remark among intelligent people. The location appears chosen because they could conduct talks with the Secret Agents of the Deep State without disturbance. The toes are kept in cryogenic storage at the secret facility in Sunol I feel bad for the feller who lost his toes. Maybe they have a way to regenerate them. I hope so.

I would hope that we have some kind of friendly response should that Alien come back to recover his property.

You just have to trust the Government to do what is right.

That is what really worries me about all of this.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

OCTOBER 13, 2019


This one comes from Facebooker friend Rocky Wingwalker who is a bit of a daredevil in real life. Yes she does walk on the wings of airplanes outside of a perfectly good and comfortable cockpit as an occupation, but Rocky is one unusal woman and we applaud her for all that. Besides, in this fetching number she is sure to show off all her curves....


So anyway. The days grow short. The early morning drive to work begins in darkness until the reddish aurora glows behind the silhouette of the coastal range beyond the bridge undulating over the narrows like a great beast. Pumpkins appear overnight on doorsteps. Tiny monsters breed in the shadows of doorways to erupt suddenly into the streets. The pogonip has appeared upon the hills in the early morning, creeping over the ridges in Tolkein images of apocalypse.

We have shifted from unusual heat to a pattern of cool nights and variable days of sunshine where some parts of the Bay Area still enjoy 80 degrees. Not even Donald Trump can affect this annual pattern and we have reports of a snow storm about to hit the Sierras.

It is two weeks to the Dias de los Muertos and once again the Editor held the annual Drawing of Straws to see who will cross over to the Other side on that fateful night when the veil between the worlds is thinnest.

Rachel got onto the bus to the ferry that took her to the landing where she took another bus out from there through San Rafael with its increasing urban problems, through San Anselmo with its increasing European cars, through Fairfax with its steady insistance upon zero growth and increasing party, and thence over the White's Hill and down into the San Geronimo Valley with its traditions and crochits that have not changed much over the past 100 years. Thence Rachel a-lites at the busstop in Silvan Acres, a place that has forgotten Time.

She made her way to the new Island-life offices where the meeting had been arranged for the Annual Drawing of Straws.

That Rachel is appointed as the Straw-bearer is a matter of Tradition. That the Drawing of Straws occurs in mid-October had been a matter of Tradition these past 20 years. That the end result is always the same, is also a matter of Tradition, but nevertheless, Rachel must make this long journey, leaving behind dear Henry the cat to be cared for by apartment hallmate Carol so as to preserve Tradition.

In the new Island-life offices that were created in the space of a former barn by the labor of Pahrump, Denby, Mancini, and others, the surviving staff gather for the annual ritual.

Rachel walked up the wood steps and into the offices where the Staff was all gathered.

As in the 20 past years, Rachel walked around with the hat filled with straws and each member of the staff drew so as to determine who shall be the one to cross over to The Other Side, their charge being to inquire about the possible future.

This year was especially important, given the market volatility, the violent, ill-nature of the current Occupant of the Oval Office, and the upcoming Presidential elections.

As Rachel walked down the aisles, each staffer drew a straw with great hesitation, sweat beading out on the brow, nervously clutching the straw until it was revealed to be longer yet than any other to that person's great relief. Even Festus was made to draw -- nothing is uglier than an anxious, sweating hamster -- but it had to be done for the sake of Tradition.

Finally it came around to the reluctant Denby, who, as Tradition dictated each year, drew the shortest straw.

"Why must it be me each year," Denby lamented.

"Because you are Chosen," Marlene said. "It's just it is not always to advantage to be Chosen. Okay everybody, tea and coffee and cakes on the verandah!"

"Why don't you go for once?" Denby said to the Editor.

The Editor removed the cigar from his mouth and considered it a moment. "Because I have been to Hell already. It was called Khe Sanh."

And so they all filed out, clapping Denby on the back congratulating him on his good fortune while muttering under breath as they exited the door, "Thank god it is not me, poor sod!"

Finally Denby was left alone with the Editor.

"So how is this going to work? The Island is miles away." Denby said.

The Editor snipped the end and kindled a new cigar. "A conveyance has been prepared that will take you to the Portal, same as last year."

"The infernal train," Denby said.

"Call it what you want. Come out back for the Recitation."

The Editor arose and beckoned Denby to follow him out the back while there was laughter and candlelight happening out front on the verandah.

The two of them stepped into the glade there and figures appeared out of the darkness. Denby thought at first they were coyotes or deer, but they were in fact the Wiccan coven of San Geronimo Valley, led by Constance Washburn and Missy Moonbeam.

