News from SF – The Quarterly Report – May 2024

The Quarterly Report: A brief synopsis of the news in San Francisco over the last three months. You are now reading “Slow News That Doesn’t Break” – the exotic internet.

Sporting News

Baseball season has begun. Recently a new lovely park opened just south of the ballpark with tables, places to sit and a lovely statue of Willie McCovey. I was riding my bike when I saw the ribbon-cutting ceremony. The ceremony seemed a bit subdued –  like someone wary of a new luxury car getting its first scratch. The Giants are 17 and 21 as of this report. I will check back in after the All-Star Break. That is my usual mode of operation.

McCovey Cove

Weather

The season changed to spring sometime in mid-April. The 20 knot northwest winds started up and you just knew that the fog was next. The temperature of the water at Ocean Beach went from 58 degrees Fahrenheit to 52.  Now in early May we are experiencing some exceptionally warm spring weather with temperatures in the 80s and wind blowing from the east. The real news these days is definitely the weather report. Pay attention, as at anytime the temperature can drop twenty degrees and the fog machine will start up.

Politics

The 2024 mayoral race in San Francisco is going to be one wild ride. There is a lot of outside money coming in with front groups like GrowSF and TogetherSF supporting various well-off candidates. What is different this time around is that there are many candidates that San Francisco Chronicle calls “moderates” running while there are just two “progressive” candidates, Ahsha Safai and Aaron Peskin. Good grief! The labels that these newspapers bestow on politicians is beyond silly. Daniel Lurie and Mark Farrell are not moderates. In another era, in another town, they would simply be the usual pro-business Republicans.

Aaron Peskin, with his years of knowledge of the city, his neighborhood credibility, excellent speaking skills and a new-found sobriety may be a tough candidate to beat. I traveled down to Portsmouth Square and heard Aaron Peskin’s mayoral announcement speech. It was extremely refreshing to hear a politician speak in complete sentences and have something meaningful to say.

Aaron Peskin among supporters

I will be a Mayor who loves this city, and doesn’t beat up on it for political gain.  A Mayor who works for everyday San Franciscans and their neighborhoods, not just the well-to-do and the well-connected. And I will be a hands-on Mayor, using my 25 years of governmental know-how to once again make San Francisco the city that knows how.
Aaron Peskin – Candidacy Announcement  – April 6, 2024 Mission Local

Let me be clear. I support arresting fentanyl dealers and holding them accountable. But arresting drug users, and doing nothing more, is a cynical and dangerous policy that results in more overdoses, and not more treatment for addiction.
Aaron Peskin – Candidacy Announcement  – April 6, 2024 Mission Local

After the event I was able to talk to former San Francisco mayor Art Agnos who supports Peskin. He said that being mayor was the hardest job he has ever done. He said that when the 1989 Lomo Prieta earthquake hit during the World Series he was at the game and then whisked off to a command center where he found out the head of emergency services had just had had a heart attack. For the next few days he was winging it. I thanked him for the great job he did as mayor during those unpredictable times.  He was an awesome mayor.

National Politics

When Donald Trump was asked about whether he raped Jean Carroll he said that it was not possible as she was not his “type.” Isn’t it interesting that he has not said the same thing about Stormy Daniels. Perhaps Stormy is his type?

Road Repairs, Parking Tickets, Do Not Parks Signs and Other Treacherous Endeavors

Sooner or later you figure out the plan. Starting at Geneva and Mission and heading north they are repaving the bus stops with concrete. It is about time. What is odd is that they pretty much pour the concrete and then slop asphalt in between the new and the old.  Thanks for the effort.

Valencia Bike Lanes and the Sunny Side of the Street

Merchants and many people are still angry about the center bike lane on Valencia. The parking has changed with the installation of individual digital meters. What is strange is that in many places half of the block is for only drop-off parking. This is silly, not practical and a gift to companies like Uber and Lyft.

Valencia Street center bike lane

Parklets, Microclimates and Where the Sun Does Shine

Not much to report. The parklet situation has stabilized but the red-tape for merchants is often too much and they remove their parklets. This is a topic that a city mayor Breed could have a lot of impact and instead it ends up highlighting the incompetence of city government.

That is The Quarterly Report –May 2024

Photo Gallery of SF

The Quarterly Report – May 2024

Washington’s Dream – SNL – Weights and Measures – Excellent Slow News

I do not know who wrote the Saturday Night Live skit above, but it is very funny. It was probably a team of writers. But nobody knows.

I have always wondered why comedians today do not make more use of historical figures, especially the “founding fathers.” Humor can then merge with irony in a way that reaches a wider audience. It is like slow news, perhaps “slow humor,” where the vantage is long, and the costumes essential. You do not cringe. Instead everyone simply laughs as the truths are often of the everyday, non-political, small world. It is humor that is self-evident.

A while back I had the idea of a skit where Benjamin Franklin uses a time-machine that he had invented but did not tell anyone about as the plans were lost in a fire. Ben travels to the United States in our current era and then to a drawing room where seated are Jefferson, Washington, Adams and probably others. Someone’s wife. Perhaps a black enslaved person or mistress.

Hand on his knee, Franklin would calmly explain what he saw – explain what he had observed in the twenty-first century America on his time-travel. The majority of the content would be the others commenting and asking questions. These comments would be based on history and their actual writings, personalities and known beliefs. The possibilities are endless. It would shine a light on how originalism is an absurd concept. The world changes, but things also stay the same as in the ending line, “where all Black men are free,” to which Washington ignores like a Florida history book. Evidently, we still have much work to do with our weights and measurements. Equality on many fronts is still but a dream.

NOW THE FUN STUFF! FOURTH GRADE WEIGHTS AND MEASUREMENTS

Weights

16 ounces in a pound. 2000 pounds is a ton There is no word for 1000 pounds

Liquids

Liters and milliliters are used for soda, wine and alcohol

Gallons, pints and quarts are used for milk and paint.

There are 3.78541 liters in a gallon (but nobody knows).

1 liter = 33.814 Fl oz

Distances

Inches, feet, yards and miles

12 inches to a foot. 3 feet to a yard,

5028 feet to a mile

1760 yards to a mile (but nobody knows).

Sports

Meters are used in unpopular sports like track and swimming. (Also springboard diving, but no one asked.)

In football, where the field is 100 yards long, an extra-point after the touchdown is worth 1 point. A field goal is worth 3. A touchdown is  worth 6. A safety is worth 2.

Temperature

The great nation of the United States of America measures temperature in Fahrenheit. You spell Fahrenheit  F-a-h-r-e-n-h-e-i-t.

Water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit and 100 degrees Celsius.

To convert temperatures in degrees Celsius to Fahrenheit, multiply by 1.8 (or 9/5) and add 32

For example

10 C = 50 F
20 C = 68 F
30 C = 86 F
40 C =  104 F

You can also, multiply Celsius by 2 and add 30 to get an approximation.

CODA

Mel Brooks used recent political history and satire in The Producers. He did it very daringly in “Springtime for Hitler” which is over the top. It combines Broadway showtunes and dance numbers in a Busby Berkeley style with the Third Reich. It is absurd and you laugh because of this absurdity. Oddly, it was a premonition for things to come.

Another amazing use of history and satire in humor is Monty Python’s Monty Python and the Holy Grail..

Let us know of other routines that have taken this tack. So far, nobody knows.

Louis Menand Quote About Music – The Free World

Most musicians are much more eclectic than their fans. If he had nothing else to do, Presley sang gospel, as did Jerry Lee Louis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash, three other Sam Philips discoveries. (A recording of the four of them jamming in a studio in 1956 was discovered and released several years after Presley’s death.) Muddy Waters sang “Red Sails in the Sunset.” Robert Johnson sang “Yes, Sir, That’s My Baby.” James Brown liked Sinatra and disliked the blues. Leadbelly was a Gene Autry fan. Chuck Berry’s “Maybellee” was a cover of a country and western song called “Ida Red,” recorded in 1938 by a white band, Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys. Race had a lot to do with the music business in the United States. It had much less to do with the music.”
Louis Menand – The Free World: Art and Thought in the Cold War – 2021

Ideas about the quote above. April 5, 2024

Menand is attempting to show that musicians have diverse tastes in music. Many fans do too. James Brown probably did not dislike the blues. He was the blues. He probably did not like the blues when it is played poorly. A more, and better quote is one credited to Louis Armstrong.

“There is two kinds of music, the good, and the bad. I play the good kind.”
Louis Armstrong

Coleman Hawkins, the iconic tenor saxaphonist of the post World War II era loved to listen to Classical Symphonies and operas on his new stereo. Lot’s of people did.

The redeeming point of Menand’s quote is that musicians often gravitate to all kinds of music. In that way race does not matter.

San Francisco Photos – March 2024

Books I Read in 2023

In 2023 I finally got it together and started really using the San Francisco Public Library, putting books I wanted to read on hold, reading parts of books and checking out books that I was simply curious about. The library is an amazing resource. Below is a list of books that I finished. I do this exercise to simply reflect on the previous year.

Books I Read 2023

The Shipping News
Annie Proulx
Charles Scribner’s Sons

Without a doubt you can find this book in any Goodwill or Salvation Army. A very interesting read.

Beloved
Toni Morrison
Vintage; Reprint edition

In the City of Bikes: The Story of the Amsterdam Cyclist
Pete Jordan
Harper Perennial;

A Black Woman’s West: The Life of Rose B. Gordon
Michael K. Johnson
Montana Historical Society

This is an interesting book I picked up in a restaurant in Glacier, Montana. It chronicles the life of a black woman and family. What is interesting is that the Gordon family became an integral part of the town that they lived in and according to this account the racism was pretty muted.

Two Wheels Good: The History and Mystery of the Bicycle
Jody Rosen
Crown

Candide
Voltaire
Penguin Classics

Whenever I get a bit too optimistic about things, I like to read this classic to bring me down to earth.

Micromegas and Other Short Fictions
Voltaire
Penguin Classics

Very cool book that actually has a short story about traveling by space ship and visiting other planets and alien beings. Sort of amazing that this is not talked about more and on reading lists. This was written in the 18th century!

Two Wheels North
Evelyn McDaniel Bibb
Oregon State Press

Blindness
Jose Saramago
Harcourt, Brace and Co

Read review

American Studies
Louis Menand
New York : Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2002.

Mexico City – Cradle of Empires
Caistor, Nick,
Reaktion Books

A Most Remarkable Creature the Hidden Life and Epic Journey of the World’s Smartest Birds of Prey
Meiburg, Jonathan,
Alfred A. Knopf

My Bike & Other Friends
Henry Miller
Capra Press, 1978.

Gulliver’s Travels
Swift, Jonathan
Doubleday, Doran & co., inc.,

Tropic of Cancer
Henry Miller
MEDVSA

One of the great banned books of the 20th century and I found a signed copy! Miller has the ability to make the ugly beautiful. It is understandable why they banned this book. It should only be for adults in the first place, but then again the youth would surely not even understand most of it.

Zionism – A Brief History
Brenner, Michael
Princeton

A very good book for our times. A “just the facts” look at the creation of Israel. Theodor Herzl, one of the early Zionists obviously began something that we are feeling the ramifications of today.

If This Isn’t Nice, What Is?
Kurt Vonnegut
Seven Stories Press

News from SF – The Quarterly Report – February 2024

The Quarterly Report: A brief synopsis of the news in San Francisco over the last three months. You are now reading “Slow News That Doesn’t Break” – the exotic internet.

Sporting News

After two very close playoff games, the San Francisco 49ers are headed to the Super Bowl to take on the Kansas City Chiefs.  A miraculous catch by Brandon Aiyuk on a very deep pass that actually bounced off the defender’s facemask may be the reason they are in the big game.  Of course, the entire Bay Area is excited and it will be a wild weekend. Go Niners!

Weather

The new word of the year is “atmospheric river.” San Francisco has been pummeled by this weather phenomenon which is basically a river in the sky that dumps large quantities of rain in short periods of time.  Nevertheless the weather has been wet lately mixed with glorious days of sunshine. Often the sunsets have been beautiful. Out at Ocean Beach the parking lot continues to be eaten by the ocean. It is amazing how the contour of the beach changes.

Politics

Nothing to report as all the entrenched powers that be remain in hold of city government.  No one seems to be irate that drug overdoes in the Tenderloin and homelessness are still major problems. Chesa Boudin was recalled a year ago and Brooke Jenkins was installed at D.A.. For the most part, things have remained the same on the street, but for most people San Francisco looks like most west coast large cities. People just living their lives in the tidy neighborhoods. We have a tough on crime D.A. but people often drive their cars like there are no laws. Stop signs evidently are simply a suggestion.

The Depths of his Dishonesty is just astounding… He is the most flawed person I have ever met in my life.
– John Kelly on former President Donald Trump as reported in The Atlantic

The Depths of his Dishonesty is just astounding… He is the most flawed person I have ever met in my life. – John Kelly on former President Donald Trump as reported in The Atlantic

Road Repairs, Parking Tickets, Do Not Parks Signs and Other Treacherous Endeavors

A street cleaning ticket in San Francisco is now $90. Always best to keep track of your wheels in this town.

Valencia Bike Lanes and the Sunny Side of the Street

The center bike lane has many people up in arms. Merchants say people are not coming into their stores. The center lane is pretty awkward. I have no opinion on the matter but think that the center lane is ugly from an aesthetic perspective. What is more problematic is the fact that the parking is all done with the new digital pay stations and there are no coin meters. This is very confusing as the parking rules are not stated on the street.  After some research I have learned that it is basically the concept that between 9am – 6pm you must pay for parking. To me this is discrimination to those not tied into using their phones for everything. Very confusing.

Here are the Valencia Street Parking Rules for you edification

12am – 9am Free 
9am – 3pm $2.25 per hour 2 hours
3pm – 6pm $2.00 per hour 2 hours
6pm – 12am Free

https://www.sfmta.com/demand-responsive-parking-pricing

Parklets, Microclimates and Where the Sun Does Shine

Not much to report. The parklet situation has stabilized but the red-tape for merchants is often too much and they remove their parklets. This is a topic that a city major Breed could have a lot of impact and instead it ends up highlighting the incompetence of city government.

In February 2024 rarely do bands play outside – more often the music is inside. Remember to tip the band

That is The Quarterly Report – February 2024

Photo Gallery of SF

The Quarterly Report – February 2024

Candlestick Park – Now Just a Field of Dreams

At the very south end of San Francisco, at the eastern edge by the bay, along Highway 101 is Candlestick Point. At one time it was home to Candlestick Park, the massive concrete stadium where the San Francisco Giants played baseball and the San Francisco 49ers played football. It has surely been home to many events – monster truck shows, rock concerts, soccer matches. It was a large stadium made of concrete and a place best used to watch the 49ers play their gladiator sport. No soft chairs and few cozy luxury boxes. It was made like a parking garage and had that same lack of warmth.  You could get a seat high in the upper deck and watch the little ants down below. If you missed the amazing play, there was no instant replay – too bad.  You spilled your beer and missed the interception all at once. The accommodations and locker rooms for the players were surely not as they are today. Candlestick was a fitting place to see grown men push and shove each other around for an afternoon.

In the 1960s Willie Mays caught fly balls out in center field. By the 1990s you could get into the bleacher seats in left field for a few bucks, squint your eyes and see Will Clark nervously try to send a runner in from second. Of course, Candlestick is famously known for the 1989 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland A’s when the Lomo Prieta earthquake hit and everyone thought for a second the world might end.

