MARCH 23, 2014



So anyway, Spring has indeed arrived. And around here let it be known, 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, duck sorties, and Canadian geese streak overhead 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 that 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.

Observe Johnnie, happy and carefree as a lark, striding with ruddy cheeks and full confidence. 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.

When the fog rolls back and feminine panzer divisions cruise the Uptown district in search of some likely target holding his pinsel in his hand at the galleries, when the leggy Joanne strides forth into the night on six-inch stilleto heels and Danielle puts on that short black dress and a European accent spoken with a sultry je ne sais quoi wafting pheromones among the randy artisans, that is when Don Giovanni and Lola Lola stalk the Salons for luscious prey.

That is also when The Editor, avoiding the leggy Joanne, stocks up on Redbox flicks (Netflix now passe), and a fridge filled with Michelina's frozen dinners so as to avoid the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, especially those arrows sent by that obstreperous hoodlum, Cupid. For the artsbeat he sends his representative, the hapless Jose who safely has no more a clue about eros than Faber's Euphonia, and Javier, who knows a good deal more about eros than someone in his position ought to and nothing at all about Art save for ogling the odalesque.

Spring is also a time when Mother Nature grabs your attention and, be you the most rigid, retentive personality on earth, try you and vie you, you shall not be able, for at least one day, to hold attention as the mind skips the light fantastic to places that, for all we know, are far better, more productive, more useful than that blasted spreadsheet demanded by the CIO by noon.

Which demand shall not be met and shall not be disciplined for that same day the CIO is herself skipping through the sun-dappled buttercups in the bee-loud glade of her own mind

People who do not apprehend this truth are assholes and so can be disregarded.

Over at Mariner Square Village, Nick and Drake, the mini-mall's live-in mascots, appeared together along the border hedges, engaging in mild quackery, waddling after crumbs and general duckiness.

Eugene walked out into the backyard garden where the large tree hung down its seeded branches to meditate upon life and love lost. It had been a number of weeks since he had broken up with Sabine, the Buddhist nun, and he still felt a bit peckish. People saw him around town and the ladies at Jacquelines Salon commented that the fellow did not seem to have his usual springy step. Moping about the place for sure. Must be some kind of trouble said Jackie. Ja sure, said Maeve.

Pity the fellow who falls out of love just when everyone else is falling in. But then Eugene has always had a problem with timing.

Eugene gazed up at the waning moon beneath the tree with his head brushing the tips of the branches, searching for a romantic moment and soon found himself cursing and swatting, surrounded by a swirl of boxelder bugs.

In the early dawn Pedro's boat bumped and sloshed through the chop, feeling the differences in the air. Soon the crab and the other shellfish would be done and then comes the time of mackerel and tuna. All things have a season, even the featureless sea.

The Xians were all going through their annual rite of stoic preparation for that gay release called Mardi Gras, but the Wiccans were meeting in the park and having delightful parties to commemorate the harmonic convergence.

On a clear night this week everyone stepped out of Marlene and Andre's Household to sniff the air, along with Bonkers and Wickiwup. Although a sort of chill pervaded the days, cooled the nights, the golden poppies had erupted in all the flower boxes and the blank tree bones budded with green salutations. A great change was coming on and everyone could sense it.

Out on the green diamond of the baseball park below Washington Park the Island Whipporwills collected to shake of the winter's cobwebs, unkink old bones and practice with renewed hope that they would improve on last year's regrettable season against the Oaktown Bears. This rivalry had been going on for as long as one can remember. Longer even than the bitter rivalry between the West End Jets and the East Side Destroyers, an eternal rivalry over a game among games that knows no time.

Other games feature clocks, stopwatches, flags down on the field, and set limits, but in baseball, every game played evokes thousands upon thousands of games going back a hundred years or more. There are not nine or 18 players on the field, but millions, because behind every shortstop stands the ghosts of every shortstop who ever kicked dirt and spat a wad into the grass. And every game between East and West is a reverberation of every other game ever played back to when Willie Stargell rounded the bases in 1926 to leap over Vladimir Humbert at Third in great leap they still talk about with "the Fitz" on Second and Ernest Papa on First, loading the bases so that Clemons could smack that ball sailing into the blue over Dreiser's head, Willa Cather leaping vainly with her glove outstretched, clear over the cane brake -- which was much higher back then -- clear over the pond to win that famous game so long ago.

