December 1, 2007


The weather has finally settled its mind, all the leaves have fallen and frost has formed every morning on the rooftops and the cars all down St. Charles Street. Ivy boldly looks forward in this time with great big signs at the Garden Center advertising Genuine Holland Bulbs! Sure to be a find crop of tulips when the seasons change, but that is a bit far ahead to look right now. We have reports from our contacts in Minnesota that the first snows have pelted the place, turning all as it should be into the Great White North once again.

Seagulls have taken to circling over Paul's Grocery and by that we are to understand that there are storms at sea soon to hit here and then to advance over the mountains to afflict the East Coast.

High winds kept knocking over the Official Island Life Holiday Bush, which is a sort of potted fir tree that has seen many vicissitudes to this moment of being draped with tinsel and Chanukah lights. Down Lincoln many homeowners have securely lashed their lights to railings and posts in anticipation of Serious Weather.

Over at the Squat on Shoreline, Marlene and Andre have started hanging up decorations around the place in a vainglorious attempt to make the flat somehow less squalid, albeit not less expensive, for now is the season of the Landlord's Gouge, and everywhere there is lamentation upon the land for the landlord and the Property Management Firm hold sway with exceeding wroth and utmost desire.

That is why twelve to fourteen people live somewhat officially in Marlene and Andre's two bedroom flat on Shoreline, not including ever present girlfriends, boyfriends, pets, and bands crashing on the livingroom floor. Its a typical household in the Bay Area in its arrangements and survival skills.

Marlene and Andre occupy the lions share of the Master bedroom with a full-sized bed and a table in a space shared by Washoe, a guy from Nevada who seems to be Indian, although he says little from his rolled tatami on the floor, Pedro, who sleeps in the closet on a cot, Occasional Quentin, who has slept in virtually every squat on the Island at one point or another and who holds four separated and distinct jobs, and Markus the dog who is indiscriminate with whomever he sleeps with on any particular night being a 40 pound Labrador mix. He is especially valuable during the winter and cold nights for no one has paid anything like a heating bill for several years. It has been quite a long time since anyone knew who belonged to Markus and to whom Markus must attach ownership. That person left long ago.

In the smaller bedroom, Piedro, Jesus, Tipitina, Marsha, Xavier and Rolf have arrangements with Suan, Alexis, and Crackers for sleeping there in shifts for not all can possibly fit in that room all together at once. This is much aided by Suan's employment as a stripper in a bar which income is supplemented by the occasionally porn film job and this situation results in several open berths on working nights with predictable regularity.

This leaves the livingroom and the lower echelon of the household. There, in company with whatever band might be passing through town, one finds Mancini, who sleeps under the coffee table with great regularity, Sarah, a statuesque R&B singer for the band called "In Memory of Sister Rosetta Tharp", who sleeps wherever she wants, and Pahrump, another Indian who sleeps anywhere someone is not and who keeps all of his worldly possessions in a coffee can. Bonkers, Wickiwup and Johnny Cash provide lollygagging warmth in winter and loads of luscious licks in summer in addition to a plethora of cats which have multiplied beyond number and name ever since the long departed Julee and Josh left the unspayed and untutored Fork and Knife behind to increase with zest and pleasure.

The landlords, a charming pair of lapsed Lutherans, have lived in Ankara ever since the Ronald Reagan Infliction upon this country and so have long not visited the property nor attended to its neighbor's complaints. 'Twas ever thus.

On this given evening, Marlene is trying ever so much to create a sense of home with the hapless help of Andre by stringing holiday "icicle lights" all about the place. This seems to be counterproductive according to Andre, as the glare will surely impact somebody's sleep schedule somewhere somehow. But Marlene has this supply of ornaments held over from her Russian grandmother, brought over in a travel trunk from the Old Country and newly uncovered in a storage unit unearthed by relatives who swiftly devoured any stick of furniture and bric-a-brac of E-Bay value before Marlene could set her lights upon what was left: tattered pre-revolution newspapers and a box of sordid Xmas ornaments. But such ornaments! Exquisite blown glass not seen on the earth for nearly one hundred years, hollowed and gilded eggshells, amazingly delicate works of porcelain and glass.

This year, Marlene promised herself the Holidays would be different than all the others. In this humble squat she would bake a fabulous feast and turn the place into something like the home she had never known. Her father had died early. Her stepfather had been a predictable brute. Her mother had been a lush.

She would now turn all of that around. Only need one stable spot for a genuine Xmas tree from Walmart, yet to come. Soon as she got paid. And this was most significant for she had never owned a single thing in her entire life.

O this will not end well, thought Andre and he went walking along the shore where he came across several handbills concerning a missing rotweiller belonging to a Mr. Howitzer.

At this time, Mr. Howitzer was at wit's end trying to locate the location of his beloved and perhaps sometimes irascible "Sweetums", who had gone missing ever since Thanksgiving. His usual placement of sweet-potatoe pie and mincemeat had gone entirely untouched and Mr. Howitzer was quite put out.

His neighbors breathed a collective sigh of relief in this time, for "Sweetums" was known to assault the postman, children and anyone passing by for Mr. Howitzer was loose with the chain and looser with instruction upon the animal. He thought it rather "cute" whenever Sweetums had brought back portions of some animal he had dismembered in his travels.

In any case, let us leave Mr. Howitzer stapling yet another "Finders Reward" bill upon the telephone pole, for it is highly unlikely he shall ever encounter Sweetums again in this life and the Devil probably has the next one handled and in his pocket well enough by now.

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