In the late fall the weather would often be that Indian summer time of year when the the temperature was at a human ideal, the wind light out of the east and the light would have that warm autumn glow. It was football weather. The 49ers played many classic games at Candlestick. Joe Montana connecting with Jerry Rice. John Taylor running back kickoffs. Steve Young running wild until the doctor said that it may be better just to throw the ball to keep all the marbles upstairs intact. Then there were games in the winter storms when the field would be wet.  The storm coming in from Alaska and a high tide would make the field like a pig slop.

When you landed at San Francisco International Airport and caught a cab into town, you would often drive up 101 past Candlestick and see the stadium there poetically on the point. True to its moniker, at night it would often be lit up. It seemed a bit timeless, like the Parthenon, and you innocently thought that it would somehow always be there watching over the bay. For a time the name would be bought out. The speaker cable company, Monster Cable, purchased the naming rights and called it Monster Park, not realizing that people assumed it was for the job website.  Other large companies, usually in the telecommunications industries, would then take over the naming rights. No one remembers their names now.  People in San Francisco would always just  call it Candlestick.

Which brings me to Candlestick Park. The stadium was torn down many years ago. One day it was there and the next it is gone. Phfff! All that concrete surely broken up and hauled away to be recycled one truckload at a time.  Now when you get off the plane and drive north along the bay, you have to explain to your friend that once a large stadium loomed there. Remember that hill that you would see from the blimp.  That’s the same lonely hill.  Where the stadium was is now fenced in. It is mostly grassy fields and when it rains ducks and redwing black birds hangout in the ponds that once was around the fifty yard line. It is quiet save for the never ending hum of Interstate 101 a half mile away.

The 49ers left Candlestick years ago and now play down in Santa Clara. The South Bay and all the tech money bought them out. On Saturday, January 20, 2024 they will play the Green Bay Packers in a classic playoff match up. Two young quarterbacks will duel it out and try as best they can to not make mistakes. They will push and shove, run, pass, block and kick. People will go into the blue medical tent to see if their marbles are still round. There is rain in the forecast so the field may be a bit wet. No one will care how high the tide will be at game time. All that matters now is which team scores the most points and maybe who gets the ball last.

Dear New York Times – Please Unsubscribe Me to Your Publication

Dear New York Times,

It was probably just a matter of time. I started paying for a subscription to the NYT after a friend suggested I start playing Wordle, the clever five letter word game. It was sort of like giving a taste just to draw me into your house of mirrors. I have enjoyed the game and have had a streak of fifty-four continuous wins at one point.

With the paid subscription I began reading the news primarily and some of the essays by the opinion writers. The guest essays are often quite fun. Big names like Hillary Clinton, Bill Gates and various U.S. Senators  have often been interesting reads. I suddenly felt like I was in the “know,” given a view into the rich and powerful.  I tend to open the comments section for articles about Trump. Your readers then go on and on in a sort of cathartic release of how insane our times are and “how in hell that guy is not in jail yet” monologues.  I have joined in on the ruckus at times but little lately.  It really is a waste of time in the end.

And then  in November you began publishing your Presidential race polls, which made it so we should rename out country “The United States of Anxiety,” as somehow the guy who was impeached twice and is in all kinds of legal problems is running neck and neck with the other guy. How is this even possible? One thing is for sure. I do not want to spend 2024 watching this horse race that you started.

In a recent episode of “On The Media” –  “Is The New York Times A Tech Company?”  does a good look at how the The New York Times refactored itself as not a newspaper or even a news publisher, but as a tech company. Publishing is dead. It is about a “platform.” No longer do you make money with good content and intelligent editors and stagnant ads but the with surveillance of your readers. Cull the ads for a demographic. Tease them with sticky content that will make them stay on the site.

I began to notice the formula. News more often than not started to become not events but merely conjecture and what people said.  “Trump has decided to
not show up in court tomorrow.” “McConnel says he if feeling just fine.” “George Santos says he may parley his fame and become a gameshow host.” And even Ross Douthat goes so far as staging a hypothetical situation where Hillary Clinton (not Donald Trump) stages a coup.

The sticky content just kept coming. The rich and famous, the shysters and scandal were given prime real-estate on your paper. People would often should be in jail were treated as celebrities.  Every time Trump would say something outrageous you would put his photo in a suit and a slick red or blue tie on the front page.  Make him and our neurotic political environment seem “normal.” Someone who sent an angry mob on the capital is presented as a slick guy in fancy suits. You give the guy free real-estate on a hourly basis. Enough!

So I’m done. Please cancel my subscription to your echo chamber. I will not follow your polls or read your op-eds by your mostly corporate conservative, neo-liberal columnists. I will not read the witty comments from your dedicated readers. I will no longer have to wade through the 10 Ways to Lose 20 Pounds articles.  I am done with your high-brow tabloid corporate journalism.

I decided to free up that time I was sucked in to your world for better things. I will get my national news from the many available sources out there.  I am giving money to my local paper, Mission Local and 48 Hills. I subscribe to Matt Stollers BIG.   But worry not. I will still play Wordle. That was sold to you with the stipulation that it would always be free.

Below are some of the easy to find examples of the new high-brow tabloid journalism at the New York Times. 

The April 2023 Atlantic Essay That Went Under the Radar – The Moral Case Against Equity Language

THE MORAL CASE AGAINST EQUITY LANGUAGE
What’s a “justice-involved person”?
By George Packer

In the April 2023 issue of The Atlantic is an article by George Packer that was very insightful that oddly did not seem to stir up any debate. The article brings up something that is under the radar in our current society, but on everyone’s minds. The Moral Case Against Equity Language outlines how language today is being regulated by new equity guideline teams. In marketing lingo these guidelines often are a part of what are called style guides.  Words have power and the object is to make language more “equitable.” The article explains how these new equity guidelines are used by The Sierra Club, non-profits, corporations, academia and other large organizations to craft their writing. It  explains the complicated way that language and words enforce power structures and define identity. How important it is for everyone to “get it right.”  It looks at current efforts to equalize and defang language of some of it historical biases and prejudices. Words matter indeed. One cannot help but think of Orwell’s thought police. The article starts out with:

“The sierra club’s Equity Language Guide discourages using the words stand, Americans, blind, and crazy. The first two fail at inclusion, because not everyone can stand and not everyone living in this country is a citizen. The third and fourth, even as figures of speech (“Legislators are blind to climate change”), are insulting to the disabled. The guide also rejects the disabled in favor of people living with disabilities, for the same reason that enslaved person has generally replaced slave : to affirm, by the tenets of what’s called “people-first language,” that “everyone is first and foremost a person, not their disability or other identity.”

The article goes on with

“Although the guides refer to language “evolving,” these changes are a revolution from above. They haven’t emerged organically from the shifting linguistic habits of large numbers of people. They are handed down in communiqués written by obscure “experts” who purport to speak for vaguely defined “communities,” remaining unanswerable to a public that’s being morally coerced.”

That’s the spooky part that is often the elephant in the room these days. Who are these people? The article closes with an argument that the guidelines maybe doing more harm than good. Whether you are “homeless” or “unhoused,” you still do not have a roof over your head. Changing the language does not solve the problem. It really often simply makes people feel less guilty and temporarily more comfortable.

This huge expense of energy to purify language reveals a weakened belief in more material forms of progress. If we don’t know how to end racism, we can at least call it structural. The guides want to make the ugliness of our society disappear by linguistic fiat. Even by their own lights, they do more ill than good—not because of their absurd bans on ordinary words like congresswoman and expat, or the self-torture they require of conscientious users, but because they make it impossible to face squarely the wrongs they want to right, which is the starting point for any change.

Brilliant thinking and something no one dares touch. I am surprised that the article did not stir up more debate. Indeed, “the guides want to make the ugliness of our society disappear by linguistic fiat” is a fair assessment.

Excellent topic. Choice writing. Subscribe to The Atlantic today!

Epilogue

It is important to not confuse the new equity guidelines with other issues of freedom of speech. That someone who commits multiple felonies and then threatens judges and elected officials receives a “gag-order” has absolutely nothing to do with the topic in this article.

And to that point, the writing and thinking of authors from before the equity guidelines, who use “slave” instead of “enslaved person” are no less valid in their works because of this use of language. Furthermore, if authors today use the old nomenclature, it does not invalidate their theories or ideas. A vigorous intellectual pursuit is not meant to be a journey towards making everyone feel comfortable.

Digital Millennium Copyright Act 25 Year Anniversary

UPDATE: OCTOBER 31, 2023: Not a single media outlet celebrated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act 25 Year Anniversary. Amazing!

It is now October 2023, twenty-five years after the passage of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Seven years ago I published the piece below about the 18 year anniversary of the DMCA.  The DMCA has made it so you can listen to just about any recording made in the last 100 years for free on YouTube after looking at some ridiculous advertisement for five seconds.  It has made it so tech companies and publishing empires no longer have  responsibility for what is published on their applications, websites and what they now call “platforms.”  Safe harbor. Everything is just content.  Stuff. No one owns the stars.

I predict that on October 28, 2023  very few media organizations will acknowledge the DMCA 25 year anniversary.  The world changes and while it is changing hardly anyone notices; we all just roll with it as that is the only option. So pop the champagne corks. To the liberation of content!

FROM MY POST on OCTOBER 12, 2016
Digital Millennium Copyright Act 18 Year Anniversary

Passed on October 12, 1998, by a unanimous vote in the United States Senate and signed into law by President Bill Clinton on October 28, 1998, the DMCA amended Title 17 of the United States Code to extend the reach of copyright, while limiting the liability of the providers of online services for copyright infringement by their users.
wikipedia.org

It is 1998 – The Senate Now Has E-Mail
Let’s Have a Party!

25 years ago this month the Digital Millennium Copyright Act was passed. I would wager that very few people even know what the DMCA is, but it has affected modern life substantially. It is in many ways just one more version of an old story of plunder by larger more powerful entities, and the taking advantage of the smaller, but often more vibrant creators. In many ways, it has made it so the copyright laws in such industries as music are pointless.

But let’s back up a bit. Everyone can remember the transition that happened when CDs came out and then everyone was ripping their CDs to MP3s and handing off 100 gig drives full of music files to their buddies. Then there was Napster that simply stitched all these drives together in one big mass orgy of free MP3s. Napster got the injunction primarily because the established music industry  had no cut of the racket. Along come tech giants like Google, Apple, Microsoft and Samsung and to cover their liability the DMCA made perfect sense. If someone has “illegal” music on their devices, they should not be held accountable. Furthermore, if someone uploads a Beatles tune as a video with a picture of Ringo Starr as the graphics to YouTube, why should YouTube be held accountable for such blatant infringement? All good and well. But that was 1998. Today is 2016. I am certain that in 1998 most members of the Senate had no idea the true implications of the DMCA. In 1998, most of the members of the Senate probably did not even know how to manage their own email. They were still licking stamps.

The DMCA’s principal innovation in the field of copyright is the exemption from direct and indirect liability of Internet service providers and other intermediaries.
wikipedia.org

Let’s look back a bit. In 1998 the leading browser of the day was Netscape 2. Internet Explorer was at version 5.5. If anyone remembers IE 6, imagine how terrible IE 5.5 must have been. Windows 98 had probably just been released.  Man, that is scary. My point is that the DMCA has not been updated for 18 years and is an extremely flawed piece of legislation. The large tech companies have in many ways based their entire industry on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. It allows for basically everyone to break the law everyday and not have to worry about it. When was the last time that a cop pulled someone over and wanted to check if the person had pirated music on their phone? There probably is thousands of dollars of contraband on everyone’s devices. Ain’t gonna happen.

Times Have Changed – Google Is Our Master of Information

But this is what is disingenuous about the DMCA. Companies like Google know just about everything about you. What you buy. What websites you visit. Your birthday. Your favorite color.

In 2016 they have the ability to determine if a piece of music is copyrighted via matching wave forms, and indeed this is how they “monetize” this work.  But YouTube refuses to acknowledge this UNLESS they are in a position to make money off of that music – they make money anyway but that is another post. The only way the copyright holder can get the videos of their music taken down is with take-down notices. If a song is popular, this can mean hundreds of separate videos with the same song on it.  The artists cannot simply tell the ISP such as YouTube “I do not want my work on your network.” YouTube is sort of like that creepy neighbor running a crack-house who borrowed your weed-whacker last spring and refuses to give it back claiming ignorance. Musicians, songwriters and composers have better things to do with their time than chase down illegal version of their work.

YouTube is sort of like that creepy neighbor running a crack-house who borrowed your weed-whacker last spring and refuses to give it back claiming ignorance. Musicians, songwriters and composers have better things to do with their time than chase down illegal version of their work.

Which brings me back to 1998. Do you really think in 1998 anyone could predict such entities as YouTube or Facebook? And unlike the owners of these companies, I believe these entities are not just platforms, they are simply publishers with free content providers and creators. These publishers have to take responsibility as well for copyright infringement. It is within their technical realm but they are playing dumb as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 suits them just fine. The DMCA is to their advantage.

The real master of deception with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act is  YouTube. Facebook, Twitter and the like have simply entered personal lives and monetized birthdays and other important life events until people depart from this world. Personalized marketing on steroids that the users all agree to though without  really reading the privacy policies.

But all such companies are the modern-day plunderers. Instead of grabbing continents, forests, rivers, enslaving the natives and digging for gold, they are plundering your personal events and consumer habits along with the likes of great artists like James Brown, Elton John, Charlie Palmieri, Vince Gill,  Willie Green,  Slayer, Bette Midler, Woody Guthrie (the list is endless) and any person who has recorded or published a piece of music in the last hundred years.

Conclusion

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act needs to be reexamined and rewritten every five years to reflect and take into consideration the changes in technology, creativity and platforms. It is an important part of combating the many inequities in our society.

JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park

“In November 2022, San Francisco voters reaffirmed the previous legislation, making the new JFK Promenade a permanent car-free route enjoyed by a wide range of visitors. Along the route, visitors can enjoy art installations, public pianos, rest stops and enhanced entrances featuring seating and lawn games, and live music.”
JFK Promenade

One of the beautiful things that happened during the COVID 19 pandemic was the creation of slow-streets. Entire blocks where closed to through-traffic cars. San Francisco got outside and walked down the middle of streets. Kids learned how to ride bikes. Roller skaters searched out the best blacktop and did their thing. It was and is a beautiful thing.

After a lot of tussle, local propositions and screaming and hollering, JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park is a permanent car-free route. Ride your bike. Go for a stroll. Play a game of ping pong. Take in the various interesting sculptures. It is great to have this large drive free of cars. It helps to makes San Francisco a great city. It is one of those places to rejuvenate your soul.

BREAKING NEWS: San Francisco Aqua Surf Shop Holds Gnarly Surf Contest at Sloat

With the swell measuring around 8 feet at 12 seconds, on the morning of December 3, it was observed that the Aqua Surf Shop was holding some sort of surf contest. The surf was gnarly and the paddle-out ridiculous – rows and rows of white water to paddle through just to get to the outside.  It looked impossible but the contestants, both women and men in their twenties seemed to be able to make their way past the inside close-outs. Just nasty out there.

UPDATE: The contest is what is called the ‘Battle of the Bay’ competition. This has been held in previous years when San Francisco State was victorious.  It seems to be surf clubs from local colleges – SF State University,  Cal, and UCSF get together and organize this event. Very cool!

