JANUARY 21, 2018




So anyway. We do not have Garrison Keillor to kick around anymore and all branches of government are marshalled, supposedly, lockstep into common agreement. Nevertheless we have a government shutdown because of ... what? Republicans, who are in clear majority, blaming Democrats, who never could accomplish anything unless a Black man or woman initiated the enterprise.

"The time has come, the Walrus said, to speak of many things. Of ships and sealing wax and whether pigs have wings."

That is the way the master of the absurd, Lewis Carroll, introduced the idea of a beginning or the end in medias res. Here we stand with such a similar situation. How can we just turn little Adam, he of the Household of Marlene and Andre, who already has suffered so much, out onto the street? Anyone who would suggest such a thing would have to be quite cold hearted. And then there is the newborn baby to Ms. Morales and Mr. Sanchez. Observe the little tyke there in his cradlebed on the second floor of that apartment in a subdivided Victorian on Central Avenue. He is helpless. How could you abandon this innocent child, you cads you!

Yet, such callous sentiment seems to be the rule for our times. We used to care about the children, their nourishment and their education, but we guess this is just all relics of times gone by and the triumph of hard, cold, money-oriented Trumpism.

Well. We are shocked. Simply shocked.

Here is this Island child, born of course at Summit because due to mishandling of public funds, gross mismanagment of resources and foolishness beyond belief no children are allowed to be born in the Island hospital anymore, unless it is in the taxi going across the water. Look at him sitting there on the bench, injured, hair all tangled and body all covered with dust staring with shock at this not so brave new world, an image all of us have seen by now.

Some of you may recall how only a short time ago the neonatal unit and the geropsych units were closed because old people and babies don't make money for the hospital.

Well. We cannot allow this to settle.

It is rude. It is ungainly. It is terrifically bad for our reputation as an Island with human and humane concerns. So we would have to wonder how a hack writer would bring an end to 19 years of work. Well, an untalented hack, and savage golem drug-dealer straight out of Brooklyn's ugly tin pan alley would end the opus of Island Life as follows:

On a bleak and windy night striated with dry winds and the ill omens of ravens criss-crossing the skies above, the Cackler and the Gump went to the secret store of fireworks and flammables that was used to torch the "suggestion cars" in front of troublesome businesses. It was the business of the Angry Elf gang to pursuade individuals and businesses to contribute to the Common Kitty, a percentage of which wound up by devious means in the pockets of the Angry Elf gang.

While this contingent visited the incendiary storage, another group of thugs paid a visit to Denby at his lodgings at the top of the lunatic asylum of St Charles.

They brought with them knives, baseball bats, and a fruitcake left over from last year.

Denby opened the door to encounter this ugly crew and said, "Here you are at last. I have been expecting you."

Other members of the gang gathered outside the Old Same Place Bar where the Angry Elf had experienced much rebuttal to his violent and intolerant ways.

Those gang members began with an hail of stones against the windows of the bar, which were followed by bottles of gasoline stuffed with flaming rags.

This was the night, decreed by the Angry Elf, to be the Night of Flaming Shattered Glass.

Patrons in the bar scattered here and there as the stones blew open the windows in a storm of destruction. Then followed the molotov cocktails, devised with sardonic glee by the Angry Elf, who said "I' serve the bartender a cocktail he will not forget!"

In vain Padraic and Dawn and Suzie ran here and there with spritzers and extinguishers as the demonic hail flew into the bar, driving them out to watch helplessly as their life's work was consumed by the flames. The old oaken snug went up in a fury and the broad redwood bartop glowed as a cinder and bottles exploded with the fury of the evil fire. The stools toppled as their steel supports melted, and the propane tanks supplying the kitchen erupted into geysers of fire. The building that housed the Old Same Place, along with the apartments above it collapsed in showers of glowing embers raining perversely upwards into the jet black sky filled with boiling smoke.

Over at the place where the gang warehoused its materials, the gang stood around and laughed about how they were disconcerting certain individuals with their break-ins and rifling of personal documents. The thug named Squeaker tossed his partially expended cigarette carelessly out at the door opening, but the butt rebounded and returned inside to vanish in the pile of trash and cast off parts from wagons and machinery. No one paid any mind to this event as they talked about revenge and punishing certain people until a smell of burn and smoke began to swell in the area and the crew began to look for its source. By the time they found it, the fire had ignited the walls of the house itself and was rapidly consuming fuel towards the boxes of incendiaries.

Meanwhile the tiki torches for Mr. Howitzer's Hawaiian theme party had started to burn low after all the patrons had passed out from the double strength zombies served up by Dodd, who left the premises to care for his child sick with influenza even as the somnolent guests snored and the tiki torches guttered and sparked until one of them ignited the poolside palm.