"I do not know what is going to happen next," said the Editor. "I wish I did."

The coven circled the two men and began to chant and sing as they threw their arms upwards into the star-studded sky confounded by the glare of a full moon.

Of Oedipus the Chorus doth say
You saw him swept away.
So, being mortal, look on that last day!
And count no man blessed and free of strife
until he's crossed the bounds of earthly life!
Safe in the grave!
And free of pain at last!

The coven, having completed their incantation, filed out of the glade.

"Marin is really wierd," Denby said.

"I know," said the Editor. "But if it did not exist, someone would have to invent it somewhere else. A place where magical possiblity and all the opposites of everything I have seen in Da Nang province are engendered. It is a place that convinced me, after many decades, that people are more than just meat. That is part of one reason you must go to the Other Side each year."

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.


OCTOBER 6, 2019



This week's image comes from Patrick Higgins, author and former Island resident who now lives in Fairfax. Let the Season begin!


The previous week a series of rainstorms soaked the area, giving the illusion that fire season was done with us. The end of summer heatwave that always happens in the end of September and we had triple digit temps again.

There is no Island-life Sabbatical this year due to recovery from injuries incurred in 2017.

So anyway. Raif Sanjani had a problem at work. He was trying to get the latest Nextgen interface pushed out but the Developers would not stop developing the interface which meant that it would always be behind as Raif's team tried valiantly to push out the updates.

All of this was lost on the people who actually had to do the work in the office. They had the common complaint that the icon did not work. That is all they understood and all they really needed to understand. They needed to bill for medical services and this darned icon on the desktop stubbornly refused to work. They expected top notch service at a moment's notice. When Raif told the Department Head how long it would take to get the interface completed, the DH said brusquely "That will not do. We need it by next week."

Around midnight Raif put his head in his hands. Things could not go on this way with unreasonable expectations. They could have had the project done within a week if they had outsourced but no, they did not want to spend the money.

Raif had a sudden inspiration. He wrote a small batch file that did only one thing: it called a visual basic program to display the message "DATA UPLOADED SUCCESSFULLY." This he attached to the desktop icon for the interface and he then pushed it out to all the desktops. He then wrote a snippet to take all the interface data that had been keyboarded and send it to a SQL server that did nothing. The data would of course be garbaged, but it would be months before anyone discovered that and in the meantime Raif could work on the interface at his leisure.

Or better yet, get another job.

On the Island people handled the heat wave in various ways, but the real news was all about the new whistleblower who had replaced Joshua, Wally's son, as the focus of irrational Right Wing ire.

An as yet unknown snitch had revealed that Mayor Blight of Newark had sought to have the Mayor of Hackensack launch an investigation on the son of former VP Ignatious Bidet on trumped up corruption charges.

It was all terribly convoluted and the part about corruption and Mr. Bidet very exciting to people who read the National Enquirer and take it seriously.

The part about using a foreign power to exercise influence really seemed the pits for both sides, especially the whistleblower who joined Wally up there in the Greek Orthodox temple seeking sanctuary.

Nobody seems to understand how this process works. People vote scumbags into office and decent, honorable people inform upon them and instead of the scumbags running like roaches escaping the light, the decent people have to run and find sanctuary. Which seems odd to us. But Joshua is glad of the company.

The heat wave has come and gone and the buckeyes are all gone sere. Mornings and evenings the pogonip drifts in over the hills.

Yes, that special season has come upon us when the air turns brisk with scents of apples and chimney smoke and thoughts turn to traditions and season rituals. Dick and Jane go gaily scampering through the fallen leaves with ruddy cheeks and panting breath hand in hand, leaping over babbling brook and fog-damp fallen tree, each dreaming of popping a few rounds into a Fifi, blasting the stuffing out of a silver-haired poo with a brand new, polished thirty ought-six.

God! It is such a magical time! It is glorious America in Fall!

Yep, that much anticipated Island event is nigh upon us once again, the Annual Island-Life Poodleshoot and BBQ.

We will be posting the official rules presently in the sidebar. For now, last year's rules are up there to give you an idea of what this dreadful celebration is all about. What is the Annual Island-Life Poodleshoot you may ask. This year marks the 21st year that the 'Shoot has taken place and perhaps the last time it will be held on the Island before it moves to Marin where the infernal species abounds in great numbers. It is, in short a Tradition, and we are big on Tradition.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.




And Friday the 13th will be the Harvest Moon.