From the NOAA Buoy Report and San Francisco
From the NOAA Buoy Report and San Francisco https://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/station_page.php?station=46026

 

News from SF – The Quarterly Report – October/November 2023

The Quarterly Report: A brief synopsis of the news in San Francisco over the last three months.

Weather

While the world has experienced floods, droughts, earthquakes and hurricanes, the San Francisco weather pattern has been quite normal lately. We had a typical Indian Summer pattern for a while then a bit of rain. The skies are clear and we are now experiencing beautiful sunsets. In the coming week there should be off-shore winds out of the east. If you you come to San Francisco, bring a light jacket and warm hat. It does get chilly from time to time.

Politics

Senator Diane Feinstein died on September 29, 2023. Her replacement chosen by Governor Newsom is Laphonza Butler. So it goes.

Self-Driving Cars

The self-driving cars got the axe for the the time being. Too many variables. The fire trucks are concerned that they often get in the way. A tragic event happened on Market Street when a jaywalker got hit by a car then got pinned under a self-driving car. No bueno!

Self Driving Car

So the virtue of the young damsel and the driverless car must wait for another day.

“The fashion in those days, among the ladies, was to to travel around without lackeys or coachmen and to drive oneself; husbands preferred wives to be at all times alone, so as to be more certain of their virtue; which goes directly counter to the view of the moralists, who say there is no virtue in solitude.”
-From The One-Eyed Porter – Voltaire

Road Repairs, Parking Tickets, Do Not Parks Signs and Other Treacherous Endeavors

The roads are still terrible in the poor neighborhoods. The pavement on Mission Street looks like a war zone. If you are on a bicycle be careful out there.

Bike Lanes, The Great Highway and the Sunny Side of the Street

The Great Highway opened to vehicular traffic on Mondays at 6 a.m. through Fridays at 12 p.m. and opened to pedestrians and bicycles only from Fridays at 12 p.m. until Mondays at 6 a.m. On holidays, the Great Highway is closed to vehicular traffic.

It is a lot of fun to get out to the Great Highway when it is closed to cars. On the weekends it gets busy with people walking, running a riding their bikes

 

Sporting News

The San Francisco Giants fizzled away. The 49ers are getting a bit beat up and having trouble winning games when they do not have all of their stars on the field. A young quarterback who is getting a reality check was long overdue.

The surfing has been pretty good overall, with some large, long-period swells now showing up every few weeks. 10 feet at 20 seconds was recorded recently and people were surfing Mavericks.

Parklets, Microclimates and Where the Sun Does Shine

Not much to report. The parklet situation has stabilized. Sometimes bands play outside but more often the music is inside. Remember to tip the band

 

That is The Quarterly Report –October 2023.

updated: 10/31/2023 with more Great Highway photos.

Photo Gallery of SF

The Quarterly Report – October 2023

News from SF – The Quarterly Report

The Quarterly Report: A brief synopsis of the news in San Francisco over the last three months.

Weather

Often chilly and foggy with a marine layer along the coast. Air quality generally pretty good. Bring a light jacket. If you are by the ocean bring more layers.

Don Chuys
View of the “marine layer.” Coming to a neighborhood near you soon!

Politics

In a 3-to-1 vote, the commission decided to let self-driving cars expand their programs and allow them to basically operate like taxis. So now these cars can pick up passengers and charge a fare at all hours of the day. Up until now, the companies had pretty limited passenger pickup programs.
– NPR from Driverless cars can now operate like taxis in San Francisco, raising safety concerns

That the driverless cars are now taxis was inevitable as that was one of the main goals all along. New technology that ultimately was and has been driven as a money making scheme. For anyone living is San Francisco the last few years, the new ruling will probably not change things much on the roads as we have been inundated with self-driving cars for years. In the last year, we have observed them wandering up and down neighborhood streets in the middle of the night, like the ghost of some long-lost insomniac uncle, organizing his toolset after hours.

In the last year, we have observed them wandering up and down neighborhood streets in the middle of the night, like the ghost of some long-lost insomniac uncle, organizing his toolset after hours.

Many of the self-driving cars have elaborate cameras and look very sci-fi. Some have the brand of Jaguar however the two companies that run these vehicles are Cruise, which is owned by GM, and Waymo, which is owned by Google parent Alphabet. They are everywhere, mapping every nook and cranny, sometimes clogging up the streets, other times just being spooky.

“JEANINE NICHOLSON: Again, I will reiterate, it is not our job to babysit their vehicles.”
– NPR from Driverless cars can now operate like taxis in San Francisco, raising safety concerns

The Mission Local has good reporting on this topic and one can always just enjoy a famous movie quote.


Dave Bowman: Open the pod bay doors please, HAL. Open the pod bay doors please, HAL. Hello, HAL. Do you read me? Hello, HAL. Do you read me? Do you read me HAL? Do you read me HAL? Hello, HAL, do you read me? Hello, HAL, do your read me? Do you read me, HAL?
HAL: Affirmative, Dave. I read you.
Dave Bowman: Open the pod bay doors, HAL.
HAL: I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.
Dave Bowman: What’s the problem?
HAL: I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.
Dave Bowman: What are you talking about, HAL?
HAL: This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.

From 2001: A Space Odyssey

Road Repairs, Parking Tickets, Do Not Parks Signs and Other Treacherous Endeavors

“If you park here they will come.” Very creative, playful and surely effective as all-caps usually gets the point across.

Many of the main roads in San Francisco are a disaster and are in need repair. A partial list of roads that need love.

Mission Street road in need of repair.
  • Mission Street by Holly Park. (we may lose small dogs in some of the potholes)
  • Mission Street south of Silver Ave.
  • Bosworth under the San Jose Ave and  the 280 Freeway.
Bosworth under the San Jose Ave and  the 280 Freeway
Bosworth under the San Jose Ave and  the 280 freeway is treacherous for bicyclists. Use are your own risk. Bring an extra chin strap.

Even though San Francisco may score “adequate” in roads passements, these ranking are meaningless when for a decade you navigate roads that are terrible. It does seem that there is often less focus on roads that get a lot of traffic and are critical intersections. Feel free to contact the editorial board of the SF Journal if you need more examples of locations where roads are in need of repair. Remember to wear a helmet on these routes and perhaps bring an extra chin strap.

Bike Lanes on Valencia Street are in Full Effect

The new bike lanes on Valencia Street are now fully functioning. Bikes now ride in the middle. Cars no longer can take lefts turns at a lot of the intersections.

New bike lanes on Valencia Street

Let’s see how this works out and always remember, whether on two or four wheels, be kind. When driving, it is probably best to simply avoid Valencia Street. One day the city may realize, parts should be 100% for pedestrians and bikes.

Sporting News

For anything relating to football and the NFL, it is best to go to the SF Gate or SF Chronicle as that seems to be the only sport on their minds. It is August and we are suppose to get excited about American football?

In San Francisco there has been a lot of excitement about the Women’s FIFA World Cup. Colombia has a team of many talented players and their fans sang the national anthem with such passion, you wanted them to win just because of the fans.  The United States played well but lost to Sweden in a knockout round. France is scoring a lot of goals. Sweden may be the team to beat.

COVID-19 Pandemic Update

Very few people wear masks. Sometimes people riding public transportation will be wearing a mask.

Parklets, Microclimates and Where the Sun Does Shine

Parklets holding firm. The Page on Page Street has live music in the afternoons, often outside.

The sun does shine and clothes can dry on the line in San Francisco, but you must keep your eyes on the weather, direction of the winds and have your fog meter on at all times.

That is The Quarterly Report –August 2023.

Photo Gallery of SF

The Quarterly Report – August 2023

Lucca’s New Drive Thru Window

Lucca’s Ravioli was a special place in San Francisco that closed down a few years back – https://sfjournal.net/lucca-ravioli-co-nothing-lasts-forever/. It was a real Italian Deli that made fresh fresh ravioli.

Recently a police car drove though the front window. The Mission Local (https://missionlocal.org/2023/06/sfpd-squad-car-crashes-into-luccas-after-high-speed-chase/) seems to have covered this bizarre and tragic  event better than other news outlets.

Poor Lucca’s Ravioli! It closed down a few years back and now a police car, while chasing a car, ends up driving through the front door. Is this a scene out of a Buster Keaton movie, or maybe Smokey and the Bandit?  Why are cops chasing cars at high speed  on Valencia Street one of the most pedestrian oriented streets in the City?

Not the First Time

On June 28, 1995 a fire truck drove through the quant Radio Valencia Cafe.  https://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Fire-Truck-Drivers-Cleared-in-S-F-Crash-3028835.php

How come this keep happening? Add your theories below.

A Father’s Day Story

For some reason when Father’s Day comes around I mostly think about my own father. John O. Lyons was my dad. He had six kids and lived a fascinating life full of youthful enthusiasm during his early years, adventure then the pragmatic realism of fathering during his middle years, and  a comfortable retirement later in life while he took his pills and struggled with Parkinson’s Disease. One of his books, The Invention of the Self: The Hinge of Consciousness in the Eighteenth Century, Southern Illinois University Press (1978) is an amazing read. The first chapter “Into the Void” should be required reading for undergraduates going into the field of psychology or history. Today, it would no doubt confuse the youth often obsessed  with the notion of the authentic self and identity.

In the mid 1960s, my father who was an English professor at the University of Wisconsin, for reasons unknown at the time, took a side job delivering the Wisconsin State Journal on Sundays. We never questioned why he did this side job. Was the price of milk too high? Were five kids just too much? I have two older brothers and on these Sundays we each took turns waking up before dawn to help dad with his rural paper route. We would take off in the dark in the  family blue VW bus. My job in the backseat was to collate the stacks of newspapers, put a rubber band around each one and then hand them up to my dad to stuff into newspaper boxes. I was maybe five or six years old.

Years later I was told that on my first day as my dad’s helper, I was surprised to find out that all the newspapers were exactly the same. Obviously, I was way ahead of my time,  predicting the demise of a single source of truth years before Facebook, social media and digital journalism monetized silos of falsity. We would deliver hundreds of identical  Wisconsin State Journals. In the wintertime it would sometimes get a bit precarious on the icy roads as spinouts did happen and word of uncontrolled donuts on icy farm roads would reach the discussion at the dinner table. For sure, when we got home I would go back to bed and fall asleep in the warm soft sheets that I had left a few hours before.

John Lyons with Emma in 1966
John Lyons with his daughter Emma in 1966

When I was in high school, while scarfing down a bowl of cereal in the kitchen, my dad informed me out of the blue that he had a son with a previous wife. Anthony, was evidently my half-brother.  Even though I had never been informed or this I looked at him and was neither surprised or shocked. When you are a self-absorbed sixteen-year-old, such news means nothing. Later on we learned that Anthony had died young in a car accident in his thirties – our half-brother from another life we never met.

A few years back, after both of my parents had passed, we all started putting the pieces together. The morning paper route in the blue VW bus was surely to help  pay for child support for Anthony. The irony is that while I was with my dad on his morning paper route  helping him pay for past deeds, it turned out I was the lucky one as I was the one able to spend those magical mornings with my dad. I still remember the smell of the seats in the VW bus, the noisy sound of the motor and can see his hand reaching back for the next paper.

 

 

San Francisco’s First Juneteenth Parade

As a celebration of liberation and freedom, on June 10th, 2023, there was a Juneteenth Parade down Market Street in San Francisco. The parade headed west. On bicycle, I headed down to the event going east down side streets then on Market taking in the many floats. There were a few drum-based bands, lots of beautiful and amazing cars, youth groups, a float dedicated to William Alexander Leidesdorff, Jr. (1810 – May 18, 1848) one of the earliest biracial-black U.S. citizens in California and one of the founders of the city that became San Francisco. (we learn something new everyday), the African American Shakespeare Company more really cool cars and holding down the rear about five Black folk riding horseback. It was a pretty amazing site to see.

I saw Mayor London Breed and the ubiquitous Scott Weiner as well as Supervisor Ahsha Safai. The parade was lightly attended. There was a contingent of unarmed police officers in the parade. Hopefully, this tradition will continue.

 

 

Banning the Wrong Books

…the truth is, that when a Library expels a book of mine and leaves an unexpurgated Bible lying around where unprotected youth and age can get hold of it, the deep unconscious irony of it delights me and doesn’t anger me.”
Mark Twain – concerning the banning of “Eve’s Diary,” a comic short story by Mark Twain

There has been much news about the banning of books of late. A sort of totalitarian energy in our world has emerged in a way reminiscent of earlier times. The “thought police” is hard at work. With opinion becoming increasingly confused for truth and a reactionary strain has entered the body politic. There has been the  banning of books on civil rights, African American history, gay rights and history and queer memoirs one of which is Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe perhaps the most banned book in recent years.

Curious what all the fuss is about, I checked out Gender Queer from the public  library.  The book is actually a comic book. It is memoir of a young person in rural Northern California discovering their gender identity and becoming transgender.  It is poorly written, rather naïve and the illustrations leave a lot to be desired. You can read the entire book in a few hours. I highly recommend that people check this book out from the library and read it as this topic will continue to be in the news. It will certainly influence future elections. While you are at the library also check out some Calvin and Hobbes and perhaps Captain Underpants –  far better literary works.

Indeed, I think the problem with the books bans, is the quality of the books they are banning. The banning of books seems only to shine the light on these trendy  low quality books which few adults have actually read. The book banning types need to go after bigger fish and bring interest to higher quality work. There are so many to choose from. Without further adieu:

SF Journal Official Short List of Banned Books 2023


#1: Brave New World
Aldous Huxley
HarperCollins
The notion that in the future we will become these sex-crazed perverts is simply unacceptable. The explicit drug use is out of control as well. Do not read this book! It will ruin your brain.

#2: Slaughterhouse Five – A Children’s Crusade
Kurt Vonnegut
Random House
One of those books that has been banned, and should be banned because there is perhaps a little sex and nudity, but probably because Vonnegut, a pacifist, takes the whole notion of war to task. In our war-mongering world, peace is simply unacceptable.

#3: Free People of Color of New Orleans : An Introduction
Mary Gehman
Margaret Media, Incorporated
This “woke” book goes way too far. Why in the world would we even mention New Orleans in the context of geography, Black history or American culture. That the book points out that African Americans were actually free in New Orleans throughout the history of the United States is just plain preposterous.

 

CONCLUSION
Of course there are many more books that need to be suppressed. To all the censors out there: please work harder at identifying higher quality books to ban.

Carnaval 2023 – It Just Gets Better and Better

San Francisco Carnaval takes place every year during Memorial Day weekend It is one of those “under the radar” events that seems to be attended by the locals in the know. Saturday along Harrison Street featured many musical performances on different stages, food vendors and various activities. I particularly enjoyed the lineup on Saturday at the 22nd Street and Harrison Stage with some very talented and prepared local Bay Area musicians. The stage closed the day with Los Van Van from Cuba.

1:00PM BULULU
2:00PM SABOR DE MI CUBA
3:00PM AKHEEL MESTAYER QUINTET
4:00PM LOS VAN VAN

Tragically, Juan Formell, the leader and bass player of Los Van Van had died on stage in New York the night before so it was surely a profound event. Unfortunately I was unable to hear the Los Van Van set as I had a previously booked gig. Reports came in all positive.

