January 23, 2011


Its been a bright and sunny week on the Island, cool for those of you hailing from SoCal, but rather toasty to those of us from places where you ought not to press your tongue against the City Hall flagpole.

Actually, the idea of doing that in any kind of weather sounds yucky.

Midweek we had a major dry dockwalloper in the form of powerful winds that swept all the loose stuff from the trees and knocked the backyard furniture against the Old Fence. The Old Man bent and swayed back there, but that Old Sequoia has been there for well over 150 years and has seen a lot worse. This windstorm followed a day and a night of dense tule fog so thick you could carve slices out of it and lay it on your toast with your tunafish. Such things generally signify that things are about to change for the duration and all of Nature starts holding its breath for that green explosion soon to come.

The rough weather follows a 4.1 afternoon shaker that reminded all of us that we are put on this earth only for the duration and so its best not to get too attached to things.

The bright sunshine does mean that folks East of here should see a respite of sorts from the snow and such, save for what comes down from Canada. There's something brewing out west of Hawaii, but that will take a while to get here, if ever it does.

Down at the Old Same Place Bar the Editor parked himself on a stool for a long "set" as they say, looking pretty glum. The Great Recession is still ravaging the land with no end in sight and now the folks losing their jobs are the ones who sat there in what they imagined were pretty secure situations. Island-Lifer Agnes, she of Mountaintams.org, just got laid off by a boss with more imagination than sense. Agnes had been the IT specialist, HR Department, Chief Accountant, Office Manager, Supplies Clerk and coffee maker for a guy who has a problem figuring out his golf score. He fired her to save money, but when fools that stupid try to run things on their own, things get ugly fast. Just look at what happened to GM.

This was not the reason the Editor was in a foul mood. His reason was far more personal -- he also had just lost his job.

No, not his editorship of a non-profit rag-tag collection of losers. No, he had lost his real day job by which he had earned his modest income and paid the rent therefrom.

This brings to a total of six out of seven managerial staff who are out of work now. Not counting proofreaders, copyboys, the entire foreign news section and Denby, the feature writer/editor. As for Chad, he was living on Disability.

It had come time for the State of the Onion Speech by the President, right in the middle of his term and in the middle of very trying times. It also had come time for the Editor's Annual Pep Speech, and for the first time in quite a long time, the Editor deeply sympathized with the Chief Executive. O Lord, give us strength for mine enemies are at hand.

In a little while, the Editor had need to face ranks of people working diligently without hope of recognition, without pay, and without any great encouragement except what he may offer, even while their own lives became ever more destitute by way of this lunatic economy.

And now, because of this situation, he would not be able to afford a trip up to Bemiji, MN to ice fish with potential friends and trade jokes and yarns and thoroughly enjoy all that the Great White North in winter had to offer. Bracing gales of minus forty below and breaded walleye. Frostbitten toes and sour neighbors with all the delights thereto. Never, never, never, never, never . . .How many nevers did that old king babble on the heath anyway? Nevermore.

Nevermind. It was all done. His life was utterly ruined. He was a total failure. Not enough saved upon which even to retire in comfort. How could he face anyone at the high school reunion for Poly High? Impossible. He had another shot with a glass of Fat Tire ale.

"You still have your Island-Life agency," reminded Suzie, trying to help.

The Editor tossed back his shot and ordered another right away. What good was this profit-less enterprise to which no one paid heed, no one attended? Worthless. All of his life, worthless. He would never hob nob with the famously talented, nor embrace fabulously beautiful Scandanavian women and really cute bluegrass singers, nor be embraced by the adoring millions. He would never get to wear red tennis shoes to work. Not ever. The agency consisted of a gaggle of ADA dependents, wheezing on oxygen tanks, clanking their wheelchairs and getting querilous with one another at the Office Colostomy Bag Replacement Center. Who else would work for such an outfit as he ran?

O god. We are all miserable wretches.

In a fog he stumbled out the door and paused there taking in gulps of cold air, well, coolish air, for California. The temperature was about 46 degrees. Above zero.

The long and level straight of Lincoln Street extended for miles in either direction under the quietly buzzing streetlamps. Out there, in what some call The Real World, people were losing jobs and their houses and homes right now. There was a grim reality to this situation to which the smirking idiot who used to run things never copped. No, you do not make your own reality; reality makes you and the moment you step on a landmine or meet an IED or lose your home you abruptly learn the difference. People were genuinely suffering out there, and he, as The Editor, still had a job to do. Make them laugh, make them cry, do what you can to ease their tortured moment in the World. That is your job above any other. As old Jacob Marley once shouted at his incredulous former business partner, "Business?! Mankind was my business!"

And it seemed or felt as if the echos of that ghost reverberated down the long streetlight way of the old railway line which once ran its tracks along the path now followed by Lincoln Street. Mankind is our business.

Right then the long howl of the the throughpassing train ululated across the patiently suffering waves of the estuary and the stoic Buena Vista flats as the locomotive wended its way past the dark and shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its journey to parts unknown.

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