So anyway. The fogs have returned to the Bay Area and the Inhabitor of the Oval Office remains as foggy-brained as always. On the Island Bobby Blunt still wants to build a wall to keep out people from Oaktown even though it is people from Oaktown who run most of the small businesses and restaurants here.

Bobby says Oaktown never sends its best and those people cause a lot of crime, but an awful lot of Hells Angels dudes settled on the Island with their rap sheets -- it is just they retired and sold their bikes to drive pickup trucks now. Then there is the home-grown Angry Elf gang which keeps things in order by occasionally setting a car on fire in front of a troublesome business.

This recently had some unfortunate consequences when the Cackler ignited a car he thought had been abandoned, but in fact Frida Kahlua was sleeping in the back seat after having too much to drink at La Penca Azul. Their margaritas are really good, so if you come on the Island be sure to check them out.

So anyway again, Frida woke up to the smell of her clothes and her flesh burning and started screaming and then had to be taken to Emergency at Highland (because the Island hospital still has no trauma unit) and because the IPD was annoyed with this loud screaming on Park Street. "We can't have that sort of thing here," said Officer O'Madhauen. "It is not a traffic infraction, but it definitely violates a number of ordinances against noise after hours."

The Angry Elf gang was apologetic, in their own way, because the intended entity to be harassed was supposed to have been La Penca Azul, so obviously a mistake had been made and the persons responsible would be disciplined. The Angry Elf sent flowers and a box of chocolate cherries which Frida threw into the garbage because she was on the Keto Diet.

The Keto Diet does not include alcohol, but does allow occasional departures. Morphine, which is given to burn victims, is not at all on the Keto diet nor is it mentioned by any of its gurus. Frida was consequently really pissed.

If you do not know about the Keto Diet or the Paleo Diet or any number of diets that have demonized Carbs, the scuttlebutt around here is that carbs convert to sugar and sugar is burned instead of fat and so you gain weight and get inflammations. The Keto diet says that if you avoid all simple carbs in the form of bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, alcohol, starchy veggies, and also avoid foods loaded with simple sugars like most fruits, juices, and eat food loaded with fat you will lose weight as the body starts to use ketones made from fat instead of sugars to keep the whole machine running.

Of course we have here, besides the "organic" frenzy, the war against gluten. By extension we find any number of food items lacking some critical ingredient that used to be considered part of the basic process, like rennet-less cheese. We do not know what rennet is, but we have found cheese without rennet is disgustingly awful.

Gluten is bad for people diagnosed with ciliac's disease -- it produces a violent anti-immune system reaction that can be fatal. For the vast majority, the presence or lack of gluten has no effect on the person. It is fine to label something as having no gluten to protect people with the ciliac's disease, just as products need to state no nuts or soy were involved to protect those people allergic to soy and nuts.

But to demonize gluten with no scientific basis is just stupid-making. Gluten is bad for people with ciliac disease, but it is not bad for anyone else.

As for avoiding carbs? Just stop buying potato chips and you will be fine.

The Editor finished his dinner of green salad with avocado and home-made dressing and put it all in the sink. A dutiful and water-conscious Californian, he washed his dishes no more frequently than once a week, using a catchtub for boiling water. Well did he remember the value of fresh water in hauling by the bucket from the well each morning on his uncle's farm in the Valley.

The night advanced with winds of change stirring the sere buckeye branches hung with dried leaves. Our version of Fall. The Editor looked up at the heavens now clear of fog and cloud and wondered about the lonliness of god, who felt compelled to make his own Company, because the angels were either rebellious or obnoxiously servile.

Mankind is the product of eons of lonliness. God wanted love at the disgression of the giver. He did not want love that was automatic and robotic. He wanted love that was freely given out of the hearts of man of their own free will. And of course the necessary condition is that the love is free to be discarded.

This is the way god taught himself pain. But pain is all we know as part of humankind. Suffering comes to us all without conditions, without control, without allowance, and is imposed. There is the difference. God may be eternal, but his pain is limited by his experience. Humankind's suffering has no boundaries and is eternal. Save we have one consolation, wan though it may be: this thing does not go on forever for us. There is an end to it. And no resurrection, no reincarnation is any sort of guarantee.

The Editor came to a rose bush and sniffed. Brevis a natura nobis vita data est; at memoria bene redditæ vitæ est sempiterna. The life given to us by nature is short; but the memory of a well-spent life is eternal. According to Cicero.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.