All the stages tended to run late as the day when on. I heard that Los Van Van did not go on until around 6 pm.

Sunday is the Carnaval parade. Many different cultures and peoples throughout Latin America participate. It is an interesting juxtaposition to see all the many colorful dance troops and bands on floats perform while in the background is the gritty Mission Street. Many of the Aztec dancers did the whole parade barefoot. Now that is dedication!

Until next Carnaval 2024!

 

 

 

 

History Books are Not Meant To Make You Feel Comfortable

Florida and The “Don’t Make Me Feel Guilty Act”

The selling and buying of textbooks is a big business and in Florida they are actively controlling  textbooks often concerning the instruction of  issues of race and social protest.  Florida and Governor Ron DeSantis have been much in the news for various censorship bills. Some of the language in the Florida bill CS/HB 7— Individual Freedom  is rather strange. It  attempts to make it so kids are not made to feel guilty through association. I am not sure whether there are specific incidents of teachers traumatizing kids with guilt through association but maybe that is a Florida thing.

Required Instruction

  • A person, by virtue of his or her race or sex, does not bear responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.
  • A person should not be instructed that he or she must feel guilt, anguish, or other forms of psychological distress for actions, in which he or she played no part, committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.

From the Florida Bill CS/HB 7

In Florida, history is evidently not about truth or even the pursuit of truth, but of making sure that certain people feel comfortable.

We’re #1 and Never Question American Exceptionalism

At the core of this sort of legislation is the notion of American exceptionalism. History has always been written and controlled by those in power and the “victors. ”  The bills in Florida are just one more explicit example of this phenomenon.

The history of the United States that was taught to me  in the 1970s left out a lot of important stuff that I learned about only much later in life. (Juneteenth and the Tulsa massacre are just a few examples). Often, the teaching of U.S. history tended to focus on the  the 18th century and the founding of the nation. George Washington and his cherry tree. Benjamin Franklin and his kite and pragmatic habits and little of the fact that he was a vegetarian. The beef industry maybe cut that part out..  The notion that the pilgrims and the Indians had Thanksgiving together and ate turkeys and pumpkin pie.  The exceptionalism of democracy itself. The Declaration of Independence and a little of the Bill of Rights until even that started to become uncomfortable.

By the time you finished high school you maybe learned a few details about the  World War II but that was mostly to the hum of a film projector playing newsreels of the time – the “Battle of the Bulge” or maybe D-Day. Your history teacher, an audio visual enthusiast, was  glad to have the hour of World War II propaganda films so he could grade papers in the dark.  The United States saved the world from fascism but what was fascism but some guy with a strange mustache in a large wool coat screaming into a mic and solders saluting with straight arms. Ten minutes on the holocaust. We did not read anything about the Korean  or Vietnam wars. Cuba was pure evil. The working of the CIA and the assignations of leaders of various democratically elected leaders around the world was never on the syllabus. Current events were discussed occasionally but always in the context of American exceptionalism. Martin Luther King was but a dream. Books that were banned were more often fiction – Huck Finn, Brave New World, Vonnegut and Henry Miller if they somehow made it to the library stacks. Insulting language and often far to sexy. As is always is the case, censorship had the opposite effect of garnering interest for the forbidden texts.

What I find odd about the whole Florida case and the culling of history textbooks is why would Florida even buy new history textbooks? Are the old history books worn out? If they want to live in the fantasy of the US history as taught in 1965 where America can do no wrong, just use one from a bygone time. Every student knows that the real history is often between the lines.  I was often bored to a stupor by the typical history book with the end-of-chapter questions and the summaries meant to fill my brain with often trivial facts. It would be far better to simple use the old history books and teach them in context.  See how the American exceptionalism that was promoted is often far more complex than first meets the eye. Fill in the missing pieces with real books that go into detail about all the things that really happened. Read original works from authors of the time.

What is obviously lacking in all of this discussion is the fact what is often not taught is critical thinking and skepticism, two skills that are essential in life. History can perhaps make people  feel uncomfortable with the truths of the past but kids, please do not take it personally as it is events beyond your control.

Related links:

https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2022/7/BillText/er/PDF

https://www.flsenate.gov/Committees/BillSummaries/2022/html/2809

https://www.fldoe.org/newsroom/latest-news/florida-approves-over-60-of-social-studies-instructional-materials-submissions.stml

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/05/09/us/desantis-florida-social-studies-textbooks.html?searchResultPosition=2

Parking Tickets in San Francisco

As a pubic service, below is the most recent list of Citations and fines for San Francisco, California. From https://www.sfmta.com/sites/default/files/reports-and-documents/2020/10/fy_2021_fees_and_fines_effective_1.1.21.pdf

Parking Violations and Fines – SF Transportation Code Penalty Schedule Effective 7/1/2021
Citations
Div I 7.2.10 Pedestrian Crossings $77
Div I 7.2.11 Electric Assistive Personal Mobility Devices $100
Div I 7.2.12 Bicycle Riding Restricted $100
Div I 7.2.13 NUV Violation $100
On-Street Parking
Div I 7.2.20 Residential Parking $97
Div I 7.2.22 Street Cleaning $85

The Tyranny of Parking Tickets

There is perhaps nothing that can ruin your day in San Francisco more than returning to your car and finding a parking ticket under your windshield wiper.
Every San Franciscan with a car has experienced the wrath of the metermaid – seemingly peaceful and calm people in their blue uniforms driving around in their golf carts issuing pain and misery around town. The reason they wear helmets is surely for self protection. It is a hard job indeed and the fines make it so if there is one thing that San Franciscans take seriously it is avoiding parking tickets. Once you get a rash of these you begin to wonder if you should simply stay in bed all day just so you do not lose money.

The one that is often the most peculiar is the $85 you must cough up for the Div I 7.2.22 Street Cleaning infraction. While you look out your window with your car ticketed and observe the street cleaning truck go by mostly just blowing trash every which way it makes you take a deep breath and hopefully chuckle. I have street cleaning schedule on my calendar with alerts thirty minutes prior to the event.

When you get one of these you soon start think of all the various ways you could have spent the $85. Perhaps a dinner for two at a fine restaurant. Three large pizzas at North Beach Pizza. Six Super Carnitas Burritos at Guadalajara, Tickets for two at SF Jazz, the list is endless.

Whoever said San Francisco is soft on crime never parked their car and forgot to plug the meter!

On-Street Parking (continued)
Div I 7.2.23(a) Parking Meter- Downtown Core $96
Div I 7.2.23(b) Parking Meter-Outside Downtown Core $87
Div I 7.2.25 Red Zone $110
Div I 7.2.26 Yellow Zone $110
Div I 7.2.27 White Zone $110
Div I 7.2.28 Green Zone $90
Div I 7.2.29 Parking for Three Days $75
Div I 7.2.30(a) Overtime Parking Downtown Core $96
Div I 7.2.30(b) Overtime Parking Outside Downtown Core $87
Div I 7.2.30(c) Overtime Meter Parking Downtown Core $96
Div I 7.2.30(d) Overtime Meter Parking Outside Downtown Core $87
Div I 7.2.32 Angled Parking $72
Div I 7.2.33 Blocking Residential Door $60
Div I 7.2.34 Median Dividers and Islands $97
Div I 7.2.35 Parking on Grades $60
Div I 7.2.36 100 Feet Oversize $110
Div I 7.2.37 Motorcycle Parking $110
Div I 7.2.38 Parking in Stand $110
Div I 7.2.39 Parking Transit-Only $110
Div I 7.2.40 Tow-Away Zone- Downtown Core $110
Div I 7.2.41 Tow-Away Zone- Outside Downtown Core $110
Div I 7.2.42 Parking Restrictions $110
Div I 7.2.43 Parking-Public Property $79
Div I 7.2.44 Misuse Disabled Parking Placard/License $866
Div I 7.2.45 Temporary Parking Restriction $85
Div I 7.2.46 Temporary Construction Zone $85
Div I 7.2.47 Remove Chalk $110
Div I 7.2.48 Repairing Vehicle $104
Div I 7.2.49 Permit on Wrong Car $110
Div I 7.2.50 Invalid Permit $110
Div I 7.2.51 Parking Marked Space $67
Div I 7.2.52 On-Street Car Share Parking $110
Div I 7.2.54 Large Vehicle $110
Off-Street Parking
Div I 7.2.60 Parking Facility $72
Div I 7.2.61 Entrance/Exit Parking Facility $100
Div I 7.2.62 Blocking Space Parking Facility $77
Div I 7.2.63 Speeding within Parking Facility $100
Div I 7.2.64 Block Charging Bay $110
Div I 7.2.65 Overtime Parking_Off Street Parking Meter $79
Div I 7.2.66 Misuse Disabled Parking Placard/License Plate $866
Div II 1009 SFMTA Property $110

The Bitter Sages of the North Coast

When you live in a city and and your mornings are often spent listening to the sound of rubber on asphalt, your afternoons to the huffing of brakes on the local bus line, and the evenings to the scream of sirens and firetrucks, it is good to sometimes hit the road and explore the quiet hinterlands of California. One of those places is the North Coast and towns like Point Arena three hours north of San Francisco.  People are generally friendly survivors of this rugged coast, running a variety of local businesses – cafes, second-hand boutiques, carpenters, handymen, wine laborers, yoga instructors, teachers. and artists. Not a chain store or corporate restaurant in sight.

At the pier in Point Arena I ventured into Point Arena Pizza and was amused at an obviously home-made poster on the industrial refrigerator.  In San Francisco such sarcasm with the youth is not very common. In the country, they may be less inclined to refrain from such truths.

Attention Teenagers
If you are tired of being hassled by unreasonable parents
now is the time for action
Leave home and pay your own way while you still know everything.

Point Arena, CA

And indeed, sarcasm is just one of the services that they offer. The quote above is timeless. I am sure it would bring a snicker to parents all over the world.

The Quarterly Report – March 2023

The Quarterly Report: A brief synopsis of the news in San Francisco over the last three months.

Weather

There has been a lot of rain this year with “atmospheric rivers” coming in off the Pacific one after another like waves.  We once called these just “storms.” Now they are “atmospheric rivers” – which I kind of like. “Hey mommy what is that thing in the sky?  Don’t worry Junior. That’s just an “atmospheric river.” In between these deluges for a few days we get brilliant blue skies and the entire city of San Francisco seems to jump into their cars to do errands and shop for food until the next “atmospheric river” hits. What is different this year is that there has been a lot of thunder and lightning. For the first twenty years that I lived in San Francisco I heard thunder one time. This winter thunder and lightning has been  a regular thing.

In late February it got so cold the Bay Area received snow at the higher elevations. For over a week Mount Diablo was a snow-capped peak and briefly the Bay Area looked a little like Seattle.

Politics

Nothing to report on the San Francisco politics front. The usual urban problems persist but instead of the libertarian right blaming Chesa Boudin they are going after the Board of Supervisors for all the city’s problems.

He says it’s all those loons on the Board of Supervisors; it certainly has nothing to do with San Francisco’s 30-year string of establishment-friendly, pro-business, moderate mayors.
– Joe Eskenazi, Michael Moritz’s strange and terrible diagnosis of San Francisco (Mission Local)

Joe Eskenazi takes issue with Mr. Moritz

One of local online papers, the Mission Local had a piece by Joe Eskenazi titled   Michael Moritz’s strange and terrible diagnosis of San Francisco by (February 28, 2023). It takes apart a guest op-ed in the New York Times by Michael Moritz,  Even Democrats Like Me Are Fed Up With San Francisco

Joe Eskenazi’s article makes many good points, but it is a bit like shooting fish in a barrel starting with the title. It should really be “Even Billionaire Democrats Like Me Are Fed Up With San Francisco.” Michael Moritz is a billionaire venture capitalist and developer and states a party affiliation as Democrat only to score political points. He is surely a bit like Rick Caruso who switched from being a Republican to a Democrat only before he decided to run for mayor of Los Angeles. Money does speak volumes, even  evidently getting space in the New York Times.

At that time, warehouses and railroad yards occupied the area now known as Mission Bay — today the area houses one of the world’s leading medical centers, mixed-use housing, the home of the Golden State Warriors and Visa’s new world headquarters.
– Michael Moritz, Even Democrats Like Me Are Fed Up With San Francisco (NYT)

If you are a San Francisco native, what they did to Mission Bay is for some a disaster and others perhaps a mixed blessing. The area looks more like Los Angeles or San Jose. An area that had some small businesses and manufacturing is now a car-centric industrial park.  Most of the businesses that occupy the ground-level shops are of the corporate variety. Furthermore, Mission Bay is one of those places where the majority of the workers drive to work and park in behemoth parking garages. The Mariposa 280 exit is a disaster and an accident waiting to happen as the morning car commute is heavy. Mission Bay is  a car centric area. No thank you Moritz. And, no one pointed out the whole thing is on landfill. Not too long ago it was a bay and wetlands and what they built on was under ten feet of water. When things start to shake, things could tumble.

National Politics Quote to Chew On

She was the one who branded Ronald Reagan the “Teflon president,” against whom bad news, like the Iran-contra scandal, did not stick. Of Vice President Dan Quayle, she said, “He thinks that Roe versus Wade are two ways to cross the Potomac.”
Patricia Schroeder – New York Times Obit

I have always been a big fan of Pat Schroeder. She was an amazing woman with a sharp wit who wrote and passed legislation that people probably take for granted. She died on March 14, 2023. There are no feminists alive today  who have humorous and biting zingers like Pat churned out.

She had to fight blatant discrimination from the start, facing questions about how, as the mother of two young children, she could function as both a mother and a lawmaker. “I have a brain and a uterus and I use both,” she responded.
Patricia Schroeder – New York Times Obit

Sporting News

As the Golden State Warriors play five-hundred basketball, the playoffs are probably down the road and then all bets are off. I do not follow basketball until crunch-time. With all the rain and snow the ski season is going to go until the end of April and beyond. There will be snow in the mountains until late June. For much of the season the issue has been too much snow with roads often closed.

COVID-19 Pandemic Update

In public places like busses and libraries masks seem to be common but people are out and about and traffic is definitely back to pre-pandemic times.

Parklets, Haircuts and Where the Sun Does Shine

Some parklets seem to be staying, usually on roads like Valencia Street that are north/south. Music events are everywhere. There are many really good bands in San Francisco. Remember to tip the band!

That is The Quarterly Report –March 2023.

Photo Gallery of SF

The Quarterly Report – March 2023

Breaking News: The Field of Biology is Not In The Humanities

Jeffrey Cohen, a butter-voiced, bearded man who has been the dean of the humanities at A.S.U. since 2018, told me. On taking the position, he hired a marketing firm, Fervor, to sell the humanities better. It ran a market survey of eight hundred and twenty-six students.

“It was eye-opening to see their responses,” Cohen said. “In general, they loved the humanities and rated them higher than their other courses. However, they were unclear on what the humanities were—two hundred and twenty-two thought that biology was a humanity.”
From “The End of the English Major” By Nathan Heller (The New Yorker – February 27, 2023)

The “The End of the English Major” By Nathan Heller (The New Yorker – February 27, 2023) is an illuminating article about how young people today are no longer pursuing degrees in English, History, Philosophy and the other humanities. In many ways you cannot blame them. College is expensive and when you leave you are going to need a way to pay off all those loans. The help wanted listings do not have jobs outright for people who are experts in say Charles Dickens or Renaissance sculpture in Northern Italy. “Go west young man” has been replaced with “get a Computer Science degree you fool!” Be practical and make some loot with ones and zeros.

