FEBRUARY 21, 2010

It's been a cloudy, overcast week on the Island, our hometown set here on the edge of the San Francisco Bay. Over in Babylon, they seem to have all gone under cover with the weather threatening as it is, and little of note has happened there by rumor and report. The artists are all fleeing in caravans and wagons from the high price of rent and Yoshi's West has been offering tickets at $0 to next to nothing just to fill the hall with warm bodies.

Sad to say "I told you so," but you really should not have evicted those 5,000 musicians from SOMA during your pang of pure greed a few years ago. Last we heard, that warehouse is still vacant.

A one bedroom is really worth about $800 in this area and that is the truth, for if you can't get by on that something is seriously wrong with you. All else is overcharge and usury.

The issue this week is shorter than usual due to the consequences of an unfortunate accident in the Offices. During the nightly dinner production at Marlene and Andre's, Marlene had to to los necessitas and so put Javier in charge of the stove for the time being. Javier, seeing the splatter of the red sauce and the rising of the noodle water coming to boil clapped lids on both pots without thinking to turn down the heat. He cranked down those lids quite nice and tight.

Unfortunately for all concerned, the pots employed were defective steam pressure kettles with faulty seals. Heck, in hard times, one gets what one can to get the job done. Marlene had never intended for the lids to be actually used. As Marlene returned from the toilet, both kettles blew their seals with tremendous BOOM!, sending Wickiwup and Bonkers to the safety of the far corners of the place while jetting a scalding flood of sauce and water onto Javier and Martini who -- naturally enough -- howled in pain.

Martini was hustled into the cold shower while Javier was pitched headfirst into the Bay down on the Strand where the sand and salt water did a lot for his severe third degree burns.

Even Festus, the messenger hamster who had been bench pressing piles of nutshells all winter in preparation for his spring foray up to Lake Woebegon did not escape unscathed for a plop of bubbling water landed square on the rodent's back, causing the most extreme agony and loss of fur. Festus was dropped unceremoniously into the sink under a cascade of cold water. "Haaaaay!"

A lot of chaos, more than usually random chaos, ensued that night and the next as the victims were bound up, salved and gauzed into immobility. Mobility is a bad thing for anybody who has gotten burned, as those who have experienced will attest. You do not want to move. Needs being dire, when supplies were required, Jose and Andre simply looked for open windows and opportunities to crawl in and scavange medicine cabinets of unwitting donors. Heck, this is America pre-healthcare reform. People who want medicine pay for it. People who need medicine, steal it. Its all the morality the Republican Party wants.

As for mobility, Festus, weighing about a pound at the most, was easy to handle. The others, being full-sized human beings, were more difficult to address.

Hydrogel, cloth tape, Sulfadiazide, gauze pads, illicit painkillers, and saline solution cluttered the place like Tolkein's Houses of the Healing. Except it was Marlene and Andre's household, where things always manage to tilt just enough left of center to keep balance. If Tolkein had live long enough, his hobbits would have sported mohawks, tattoos and piercings and Iggy Pop would have carried the Ring.

You cannot imagine Iggy as an Elf and certainly not as a Dwarve. Iggy Pop as hobbit. Because we love Iggy.

In any case, with a couple of staffers out of commission, this week's issue needed to rest a bit. There is a wonderful documentary featuring Kenneth Branagh speaking lines quoted from Joseph Goebbels that is more scary than any flying skull monster movie with globs and aliens ever made, but we will have to get into that a bit later.

A long delayed dockwalloper finally set in to drench the place and prepare for crossing the Sierra to make the Easterners a bit more miserable. This one will not be as severe as "Snowmageddon" but you all may recall that little Philly, PA rodent did observe his shadow when hauled out of his burrow a while ago.

Festus had sent a message to Phil, saying "Stay in your goddamn hole, ya moron!" but the message was not heeded.

Down at the Old Same Place Bar the regulars huddled there along the rail or at the tables, each according to their wont. Everyone was sitting there, with the smells of the heavy rain coming through the sometimes opened door and drips on the stones and a bit of chill, but also a sense of something about to happen. In the darkness of the window-well, Dawn's potted freesia had developed buds all arrayed along a mini-lightpost of purest green, the yellow lamps barely peaking out of there. Yes, something great was about to happen and they all sat there patiently, waiting for what was surely to come. Not disaster nor earthquake nor political winds, but something far more reassuring and far more natural.

Just then, each sitting over his or her hot toddy or beer, nodding with sleepiness after the long weekend, the long wail of the throughpassing train came ululating across the commotion of the estuary water changing tides from the port of Oaktown as its wound its way past the dripping and dank shuttered storefronts of the Jack London Waterfront as the engine headed off to parts unknown.