The last heat wave cause pink ladies to erupt everywhere. They are still colorizing the byways but fading now as the evening temps move with easing breezes to the cooler side.

The buckeyes are all sere and the creeks all run low with dotted gravel banks. Soon a cold wind shall descend from the north.


So anyway. The Flat Earth Society held its annual meeting in the Silvan Acres meeting hall owned by the Native Sons of the Golden West Parlor 666. The building is a farmhouse type of structure built in the late 1800's up on the south ridge near the labyrinth and the goat farm. The labyrinth is not much to look at -- it is some thirty feet in diameter and consists of mounds of earth some eight inches high that guide the wanderer to a center where people have placed trinkets and glittery tchotchkes in a pile.

The goat farm features goats of various breeds and is rumored to house some kind of religious cult up there on the ridge.

The boys in the Household had maintained their relationship with the Native Sons and so had secured occasional employment setting up meetings and cleaning up afterwards, while making sure the Official Tortoise remained happy and well fed in his terrarium.

The Flat Earth Society maintains that Galileo was wrong and the earth is flat and that Round Earth doctrine is little more than an elaborate hoax. Each year members meet in California to talk about their problems and the difficulty of putting forth their curriculum in the public schools. There was a flash of hope during the period Creationism was taken somewhat seriously, but since that mythology has been tossed in the intellectual trashbin, forward progress has been difficult.

There has been a resurgence of hope among the faithful since the Carrot-topped One occupied the Oval Office in that truth and reality seem to have been set aside during the current Administration, but people are still waiting on the positive outcomes.

Any number of organizations that had previously to Carrot-top been derided and pooh-poohed are now re-establishing presence in recognition that lunacy is no negative in the current age. The KKK are holding BBQ cookouts. The Sons of the Confederacy are holding rallies. The Nazi party has seen a resurgence in New Jersey with voter canvasses. On any given day of the week some nutcase extremist appears spouting inflammatory, racist nonsense in Sproul Plaza.

And just this week another gunman. Yet another gunman. Appeared in Odessa Texas to slaughter innocent people just trying to get through the day in what has become a monthly occurance.

Pahrump and Martini sat on the edge of concrete loading dock at the end of the hot day, letting the cool breeze dry their sweat. They were up on one of the ridges that formed the San Geronimo Valley, which extended in forested folds down below them.

"We've come a long way since joining the Household of Marlene and Andre," Martini said.

"How so?" Pahrump asked.

"When the Household began the Island was a little place with small town concerns. You could do all your shopping on a bicycle and parents hung pinatas from oak trees in the front yard on birthdays for the kids to swat at blindfolded. Nobody from other parts of the Bay Area wanted to live there because of the Navy Base and because it was not cool like North Beach. Then the Navy left and the Land Greed began and people like Fahrad drove up the rents and subdivided the old houses into condos and ritzy apartments, packing more and more people into the place until it became an Island City of 100,000 people with all the crime and problems cities have. The Angry Elf mafia was the last straw to turn the place into something that was just like every other soul-less place with too many people with too much money.

"You are right about all that," Pahrump said.

"Now here we are in a place with too many people with too much money, but there still are people who argue about the charter schools and who defiantly resist development with no bones about being called "anti-growth." Heck, here anti-growth is a badge of honor. And it is sparsely settled; there could not be more than 3,000 people in the entire San Geronimo Valley, including Silvan Acres, Lagunitas, San Geronimo, and that neighborhood below Spirit Rock. They have Crab Feeds at the WIC and fundraisers at the Community Center and little clubs and library events where everyone knows each other and their families. The Mayor of Silvan Acres holds council meetings in his livingroom, but since the place is not incorporated, there is little that is actionable in their largely symbolic decisions. His term is decided by unofficial elections where everyone scribbles a name on a slip of paper and stuffs it into a cardboard box left unattended at the Post Office. One time people forgot the end of term and so the Mayor served an additional unofficial year as Mayor until they held an election again.

There are a scad of bicycle riders that throng the place on weekends, but those people look and dress like aliens from outer space who have beneficent rights of passage. Other than momentary annoyance on the road, they are harmless."

"This is probably how politics should be, but is not in most of America due to monetary influence," Pahrump said. "The First Peoples always get the short end of the stick, so I suppose it does not matter. No one on the 'Rez has ever dreamed about having a house with a white picket fence, I assure you. Olumpali was unusual in keeping his hacienda and lands and I have always wondered about that and about Chief Marin who gave his name to this curious county of Alta California."

