MAY 31, 2009

Its been a quiet week on the Island, our hometown set here on the edge of the San Francisco Bay. Offshore storms have been shunting Arctic tradewinds down along the coast, keeping the days cool and overcast with high fog, resulting in weather Mark Twain notably detested. Still, the purple glads are erupting along the Old Fence, the tomatos appear well on the way, and the pole beans are climbing higher, hinting of glories to come.

As the Recession drags on, the newly unemployed guys on the block have been gathering for chatter and beer around the patio tables at Old John's place. Franco is back from the visit to his parent's village in Italy, but he is one of the few still collecting a paycheck, driving a grader for the dump at Davis Street. Franco bears the unique distinction around here of being arrested for talking in Italo-American.

That's right, Franco was arrested for talking just like any paisano.

It was a day in which Officer O'Madhauen was answering a domestic dispute call with his buddy Sgt. Fussbottom, when the sergeant spoke to Franco out there in the courtyard. Naturally, Franco replied pretty much as natural for a Central European with sweeping arm guestures.

The officer told Franco to put his arms down and Franco responded with additional guestures, "I can't -- I am Italian."

The Officer once again ordered Franco to put his arms down, then inexplicably asked if the man had any tattoos, perhaps suspecting the 40-year old of being a member of the Crips or the Bloods or the infamous NorCal Poodle gang. This only led to Franco's protesting his innocence with ever more animated motions.

So the officer arrested him for waving his arms, took him down to the Station off Park Street in his shorts and flip flops until Joe had to come and bail him out.

That was bad enough. You should have seen the arraignment, with the Commissioner just shaking his head until he put his face in his hands.

Tommy and Toby put out their sloop, The Lavendar Surprise, the other day when the sun busted through over the Bay, even as the dense fog hung like the high walls of Mordor beyond the Golden Gate all day. Susan and Lynnette came along for the ride along with Marlene and Andre, whom they had met during the infamous wedding debacle of last Thanksgiving.

As long-time readers will know, a pitched battle between the hunters and a brace of purebreds invaded the nave of the Chapel of the Sanctified Elvis on Central Avenue, as well as the Unitarian Church next door, causing no end of mischief, explosions, fire, and at least one destroyed wedding dress. Those of you who missed it will just have to hunt down for the Annual Island Poodleshoot and BBQ to read all about it.

That had been the last opportunity for Susan and Lynette to get properly hitched before a gang of cynical bigots put the kibosh on their domestic plans with the outrageously ignorant Proposition 8. The courts then decided that the State has the right to meddle with the People's private lives according to the dictates issued by a handful of shrieking pulpits. Which was all quite disheartening.

Marlene, who also had been at the Chapel of the Sanctified Elvis with Andre, had to commisserate, for it had been her dress that had been utterly ruined, the Chapel fee wasted, the wedding called off, and now it was back to cooking bread soup for the gang at the house on Otis, where twelve people resided in defence against the usurious rents.

"I could have been Middle Class," said Marlene bitterly.

So there they were, out on the Bay, trying to forget their troubles with the brisk wind spanking the spinnaker and the bowsprit slicing merrily through the spray spit of Bay fume. Coming about! Booms ahoy!

And all that nautical stuff.

Meanwhile Mr. Cribbage was out in his own eighty footer, The Indomitable, with his usual associates of Mr. Howitzer, the Blathers (of the Sacremento Cotton-Blathers), and the Pescatore family. Although a Captain of Industry, Mr. Cribbage had done what most captains of industry do with regard to their corporation ships: he had hired a crew to pilot the boat, for in matters of sail and steam, Mr. Cribbage knew and cared for little. He just liked the idea of being a Captain of Industry and owning the biggest boat in the Marina.

Mr. Blather was talking about how he had saved the much beloved municipal MILF Golfcourse from closure due to the dire economic straits of the City. This had been accomplished by having certain officials shunt budget resources from funds originally assigned to health programs for children to the more useful purpose of geriatric exercise for health. In the form of golf.

Golf is a naturally Conservative sport: one dresses well, has a manservant carry the instruments, walks or drives as one wishes, and there is no sweating. Its all adroitness and proof of superior, inate ability upon a landscape which has been bulldozed, graded, flattened, manicured and trimmed to remove most of what occurs in Nature with just enough of Nature left so as to remind everyone just who was Boss around here.

