April 04, 2008


It's been a quiet week on the Island, our hometown set here on the edge of the San Francisco Bay.

That brief spell of sultry weather is just a memory as some kind of cold front moved in to chill things enough to plant broccoli early. Probably be a bad idea.

This is the first week of post-tax nausea, and we do hope all of you are recovering nicely. As for most of us, that $600 "rebate" will go ploomp! right into the tax fund to take care of 2008's extractions.

Nice stimulus that was. All gone and gas at $4.08 around here.

Lionel has been doing brisk business over at the Pampered Pup on Park Street, for in hard times, a hot dog is a meal that can't be beat. In fact, he is doing so well that the ninety-nine cent dog and chili special down the street at the Wienerschnitzel Hut barely crimps his style.

Joanne came in the other day with Wally, trying to get him to bite on a business proposal for a fashion outlet in the old burned out Safeway building. Wally, whose idea of fashion is a clean T-shirt and decent workboots to wear down to the shooting range on Davis Street, never had been concerned about fashion at all until he glommed onto Joanne stalking about the burned out building at Southshore.

It might not have been fashion, but something about Joanne's six-inch stiletto boots rising up to a lanky frame and a pretty face framed in neat curls caused the sap, or something, to rise in old Wally.

Truth was, Joanne was quite a sexy number to have gotten Wally all googly-eyed, for Wally had sworn off women ever since his ex-wife had poured bondo into the fuel tank of his prized Evenrude motor. And into the bilge pump of his boat.

Wally never could figure how such a little woman could have hoisted about fourty-five pounds of the stuff over the gunwale.

"Musta really pissed her off," had been Eugene's only comment. "Shoulda stayed off that gal from Chico."

Yes, Wally did have a wandering eye, which age had served only to hone to a finer appetite even though the heart medicine he took made everything pretty much theoretical these days anyway.

They found themselves on Park Street as Joanne wanted to scope out the shopping district. The Island shopping district is a strip about three blocks long and half a block wide, "anchored at one end by the Slut Hut Javarama across the street from the fire department, and by the Vietnamese Emerald Garden at the other near the drawbridge, where starving jazz musicians would attack Coltrane with some seriousness and dedication without pay on Saturday nights.

As for the Pampered Pup, she found the big doggie head over the entrance to be just positively sooooo retro.

It also had the advantage of being on the corner so that she could evaluate the clothing coming and going.

Wally's suggestion, an intimation that he had money to invest began to evaporate into a thin mist of an idea, much like Joanne's interest in Wally, which had extended only so far as the perceived desire to make money. She shrugged., while the hit by James McMurtry "We Can't Make it Here" played over the cheap Radioshack speakers Lionel had hung in the corners. At least she saw what she had come to see.

That drawbridge meant that no way would throngs of the hoi polloi come over from Babylon across the water loaded with the zingy anticipation of Something Really New and catwalk dreams, no way would such ever step elegantly out of stretch limos, flicking ermines and diamonds as they strolled through a dream of a neon-lit downtown enhanced by the refurbished Paramount Theatre. Not on this Island, now or ever. So it goes. Just push disappointment aside and drive on to the next thing.

Wally, stumbling over an invitation to check out the Old Same Place Bar broke into her thoughts and she turned the kindest eyes ever laid on the man, who surely never before deserved this much consideration.

"Wally," she said, resting a lovely hand be-ringed with sparkling clear stones on his knee. "Wisdom lies in the abnegation of desire. C'est triste, n'est pas? Goodbye." And she left.

"Nice bumper on that one," Lionel commented as he took up the baskets.

"Lionel," Wally said, and sighed. "I am fifty-five years old and today I just learned that wisdom lies in the abnegation of desire."

Thats the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.