"Marin is certainly an odd place," Denby said. He had just come out after cleaning the bathrooms to hear the end of this conversation. "What I see is a community of families trying to raise children as best they can in a confusing world, a large number of wealthy imports who seem to change houses at a whim, a large number of wealthy families who stick to their estates which are one of many houses, there are a fair number of people who seem to be able to afford usorious rents and want to live in a place with few advantages, and then there are people like us struggling to keep body and soul together who do not have the resources to pickup and go somewhere else. This place is all we know and we grudgingly calll it home."

"Marin," said Martini (who had been born and raised in San Francisco), "What are we to do about this problem? This mysterious local."

"Marin shall remain what it is. It is up to us as gypsies, the immigrants, the unwanted, to make ourselves a home after being uprooted. You never will be able to ask leniency from a Nazi. That is not going to happen. It is just interesting that we have moved from a place that falsely claimed to be smalltown USA to a place that has the reputation of large town but is in reality small town mentality in a myriad ways."

And with that the sun set behind the ridgelines of the San Geronimo Valley to allow Orion to climb up amid the smear of the Milky Way, something still visible in the San Geronimo Valley.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

AUGUST 28, 2019


This image is presented by Jessica, who is a resident of Bernal Heights in Babylon and proudly features baby Dylan enjoying the essence of summer, more than a trace of which remains hanging around.


So anyway. The signs are up all over San Anselmo, Fairfax and Silvan Acres: Look up! Drive slow! And indeed anyone but a fool knows school has started again. Summer, if it happened for you, is winding down. The roses are throwing out their last punches and squashes are swelling on the vine. The lake beans are producing faster than anyone can pick them, and everywhere on every corner and every spare yard of land the pink ladies have erupted to parade down the avenues tossing their brilliant hats. Despite the recent heat waves, one of which saw just about everywhere see triple digit temperatures, there are subtle signs things are heading for a change. As the Elders say among the Miwok and the Ohlone, a cold wind is due to come down from the North. We do not have the Eastern turning of leaves around here, but we do have the Pogonip.

We have the Fog. And when the fog rolls in that announces changes in temperature far out at sea. Lately Pahrump has been driving into the East Bay on his scooter, encountering the fog laying gentle on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, that crumbling and inadequate edifice built in its day to be a sort of ad hoc fill-in for a bridge whose main duties would be carried out elsewhere. It was designed primarily for the purpose of carrying an aqueduct to supply Marin and maybe a few busses. Nobody thought about where that elsewhere would be for main traffic. So there it still stands after all these years, rising up only to slump midway and then rise up again only to slump down to the toll plaza where the road departs through embattled Richmond with some awkward curves that seem to have been built as afterthoughts without proper design because the bridge builders and the highway builders did not come to a discussion about their intentions until the thing was nearly finished. As the thing crumbles pieces of the bridge periodically fall from the upper deck to the lower, sometimes with fatal consequences.

The Household has survived and recovered from Javier's birthday, which tends to be a doloroso day and evening. Indeed for weeks afterward people can be seen nursing bloody bandages and applying salves to burns and that is usual for Javier's birthday, which now the entire Household dreads each year. Everyone had to work through July 4th so that holiday never happened. If this is the Trump economy, then expect more of the same to keep Obama's wave rolling forward with depleting energy. This summer basically sucked eggs.

Marlene and Andre have been stockpiling canned goods in the shed in expectation that the Trump economy shall become a wildly blooming poisonous flower as has happened each time a GOP administration has wrapped its groady hands around the neck of American commerce. This has happened with predictable finality because the GOP is not good for business, but good for the particular businesses that happen to be its friends and all others, which includes most of America, to be inimical enemies who must be crushed. Every time the GOP wrecks the economy, the Democrats come in to rescue the country from disaster and pull back the deficit. It is ironic that the Democratic party is now the best exemplar of fiscal responsibility, but that is just the way it goes. When the other guy gets terrible, your awfulness looks bright and shining.

Evening approached, bringing relief from the heat, and the eternal yellow school busses that resumed their rounds a week ago discharge their urchins with backpacks into the neighborhoods, while the bearded crossing guard glares at the cars to make them stop. They better stop, or else.

Members of the Household sit on the rickety porch and pass around the bottle of jug wine while Marsha and Tipitina reminisce about catching fireflies in Jersey and New Orleans. "We used to catch them and put them in mason jars with some grass to eat but after a day they would not glow any more," Tipitina said.

"We did the same thing," Marsha said.

"Ever think about going back," Pahrump said.