And the fact that twenty percent of kids today think that biology is in the humanities is understandable as recently the field of psychology has been confusing gender and sex and it is easy to think that they both may be “fluid” and a “spectrum”  – not so much hard science, but more about expression, culture and personal preference.

I would say what is at stake with this exodus of people from the humanities is a whole generation of people who are less literate and easily coerced into believing just about anything. Its the death of critical thinking and by the way – biology is a science!

Books I Read In 2022

Books I Read in 2022 is brought to you by Bird and Beckett Books in San Francisco.

Bird and Beckett Books

Remember, before you buy a book from Jeff Bezos consider supporting your local bookstore. There are so many great book stores in San Francisco. I also highly recommend Green Apple Books on Clement Street. They have just about everything and the staff is amazing. When you buy a book from a local bookstore you get that warm fuzzy feeling just thinking that you may have kept a local business alive and you may even make some real friends.

Below are the books I read in 2022.  This year I realized how fun it is to keep this annual list and reflect back on these literary journeys.  The list is organized in the order that I read them.

I always like to mix up contemporary works with classics. Some of the highlights of the year is reading Brave New World in January and then spending the entire year marveling at the clairvoyance of Aldous Huxley.  It is a must-read for anyone in the 21st century. What a great book! I picked up Free People of Color of New Orleans : An Introduction. in New Orleans. It is a short  book and illuminates how the issue of race is in the United States is complex, how various stories are rarely told – one being race and the City of New Orleans. I did read a few chapters of the 1619 Project but found that I already knew a lot of the material, so it became a bit of a slog.  I was lucky to read No One Writes to the Colonel: And Other Stories  while staying in Cali Colombia for a week.  Way too fun! I read it twice.

This heat is enough to rust the screws in my head.

No One Writes to the Colonel: And Other Stories
Gabriel García Márquez

Books I Read 2022

Brave New World
Aldous Huxley
HarperCollins
Read Review

Finding the Right Notes
Ron Carter
Petrack Production

After a couple of months on the road with the band, Herbie began to feel frustrated. He was copying all the other pianists but not allowing himself to come out from hiding. Finally that frustration came to a head. “I thought , I’ve just got to play, really play.” Herbie said. ” If that conflicts with Miles, I’ll just have to hear the consequences.” So at Sutherford Lounge in Chicago one night, I let it loose. I figured that Miles was going to fire me after the set, but he leaned over to me and said. “Why didn’t you play like that before?” That shocked me. Then it dawned on that that a copy is never as good as the original. Miles wanted to hear me. And so did Ron and Tony.

Finding the Right Notes
Ron Carter

Americanah
Ngozi Adiche
Anchor Books

Robots Men and Minds
Ludwig Von Bertalanffy
Brazziller

The Bomb
Howard Zinn
City Lights

Free People of Color of New Orleans : An Introduction
Mary Gehman
Margaret Media, Incorporated

The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitxgerald
Scribner

Ladies Who Lunch
Joseph Woodard
Household Ink

The Septembers of Shiraz
Dalia Sofer
Harper Perenial
Read Review

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Mark Twain
The Mark Twain Library

Witches Midwives & Nurses
Barbara Ehrenreich & Deirdre English
The Feminist Press at CUNY; 2nd edition (July 1, 2010)
Read Review

Thomas Merton, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, And The Protection Of All Beings
Bill Morgan
Beatdom Press
Read Review

The Bomb
Howard Zinn
City Lights Books

No One Writes to the Colonel: And Other Stories
Gabriel García Márquez
Harper Perennial

The Manufacture of Madness
Thomas Szsasz
Harper and Row
Read Review

Skyblue the Badass
Dallas Weibe

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk
David Sedaris
Little, Brown and Company

Gender Queer
Maia Kobabe
One Forge Publishing Group

A Coney Island of the Mind: Poems
Lawrence Ferlinghetti
New Directions

The Quarterly Report – December 2022

The Quarterly Report: A brief synopsis of the news in San Francisco over the last three months. Note: this is actually a six month synopsis as the October 2022 Quarterly Report was missed due to labor issues.

Politics

The November 6, 2022  San Francisco election outcomes were all predictable as the incumbents won easily.  Brooke Jenkins won the San Francisco D.A. job.  In terms of crime, drug overdoses and homelessness, not much has changed since Jenkins became the D.A.  save for the observation that Capp Street now seems to have more prostitution and a few more homeless camps.  A good friend who works at 850 Bryant Street  says that the jail is about as full as when Chesa Boudin was in charge.  Boudin was recalled because he came to the job with long term ideas and radical solutions that did not promote incarceration for non-violent offenders. Politically that is a hard road as people want quick fixes for things were quick fixes do not exist. There are no short term solutions to homelessness.

Gavin Newsom and Nancy Pelosi had no significant challengers and so kept their jobs.

In San Francisco, one of the tragic and strange events of the past six months was the home invasion of the Pelosi residence. Paul Pelosi eventually got clobbered in the head with a hammer. Evidently we must all be wary (or have a security detail)  as there are all kinds of deranged people out there eating up the conspiracies brewing on the internet. To a speedy recovery Mr. Pelosi.

There has to be some adult supervision on the Republican side, in order to say, ‘Enough. Enough,”
Nancy Pelosi – November 2022

Proposition I – Vehicles on JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park and the Great Highway lost and Proposition J – Recreational Use of JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park passed. So confusing! This means that Golden Gate Park’s John F. Kennedy Drive will remain car-free. After all that confusion, what is sometimes lost is the actual schedule for the Great Highway.

Starting at noon on Friday and going until 6 a.m. on Monday, The Great Highway is closed to cars.

The Great Highway in SF

Vehicular Access Schedule 
Vehicular access to the Upper Great Highway is open on:

Monday – starting at 6 a. m.
Tuesday – all day
Wednesday – all day
Thursday – all day
Friday – ending at 12 noon

This schedule started on August 16, 2021 and will be in place until the Board of Supervisors considers legislation on the future of the Great Highway beyond the pandemic emergency closure. Additional information can be found on the Mayor’s Press Release.
From https://sfrecpark.org/1651/Great-Highway-Hours-and-Schedule

National Politics Quote to Chew On

By the way, Liz and I are not courageous. There’s no strength in this. We’re just surrounded by cowards. And then [in] complete contrast to cowardism [sic], it looks like courage when it’s just your bare duty.”
U.S. Congressman Adam Kinzinger – November 2022 from https://kinzinger.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=403011

Sporting News

Soccer
Argentina won the World Cup against France in double overtime and penalties. It was an amazing World Cup and a perfect activity for some battling the latest round of colds, flu or COVID 19.

Football
The San Francisco 49ers, with a great defense, a lot of stellar skill players on offence and a poised, talented, third string rookie quarterback named Brock Purdy are on an eight game winning streak and headed to the playoffs.  This will be fun to watch as everyone loves the home team when they start winning.

Weather

Fortunately we have been getting some good storms this year. The first came in mid-November and dumped a few feet of snow on the Sierra. In December, there have been multiple weather systems come through bringing plenty of rain. Surf is definitely up at times.

End of Year Point Arena Buoy Report. 35 foot waves. Yikes!

COVID-19 Pandemic Update

While San Francisco for the last two years been a place were people wear masks out of respect the pandemic does seem to be waning. In public places like busses and libraries masks seem to be common but people are out and about and traffic is definitely back to pre-pandemic times.

Parklets, Haircuts and Where the Sun Does Shine

Some parklets seem to be staying and music events are everywhere. There are many really good bands in San Francisco. Remember to tip the band!

That is The Quarterly Report – December 2022.

Photo Gallery of SF

The Quarterly Report – December 2022

A Stitch In Time

A Stitch In Time is now playing at the Pelican Cafe.

It is a song about the 6th Mass extinction otherwise known as the Holocene extinction. Oceans did sing to the sunsets. And once a whale did swim by.  That’s all you get. Just a stitch in time.

A Stitch In Time

There was a day
Not so long ago
The sun did rise
To the East

CHORUS
That’s all you get
Just a stitch in time
Dilly dally
And it does fly

And then the sun
Kissed the Mission
And found a friend
In the fog

CHORUS
That’s all you get
Just a stitch in time
Dilly dally
And it does fly

Oceans did sing
To the sunsets
And once the whales
Did swim by

CHORUS
That’s all you get
Just a stitch in time
Dilly dally
And it does fly

CODA
Don’t feel so bad
It’s happened before
Haven’t you heard
There’s bees.

Paul Lyons 8/2022

California College of the Arts November 2022 Ground Breaking Ceremony

On November 15th, 2022 California College of the Arts will hold a ground breaking ceremony for the San Francisco campus expansion over an Ohlone shellmound (named “Project Double Ground”) During legally required archaeological testing on the backlot of the SF campus, CCA discovered fragments of shells, bones and tools located 40 feet below the surface in the bore samples. The samples identify Ohlone activity before the Bay Area was violently colonized dating back more than 7,500 years.
Hold CCA accountable for building over an Ohlone shellmound (change.org)

A few days a week I work programming websites on Irwin Street across from the California College of the Arts. It is a jovial office of designers who produce very good work. Across from the office, on November 15, 2022, CCA held a ground breaking ceremony for a new campus extension, but this was all simply pomp and circumstance as they have been digging, flattening and scraping the ground for many months on  land that last year was a parking lot.  You see large equipment that looks like pile drivers (not looking forward to when that gets started) and the area has been flattened and groomed for construction. We all looked out from the second story windows for a few minutes to take in the special event. It was a bright crisp autumn day.

Map of San Francisco California 1853 - wikimedia.org. From this Map it appears that Irwin Street was under water.
Map of San Francisco California 1853 – wikimedia.org. From this Map it appears that Irwin Street was under water.

What Really Went Down

Irwin Street, like Wisconsin Street nearby is often a place were the unhoused put up tents and hunker down surrounded always by a strange assortment of personal belongings. A week before the ground breaking ceremony, about a dozen police officers and social workers who do homelessness outreach started clearing out the tents and unhoused folks. It was a major operation complete with bobtail trucks to haul away the stuff. Word had it that they were taking them to a hotel – hot showers and some fresh clothes, a fresh start to life perhaps.  I do hope that they find their legs, as it must be a drag to camp night after night on the sordid streets at the base of Potrero Hill..

The following week on November 15th, 2022, Irwin Street, outside the California College of the Arts, was once again closed off. This time there were white canopy style event tents and various tables, chairs organized in rows, a lectern and about a half dozen people milling around. It all began to make sense. You cannot have a ground breaking ceremony next to a homeless encampment – it is just not a good look. The largest canopy faced the new campus extension and there was a lectern. It looked like a set up for a wedding or maybe some sort of graduation ceremony.  Caterers were nowhere to be found. Food would not be part of this celebration. The sidewalk where the homeless were was all clear and  smelled of bleach.

In the middle of the day, about a hundred people gathered. From our second floor window, we heard speeches which we could not make out.  On the periphery there were protesters holding professionally printed signs that said “SHELL MOUND.” They stood and listened and were entirely peaceful. A few round of applauses, more speeches  and then a multi-racial and multi-gendered New Orleans style second-line style brass band came marching out of the main CCA building playing a joyous tune. They marched around the crowd and played for about five minutes then returned to the main California College of the Arts building from whence they came.  It was all a bit surreal and felt a bit odd. Mercenary horn players are always easy hires for well-paid five minute gigs. The band was indeed very good.

Then you had applauses and the whole thing was over, people mingled for a bit and then the staff started taking down the canopy tents and packing away the chairs.

ORDER OF EVENTS

(For those wanting to do a ground-breaking ceremony on native grounds in San Francisco)

STEP 1:  Clear out the homeless encampments the week before.

STEP 2: On the day of the ceremony set up tents and chairs.

STEP 3: Give speeches and thank people. (Not sure what they said about the history of the spot)

STEP 4: Hire a New Orleans style second-line style brass band to make everyone feel better about the whole shebang.  Have the band march around to spread the joy.

Who are the Ohlone?
Ohlone is a collective of around 50 separate tribes with related languages that were collectively placed under the umbrella term: Ohlone. The Ohlone are Native American people located in the Northern California Coast, tribes inhabited areas from the coast of San Francisco through Monterey Bay to lower Salinas Valley. The Ohlone family of tribes have been living in the Bay Area for 10,000 years

CLOSING THOUGHTS

San Francisco map composite. 1856 -2022
San Francisco map composite. 1853 -2022
San Francisco map composite. 1856 -2022 - Close Up Mission Bay
San Francisco map composite. 1853 -2022 – Close Up Mission Bay

San Francisco is Ohlone land and over the last 300 years has been completely transformed.  It would be amazing to go back in time 300 years and stand at what now is Irwin and 7th Street and just look around. You probably would need a canoe. According to a map from 1853, Mission Creek flowed into the San Francisco Bay (see map above) and the area was probably wetlands and underwater. Humans have completely changed the geography of San Francisco, filling in the bay, making more space for development. This has been going on for hundreds of years. It is Western Civilization’s obsession with conquering, not living in harmony with nature. We see this same ethos today with notion that we must “fight climate change.” Sunrise on Mission Bay must have been a sight with certainly a lot of wildlife and from early accounts huge flocks of birds.

Where the California College of the Arts new extension building is being built is along 7th Street and towering above is Interstate 280. If the Ohlone time-traveled to today, and attended the ceremony they probably would not recognize anything and many would probably be perplexed and perhaps terrified of the brass band.  However, that the area in question, the Shell Mound is now the place for an Art School is probably a good thing. It could have been turned into unsold luxury condos, an IKEA or perhaps a headquarters for some tech company with the latest get-rich scheme.  Maybe one day the California College of the Arts will make a plaque to acknowledge the Ohlone and their history.  Perhaps, a student looking for meaning to their art will stumble upon the Ohlone basket tradition and incorporate the designs and ideas into their work. But one thing is always true. When you are feeling down and out, and perhaps need to smooth over a tricky political situation, or simply want to feel good about something – anything, simply hire a second line brass band.  They even do funerals.

EDITED 11/22/2022 – Added images and updated some text for clarity. Fixed typos. Map composite an approximation.

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2022 – Preview and Recommendations

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass: A FREE gathering in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco featuring dozens of musical acts on 6 stages.

September 30 – October 2, 2022.

https://www.hardlystrictlybluegrass.com/schedule/


This link above is pretty much all you need to know about this music festival that goes back more than a decade, and is free and unusual.  The now deceased, banjo-playing billionaire Warren Hellman’s fortune keeps it all going and hires the bands and now extensive security. Thanks Warren! The music is an odd mix of genres but comes down to some country and bluegrass bands, old geezer, baby boomer bands, alternative rock and pop bands and a few local bands. For a young band, your way to get the gig is to be in the industry and a hard working touring band that has paid some dues, traveled many miles in a van and probably slept in a lot of Motel 6’s.

Whether you experience Hardly Strictly Bluegrass at one stage with a group of friends, a blanket, chardonnay and lots of stinky cheese and olives or want to catch a lot of stages, travel light and fly solo or with a like-minded buddy or partner in crime is your choice. I tend to go with the fly solo thing as there are so many bands it seems a shame to be tied down to one spot.

Here is my list of people I hope to hear, but as always things change and I may find myself eating brie with some strangers at a stage listening to someone I never knew that then becomes my new favorite band.

