SEPTEMBER 1, 2019
THAT SPECIAL PLACE
So anyway. The Flat Earth Society held its annual meeting in the Silvan Acres meeting hall owned by the Native Sons of the Golden West Parlor 666. The building is a farmhouse type of structure built in the late 1800's up on the south ridge near the labyrinth and the goat farm. The labyrinth is not much to look at -- it is some thirty feet in diameter and consists of mounds of earth some eight inches high that guide the wanderer to a center where people have placed trinkets and glittery tchotchkes in a pile. People put stuff in the center -- mementos, plastic flowers, marbles, ashtrays from Vegas, I like Ike buttons, etc.
The goat farm features goats of various breeds and sizes and is rumored to house some kind of religious cult up there on the ridge. The goats stare at people with those wierd yellow eyes; they could be plotting anything. You never know.
The boys in the Household had maintained their relationship with the Native Sons and so had secured occasional employment setting up meetings and cleaning up afterwards, while making sure the Official Tortoise remained happy and well fed in his terrarium.
The Flat Earth Society maintains that Galileo was wrong and the earth is flat and that Round Earth doctrine is little more than an elaborate hoax. Each year members meet in California to talk about their problems and the difficulty of putting forth their curriculum in the public schools. There was a flash of hope during the period Creationism was taken somewhat seriously, but since that mythology has been tossed in the intellectual trashbin, forward progress has been difficult.
There has been a resurgence of hope among the faithful since the Carrot-topped One occupied the Oval Office in that truth and reality seem to have been set aside during the current Administration, and there are a great many among the Flat Earth Society who have become ardent supporters of the President and they call themselves the Rumper Trumpers with pride. The entire group ordered several cases of the famous red hats, however when the shipment arrived the excited chapter chief opened the first box to put on one of the hats with pride without looking at it first.
He stopped abruptly when he noticed the way people were staring at him with open mouths and shocked faces.
"What is wrong with all of you," he said.
The chief secretary pointed his finger and said, "There has been a misprint. It says MAGGOT, not MAGA."
It was true. The entire shipment had been misprinted and could not be returned, as it turned out, due to the order having been prepaid on a special deal with no returns allowed.
"What do we do now," asked the secretary.
"Give em as gifts to your relatives," said the chief. Especially your liberal friends - if you have any. And so the problem was solved. Sort of.
Any number of organizations that had previously to Carrot-top been derided and pooh-poohed are now re-establishing presence in recognition that lunacy is no negative in the current age. The KKK are holding BBQ cookouts. The Sons of the Confederacy are holding rallies. The Nazi party has seen a resurgence in New Jersey with voter canvasses. On any given day of the week some nutcase extremist appears spouting inflammatory, racist nonsense in Sproul Plaza.
And just this week another gunman. Yet another gunman. Appeared in Odessa Texas to slaughter innocent people just trying to get through the day in what has become a monthly occurance.
Pahrump and Martini sat on the edge of concrete loading dock at the end of the hot day, letting the cool breeze dry their sweat. They were up on one of the ridges that formed the San Geronimo Valley, which extended in forested folds down below them.
"We've come a long way since joining the Household of Marlene and Andre," Martini said.
"How so?" Pahrump asked.
"When the Household began the Island was a little place with small town concerns. You could do all your shopping on a bicycle and parents hung pinatas from oak trees in the front yard on birthdays for the kids to swat at blindfolded. Nobody from other parts of the Bay Area wanted to live there because of the Navy Base and because it was not cool like North Beach. Then the Navy left and the Land Greed began and people like Fahrad drove up the rents and subdivided the old houses into condos and ritzy apartments, packing more and more people into the place until it became an Island City of 100,000 people with all the crime and problems cities have. The Angry Elf mafia was the last straw to turn the place into something that was just like every other soul-less place with too many people with too much money.
"You are right about all that," Pahrump said.
"Now here we are in a place with too many people with too much money, but there still are people who argue about the charter schools and who defiantly resist development with no bones about being called "anti-growth." Heck, here anti-growth is a badge of honor. And it is sparsely settled; there could not be more than 3,000 people in the entire San Geronimo Valley, including Silvan Acres, Lagunitas, San Geronimo, and that neighborhood below Spirit Rock. They have Crab Feeds at the WIC and fundraisers at the Community Center and little clubs and library events where everyone knows each other and their families.
The Mayor of Silvan Acres holds council meetings in his livingroom, but since the place is not incorporated, there is little that is actionable in their largely symbolic decisions. His term is decided by unofficial elections where everyone scribbles a name on a slip of paper and stuffs it into a cardboard box left unattended at the Post Office. One time people forgot the end of term and so the Mayor served an additional unofficial year as Mayor until they held an election again.
There are a scad of bicycle riders that throng the place on weekends, but those people look and dress like aliens from outer space who have beneficent rights of passage. Other than momentary annoyance on the road, they are harmless."
"This is probably how politics should be, but is not in most of America due to monetary influence," Pahrump said. "The First Peoples always get the short end of the stick, so I suppose it does not matter. No one on the 'Rez has ever dreamed about having a house with a white picket fence, I assure you. Olumpali was unusual in keeping his hacienda and lands and I have always wondered about that and about Chief Marin who gave his name to this curious county of Alta California."
"Marin is certainly an odd place," Denby said. He had just come out after cleaning the bathrooms to hear the end of this conversation. "What I see is a community of families trying to raise children as best they can in a confusing world, a large number of wealthy imports who seem to change houses at a whim, a large number of wealthy families who stick to their estates which are one of many houses, there are a fair number of people who seem to be able to afford usorious rents and want to live in a place with few advantages, and then there are people like us struggling to keep body and soul together who do not have the resources to pickup and go somewhere else. This place is all we know and we grudgingly calll it home."
"Marin," said Martini (who had been born and raised in San Francisco), "What are we to do about this problem? This mysterious local."
"Marin shall remain what it is. It is up to us as gypsies, the immigrants, the unwanted, to make ourselves a home after being uprooted. You never will be able to ask leniency from a Nazi. That is not going to happen. It is just interesting that we have moved from a place that falsely claimed to be smalltown USA to a place that has the reputation of large town but is in reality small town mentality in a myriad ways."
The guys returned to the Household to get up on the porch with a jug.
Evening approached, bringing relief from the heat, and the eternal yellow school busses that resumed their rounds a week ago discharge their urchins with backpacks into the neighborhoods, while the bearded crossing guard glares at the cars to make them stop. They better stop, or else.
Members of the Household sat on the rickety porch and pass around the bottle of jug wine while Marsha and Tipitina reminisce about catching fireflies in Jersey and New Orleans. "We used to catch them and put them in mason jars with some grass to eat but after a day they would not glow any more," Tipitina said.
"We did the same thing," Marsha said.
"Ever think about going back," Pahrump said.
"New Orleans is all destroyed," Tipitina said. "I been here now for so long and everybody I knew is scattered from Angeline to Texas."
"Go back to Red Bank where I got beat up and tossed around like a rag doll? No way." Tipitina said. "How about you?"
"Back to the 'Rez? I don't think so. That was never our homeland anyway."
And they were all silent for a long while until the shooting stars began to appear beneath Perseus.
And with that the sun set behind the ridgelines of the San Geronimo Valley to allow Orion to climb up amid the smear of the Milky Way, something still visible in the San Geronimo Valley.
The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.