"New Orleans is all destroyed," Tipitina said. "I been here now for so long and everybody I knew is scattered from Angeline to Texas."

"Go back to Red Bank where I got beat up and tossed around like a rag doll? No way." Tipitina said. "How about you?"

"Back to the 'Rez? I don't think so. That was never our homeland anyway."

And they were all silent for a long while until the shooting stars began to appear beneath Perseus.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.


AUGUST 18, 2019


This shot was taken midweek from the Mission Bay area of San Francisco.


Peter was talking about Zelig, the figure in the Woody Allen movie as well as the Jewish folklore. A zelig supposedly adopts any number of personality traits culled from stronger figures in his neighborhood so as to gain acceptance. This is true of highly insecure figures who might also take a gift-wrapped projection handed to him by people looking to colorize a convenient object with their own fears and fantasies.

Peter was talking to the group and Bobo sat there among them with Donald and David and Sabina and all the rest.

They called him Bobo because his real name was such a conglomerate of vowels and consonants it looked like a doctor's eyechart and nobody knew how to pronounce it.

Bobo was the new boy in town and immediately he was alternatively painted as a tough punk, an angel, a wife-beating misogynist, an heroic kind Samaritan and any number of things via the gossip mill right away within 12 hours of arriving and setting up shop as an electronics salesman. Generally speaking, this sort of thing lasts for a while and then goes away in favor of the rumor-mill glomming onto the next fresh meat that arrives, and fresh meat is always arriving. And San Francisco has a nasty Rumor Mill like no other city has ever seen.

But something was different about Bobo. Although big in electronics he never owned a television, never went to the gossip-mill centers, and generally was a social naïf who accepted all that happened to him as either bad luck or the product of generally good people being by nature generally kind. So in Bobo's case this process of projection continued for some 42 years as the members of the rumor-mill aged out and young folks took their places, inheriting the legend of a man that was supposedly chameleon-like while Bobo continued dealing in electronics, moving into personal computers and smartphones when those things became popular and going to the same deli each week for the same pound of pastrami and pound of Swiss.

It was the colorless nature of his nature that let people project any sort of idea upon the scrim of his soul.

Bobo managed to insert himself into a karass of friendly souls who had known each other since the sixties. Into this community of oddballs and geniuses he entered as a member and so learned to love each of them and they himself and nobody projected an image of devil or angel upon him, but accepted him as he was as he stood there in his socks and shoes without pretense. This membership went a long way to keeping him sane.

One day someone on the street came up and hit him in the chest to his astonishment, and so Bobo grabbed the guy before he could run away to ask the man just what the devil was going on. Largely due to these sorts of erratic events, Bobo had taken to self-defense classes, and at 6 feet 1 inch and 210 pounds, he could be a force with which to reckon and the Street had given him lots and lots of practice.

"I do this in support of the Women!" shouted the man.

"Woman?" Bobo asked, thinking it must be somebody particular he must have offended in some way. "What woman?"

"All Women!" said the man. "You terrible violent misogynist you!"

"Who the hell said this about me?"

"I heard it through the Grapevine," said the man earnestly. "Let go of my lapels! I am a defender of Womenhood!"

"Get the fuck out of here you idiot!" Bobo shouted, and because he really was not violent, he let the man go.

Another time he was in an office after making some sales deals and, seeing a woman having difficulty shelving the heavy copyroom paper he stepped in to help her load the entire pallet often did things like that.

When they were finished, the woman said, "Shi shi ni! Shi shi ni! You good man! You not so bad! Not true what they say!"

Apparently the Rumor Mill had transcended some its racial barriers and he was now a topic within the Asian community, which is a dubious recognition of the hopeful dissolving of our racial separations that so plague this country.

Another time he sat at the rail in the Starry Plough waiting for the band to start, when a guy started berating him, calling him a sissy and clod and vastly incompetent and generally making an ass of himself while proving he was inexperienced in the art of true insult. True insults that are really good dig in with reversed barbs that cause pain for quite a long time after being delivered. These were mere brickbats. Bobo had encountered both in his time and so he knew the difference between a deft swordsman and an amateur. Bobo responded to the lunatic at first with some humor, parrying the more interesting ones (simpering eunuch, lost in space peripatetic dimwit) and laughing at the usual unimaginative ones (gutless coward, scumbag).

Finally Bobo interrupted one tirade to ask just what the hell was up with this guy, and the guy promptly invited him out to the street to settle matters.

