JULY 26, 2015





That recent spate of indecisive weather here was due to the remnants of hurricane Dolores, which did dump a bit of rain on parched SoCal up as high as San Luis Obispo. The Dweeber, Howard, said a drying trend is coming through with weather turning hot. We have seen forecasts of up to 105 for Oakland coming midweek, but believe the moderate 80-85 is more realistic. Still could go into the triples in the Valley on the other side of Altamont Pass, though. Anyone planning on visiting the Eastern Sierra better plan on 105 degrees in Bishop.

The upcoming debates should be lively . . .

The major election is yet more than a year away, but already the political fighting and mud slinging has begun with a ferocity not seen since Senator Preston Brooks beat Senator Charles Sumner with a cane. Or the infamous floor brawl started by Pennsylvania Republican Galusha Grow and South Carolina Democrat Laurence Keitt in 1858, which wound up involving 30 Senators in a melee of punching and wig tearing.

Here on the Island we have our local race between Babar (Conservative Party), Papoon (Not Insane Party, the reorganized Somewhat Liberal If It Don't Offend Party), and Joe Bob Bingle (Pee Tardy) and the newly added Grumpy Party spearheaded by I. Rascible Jones.

Things have livened up in recent months as the conventional two party system now has four and in the two major parties that have traditionally battled with one another for total thought control we have upstart contenders. Within the Conservative Party a well-heeled magnate in the imported women's lingerie industry named Donald Bump has tossed his hat in the ring, quite loudly as it seems, with a great number of incendiary remarks, and to add to that mix, we have Beanie Sandman popping out of the woodwork to challenge Papoon from the far Left, which everyone had demonized in a Guy Falks sort of way, but no one very seriously considered an actual, living, breathing sort of entity.

The upcoming debates should be lively, especially as no candidate's camp can seem to agree with any other camp on a date, a place or a time agreeable to all.

Politics can be dull, drab and largely the province of some people getting people to do things they otherwise would not do, and stopping other people from doing stuff they would prefer to continue. People who get elected have brickbats and offal thrown at them and are supposed to smile and enjoy that while preserving the knowledge they could splat the brickbat and offal throwers like a bug against a windshield immediately had they a mind, but they'll settle for ruining their lives at a distance and that is supposed to be satisfaction enough.

In any case the next few months are likely to provide a great deal of entertainment, even as they fail to resolve the major issues of the world.

The weather has been gorgeous the past few days after a spate of overcast skies and threatening thunderstorms that ultimately held off.

The dragon-boat rowers have been practicing in the estuary, along with the racing crews and the solitary paddleboard folks who set out on bare feet and a surfboard and oars to explore the reaches of the shoreline, standing upright on their narrow planks. While standing at the Fruitvale bridge one can watch them come out from the marina area and pass under towards the Port gangways and cranes and the far flat extensions of the former Base airfield that kiss the broadening of the Bay itself.

So anyway, the Summer heat rolled in to spike the temperatures all over the place just ahead of the remnants of the Mexican hurricane Dolores, which clouded up the skies a bit and led to some threats of thunderstorms around here. The weatherman first said all clear for the weekend, then revised that to 20% chance of thunder the following day, which worsened -- or bettered for those longing for rain -- to 30% mid-day while still everything held off, everything held up there in expectation as if the Heavens held its breath.

Which made with the heat for quite a lot of bad-tempered people. It really put a lot of people off, this sense of expectation lasting for so long, people who have no truck with equivocation of any kind. People used to getting things done, preferably by other people who can be controlled efficiently. If you have a like to rain then rain, dammit. Enough of this nonsense. Say your piece and get out. Crazy weather!

The Depuglias got into a fenderbender . . .

The Depuglias got into a fenderbender on Central Avenue with Mr. Cribbage. Tom Depuglia had no idea how it happened, but he was in the truck yelling at his fool brother for something stupid he did -- can't remember what it was about now -- and then when he turned his head there was this Mercedes SUV coming out of nowhere in a place it had no right to be and he swung the wheel one way while the fool in the SUV swung the other and there was this crunch and a moment of silence. Then the sound of a piece of something falling off of the SUV to the ground.

Thank god for solid American Ford construction of a truck.

Anyway Tom got out and it was Mr. Cribbage who stated flatly "You ran into me!"

"I beg to differ, dude!" Tom's brother, Tim, said, balling up his fists.

"Ignorant brute," said Mr. Cribbage, somewhat unwisely. "We wealthy gave you your jobs so that you could have the cash to buy things like your truck."

"We both is sole proprietor partnership," said Tom. We got no jobs and no bosses."

If the cops had not come around the corner things might have turned out different and the Depuglias would have sent Mr. Cribbage home with a black eye or something worse to remember.

The Postman has been making his daily rounds on time, but because of recent Security issues, some deliveries have been delayed. The Pope has been making some radical statements lately, and so Father Danyluk has been pacing about the Inbox for the Rectory, looking for missives from Rome that present yet another set of posers for his next sermon. The Church had moved from an Ultraconservative position to a more active, liberal one on many issues, which made the current times quite exciting and his debates with his friend and associate, the Lutheran Pastor Nyquist have been stirring his blood like it had not been stirred in years.

And once again, Drat!, the newsletter from the Holy See was late again.

Out on the high seas, working the fishing lanes, Pedro has the radio tuned to his favorite program, the Lutheran televangelist Pastor Rotschue Variety Hour. But the radio season had ended in some mysterious fashion unknown to Pedro, an humble fisherman, who knew nothing of syndication rights and seasonal contracts and the business of entertainment that roped in quite a bit more than most people consider "that's entertainment". So the frustrated Pedro was left with these canned reruns for the duration until the magic moment of the New Season began again.