PAUL’S HAPHAZARED PICKS FOR THE HSB 2022 FESTIVAL

AJ LEE AND BLUE SUMMIT

AJ Lee is a local band that most people in the Bay Area do not know, which is strange because they are really good.  Santa Cruz bluegrass at its best.

ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL

Country swing from West Texas. Nothing like some Dizzy Gillespie thrown in with your Hank Williams

CEDRIC WATSON

Some Bayou sounds not to miss.

CYMANDE

This looks like a really interesting band far from bluegrass.

DASHAWN HICKMAN W/ CHARLIE HUNTER

ELVIS COSTELLO

FARE THEE WELL: CELEBRATING THE SONGS OF JOHN PRINE, NANCY BECHTLE, JUSTIN TOWNES EARLE & MORE

JESSE COLIN YOUNG

RHIANNON GIDDENS W/ FRANCESCO TURRISI

SATYA

It is always good to checkout the Bandwagon Stage were the local folk get up on stage. Not as crazy as the other big stages.

Remember to keep hydrated, pack a few extra snacks and maybe a few extra cans of quality beer for when you find yourself next to some other friendly festival goers .  See y’all on Monday.

Free Jokes about Our “Big World”

George Carlin writes in his book Brain Droppings

“For a long time, my stand-up material has drawn from three sources. The first is the English language: words, phrases, sayings, and the ways we speak. The second source, as with most comedians, has been what I think of as the “little world,” those things we all experience every day: driving, food, pets, relationships and idle thoughts. The third area is what I call the “big world”: war politics, race, death, and social issues. Without having actually measured, I would say this book reflects that balance very closely.”
– George Carlin

The comedy world today is almost entirely about the “big world.” If you see the shows of Trevor Noah or Steven Colbert, it is often the “headlines” and the latest fiascos with presidents, former presidents, senators, dictators. It is the entertainment version of the mainstream news and it is gobbled up as the world is such a crazy place. So the jokes come easy in the “big world” as the material is endless.

Not to be outdone, here are a few of my “big world” free jokes. Just random ideas really.

FREE JOKE #1

Donald Trump’s house was searched and they found boxes of classified material – “classified/TS/SCI” — shorthand for “top secret/sensitive compartmented information,”

The FBI, just to be thorough, and to make sure they had not missed something from past administrations decided to search Jimmy Carter’s house but they did not find anything but came away with ideas about how to build affordable housing all over the world and some pretty good poems. Then the FBI got a warrant to search George W. Bush’s ranch in Texas and all they got was a file  folder of Texas B.B.Q. takeout menus and How to Paint Landscapes art instruction manuals.  Then the FBI searched Obama’s house and all they found were a manuscript to a new book and all his tax returns, but those are all public knowledge.

FREE JOKE #2

Donald Trump, whenever being investigate by law enforcement always returns to the same phrase that it’s a “witch hunt!” Investigating Trump’s multiple trials as a sexual predator and rapist – it’s a “witch hunt.” Meddling in elections and coercing election officials – it is a “witch hunt.” Collusion with Vladimir Putin – it’s a “witch hunt.” Illegally storing top secret classified documents –  it’s a “witch hunt.”  But today authorities have finally discovered and found the witch. It turns out that it is an overweight Caucasian man in his late seventies from New Jersey who wears his ties too long and has a bad combover.

God help us with this “big world.”

The Quarterly Report – July 2022

The Quarterly Report: A brief synopsis of the news in San Francisco over the last three months.

Politics

Chesa Boudin was recalled and Mayor Breed has appointed a new District Attorney, Brooke Jenkins who was a major figure in the recall. Of course she will be under the microscope as all San Francisco district attorneys are and we shall see how the hot seat feels after a few weeks.  Let us see if homelessness and the opioid epidemic disappears. I will hold not my breath.  These issues have always been much larger than the D.A.. Meanwhile, people with serious mental health issues scream into the streetlights and live on the street in cardboard boxes. At some point the city of San Francisco should simply address issues of public safety and health. Creating more public drinking fountains and bathrooms would be a great start.

Sometime the unhoused simply burn down what is left.

Sidewalk in San Francisco once occupied with an unhoused person.
Sidewalk in San Francisco once occupied with an unhoused person.

Sporting News

Basketball
The Golden State Warriors won the 2022 NBA title. Steph Curry with his three point shooting was in the end unstoppable and the team had too much depth.  Jordon Poole’s end of quarter three point buzzer beater shots must have been a bit much for the opposing teams.

Weather

Not much to report that is out of the ordinary. The typical cold summer weather pattern is upon us with foggy and windy conditions. So far there are some fires out to the west in the foothills of the Sierra but not as bad yet as years past. We have our fingers crossed.

Driving north into San Francisco by the airport. You see the fog often climb over Twin Peaks and into the city.

COVID-19 Pandemic Update

While San Francisco for the last two years been a place were people wear masks out of respect the pandemic does seem to be waning. People are out and about and traffic is almost back to pre-pandemic times.

Parklets, Haircuts and Where the Sun Does Shine

Some parklets seem to be staying and music events are picking up. There are many really good bands in San Francisco. Remember to tip the band!

That is The Quarterly Report – July 2022.

Photo Gallery of SF

The Quarterly Report – July 2022

Unbearable Words and Strange Paradoxes

In 2022 there are many terms that in certain contexts are taboo and apparently offensive. The words “master” and “slave” are now being eradicated from our language in certain contexts as they are words that are either repressive or make people feel uncomfortable. An example of this is in programming source control.  On GitHub the “master” branch is now by default called “main.”  You can read about this change on various websites.

What is interesting is that there seems to be a lack of critical thinking here. We are talking about the relationship between branches in a repository, not actual human relations. Furthermore, what is ironic is that in the early days of the web, the person who ran websites was called a “webmaster.” Surely this referred to the mastering of skills and at the time the  creation of ridiculous nested HTML tables and “font” tags, but to the underling of said “webmaster,” could they have taken offence and felt trodden upon as the webmaster’s slave? It all seems rather peculiar and some agree.

jaredpatrick • 8 months ago
I am a black man trying to build a product that is now broken because you are worried I am offended by branch names?

Slavery ended over 150 years ago. We don’t need your virtue signaling.

Stop perpetuating this BLM nonsense. If people want recognition and support then they need to earn it. I worked my rear off to get where I am today without a movement behind me. I have been elevated by people of all types because I have skills and a good work ethic.

We are all serving a “master” whether it is a manager or customers. Nobody can make it without serving someone.

– Comment on www.zdnet.com

To further see the absurdity of this renaming, I recently picked up a copy in a Goodwill store for one dollar of “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by non other than Mark Twain. On the road, I was keeping my eye out for the book having read it in college. The edition was The Newsouth Edition from 2011. I soon found out that I wanted nothing to do with it. The editor had replaced the word “nigger” with the word “slave” throughout so as to not offend people and make it more palatable to the tender high schoolers. Good grief! Evidently it is alright to use the “n” word in a contemporary pop song but it must be washed clean from a pivotal piece of American literature.

What is additionally strange is that Twain had to fight constantly with his editors not to change his punctuation and he got irate when they took out or added commas. I wonder what he would have thought about changing lots of words. I will give this copy away and search for the real thing.

In 2011 the term “nigger” was made less offensive by replacing it with “slave.” Ironically, in 2020 the apparently offensive term “master” is renamed to “main.” We live in a world were comfort supersedes truth and the shrill seem to dominate the conversation. While we bicker over offensive diction real problems are everywhere.

 

 

 

Republicans Buying Elections, DINOS and the Politics of Party Affiliation

The June 7th, 2022 California Primaries are over and the results are in. As expected Gavin Newsom is in control of the Governor race. In San Francisco, Chesa Boudin the District Attorney has been recalled. The Republican’s millions of dollars, the paying for signatures, the war chest bloated by billionaires has ousted a qualified, hard-working, corruption-free district attorney who was simply doing the job he was elected to do with the approach that he campaigned on.  In plain sight, our democracy is for sale to the highest bidder.  Let us now see what happens when Mayor Breed appoints a new D.A. and supposedly the homelessness will disappear, the pharmaceutical company instigated opioid epidemic is solved, and all the burglaries and violent crime vanishes into thin air. I will not hold my breath.

Nationally, there is a trend and strategy for wealthy Republicans who want to suddenly dive into politics of changing political party not because of values, ideology or philosophy, but because it is politically convenient. After being registered as Republicans for their entire lives they  register as Democrats. They do this as they know that as a Republicans they  do not have a chance at the ballot box and so at the eleventh hour join the Democratic party . This is the opposite direction that Donald Trump took when he ran for president, but in his case he was always simply a New York style mob leader and fascist – his party affiliation has been simply a matter of convenience . Donald Trump is in every way the RINO in the room and has made it so the Republican party now looks nothing like the party of Eisenhower, Reagan or Bob Dole.

In Los Angeles the mayoral race  between Rick Caruso and Karen Bass is just another example of this pay to play politics. Rick Caruso is a wealthy Republican real estate mogul who registered as a Democrat simply to run for mayor. A good friend came up with a name for such people – DINOS. Rick Caruso and such characters are indeed “Democrats in Name Only.”

In the end, money talks.

 

Let’s Form a Well Regulated Militia

Second Amendment
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
– The U.S. Bill of Rights

The United States could partially solve the out of control gun issue in this country by playing the “originalist” card and beat the “conservatives” at their own game. Originalism is the the notion that it is best not to interpret The Constitution and that the words must mean what they meant when the document was written. Five years ago I pointed out that the Trump administration did not even post the actual Second Amendment but rewrote it a bit – took out the “well regulated Militia” part and simplified it to basically say  “everyone gets guns.” It is odd that the originalists did not find issue with this rewriting and often they have interpretations like Trump’s on their websites.

https://sfjournal.net/u-s-constitution-original-source/

From my ninth grade history class with William Putman I learned that the whole “well regulated Militia” part had to do with the situation at hand. The newly forming country knew that many of the citizens. especially in rural areas, were armed probably mostly so they could hunt and survive. They did not want the British to take away their weapons and needed these folks to be able to join their cause. Thus you have the antiquated phrase “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State.”

So let’s indeed have a well regulated Militia.  Everyone who owns a gun is now a part of the Militia. I would have all these people with all their guns show up on July 4th to the town armory.  Individuals would be assessed for their mental stability, physical fitness and  understanding of the US Constitution. There would also be required safety trainings. They would be given an official “I’m a Member of the Militia” ID card, and then at the end people would turn in their guns as our “well regulated militia” now no longer needs these weapons.  Indeed, the British are NOT coming. The Militia would now consist of a few thousand folk who use their guns to hunt small birds, rabbits and deer to help with deer wasting disease.

Of course, I write this opinion in jest, as it would never happen, but I write to point out the absurdity of “originalism” and how it is used only when convenient. It does cut both ways.

Judge Kentanji Jackson and Definitions

On March 23, 2022, I submitted the comment below on the NY Times website.

Your comment has been approved!

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with The New York Times community.

Gustav | San Francisco
The Republican’s obsession with child pornography was odd theater. What they did not realize is that Judge Jackson gave them an answer that they should have been pleased with. Saying that the definition of a woman is done by a biologist is the traditional view. More often today it is an “internal sense of self” and then that “sense of self” is affirmed by a psychologist. They are so caught up on, and terrified that a Black woman could be on the Supreme Court, they have stopped listening.

FROM: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/23/us/politics/ketanji-brown-jackson.html


Judge Kentanji Jackson had to sit and watch and respond while the Senate asked questions mostly to grandstand and score political points. The Lindsey Graham tirade was especially painful. The whole confirmation hearing should have been really dry and boring, to see whether or not she is qualified and understands the law. But politics is now more about division and entertainment. It is like mud wrestling or perhaps a demolition derby.

After reading the New York Times article above I commented on it which you can read above. This was approved for a time but then the next day, wondering if someone had commented on my remarks, I noticed that the comment was taken down. This happens to me with the New York Times – they censor my comments at times and practice a sort of thought police. Good grief! I must be a dangerous thinker.

Issues of gender and identity are the new elephant in the room and both the left and the right are thoroughly confused. Judge Jackson’s response to the definition of a woman should have pleased the Republican senator, but he was unprepared, seemingly dense  and probably wanted the answer to be about gender roles and something like “a woman is someone who does the laundry, takes care of the kids and cooks me dinner each night.” Judge Jackson’s response was actually similar to how Judge Neil Gorsuch has responded to issues of gender. In a recent case about discrimination (Bostock vs. Clayton County) Gorsuch wrote. “That’s because it is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that individual based on sex.” In the same way that Judge Jackson said that a woman can be defined by a biologist, Gorsuch used the word “sex.” In the end, for legal purposes, it is biology evidently that still defines us.

While certain feminists are rejoicing with her response, most on the left are apparently oblivious to the ramifications. People on the left may look at a Black woman and think that she shares all of their progressive beliefs and will do everything to keep them happy. Republicans are so caught up on, and terrified that a Black woman could be on the Supreme Court, they have stopped listening and simply long for the days of the old White boys network. But for now, it doesn’t really matter as Judge Kentanji Jackson is imminently qualified and will be a welcome addition to the court.

NOTE:
On March 23, 2022, I submitted the comment above on the NY Times website. At one point I commented a few times every week. It is so odd that my comment was pulled down. Can someone explain why? The NY Times would not say.

Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World – 90 Years Later

“Lacks literary value which is relevant to today’s contemporary multicultural society”
– Banned Books Week: Banned BOOKS in the Library

It is remarkable how the novels of the 20th century have often predicted the 21st with amazing accuracy. So many of the novels of Orwell, Bradbury, Vonnegut and Huxley were spot on.  While the exact details may differ the general concepts are so often clairvoyant to the point of being spooky.  I reread Brave New World by Aldous Huxley having maybe read it a long time ago.  So many of the predictions have become reality. The social engineering, the control of people through pharmaceuticals, the engineering of humans, the disdain for truth and history, the censorship, the obsession with consumerism, the obsession with sex –  the list is long.

Of course the novel is not Disney-approved so has been banned at times mostly for the notion of unlimited sex and the concept of a sort of “free-love” with an advocacy of people having many partners. No doubt that would wake up many boys in tenth grade English class but there is absolutely nothing graphic in the novel and that is maybe the one thing that has not become a reality – at least not in my circles. And everyone please remember: this is a novel and not a manual for how to live life.

While sex with many partners is perhaps not common today the pharmaceuticals are everywhere. The line below seems like it could be the marketing material for Prozac.

“And if ever, by some unlucky chance, anything unpleasant should happen, there’s always soma to give you a holiday from the facts.”

And then there is this concept of “universal happiness” at the expense of truth and beauty so necessary for our present consumerist society.

“Our Ford did a great deal to shift the emphasis from truth and beauty to comfort and happiness. Mass production demanded the shift. Universal happiness keeps the wheels steadily turning; truth and beauty can’t.”

Of course if your comfort is beginning to wane in Brave New World there was a sort of virtual world called the Feelies. Here people could go just to get back to this sort of duped sense of happiness, perhaps a little bit like the new Metaverse.

