FEBRUARY 08, 2009

It's been a hungry week on the Island, our Hometown, set here on the edge of the San Francisco Bay. The days have yielded to unearthly blue skies and record-breaking warm temps while the nights have trended to cool and frosty. The news from the Sierra is not specifically too good, with reports of snowpack around three feet or so where about thirty should be expected, indicating that we are in for an extended period of drought in the Golden State as there is no way that a series of storms can blow in to rescue the situation this late in the season now.

No strangers to hard luck and hard times, the folks at Marlene and Andre's place are finding ever more creative ways of keeping body and soul together. Every day, the folks fan out to the Food Bank, the Episcopal Church food lottery on Grand, and the bread deposit at Mastic Center where day-old crusts can sometimes be found. Because of the drought, the bean plants clambering up the trellis of rusting ironmongery out back possess a dubious future. A sole tomato plant has survived the winter in a seriously yellowed condition and Occasional Quentin has been tending to it with solicitous concern. He has even named it "Fred."

Suan remains the household's main wage earner, but even the tips at the Crazy Horse, where she works as a pole dancer, have dropped during these difficult times. The house automobile, a oncetime yellow Geo named the Piss Bucket, sits forlornly in the weeds, a victim of some kind of digestive problem, as Mancini thinks, but nobody has enough money to get it fixed.

Andre sits strumming his guitar on the porch near the charred hole where the sofa used to be. The sofa and porch lost the essence of themselves during the unfortunate conclusion to Jose's birthday last year when a carelessly discarded roach nearly burned the house down.

"Well I'll pass the bar on the way
To my dingy hotel room-
I spent all my money
Been drinkin' since a half past noon. . ."

Mr. Howitzer, the landlord, never noticed, largely because the sofa did not belong to him, and during his infrequent visits to the property, preferred to ignore any possible blemishes for the sake of deferring potential maintenance - and maintenance costs -- indefinitely. Marsha and Tipitina simply laid a rug over the hole and had Quentin support the camoflage with a board by crouching underneath the porch among the spiders and the irritated racoons.

"I'll wake there in the mornin'
Or maybe in the county jail-
Times are hard getting harder
I'm born to lose and destined to fail"

Bonkers came tearing out of the house just then with Wickiwup and Johnny Cash in hot pursuit, followed by an angry Marlene. Bonkers had managed to score a steak off of the table and this prize was something which Bonkers uncharitably did not wish to share. The steak had been itself a nice "find" from one of the banquets Andre and his band "No Future in Real Estate" had recently performed. All of the members of the band had invested in long trenchcoats with deep pockets for gigs just like that one, and after doing a banquet, the entire household often ate quite well.

"God damn it!" said Marlene.

"Looks like spaghetti again tonight." commented Andre.

"Eff you!" shouted Marlene. And she stomped back into the house.

"Take away, take away
Take away this ball and chain
I'm lonely and I'm tired
And I can't take any more pain
Take away, take away
Never to return again
Take away, take awaaaaaaaaay-ay ay!
Take away this ball and chain"

Somewhere out on the Strand the dogs were having a gay old time of it with their booty. From far out across the bay came the drift of a lost foghorn.

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