He supposed the good pastor had reasons to take a vacation now and then after 40 years or so of working the airwaves, so it was in terms of a vacation that Pedro considered this silence. And there were those adorable girls, innocent, sweet, with sweet, sweet voices (returned from the can in rerun) that helped pass the time. One week it was Nellie. This week it was Sarah. And so the old boat's engines thrummed as Pedro worked the nets and Ferryboat provided the company with barks and yips as the silver catch thrashed upon the deck. Deftly Ferryboat caught a small albacore in his mouth and carried it to the hold to drop it down below. I'm helping!

The Iranian spy submarine El Chadoor drifted . . .

Beneath the surface of the Estuary, the Iranian spy submarine El Chadoor drifted with engines stilled, the Captain gazing with equanimity at the Port with its glaring spotlights and motionless container cranes waiting for the daylight to awaken from machine dreams. Until the First Mate spoke to him.

"Captain, any word on just why we were not commanded to join the Fleet on maneuvers in the Atlantic?"

The Captain paused and thought carefully before answering. All of them now shared the same worries, the same anxieties that Teheran had forgotten them. Nearly two decades ago the El Chadoor had been sent to keep tabs on the activities at one of the largest container ports in the world, but time had passed. Periodic reports had been dutifully filed. Supplies continued at the set times and rendezvous locations, but there had been a singular lack of feedback. Crew rotations began to occur at longer and longer intervals. The rotation had grown now from six months steadily over time to two years. There was rumor the rotation would extend to five. The Captain himself had now been in command of this vessel for 18 years, with only brief vacations. He feared deep inside that his mission had fallen through the cracks of administrative bureaucracy and that the original admirals who had commissioned this project had retired, leaving behind few notes for their successors and this mission now passed administratively from inbox to inbox back at Central Command with no one having the slightest idea how to bring it to a close for the original intent had never been defined.

It had always been "Keep tabs on the Infidels. Take careful notes about everything." No one now knew what meant success. No one knew because of that, what meant failure. And nobody wanted to be left holding the bag if failure was determined as a result.

The Captain spoke and in doing so, turned the truth a little bit for he was a wise commander and had led for many years now. "It was said our mission is so important that we must participate here in these waters we know so well in support of the Revolutionary Government. I obtain daily reports in confirmation of this."

This last part was a bit of a fabrication, but they did say to remain on post and continue the mission. With their aging El Chadoor submarine running technology now that was well over twenty years old. This last part no one in Teheran mentioned, but it did concern the Captain a great deal, for every year, as each year passed, new vessels were built, new means to detect them invented. New technologies came into play. Could it be that now the vessel was so old it passed underneath the detection systems designed to locate far more sophisticated equipment?

"Of course it is true we have hope the recent treaty means peace shall result and not what seemed to be disastrous war. It remains to wait for what the American Congress shall do, but even so, there is hope two natural allies may unite against common enemies above the acrimony of petty national differences."

Somewhere in a far distant Scottish loch, an animal that was either a big catfish or an antediluvian relic from some prehistoric time surfaced and startled yet another photographing tourist before diving down into the stygian concealment of that ancient place.

The Captain gave the command to dive and the El Chadoor glided out of the estuary into the Bay and then out through the Golden Gate, running silent, running deep, hoping Peace would outwit all the national leaders.

In the Island-Life offices the Editor moved from desk to desk turning out desklamps, computer screens, deskfans, before returning to his glassed cubicle. Since all the rest of the office had gone dark, the effect was of being in a small room draped with sable curtains. The past few weeks the Editor had suffered dreams of being back in Vietnam, sloshing through rice paddies and swishing through green foliage paths erupting with green butterflies, feeling this sense of all the time something really bad was about to happen.

He stepped out onto the deck and looked at the unruly sky and sniffed the air. Earthquake weather they used to call it. He then stepped back inside.

At times he longed in vain for sweet sleep to dissolve the casket of cares and memories and the sense of dread. He wished to be like himself as he was in some halycon time before he consumed the forbidden fruit of knowledge. Knowledge that we all really are just meat. He wished he were like other people. But he was not and so he reached for the bottle and took a pill and headed for the bare mattress he could call his own. Running silent, running deep, he passed then under the Golden Gate to the ocean beyond.

As night descended through a miasma of heat and incoming fog, sweepers passed down Park Street to clean up the weekend party mess and a guy in black pants and black jacket and stained white shirt came out from Los Cubaneros to clean up his portion of the sidewalk. At the 51A busstop right in front of the newspaper kiosk that somebody built way back before WWII to pass on the news, a man wearing a peacoat asks strangers for a welcome 25 cents for busfare or coffee or a package of Kents.

Officer O'Madhauen cruises down looking for speeders, redlight runners, lane dodgers -- the usual riffraff -- and turns down Central to locate his usual spot by the old Cannery, there to wait behind the stoplight no one considers with a styrofoam cup of coffee and his radar atuned.

Out on Snoffish Road the teenagers from Encinal are racing the teens from posh East End High in their magnificent hopped up lowriders, but nobody in authority pays attention this hot summer night and nobody flames out and so they all go get ice cream at Dreyers on Park or hamburgers from that all night joint in Oaktown where Grand and Lakeshore meet.

The night creeps softly on soft paws to circle around the Island-Life offices, arching its back and purring quietly before laying its heavy dark head upon its paws and falling asleep. This night there are no sirens rending the air above the town and no screams of pain. It was a quiet night on the island and nobody go shot and nobody got stabbed. The Editor quietly closed the doors upon the burgeoning moon that swelled above the Veteran's Hall.

Then came the ululation of the throughpassing train from far across the water as it trundled from the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their moonlit towers, letting its cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the former Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, its weedy railbed, and its chainlink fence interstices until the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.