“A lot of people think that the metaverse is about a place, but one definition of this is it’s about a time when basically immersive digital worlds become the primary way that we live our lives and spend our time,” Zuckerberg told Fridman. “I think that’s a reasonable construct.” – Mark Zuckerberg from businessinsider.com

The notion that the 1932 Brave New Worldlacks literary value which is relevant to today’s contemporary multicultural society” is a pretty odd critique. I have a hard time thinking of themes and topics in the novel that are not relevant.  Perhaps, this is why the brave schools have kids read and discuss  this work. The main problem with having to write a paper on Brave New World is that there are too many relevant contemporary themes.

Vesuvio Cafe

Vesuvio Cafe
255 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

On Columbus Avenue, at the end of Jack Kerouac Alley, across from City Lights Book Store is a treasure of a bar named the Vesuvio Cafe. Before the pandemic, San Francisco locals from other parts of town would generally not venture to such places as they were on the busy tourist path and you had to deal with nice folks from Kansas taking endless selfies in their shorts and newly purchased sweatshirts to fend off the summer fog and the unexpected chilly weather.

Tourism is still quite slow in San Francisco, but the City still has its charms. Vesuvio Cafe and the Jack Kerouac Alley help you slow down, read a poem or two and take in the laundry drying on the fire escape. It is good to be a tourist in your home town. I love this place.


When the shadow of the grasshopper
Falls across the trail of the field mouse
On green and slimly grass as the red sun rises
Above the Western horizon silhouetting
A gaunt and tautly muscled Indian warrior
Perched with bow and arrow cocked and aimed
Straight at you it’s time for another martini.

A.O.S.

(poem on the wall at the Vesuvio Cafe)


Vesuvio Cafe hours: 11 AM ’till bar time
Admission: Free!
Jack Kerouac Alley is open all day and night

The Quarterly Report – March 2022

The Quarterly Report: A brief synopsis of the news in San Francisco over the last three months.

Quote of the week:

“Here’s what’s important to know: To get elected, the most any donor could give me was $500. Recalls are allowed to accept unlimited donations. That’s significant, because the single biggest contributor to the recall is a committee that has given about a $1.5 million so far. We’re not dealing with a grass-roots movement. We’re dealing with a small number of wealthy individuals, many of whom are national Republican major donors, who have financial interests in the real estate industry, in the gig economy and in using the police and the criminal-justice system to force aggressive displacement and gentrification so that their real estate investments can go up. ”
(Chesa Boudin from San Francisco’s D.A. Says Angry Elites Want Him Out of Office – NY Times)

San Francisco Politics

A recent recall dumped three people (School Board President Gabriela Lopez, Commissioner Faauuga Moliga and Commissioner Alison M. Collins)  from the School Board. Mayor London Breed will appoint three replacements for a term of about nine months and then there are elections all over again.  While everyone has issues with the people that were ousted, none had broken the law and all were legally elected officials. We live in a time of great impatience. Simply remember to vote next time and do your homework on the candidates. If your candidate loses, that is called democracy. Get over it.

Next on the recall block is the San Francisco D.A. Chesa Boudin, who was elect just a few years back.

Sporting News

Football
The professional football season came and went with the LA Rams winning the Super Bowl. Our own San Francisco 49ers who beat the Rams many times in recent years had an amazing season, even going into a frigid Lambeau Field in Green Bay and winning with some strong defense. In the end the Niners just ran out of gas.  Deebo Samuel tried to carry the entire team on his back but in the end it is always a team sport.

Weather

December saw a very large storm that dumbed ten feet of snow in the Sierra. For the entire months of January and February the skies were clear, the temperatures were above average. It was glorious weather with stunning  sunsets and beach weather but one storm does not a San Francisco winter make.  Fortunately, now in early March we are getting a little rain. Not much, but better than nothing. The surfing for January and February was off the charts with many ten foot plus days and offshore winds.

COVID-19 Pandemic Update

Indoor mask mandates are mostly in effect, however things just keep opening up. In the next few months people are being asked to return to offices.

Parklets, Haircuts and Where the Sun Does Shine

Parklets seem to be staying and music events are picking up. There are many really good bands in San Francisco. Remember to tip the band!

That is The Quarterly Report – March 2022.

Photo Gallery of SF

The Quarterly Report – March 2022

Book Banning and The Question of Literacy In the First Place

The greatest orator, save one of antiquity, has left it on record that he always studied his adversaries case with as great if not still greater intensity than even his own. What Cicero practices as a means of forensic success requires to be imitated by all who study any subject in order to arrive at the truth. He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that.
– From On Liberty – John Stuart Mill

I recently read a guest opinion piece in the New York Times called The Battle for the Soul of the Library by Stanley Kurtz. Doctor Kurtz is a conservative think tank scholar who has written many books, one of which warned us about the terrifying socialist president Barack Obama (guess he sort of missed the mark on that one). In the The Battle for the Soul of the Library, he laments that the current “woke” politics have infiltrated the profession of the librarian and has made it so the library is no longer a place for classical liberal scholarship and neutrality. Librarians are now doing their job with political motivations, recommending books by Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky over David Brooks, Stanley Kurtz and Donald Trump. Our current times have revived culture wars over books and libraries but in the end, it is all a bit silly for a variety of reasons.

One, most people and and especially kids do not actually read books that much in the first place. I can safely say that before the internet and smart phones, going to high school and college meant a lot more reading of books. Today, reading takes place primarily on the internet. Rarely do I see the youth actually with their noses in a book – and why would you read an entire book on your phone? Second, librarians have been usurped by Google, Wikipedia and the internets. If someone wants to learn about a topic or find a book, they probably do not go to the library and ask a librarian. More likely they search on the internets and eventual read reviews on Amazon. The battle is really a false battle.  Librarians are not the social movers of our day. Search algorithms and creepy fine-tuned marketing campaigns are far more powerful.

It is the year 2022. What book banning  has to do about is what version of history is sanctioned and approved. Do we teach the same history that was taught in 1950? Do we emphasize and obsess about George Washington surely cutting down a cherry tree or that at the time most wealthy White Americans owned slaves?  Is it about how the Pilgrims and the Indians must have gotten along and shared food or about how the United States government reneged on the treaties with Native Americans? Do we include the Tulsa massacres into history books or airbrush this significant historical event out of the record? Is it about whether presidential records can be flushed down the toilet or are taped back together to get some sort of objectivity.

This sort of dilemma is challenging for both the political right and left.  The mostly White Republican party wants nothing to do with the fact that the country is a complicated place that is built upon racism and slavery.  They want to fly their flags and be proud to be White and American. They want to flush the unsavory parts of our past down the toilet. Perhaps this is one of the reason why they glom onto Donald Trump.

On the left, they want nothing of the writings of Ayn Rand and Adam Smith as they are surely White and racist but prefer the kids read the latest hurried publications or perhaps Marx and Engels. But reading books by dead white guys is just so out of fashion. What could they possibly know?

Libraries are great places and important in society.  A library card is a passport to a whole new world, however because I always forget to return books on time, I more often frequent books stores. The biggest tragedy with the library happened when they digitized everything. No longer do you get to have your book stamped in the back with the return date when you check it out.  You could look at that date and all the other dates stamped and get a sense of time and community. I do sometimes buy books at library sales when they cull and discard books that people are not reading. It is amazing what treasures you can find.

Our Strange Brave New World

In January, The University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) and the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) successfully executed a groundbreaking porcine heart transplant procedure in a human. This was the first successful transplant of a genetically modified pig’s heart into a human patient.
– dicardiology.com (February 16, 2022)

A question of where your heart is
There are so many interesting angles to muse over with this story. Humans using the parts of animals when theirs begin to fail. The ethical dilemmas are many and as usual they are rarely pondered. Is this how we will finally find immortality by harvesting the body parts of pigs? How do vegetarians and vegans feel about this? But the most important question is: what did they do with the rest of the pig? Did the heart transplant patient, a 57-year-old Maryland resident David Bennett, get to take the rest of the pig home, invite his friends over, and have a tasty barbeque on Super Bowl Sunday?


The Dutch city of Rotterdam on Thursday walked back plans to dismantle part of the historic Koningshaven Bridge so that a superyacht built for Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos, could pass through the city’s river, saying that a decision had not yet been made.
Rotterdam May Dismantle Part of Bridge for Jeff Bezos’ Superyacht (February 2, 2022)

Jeff Bezos’ Superyacht
When I read this story I could not help but imagine a cartoon. Jeff Bezos, with his bald head, draped with his super-model girlfriend, is looking at his computer at the website amazon.com trying to find a “bridge mover.” The caption reads: “What? No Prime Free Shipping on bridge movers?”

That someone can buy and actually needs a 500 million dollar yacht simply speaks to our strange gilded age and the extraordinary wealth inequalities. That a superyacht was built without figuring out how it would make it to open water is pretty funny, considering that the owner is the supply chain master of the world. Maybe Mr. Bezos should buy a copy of Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel?


Does anyone know what time it is?
– Middle-age man shouting in the returns line at Home Depot

Shouting Lyrics from songs from the 1970s
I recently was at Home Depot returning some tiles. The line was about five deep. People with their boxes of spare parts, odds and ends  that they needed to return. Next to me was a middle-age white fellow. He looked like he did physical work and appeared a bit tired. He had that sort of ruddy uneven tan that you get not from a vacation in the sun but by working outside and coming home to down a six pack of domestic  beer. After about 3 minutes while the line went nowhere he shouted out: “does anyone know what time it is?”. I simply could not help myself as I shouted – “does anyone really care?” As usual, no one got my joke and just did their best to avoid eye contact with me. What has the world come to?

Law and Order

More Law and Order!
Arrest Steve Bannon and Mark Meadows immediately!
They are a danger to society.


Isn’t it odd that the people and politicians  that promote the concept of “Law and Order” are the very same people who want nothing to do with the law when they are summoned or sentenced though a court of law.  Richard Nixon comes to mind. All the fascist dictators as well. Donald Trump’s house of cards in slowly beginning to crumble. “Law and Order.” Sounds like the way to go.

Dear Senator, I have a question

The halls of the federal government are mysterious. The levers of power. The committee meetings. The fundraising lunches. The ribbon cutting ceremonies. Voting on bills never truly read.  The photo-ops.  More telephone calls. More fundraising. Most of us surely do not know what goes on in the daily life of a United States senator.  Seeing as there are only fifty US senators, actually meeting a senator in person is a rare opportunity. In less populated states your odds may be better.

On a clear day, about ten years ago, while visiting Albuquerque, New Mexico for Thanksgiving, we went to a museum in Santa Fe and outside were two people who appeared to be greeters. They looked like retired people who perhaps volunteered at the museum – maybe people on the museum board of directors. In an attempt to talk to someone besides my in-laws, I went up to the two greeters and shook their hands. To my great surprise, one was the senator from New Mexico, Thomas Stewart Udall. I was a bit taken back about how I was there asking questions of Senator Udall while people just strolled by into the museum… “oh yeah. that guy again?” At the time I did not know of Senator Tom Udall but did remember well his father Stewart Udall and uncle Mo Udall who was years ago a congressman and in 1976 a presidential candidate. I loved the character of Mo Udall. Mo had this this very slow, pedantic delivery,  large furry eyebrows, a glass eye and self-deprecating humor. He was six feet and five inches tall, handsome and looked a bit like Jimmy Stewart.

The Udall family has been in politics for generations. I learned later that in the southwest, and especially in New Mexico, anyone running for office must fight for the state’s many Indian reservations.  This is probably the sole reason that the state votes Democratic. Tom Udall does not have the same gravitas as his uncle Mo but seemed like someone doing the good work. Money for the res. Protecting the deserts and rivers. We chatted a bit, as I attempted to update the Udall family tree in my head. He has since left the senate and is a United States Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa. Such are the levers of government.

Years earlier, sometime in about 1977, in Wisconsin, in the main auditorium in Madison West High School, William Proxmire, the Democratic United States Senator spoke to the entire school. This was a big deal and the auditorium, complete with a balcony, was packed. Proxmire was famous for looking for waste in government. His Golden Fleece Award would every month point out waste in government.  He would look under the hood of various government agencies – the Defense Department and the National Science Foundation and question expenditures.  Studies he deemed useless and toilet seats far to fancy. He had good intentions but in the end set the stage a few years later for Ronald Reagan to say “government is the problem.” This  general mood and cynicism about the government is still with us today.

The first Golden Fleece Award was awarded in 1975 to the National Science Foundation, for funding an $84,000 study on why people fall in love.[4] Other Golden Fleece awards over the years were awarded to the Justice Department for conducting a study on why prisoners wanted to get out of jail, the National Institute of Mental Health to study a Peruvian brothel (“The researchers said they made repeated visits in the interests of accuracy,” reported The New York Times), and the Federal Aviation Administration, for studying “the physical measurements of 432 airline stewardesses, paying special attention to the ‘length of the buttocks.'”[4]– Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Proxmire#Golden_Fleece_Award

Anyway, I was sitting in that auditorium and and there was the usual stench of sweaty pubescent body odor. Probably a lot of striped polos shirts, mullet haircuts, and girls with curled hair attempting to look like Farah Fawcett.  I do not remember much of what Proxmire said at the beginning as I was surely distracted by the spectacle. Near the end the senator fielded questions from the audience. I rose my hand thinking I would never be called but he pointed right at me. “Dear Senator.” I said, “What do you think about the current situation in Iran?” He looked a bit confused. The person next to him whispered into his ear as he seemed to not understand the question. “Iran,” I said. “Like, the country in the Middle East.”  It was 1977. People still said “I-ran” for the country Iran. My family had lived in Tehran in 1970 and 71 and I had been keeping tabs on the situation probably through the newspapers and maybe even the television news. I had always wondered how it was possible for the two disparate worlds to get along and how the meeting of the West with the Persian world would work out in the end. Stylish woman getting off the plane from shopping sprees in Paris, wearing the latest fashions  in the same streets with Moslem woman in traditional chadors.  How is this possible? The senator was, I think, caught a bit off-guard, and mumbled something and took the next question one of which was about the legalization of marijuana which he ardently opposed. “Why would you want to put that stuff in your perfectly healthy bodies?” he said, with no apparent experience at how it made art class after lunch far more interesting.

By the time I was a senior, 1979, Iran was all over the airways and newspapers. The Iran Hostage Crisis dominated the news and helped forge public opinion that made for the election of Ronald Reagan. Little did most Americans know the history of the region and how Iran, the country was a in many ways the creation of the West and how the Shah was propped up by the US military and military advisers. The Phantom jets provided by the US military would fly over Tehran often, screeching though the sky. After the Iranian revolution those same jets would become useless for lack of spare parts.

William Proxmire would go on to be a senator for many more years. This was a time when it was all about the old boys network, but during a period  when senators actually talked to one another. There is a telling photo on Wikipedia of them sitting arm to arm, Democrats and Republicans talking through something.  A bygone era.

1974, September 5 – East Room – The White House – Washington, DC – Sen. Proxmire; Greenspan, Gerald R. Ford, Reps. Rhodes, Patman – seated at table, listening – Conference on Inflation

In the end, if you have a chance and get to chat with a senator, ask them a few questions and see what they are made of. You may learn a few things. You may even stump them.

Photos of Sunsets – Ocean Beach, San Francisco – Winter 2022

For the past three weeks the weather has been dry which in the winter time makes for incredible sunsets. Below are a few photos of sunsets at Ocean Beach is San Francisco, California.

Books I Read in 2021

Books I Read in 2021 is brought to you by Bird and Beckett Books in San Francisco.