Bobo refused to take that gambit, saying all could be resolved by calmly stating what was the matter. Then take to the street if so necessary.

This confused the man, who said, "Someone said you like to fight."

"If I liked to fight we would be fighting by now as you have been acting like an asshole for the past 15 minutes. Isn't that right?"

Another man sitting at the bar, listening to everything, concurred. "That is correct."

"Now who the heck has said this about me?"

"Well. I am going to have to talk to this person." Said the insulting man. And with that he left the bar.

It was a former girlfriend who commented that although some people called him a zelig figure, he never really changed. He had been declared a non-person. This phenomenon is not without precedent. You take someone, remove their humanity, and they become your convenient devil to defeat easily enough; it has been done before. How much better to batter a relatively defenseless person, like the new boy in town or someone a little different than to come to grips with the real Devil, as the real Devil is monstrous, strong, possessed of savage weapons and a notorious reputation for not fighting fair.

Bobo continued to go to the same gym every other day, the same deli every week, and the same job every day. He took music lessons and learned to play the banjo. He maintained a small circle of friends, but due to the rumor mill never really got close to anyone, save perhaps his friend of 40 years Peter, who was one of the few college professors he admired still living. Most of his childhood friends who had survived coming out of Vietnam had passed away. He continued working in the bad parts of town where the posters and the garish windows suggest there are women who want nothing more than you and it is all about fulfilling your deepest, darkest desires.

So years pass. The problems associated with the passage of years, are manifold. Although our enemies grow older, so do our friends. Although enemies die off, so do our dearest friends. Although strength wanes, Evil remains an undefeatable giant. The Bay Area and San Francisco changed too over the decades. Peter moved with his wife to Fairfax in Marin. David moved to San Rafael.

Bobo moved to Woodacre down the road to be among the skunks and the deer and to get away from the gossip-mill. The City had changed, but some things never change.

A girl came up to Bobo in an office and pointing a finger, exclaimed "You are the reason everything is ruined in the Bay Area!"

Bobo sighed. "No I am not!"

One after another friends of decades-long association succumbed to cancer, to suicide, to other causes. In this time, his friend Peter went though some difficult times. Besides enduring the deaths of close friends known for half a century, Peter contracted a serious illness -- cancer. And this cancer was of a type with little hope for survival. Long months of surgeries and radiation and chemo did serve to beat the thing back, but at terrible cost to the man's physique. Then, engaging in property improvement projects that involved a lot of digging with machinery and laying of stone, he got dinged by the City for building without permits -- a newbie in the neighborhood had informed on him to the Planning Department.

One must understand that surviving Cancer is understood as a pass good for one more go around. And one would think joy would ensue, but the truth is the process is practically medieval in its savagery in cutting out pieces of functioning anatomy, leaving behind something that will struggle somewhat from day to day. Nobody gives you a golden medal or a trophy for beating the odds. There is no big party with confetti descending from the sky. You just get handed a chart with some numbers. Yes there is life, but life under reduced circumstances. Just ask the ghost of Skip James to tell you all about it.

Then came the announcement of Donald's stroke and subsequent coma. Peter had known Donald since 1973 and they had become dear friends, dearer as the years passed, with Donald hosting affairs at his house in Sebastopol and Peter holding gatherings for friends with his wife Sabina at his house in San Francisco.

Donald hung on by way of artificial respirators and the usual life-support systems as the once wonderful electronic system that had been his brain sparkled and fizzled with dozens of minor strokes until two weeks later, his daughter made the wrenching decision to not leave the once virile, powerfully built man in this condition. Before the plug got pulled, Peter came up to visit Queen of the Valley Hospital. He bent down to speak into the ear of his old friend, but no one knew if Donald could hear him and his daughter sat too far away with her hands clasped.

After Donald was cremated and most of his ashes distributed, his daughter scheduled a Memorial in San Francisco in an old building converted from a 1930's shipping office along the water to a restaurant and special events venue. It was an appropriate location to honor an old time San Franciscan.

Peter and Bobo talked about getting to the Memorial, which supposedly featured difficult parking, a couple weeks before the event. Bobo had only known Donald since 1982, about 38 years, but had grown fond of the man through their sporadic encounters at special events. Peter knew Bobo now worked in the East Bay and the Memorial was to be held midweek on a Wednesday evening. Bobo said he could leave work early and get over the Bay Bridge in time.

Peter said if Bobo was leaving early, he should come over the Richmond San Rafael Bridge and he would pick him up halfway and they would go together with Sabina to save on parking.
Bobo agreed to that.

