MAY 10, 2009

Its been a quiet week on the Island, our hometown set here on the edge of the San Francisco Bay. Weather has eased from boiling skies to the moderate temps people believe exist here all year long and the evening fog which does exist, pretty much, all year long. The annual KFOG KABOOM went off with its immense fireworks display over the Bay, with Los Lonely Boys heading up a four band lineup on the wharves. But with the cost of transportation, higher subsidiary costs for the necessaries required for spending a day in the City and the ramped up $20 admission price, ticket sales remained sluggish. True, twenty bucks is not much -- in these times -- for what you get -- compared to other events, but the truth is the Recession is hitting hard, people are suffering, and the landlords in many places are still putting the screws to people. So most folks just stood on their rooftops to watch the display.

Yes $20 is not much to some people, especially those still with a job, but if you don't have $20 to spend, it might as well be $2000. Sorry, but if I don't get paid, you don't get paid either. That's just the way it works.

Stores everywhere tried to beat the Recession heat with special deals on Mother's Day everywhere, a phenomenon that so irked the founder of the holiday, that she attempted to revoke it entirely, however she failed and roses went half-off on Sunday.

Here on the Island, the gals took their respective moms out to brunch at places like Momma's Royal Cafe and El Pescadore at the Waterfront. Jose took his mom to Juanita's on Park where Mrs. Cortiz proceeded to get quite tipsy on the margaritas there.

"Your father was such a philanderer I hardly know where you came from," she said at one point.

"Okay mom,"Jose said. He was used to it. As well as her idiosyncratic understanding of biology.

"He is still such a West Ender," she continued. "Those people."

"Okay Mom."

Mrs. Cortiz grew up in the more affluent East End of the Island, while Mr. Cortiz had been Navy, and so grew up on the West End where the Projects were. There is still an odd disdain between the two halves of an Island that is so small that the spray of a sneeze on one side will fly completely over to land on the beach on the other side. Much could be determined about you if you were West End or East End. Such are people. Such is the Island.

Perhaps the Island is the only place in the world like that. Or maybe not.

"My boy, have you been getting enough to eat?"

"O mom . . .".

She wanted to know why he had not found a girl yet. Or maybe he had and was maybe ashamed to bring her home for her mother to look at her.

"Su abuelta must approve," she said. "That is simply the way it is. I don't want you running off to some tacky place like Los Vegas. Our people don't do that kind of thing."

How to explain that there was a Recession going on, he slept on the floor with twelve other people at Marlene and Andre's because of the gouging landlord, pushing a broom and gathering signatures for petitions does not pay much and as the old saying goes, "No money, no Honey".

Sometimes it was hard as the devil to know just what was going through the old woman's head. As in right now, her looking at him. What could she be possibly thinking, what kind of failure or critique was she reviewing right there in Juanita's. She might have an outburst at any moment, deeply embarrassing everyone.

"My boy," said Mrs. Cortiz. "I am so proud of you."

Right then the long wail of the train passing through Jack London Square ululated across the estuary and was heard by all, each in their place, throughout the Island.

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