In any case, some of those officials were down below decks liberally partaking of spirits from the no host bar. In this matter, the word "liberal" was all right. Meanwhile, Jose, alone of all the crew who spoke fluent English, was high up in the crowsnest admiring the view while pretending to fix the yardarm snabbit on the pusillanious pulley rachet, or something like that. He knew nothing of sailing or boats, just like Jorge in the wheelhouse and the rest of the crew, for Mr. Cribbage was wont to save on dollars by hiring his crew from the men standing at the gas station on Fruitvale waiting for driveby employers.

Jorge, alone among all of them had once worked on a small fishing boat off the Yucatan, but the rest of them hailed from Sinaloa, were very hard workers and who imagined like Mr. Cribbage that sailing couldn't be all that difficult to pickup along the way. Swab the decks -- just more of the usual on a floor that moved.

So the group was having a jolly jolly there until Mr. Pescatore got it into his mind, after two or three -- perhaps four -- apple martinis, to include the sport of bird hunting on this excursion. So he pulled the 12 gauge riot gun from the locker where it was kept to dispel potential pirates and took aim at an albatross perched on the rigging. With the first blast, every man from Sinaloa dropped to the decks, including Jorge, for although sailing might be alien, gunshots in the Fruitvale district were not. When Pescatore let loose again, Jorge made up his mind he would not come up for anything except to lock the door of the wheelhouse, which was largely encased by thick glass.

Everyone in the Fruitvale knows, gunshots mean stay away from the windows for dear life.

With the third blast, a bloody mess of feathers plopped down onto the deck, sending a fine spray everywhere, including onto the glass of the wheelhouse.

Ahhhh! Dios y madre, prayed Jorge with his companion Pedro. Esta narcotrafficantes!

Meanwhile the boat continued on its course, performing a wide arc that would terminate in short order against the broad side of the Kobyashi Maru, she of the Hanjin line and some two football fields in length as she steamed ponderously with a full load of containers from the Port of Oaktown.

The gang of passengers all raced over to the wheelhouse door where Mr. Cribbage shouted for Jorge to open up. Jorge looked up to see the blood spray from the murdered albatross on the glass and put his head down to continue praying. Surely they would cut off his head and boil his body in acid! All of the Anglo imprecations from the other side of the door fell on ears that failed to understand anything. It was Pedro who suggested that it was not pirates or drug dealers but the gringos had all gone crazy from too much gin. Another reason not to open the door.

From high above, Jose saw the puffs of smoke and the stampede. He also saw the immense Kobyashi Maru approaching fast, and so he slid down with smoking gloves along a guywire to stamp on the roof of the wheelhouse.

¡Jorge, gire el barco! ¡Gire el barco! ¡Vamos a estrellarnos! shouted Jose. "Turn the boat! We are going to crash!"

In answer, Pedro reached up from the floor and gave a mighty yank on the tiller, causing the ship to heel sharply to the left, missing the frantically hooting Kobyashi Maru, but heading straight for Angel Island, fifty yards from which the boat ran sharply aground in the mud with a tremendous shudder that sent Mrs. Pescatore and Mr. Blather right over the railing into the water. Jose flew right off of the roof to land on the lifeboat's tarp covering, where he lay groaning.

Several of the crew jumped into the water, not to save the two passengers, but to swim for the relative safety of land.

Jorge got up to shut off the frantically churning engines while Pedro opened the door.

"Idiot!" shouted Mr. Cribbage. This, both Pedro and Jorge understood quite well. Pedro looked at the blood on the glass, then closed the door again.

All of this was observed by the crew on the Lavendar Surprise and Tommy put the little boat about to see if there was anything they could do to help the clearly distressed Indomitable from which screams of anguish came floating across the water.

"Well", said Lynette. "We may never get married, but it could be worse."

Meanwhile, from its subterranean hideout, the captain of the Iranian spy sub, AIS Chador, reeled in the periscope shaking his head. "Oy gevalt!" said the Captain, who then ordered the sub to put out the Golden Gate before the Coast Guard arrived and Allah knows what else kind of trouble. So it was the Chador ran silently, ran deep back out to sea.

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