After that, it was all drama at the Howitzer residence.

The entire neighborhood awoke to smoke and flames

The entire neighborhood awoke to smoke and flames. The Howitzer mansion was burning. Skyrockets and explosions erupted down by the Strand where the former warehouse for the Angry Elf gang exploded and the gang members scattered like rats rather than fight the furious fire even as it took hold on the entire row of houses along Otis, including the Household of Marlene and Andre. Meanwhile the Old Same Place Bar collapsed into glowing embers as the houses all around also took on fire in a savage eruption of demonic fury.

The Island was ablaze with the disaster that Californio's know only too well and all that was good and holy was being destroyed.

The Editor came out from his den to see the world aflame and all being destroyed. He grabbed what he could of the Island-Life records and went down to the Strand with the Island-Life Offices aflame and the old box elder sending up glowing embers into the sky with the Angry Elf gang whooping and hollaring, down to the Bayshore as the ancient Greeks did to the sea, for it is written, "After the defeat at Thermopylea the Greeks descended to the sea in ships."

The roof of the Native Sons of the Golden West Parlor 33 and 1/3 began to alight from the rain of hot embers from other places on the Island. All along the Strand the row houses exploded and the Disputed Bicycle Bridge groaned, bent, swayed and collapsed into the Estuary.

Fire in California is a terrifying force.

Fire in California is a terrifying force. When a Firestorm swells in all its monstrous fury, nothing can stop it and its destruction is both capricious and total as well as horrifying. Confronted by this force you realize by force beyond your control that there are things bigger than any of us, and those things just do not care about anything you treasure. There are few natural events in this country which can compare with its totality and its enormity. We have seen what happens and it is true and real and terrifying in its absolute and implacable ferocity.

The firestorm swept over the Household of Marlene and Andre

The firestorm swept over the Household of Marlene and Andre and the old stove beneath the house exploded with violence, killing Snuffles and the opossum family and the racoons and Piedro as he slept an exhausted sleep from working all day and causing falling timbers to trap Martini after his long day at the valve factory in Richmond and breaking the legs of Wickiwup the sheepdog who cried in agony. The scanty possessions of the Household were destroyed, including Suan's favorite chemise and Tipitina's sand dollar collection, assembled from the days when they really had serious sand dollars to be found along the Strand and many more personal photographs and things besides.

church row submitted to fire, the devil's only friend

For days the firey contagion swept the little town, charring Lincoln Park with its once elegant gazebo, Washington Park with its baseball diamond and clapper stork palms, each going up like Roman candles, the newly created Jean Sweeney Open Space Preserve and all its carefully preserved vegetation, sending the humble hedgehog families scurrying amid the black ashes. The facade of the old brick cannery sagged forward and collapsed into ruins over the burnt loading dock. The home of the ducks at Mariner Square Village became nothing but cinders and who knows what became of the ducks themselves. Wootie Kanootie's herd of moose scattered in terror and plunged into the estuary to escape as their stockade burned to the ground. Mastic Senior Center's big entrance sculpture toppled in firey sparks to the ground and all the churches along church row submitted to fire, the devil's only friend as the Angry Elf gang danced and laughed at this wholesale destruction, of which they took avail as they looted apartments and houses freely with no one to stop them..

The rectory of Our Lady of Incessant Complaint dropped its roof upon Father Danyluk, trapping him beneath the Sacristy as Pastor Nyquist attempted to save his friend with a garden hose even as the buildings of Immanuel Lutheran slumped in embers behind him.

In a second floor apartment, charged for rent far too dear, the baby belonging to Ms. Morales wailed as the smoke swelled denser and closer to their humble abode and Ms. Morales stood there determined to fight to the end as Mr. Sanchez valiantly swung his pulaski with the firemen outside, doomed, yet indomitable, their shadows huge against the huge fire that was destroying all they loved.

The bridge from Park Street dropped into the water, followed by the Fruitvale bridge tumbling in flaming gouts that spurted here and there. The monument to "All my Dumb friends" split apart in the heat. Houses all along the lagoon tumbled into the water. The Cribbages and the Blathers piled into helicopters and fast speed boats to escape the destruction, leaving everyone else to their respective fates.

this is not what really happened

All of this is what would have happened were a hack in charge and a pseudo-artiste like the Angry Elf in charge. The Angry Elf is a fake artist, pretending with glass what others committ with flesh and blood. The Angry Elf is an artist only of pain and discordance. So this is not what happened.

For what really happened, you will have to come back next week and read all about it.

For what really happened, you will have to come back next week and read all about it.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and died between the smoldering embers of the once stately Edwardian house-rows as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds through the smoky murk to an unknown destination.