NOVEMBER 14, 2010


It's been a quiet week on the Island, our hometown set here on the edge of the San Francisco Bay. The weather has been cool, overcast and appropriate for autumn in most places. Nights, the sonorous tone of the foghorns has rolled across the Bay as the old pogonip has wafted through the Golden Gate, same as usual. Rain took a break here even as our storms headed out to dump loads of snow on the Midwest. Only the seagulls were laughing.

Its come to that special time of year when the bracing wind comes sweeping down out of the North, stirring the spirits and bringing blood to the cheeks. Yep, this is the time when leaves swirl about the ankles of Jane and Brad as they scamper through the woods in matching camo fatigues, their cheeks ruddy with the snapping, crisp Fall air, and exertion, and that powerful Desire that fills young girls and young boys at this time of year around here.


The little filly longs to wrap her fingers around the firm, smooth, hard stock and blow Fifi to smithereens with her brand new 32-20 Mossberg loaded with hollow-points. The boy wants to plunge his fire-tempered blade deep into the juicy vitals of a tender, moist well coifed Wirehair breed. Ah, the pleasures of the autumn hunt! The delights of poodle blasting! Put aside all thoughts of wimpy Palin snagging those frilly moose from the comfortable safety of a plush helicopter. Boots on the ground and dog meat is what we are after each Poodleshoot, with its savage, atavistic descent into the bloodlust fury of killing in honor of those original American brigands and thieves, the Puritan Poodleshooters.

The Official Rules are now up for all wannabe poodleshooters for the Annual Island Poodleshoot and BBQ.

Down at the Old Same Place Bar Papoon and Babar shared a drink together, as per a private ritual between the two of them after every major election season. While Papoon's party, the Not Insane Coalition had kept significant share of power in the Golden State, Babar's party, the Ponderously Conservative Party had won back a number of seats nationwide, although locally he had not done so well. This did not help Babar's mood very much, for the governorship had been a great prize in this State of some 38 million souls. It appears that the new radical libertarian group calling itself the Carpetbagger Party split much of the vote with the Twee Party, a party that also calls itself the Fey Party. Seems the group has gathered around a personality named Tina Fey, onetime Governator of Alaska who quit to make money giving speeches and go on television. Tina Fey has attracted a large following by way of shooting large animals like moose and caribou from helicopters while doing her nails and saying things which make no real sense but sound cool and sort of patriotic like "You betcha!" and "Those darned folks are at it again, you know" with a dweezled Canadian accent. She claimed to be able to shoot Russians and spy on their naked orgies from her front porch. She's made the ditsy female seem cool because she carries an AK-47 around with her and looks good in a bathing suit, which appeals to the NASCAR vote. Whatever that is.

To make matters worse, Eugene Shrubb had popped up again like a bad penny, touting a new book titled, "Smirk: Heh, heh, heh. Gotcha!". He stood up on a porcelain throne and started haranguing people with the phrase, "Miss me yet?" over and over until people pelted him with rotten fruit and he went away, saying over his shoulder, "You better not misunderestimate me."

Ever since Shrubb's administration made being ignorant and dumb as rocks okay for Americans, things have gone well for stupid people who finally got a chance to work on their self-esteem issues, so maybe his eight years were not a total fiasco.

Heigh-ho. The issue was late this time around because the Editor had to actually work for a living on the weekend, a situation the Old Man detests, for he does not believe work really exists. Not for him and not for anyone related to him.

Mr. Howitzer held a soiree out at his mansion on Grand Street for all of his developer friends. A number of representatives from SunCal were invited as well as the people seeking to turn Ballena Bay into a series of twenty-story high-rise condos. A number of Realtors showed up as did a few developers looking at the Boatworks area. These people could be recognized by the fact they arrived wearing bibs, as they constantly salivate, a condition known as Developer's Drip.

Mr. Howitzer, looking to show that the Island was a place of Fine Living by the Bay, had purchased an whole hog from Encinal Market with the idea of having a grand Hawaiian style luau with tiki torches (rented from the tiki-tacki theme bar on Lincoln), hula girls and loads of leis draped everywhere.

When the hog arrived in a great big trailer pulled behind a pickup truck bearing the logo for Parmesan Farms, Mr. Howitzer, prepared to haul some serious meat with the help of a couple guys picked off the corner at Fruitvale and his manservant, Dodd, was astounded to see the delivery man pop open the back and lead out a perfectly large and perfectly healthy well-formed hog on a rope.

"Okay," said the man. "Where you want him?"

The day workers looked at each other and then at the hog and then at Mr. Howitzer and then started laughing.

"Um, I ordered a hog," said Mr. Howitzer.

"Well if this aint a real hog, my name is Julius Caesar," said the guy from the farm. "Hey, they don't like them dogs."

Eisenhower, Mr. Howitzer's weimariner was kicking up a ruckus from his chain. The pig looked at Eisenhower and appeared to be sizing up the odds in combat, finding most of them in his favor. Mr. Howitzer told him nevermind the dog, just take back the pig.

"I can't take this pig; I need to feed a dinner party tonight."

The man evaluated the hog and evaluated the crew assembled there. "Weeeeel, this one's got a fair amount of pork on him. String him up and get him cleaned out and you kin feed damn near an army I reckon. A course, if your party is tonight, I suggest cutting him up a bit rather than spittin' him whole over coals. Cookin' a feller this large is like to take a while. Though you might wanna singe of them bristles first. You got a lift like they use to haul up an engine block?"

In vain Mr. Howitzer tried to convince the driver to take the increasingly restive hog back. Some mistake had been made.

