Saturday, December 20, 2014

Oakland This Week

Security wreath with cameras, microphones, 
loudspeakers and taser cannons

Monday morning the Flaneur became aware of helicopters overhead as he slept.

It was unusual. The customary experience is for them to begin in the late afternoon when the demonstrations get rolling. This had been the case for at least the past week in Oakland, ever since a trifecta of crooked district attorneys, crooked judges and rigged grand juries had yet again decided to get behind a trigger-happy cop who killed yet another black young man.
Sunday night I had ventured outside my chambers though I have gotten a bit more cautious. I waited for the police helicopter noise to subside, as protests venture out on the freeway while the California Highway Patrol troops shoot "less lethal" rounds into the crowd and undercover thug cops, when somewhat stressed-out by discovery, pull guns on the unarmed.
Morning after we awaken to a downtown whose more corporate windows remain boarded-up day after day. The Old Oakland grocery mart installed permanent-looking wood coverings after it was twice raided for beer on nights of thirsty riot. The battle will get hotter, and you won't get no supper. Just enjoy it.
It was cold and rainy Monday as I emerged into the fore-noon. The protest in front of the Oakland police headquarters was in full swing. Brave youngsters had chained themselves to the front doors and blocked traffic on Broadway. Sorry cops, we came to spoil your day. Someone scaled the flagpole and flew the flag of anarchy--hip hip hooray!
I couldn't hang with the ice water falling but my heart was warmed by the voluble refusal to cower before the militarized police state's criminality, its swagger and its impunity as it fulfills its mission as the army of the plutocracy.

A Legend of the Solstice

Berkeley, California 94701

I've heard it said though I'm not sure it is true,
That some people have more cash 
than with which they know just what to do.
Doubtful whether anyone in this position reads the Berkeley Flaneur,
but if someone should wish to send him some cheer this year
As he skates through yet another rough patch of ice,
They are welcome to send a greeting with a wee bit
Of secretive US$ k-a-s-h to the address above
(no checks, USPS money order OK)
Anonymously is fine if preferred,
 My gratitude will be yours either way,
Cheers to all

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Xmas in the Elmwood


Last year we waited for rain in December

It really looked like it was about to start raining

 That means that Santa's on his way,
 From his pad at the North Pole

But the rain didn't show up last year

December 2013


This year,
 in another part of town...

Old house in North Berkeley,
One day last week there wasn't a lot of sun,
A big storm was on its way

 Funky decorations in front of an impressive tree,
Along the Ohlone pathway

I did my rain dance,
The sky opened over our heads
Over night

December 2014

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Third Sunday in Advent


 The Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi

Last year the Flaneur continued on his Advent Sunday of one hundred photos.

Returning to a holy venue that I first attended in its original role as a parish church. North Beach was a quite different place then in the last years of the nineteen-seventies.
Everything was, of course, very different than today. Local parishioners fall away,

The place was closed by the Diocese for some time. Its steeples cast  a lonely silhouette in the dusk.
Then the relics of St Francis and of St Clare arrived salvifically. The order of St Francis brought the church back as a national shrine with a liturgy and an outstanding music program. A minor miracle.
After a few years of its success, local Italo-American pride kicked in the funds for a precious re-imagining of the small chapel Francis and his followers built so long ago: the Nuova Porziuncola. It is a place for meditation and prayer and, I think perhaps rarely, a Mass.

Masses in the Shrine itself are well-attended and classical music concerts take place there regularlyas well.
It seems visitors are present at the Shrine whenever I'm there; sight-seers respect the prayerful atmosphere and get a spiritual contact high I am certain.

 The approach on bountiful Columbus avenue,
It's a good time to go in and say a prayer.