The two weeks passed and with the problems from the City inspectors, the costs for construction ramping into the thousands, the everyday evidence that the Bay Area was changing adding to his natural tendency toward the anger one would expect from the son of a Baptist minister, Peter forgot the conversation had occurred and Sabina began talking about riding with David who had grown up as a child clambering about the knees of their friend Donald. Peter thought it would be a good idea to hook up with David, who tended to be extremely busy these past few years having grown up to be a man with significant responsibilities. Sabina never knew the conversation with Bobo had taken place and so the idea of riding with David became an idee fixe. During this long car ride, they would go over memories extending the length of David's lifetime and so heal themselves from this grief of loss. That was the best way for things to go.

As the days passed, Peter's anger grew more intense. Foppish clods driving around Marin in their rented European cars, pushing their ugly values and bad decisions on everyone. More traffic and more people of an undesirable type everywhere. His health problems now included an hernia about which he had to be careful. And the grief for the loss of his friend, the latest in hard losses yet again, yet again!

The stages of grief also include anger, as we well know.

The afternoon of the Memorial Peter and Sabina were tossing things into the car in a hectic rush. A number of texts and dropped phonecalls emitted from Bobo, which Peter professed not to understand.

Finally, Bobo showed up in Fairfax in frustration at his phone equipment having failed and Peter shouted, "You are supposed to be at work!"

"I got off early," Bobo said. "So I drove direct." Indeed he had made unusually good time getting over the bridge, so he had bypassed Larkspur.

It seemed something was off to Bobo, so he asked what should he do. He felt prepared to head into the City on his own if that was what was wanted, but Peter was too angry to say anything intelligible. Sabina then said, "Well since you are here, climb on in."

And with that they drove to the City and Donald's emotional Memorial where his daughter read a speech and cried and members of his weekly poker game spoke about remembering him, and one of his ex-wives said "It is really great to see all of you our dear friends even though the cause for it is really sucky." His brother stepped up and everyone commented how much his voice sounded like Donald's. People who had known him a year raised their hands. People who had known him five years raised their hands. Ten years. Twenty years. Thirty years and Bobo's hand was still raised. Then it went on to forty and fifty and sixty years. Donald had been 83 at the time of his stroke and before that still as strong as a bull from doing construction all his life.

Then it came time to leave and it was learned that David did not need a ride back to Marin as he had his own car in a lot in SF. No one had ever communicated with him about the plans to have a nostalgic drive back from the City, so instead of taking the ferry as he usually did, he had driven in and just like any perfectly capable adult had parked his car and walked to the venue.

Peter, now was furiously embedded in his grief anger and anger towards all things, and he directed this anger at Bobo. Bobo forgot his jacket at the venue and Peter drove the car jerkily to a stop at the door and drove furiously, starting and stopping abruptly through the City streets that had changed so much during his lifetime that he had to follow David part of the way even though he had been born there at St. Mary's.

At one point Peter indicated the bike rental racks placed by Limewire and Bobo commented that Limewire was shifting from bikes to scooters, with the back of his mind registering that this was old news. He failed to see the warning signs.

"Yes those scooters. The kinds of people who rent them. One of them buzzed right by me and hit me just like this!" And Peter tried to smash his fist against Bobo's side, but because one hand was on the steering wheel his fist raked across Bobo's chest. "God damned outsider!"

"Vot de furk!" exclaimed Bobo, who decided getting home from this event was better than making an issue of minor discomfort.

Not much happened further along the way and the violence in the dark was not witnessed by Sabina in the back seat.

The nasty ring of that phrase "God damned outsider" remained with Bobo as he entered his livingroom and turned on the TV to find that yet another public place had been attacked in a mass shooting event, one of those things becoming ever more frequent these days. The shooter had been found with scads of anti-immigration literature in his van and loads of material from the campaign offices of the current inhabitant of the Oval Office. Then there was all the talk about immigration and the case of the fellow who had picked up a trash bag on a San Francisco wharf to have the loaded gun inside fire off and kill someone standing there, producing an incensed reaction among the Far Right. And the synogogue on Alameda Island with all its windows smashed in a new Krystalnacht.

Bobo's girlfriend came out from the bedroom with bed-towseled hair and asked how the Memorial had gone. The County was doing some controlled burn in the area and the air stung.

"When will this stuff ever end?" Bobo said, referring to the news report.

And the awful answer hung like fetid cigarette smoke in the acrid air.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.




Another Week Passed


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