O that rivalry had been intense for many, many years, and had reached such intensity that an East Ender was forbidden to date, much less marry ( gawd no!) a West Ender. East Enders got good grades, did not steal, and always went to good colleges, while the West Enders were undoubtably ill-bred, possessed of dirt under their fingernails and were inclined, so it was said, to enjoy things like roller derby and pro wrestling. But out on the green sward that bordered the high cane brake patch which formed the Island equivalent of the Big Green Wall, the logical and physical boundary beyond which all hits were declared homeruns, the sun sparkled on the huffing fellows and their prospects. A promising fellow named Mateo had joined them and he had a rangy, casual look about him which gave the fellows some heart. Perhaps this time they would beat the Oaktown Bears for the first time.

So the Man from Minot posted himself in far left field, Pimenta Strife in center, Mateo far right with Lionel on First, David Phipps covering second base, and Arthur on Third. Wally pitched to Lynette and as it so happened Susan up at bat as each took turns.

It may surprise some people that Pimenta took any sort of interest in the game of baseball, but there are always some who enjoy gaming in general and of course there were many who said that Pimenta enjoyed any game that involved balls and would go hot after a maple tree so long as it had wood.

Wally lobbed a gentle one in to Susan, which turned out to be a mistake, for Susan, as a chief mechanic at Berkeley's woman-owned garage, The Tender Cam, was such a one to not take lightly. The crack of her bat echoed across the Crab Cove and the ball lobbed high into the sun to the right with such force and altitude, Susan had jogged half past second before the orb began to descend. Mateo stood right underneath it and it would have been a fair catch had not the tremendous AAAAHHHHH-OOOOGAHHHH! of Percy Worthington-Boughsplatt's immaculate two toned 1929 Mandelville-Brot coupe blasted the peace of the park and had not Percy lowered his top down to enable Madeline, longstanding member of Berkeley's Explicit Players, to air her assets in a sort of Spring Celebration of the vernals. With a nod towards the servicepersonnel serving their country she wore a fetching sailor's cap and a little patriotic red, white and blue choker.

As people cheered Susan's great hit, Madeline stood up in the car and Percy tooted his horn again. AAAAHHHHH-OOOOGAHHHH!

"Mommy!" said little Imbecilla Cupkake, "That lady has no clothes!"

It was pretty obvious Madeline was not wearing one of Marvin's merkins. No member of the Berkeley Explicit Players would be caught dead in such a thing, for that would be cheating. The Players can be found on the 'Ave during the summer, pounding drums and singing lustily and astonishing the freshmen students and locals with their vigorous sans culottes philosophy.

Mateo, redblooded ball-player that he was, had to pause and look. That is when the ball struck him upon the noggin with great force, sending him down into the outfield. Coming in fast from the left, David collided with Pimenta in something that seemed could have been avoided, especially as the Man from Minot somehow seemed to get entangled in this pileup that landed upon the fallen Mateo, and how that happened is anyone's guess. Occasional Quentin, watching from the sidelines, thought this was part of the game and so he rushed over and jumped on with great joy, turning the day's practice into something like a good rugger or a Samuel Beckett play.

"I've got 'em!" Pimenta shouted.

"That's not the ball!" shouted the Man from Minot.

"O for pete's sake," David said.

That night, the Editor removed his Michelina's Chicken Alfredo gingerly from the oven, but managed to sear the edge of his thumb on the second tray (it always takes two of those things to make a meal) despite all his care. He went out to the garden to break off a stalk of aloe plant to rub on his burn and noticed that a ball from the Los Semillas pre-school had come over the fence and lay there next to a fallen avocado from the tree that now was fruiting. A squirrel or a rat had gotten at the avocado but the ball he tossed back over the fence, where the kids could find it next day, and play their stickball game once again in the street, despite the parental admonitions to be careful of the cars.

Yes, Spring is the most dangerous Season. And in baseball, there is no Time.

From far across the water where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stand glowing with their sentry lights, the long howl of the throughpassing train ululated across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, keened through the cracked brick of the old abandoned Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed, moaned between the interstices of the chainlink fences as the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to parts unknown.

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

And wouldn't you know it but from far across the water where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stand glowing with their sentry lights, the long howl of the throughpassing train ululated across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, keened like the ban sé through the cracked brick of the old abandoned Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed, moaned between the interstices of the chainlink fences as the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to parts unknown.