Bird and Beckett Books

Remember, before you buy a book from Jeff Bezos consider supporting your local bookstore. There are so many great book stores in San Francisco. I also highly recommend Green Apple Books on Clement Street. They have just about everything and the staff is amazing. When you buy a book from a local bookstore you get that warm fuzzy feeling just thinking that you may have kept a local business alive and you may even make some real friends.

I recommend all of these books however special shout-out to two books: A Sense of the World – How a Blind Man Became History’s Greatest Travelerby Jason Roberts and All I asking for is my body by Milton Murayama. Below is a list and a short description of each book.


A Sense of the World – How a Blind Man Became History’s Greatest Traveler
Jason Roberts
Harper Perennial

When my mother passed away a few years back, I had boxes and boxes of books to go through. One that I noticed was A Sense of the World – How a Blind Man Became History’s Greatest Traveler by Jason Roberts. I am glad I saved this one. What a great read! With most books written about British naval officers and the British navy as a whole, you get a lot of undue pride and hubris, however the story of  James Holman, blind at twenty-five, and his various journeys around the world, finding his way with a cane with a metal tip, is a great read. In a year when travel has been limited due to the pandemic,  A Sense of the World is a great escape.  Excellent and entertaining writing.


Candide
Voltaire
Penguin Classics

In 2021, I reread many books I had read decades earlier. The great thing about getting older is that you can reread books that you read when you were younger and gleam new insights. Voltaire’s Candide is one such book. It is such a wild romp –  violent, perverse, sexy, witty and silly with biting critiques of philosophers Voltaire had issues with. It is a satire and the characters are hilarious  – almost like a comic book or a video game.  Even though Candide is only 140 pages, I find that few people today have actually read Voltaire. It is old fashion and he was a polygenesis racist without a doubt, which makes it so  most of the under-thirty crowd will dismiss it outright.  I doubt it is read in high school much. Too bad. Surely banned at times, it is now beyond being a banned book as it is simply too old.


A Man Without a Country
Kurt Vonnegut
Random House

See my review of  A Man Without a Country in this publication


The Sympathizer
Viet Thanh Nguyen
Grove Press

Viet Thanh Nguyen is simply a great writer. He combines a deep knowledge of Western literature with great storytelling. There is a reason this book won the Pulitzer Prize


All I asking for is my body
Milton Murayama
University of Hawaii Press

I read All I asking for is my body while living the life of luxury in a timeshare in Maui – what contrast.  It is about the life of native Hawaiians and migrant labor in the plantations in Hawaii in the early twentieth century before tourism took over the islands.  Hawaii was in a Jim Crow state of plantations and sharecropping. It is written using the local dialects. The realism is stark and the story telling is excellent. Highly recommended.


Foucault’s Pendulum
Umberto Eco


Naple’s 44
Norman Lewis
Pantheon Books

Another one of those books I reread. This is a timeless read and boy can Norman Lewis can write. In our modern world, people in the United States are sheltered from the timeless realities of war.  The aftermaths of wars are always the same.  People die of starvation. Disease is rampant. Clean water is always in short supply. Women are raped. Corruption and murders everywhere. Norman Lewis paints the picture in vivid detail.


Harmonicas, Harps and Heavy Breathers – The Evolution of the People’s Instrument
Kim Field
Cooper Square Press


Slaughterhouse Five – A Children’s Crusade
Kurt Vonnegut
Random House

One of those books that has been banned because there is perhaps a little sex and nudity, but probably because Vonnegut, a pacifist, takes the whole notion of war to task. His life was defined by his experience of being a prisoner of war in Dresden in World War II and the experience of being in Dresden while the city was being firebombed.  All of of Vonnegut’s work comes back to this pivotal life experience. He was a man of the “Greatest Generation,” chain-smoked Pall Malls, and in the end propose that the most important human quality to nurture is kindness.


God Bless You Mr. Rosewater
Kurt Vonnegut
Random House

Reading God Bless You Mr. Rosewater I found in many ways Vonnegut to be a sort of stealth stoic.  You see this stoicism in God Bless You Mr. Rosewater where the main character, a very wealthy man, ends up thinking little of all his money and in the end gives it all away.  As always with Vonnegut, the humor never ends and the chapters are short.


Punching Out – One Year in a Closing Auto Plant
Paul Clemens
Doubleday

Bought in a second-hand store in Michigan, Punching Out – One Year in a Closing Auto Plant is a biographical account of the disassembly of the Bud auto plant.  We learn that NAFTA not only moved the unionized jobs in the United States to other countries but also made it so entire auto plants where disassembled and sold off and shipped away to Mexico, Brazil, China and other countries. Interesting and depressing all a once.


Tales of Soldiers and Civilians and Other Stories
Ambrose Bierce
Penguin Classics


Cat’s Cradle
Kurt Vonnegut
Delta Fiction


The World in the Curl – An Unconventional History of Surfing
Peter Westwick, Peter Neushul
Crown – Random House


While the COVID-19 pandemic raged on, 2021 was a great year to read. I recommend all the books above. Until the list for 2022!

2022 – Happy New Year

Serene Lakes at Soda Spring

Much to be thankful for in this New Year and much to be wary about.  Let’s start with the thankful. Snow in the Sierra! Below is an after (Jan 4) and before (Nov 28) satellite photo of snow around Lake Tahoe.

That is a lot of snow! For December, 2021 in California it is officially 210 inches give or take a few feet and plus or minus 80 inches if the plows came by.

Playing in the Snow

I grew up in snow. I love snow. I even enjoy shoveling snow. Thanks to some gracious friends we were able to get up to Donner Pass the last week of December 2021. Below are some photos.

Thus concludes the pleasant part of this post.

Treachery and the Great Downfall of American Democracy

Treachery and greed is the way these days. The slow, methodical deterioration of American democracy. The coup attempts. The regrouping of white nationalists. Henchmen running free, disobeying court summons at the highest level of government. Many people would assert that the whole system was rigged from the beginning – the racist concept of the electoral college, the overwhelming influence of the rich, corporations and big money, the federal reserve. The travails are many, but at least in an earlier time period the notion of decency was a virtue.  The truth mattered.

This trend towards fascism has been written about by many of the major mainstream progressive magazines. The Atlantic started having pieces about this six months ago and recently has devoted an entire issue to it.

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/toc/2022/01/

The Crystal Ball

I see the 2022 and 2024 elections down the road like a car wreck in slow motion. It is night. A car is parked on a hill without the emergency brake on.  All is well until a storm blows in and a breeze picks up in the middle of the night. The sky turns dark. The carload  of Treachery and Greed slowly begins to move, inch by inch, making it’s way gradually faster and faster, down the hill.  We all look on in disbelief. At the bottom sit the Statue of Liberty, the Lincoln Monument, the Capital buildings of Wisconsin and Georgia all gazing innocently off into space. With a loud crash the out of control car knocks over every one.  I wake up.  It’s 2022 my friend. Be well and Happy New Year!

Breaking News! It is Definitely Raining in SF

WEATHER UPDATE December 14, 2021 

December 14, 2021 – 5 PM

At 8000 feet looking like a little snow.  Courtesy of Sugar Bowl Resorts

El agua, muy importante.

WEATHER UPDATE December 12th, 2021

December 12th, 2021 it rained through the night. Nothing too heavy. Today on December 13th the storm lingered and moved west. They call this an atmospheric river.  Nice to get the rain.

Fine parking job by this small electric car.
And it is raining

 

 

Remembering Pat Martino

Pat Martino (Patrick C. Azzara) (1944 – 2021) passed away November 1, 2021. He was an amazing guitarist and had a life story that is interesting on so many levels. The most unusual aspect is that in 1980 after a brain hemorrhage, Pat lost all his memory and had to literally relearn how to play guitar from the very beginning. He then went on to continue his career as a phenomenal jazz guitarist.

Martino had been performing until a hemorrhaged arteriovenous malformation caused a “near-fatal seizure” in 1980.[5] The resulting surgery which removed part of his brain left him with amnesia and no recollection or knowledge of his career or how to play the very instrument that made him successful. Martino says he came out of surgery with complete forgetfulness, learning to focus on the present instead of the past or what may lie ahead. He was forced to learn how to play the guitar from zero. This circumstance is crucial to understand his career and his particular way of thinking. – Wikipedia

Here on Angel Eyes, Pat Martino has the melody and is featured.

There are a few documentaries that follow Pat Martino’s journey. Martino Unstrung is an excellent look into Pat Martino’s musical and medical life and should be fascinating to anyone in the fields of music, psychology, medicine or brain science. I highly recommend this film.

While I have been an avid jazz fan since listening to my dad’s Duke Ellington and Henry Red Allen records in high school, I had not listened to much Pat Martino. I knew his name but did not own any of his music. This is how it worked before the internet.

In 2010, Pat Martino had some gigs in the San Francisco Bay Area.  He was playing Kimball’s East. My high school-aged guitar-playing son had just fallen in love with jazz and was a big Pat Martino fan. He had purchased tickets to hear Pat and his friend for some reason could not go. I was invited to go to the concert.  We took the ferry over to Jack London Square and arrived a bit early. Knowing where the back stage entrance was my son seemed determined to shake Pat Martino’s hand. The bouncer at the door called up to see if it was alright if a kid and his dad came up for an autograph. “No problem. Send them up.”

We went to the dressing room and there was Pat and his young piano player hanging out. Pat was eating sushi and what we both remember is that he was drinking a quart carton of whole milk.  Sushi and milk. An odd combination. Pat was gracious and we basically just hung out for about fifteen minutes. He had these very clear alert eyes that often seem to be enlarged because of his thick glasses. He probably signed a CD and then I took this photo.

Pat Martino and Kai Lyons backstage at Kimball's East
Pat Martino and Kai Lyons backstage at Kimball’s East

It is 2021 and people born in the 1940s are starting to pass on a regular basis.  Many of these folks are my heroes. Pat Martino. A beautiful cat. RIP.

Epilogue

If you watch the documentaries about Pat Martino, one of the common themes is how guitarists had a lot of respect and admiration for Pat. There is the story of George Benson. then a young cocky musician, going of to hear Pat Martino for the first time thinking how could this skinny Italian kid from Philly be any good. Needless to say George was blown away and left the show a humbler man. The photo below is of these two amazing musicians and speaks to the diversity in this genre of music the industry calls “jazz.”

George Benson and Pat Martino
George Benson and Pat Martino

For further reading, Pat wrote an autobiography.

Here and Now!: The Autobiography of Pat Martino

This is an excellent book and I highly recommend!

 

 

 

 

The Quarterly Report – November 2021

The Quarterly Report: A brief synopsis of the news in San Francisco over the last three months.

Quote of the week:

“Anti vaccine types are like people who wear shirts of a band who have no idea what that band sounds like.”
Anonymous (from a comment on the San Francisco Chronicle)

Sporting News

Baseball
As the World Series ended with the Atlanta Braves winning over the Houston Astros in six games, the professional baseball season for the San Francisco Giants ended in the playoffs against the Los Angeles Dodgers on a ninth inning check swing. There is just something so wrong, ill-suited and anti-climatic about ended your season on a check swing. The Giant’s bats went to sleep in the end and when it comes to the playoffs you need to have hot bats and catch a few breaks. I don’t write the rules. That’s just the way life works. As of today, Buster Posey announces his retirement. So ends an era for the San Francisco Giants.

Surfing
About a month ago, the seasons changed and the surf season started.  We now go through a sequence of glorious sunny days, with offshore winds and head-high surf to stormy weather to out of control 25 foot days. Winter surfing has arrived. Buy a new leash.

San Francisco Politics

Because of strange election laws San Francisco is in the process of having recall elections for both the District Attorney and the School Board. Talk about a really stupid system that opens up even more ways for big money to enter into politics. Let us simply vote people out of office when their terms ends if we do not like how they are doing their job. The recalls makes for an endless election cycle that is no good for anyone save the people with deep pockets.

Weather

Luckily, in mid-October we got pummeled by a large storm. This was the equivalent of dousing a campfire with a gallon of water. While the “fire-season” did not officially end then it sure did help. After a few more subsequent storms, there is even a little snow in the mountains.

COVID-19 Pandemic Update

In San  Francisco the vaccine rates are above 80%. The streets and roads are returning to their pre-pandemic madness.  We even see the Google Buses are back. What short memories we humans have.

source: https://sf.gov/data/covid-19-vaccinations

Parklets, Haircuts and Where the Sun Does Shine

And the sun does shine now as the summer fog usually has disappeared.  Unfortunately the parklets are slowly disappearing as things return to normal. Speaking with business owners, the common complaint is that the city is difficult to deal with concerning the parklets and the cost is exorbitant. Too bad as the parklets are generally a really cool idea and makes for more spaces for musicians to perform.

And many of the “slow streets” are being opened for cars. OK everyone. Go out there and drive around, cart your kids off to the fancy schools make money and burn up this planet!!!

That is The Quarterly Report – November 2021. Be well. If you have not already got your vaccine time to get the jab. Do it for grandma. Drink plenty of water, get regular exercise and for the love of God stay away from “social media.”

Photo Gallery of SF

Remembering Robert Altman 1946-2021

Robert Altman, known mostly for his years photographing musicians and counter-culture icons in the late 1960s and early 70s has passed.  He was a staff photographer for Rolling Stone for a bit. I read his obit recently and and was saddened to hear of his passing.

In the late 1990s I took a class that was taught by Robert Altman at San Francisco State College of Extended Learning on Market Street in downtown San Francisco. It was a basic HTML class for this new thing called the World Wide Web and in order to get on board the first thing you had to know was HTML. People made websites mostly one page at a time. Robert Altman was the teacher, and probably the only reason he knew anything about this stuff was that he had built a website to sell prints of his photographs. This was the early days of the internet, when for a brief time the idealism of the 1960s took hold in this new digital era. Perhaps the playing field would level out and artists, writers, photographers and musicians could sell their work directly, cut out the middle-men, control their work and get paid their fair share.

Of course, in many ways this was one big pipe dream as over time the internet became more corporate and the monopolies of our day began to dominate the system, control the politics and narratives and literally write all the rule books. And as Ruth Bader Ginsburg commented about sexism “I ask no favor for my sex; all I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks,” the same can be said of the stranglehold on smaller players by the big tech monopiles today.

Back when I was taking this HTML class with Robert Altman he was in his mid-fifties and always had his reading glasses at the ready, perched on the top of his head. He was passionate and generous. He dove right into the more advanced aspects of HTML at the time. We started learning tables, rowspans and colspans on day one. This is back in the day when all websites were made with tables and single pixel gifs to lock designs into place. If someone would have spoke of responsive design then you would have gotten a blank stare. People still made phone calls with payphones and your answering machine was perhaps the most important tool for any freelancer. Robert was this middle-age guy – vibrant, fearless, creative and giving. He was like – “look, if I can learn this coding stuff, anyone can do it!” So we all looked on at this new markup language, most everyone there because it was the unavoidable future and eventually it would lead to a decent job and some sort of economic stability.

Now when people are choosing a career in programming, there is this idea that if you do not start young it is not worth the effort. The notion of the child genius creating something miraculous in the digital world is a common theme.  The college dropout who creates an app that disrupts entire industries. If you are in your late twenties, it is too late. However this is silly.

Robert Altman, putting borders on all his tables, creating something beautiful out of nothing is evidence that anything is possible.

Read the San Francisco Chronicle Robert Altman Obituary