The farmer responded, "Can't do that right now. You'll have to take and keep him a while as I need the trailer for some other deliveries. Seems you is the only one wantin' to pig out hereabouts. Everybody else wants chickens, a couple goats, 'least one cow. Can't put them all back in there with the hog, 'cause he's liable to get excited when the drugs wear off."

"Drugs? You gave the hog drugs?"

"Standard operatin' procedure. Them hawgs git so excited they're liable to have a heart attack during transport and law says you can't butcher and eat no animal that's died somehow mysterious. So this here pig is high as a kite right now. And he needs to stay put until I can get back with a load of porcine Quaaludes. So to speak. Otherwise I take him back and one dead pig is one hella serious amount of cash, fella. This guy is yours for the duration. Ciao."

One of the dayworkers seemed to know how to handle animals, while his friends, lifelong city dwellers, stood back and commented in rapid-fire Spanish as the hog got led to the back. There he sort of flopped down into the coi pond with a grunt as if knowing this was the place for him. Dodd ran around the edge tossing back a few stray, floundering fish, each worth more than one thousand dollars on the market for such things.

Mr. Howitzer waved at the pig and Dodd. "Dodd, get a lift with hook and chains and deal with this, would you? Thanks." And with that, Mr. Howitzer took Eisenhower out for a walk.

Dodd sat heavily in a chair as he and the hog regarded one another. "Mi hermano, estamos en el mismo barco juntos," said Dodd, who spoke several languages somewhat fluently. The day workers all started to laugh again.

Dodd, considering his options, sent the workers out to the markets to fetch all the Ahi they could buy as well as loads of fruit and vegetables. One of the workers returned from the Port with an entire Dorado, a fish that easily weighs some eighty pounds. He refused to understand questions regarding where he had obtained such a thing in such short notice, shrugging and lifting his arms. "No comprehende!" Soon the immense barbie was set up to smoke the tuna instead of pork while the former main course noshed on piles of apples, peaches and celery in the pond. Everyone called the hog "Hermano," which means "brother".

Mr. Howitzer returned with his dog and was eventually pacified by warnings about potential trichinosis, choking on unsinged bristles, and the certain problem of what to do with about 100 pounds of pig offal subsequent to butchering and cleaning. And the blood. And the stench. And guests to arrive in 90 minutes with you expecting to roast a couple hundred pounds of meat in what time? Besides, a living hog laying there contentedly will render the luau an air of rustic authenticity. As if the entire thing had been just so planned.

Mr. Howitzer, in a rare fit of reasonableness, agreed with Dodd. "Dodd, you are the very reason I keep you on."

The dayworkers got paid, the guests arrived, the party galloped forward as such affairs tend to do, while Dodd made sure to overpour every mai tai, every highball, every pina colada, until the realtors, their wives, all the developers, and all the hangers on were schlockered to the nines, while the alert pig watched it all go down until the party moved mostly indoors to watch slides of ambitious projects that built and built again on every square available inch of the Point, a place which induces Developers Drip in many, for if there be an inch with nothing upon it, the Developer's mantra is "Build, build, build!" Skyscrapers, sports complexes, office parks, row houses upon row houses built upon row houses and arcing bridges and sky trams leaping over the estuary to the vastly "improved" Oaktown Port, become a zone of condos and patisseries and elegant bath and bedroom fixture outlets filled with chrome and marble.

It was shortly before nine when the raccoons arrived. With all of this food laying about, for the pig and the . . . guests who had been stuffing themselves all evening, the yard was prime feeding territory for scads of raccoons who rappelled down the lianas in a small army to feast on pineapples, mangos, coconuts, sweet corn, tunafish, bread, apples, pears and just about anything a small bear could cram into his mouth after delicately washing the food in the coi pond next to Hermano, who only grunted while they chattered among themselves in their wash-bear language. A few squirrels came down to join them. A solitary opossum showed up and sat there gnawing a corn cob, looking like a fat white balloon with a nose and paws.

Dodd, coming out to smoke a cigarette for a break from serving the crowd inside, observed the destruction taking place in the yard. "Hi guys," he said. "Get it while its good."

There had to have been over twenty animals scampering over the piles of food there. Mr. Howitzer, coming out in search of Dodd saw what was happening and gasped. He ran back inside. All the developers emerged in a state of rage. How dare they, those plebeians! Mr. Cribbage shook his blackthorn stick and shouted "Remember Toad Hall!" before leading the phalanx against the animals there. Then ensued a pitched battle of developers against raccoons, the squirrels and opossum retreating immediately before the onslaught. Cribbage and Howitzer laid on with their sticks, as did others, but Mrs. Blather fell and was severely mauled by teeth, losing her pearl necklace while the barbie went over with a great crash in a shower of cinders and sparks, setting the hardenbergia trellis on fire.

Amid this descent into atavistic savagery, Dodd retired to the lounge and made himself there an Old Fashioned with Makers Mark. The pig, finding the disturbance annoying, had left the pond to waddle in and so occupy the couch.

While he sat there, his cell phone rang. The hog observed his conversation.

"Yes dear, I am still at work. . . Yes, well Mr. Howitzer is like that sometimes . . . Be home soon." Then he hung up and paused meditatively while the roar of the pitched battle outside floated through the hallways.

"You know Hermano," he said. "Some people just need to relax a bit and let go."

Hermano grunted in response.

And that's when the long wail the throughpassing train ululated across the chuckling waves of the estuary and the weedy, barren, spectral Buena Vista flats and the decrepit brick cannery as the locomotive wended its way past the dark and shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its casual journey to parts unknown.