Measuring the Nuova Porziuncola

 The entrancing goodness of the entrance,
Dig the window
like a Renaissance Magritte

 The inner porziuncola,
Re-enter the sacred
like a spacecraft air-lock

 Kneel and pray in solitude,
Forget about the passing time,
Unburden your circuitry

 Your own true mind may emerge,
A larger self may manifest in you

 The bread of eternity within reach,
A sandwich from Molinari can be good too

Inside the Shrine

The bells had been rung,
Vibration still quivered in the rafters 
Like winter birds come inside


 The boys choir had finished their program,
The buoyancy of it had lifted all vessels,

 A member of the faithful lights a candle
Extends the feeling in her heart,
It illuminates her day after she leaves

 The figures in the manger
await the coming of the Christ child

 Open throughout the day and throughout the year,
All are welcome and all are blessed

 The mystical light of the sun of Solstice,
Reaches through the stained glass,
Onto a mural of the death of Francis

 An old friend of mine, the poet Philip Lamantia had his funeral Mass here,
The tendentious and misleading introduction to his Collected Poems,
Attempts to portray him as a desultory convert who finally said phooey,
It revealed not only a lack of understanding of the experience of faith, 
It ignored the fact that a high funeral Mass with music of Messiaen
Doesn't just happen for any merely nominal Catholic who passes away,
It is the decedent's last and most profound profession of faith

Once someone has experienced the Sacred Heart
 Through the Blessed Sacrament,
He exists in relationship to it for eternity

22 December 2013

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Grant Avenue Crawl

Ah the Flaneur savors December in San Francisco.

One finds oneself in the mood
To lift up some ponderous tome
 Unshelved at the Mechanics' Institute Library

 A fine day to kick out of one's pied-a-terre 
in brand new tassled loafers
on a lark, alouette!

Pause to consider a saucy bauble along the way

Seems like there's a Santa hat band on every block,

 It's down to Grant Avenue to lead us today,
 Stylish and svelte

 Shadows fall early on the Chinatown gate 
this Solstice time of the year
Blue umbrellas over Falun Gong live mannikins

 A time to turn inward,
To contemplate polarities

 San Francisco is a splendid
and accommodating spectacle

Adler alley aka Jack Kerouac street
The famous bookstore on the corner of Columbus
Published his Book of Dreams,
They should make a 3-D poster of him too,

 Historical Beatnik district in Italian North Beach,
Gregory Corso was an annoying fixture years ago,
Among the poets who passed through the Trieste

22 December 2013

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Return to the Cathedral


The Flaneur lurks in the back of the church.

If a reader is not interested in Catholic churches, he is advised to turn into Berkeley Flaneur again next month. In this case, yesterday's brief revisit of Christ the Light Cathedral, one of  our featured Churches of Advent this year. A delightful whirl through its foyer and its gift shop widens the scope of our regard for its contemporary design and its curated elaborations.

 Modern Confessional

 The Cruets
Body, mind,and soul,
The mystery within

 The Risen Christ,
The numinous elevator

 Mosaic Source Code

The Cathedral Shop

 The Holy Family,
The essential tableau

 Endless variations on a theme

 There's a fine line between religious tchotchke-hoarding
And the widespread obsessive doll-collecting 

 Jesus, Saint Francis, angels, and arch-angels,
Saint Patrick, you name Him we got Him

A cross made of crosses,
Mine to bear

9 December 2014

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Second Sunday in Advent

The bells of Saint Mary's

The Flaneur returns to his ecclesiastical roots. 

A meta-narrative derived from a walk across San Francisco following the ley line of Catholic churches along Grant to Columbus Avenue. (That was preceded by a tour of the Union Square materialism scene already seen in a January 2013 post.)
The three churches will stand in for the three Sundays in this post and in two posts to follow, although all the image capture took place on the last Sunday of Advent.
St Mary's Church is an important part of San Francisco's history. Roman Catholic policy requires even historic churches to support themselves by serving a congregation. I imagine attendance here may have thinned-out, the dead center of Chinatown. I urge the City to support this cultural treasure that appears to be suffering from neglect.

And yet, and yet, a blessed 
and aesthetically rich time is  well-spent
and still available here for all.

 Let's go in while we are still able, shall we?

 The beautiful altar resplendent in color,
Mary Queen of Heaven
My Mother came here one Christmas Mass
We brought her by cable car 
Sipping brandy in a doorway

 In somber light
 The intricate work of this masterful window

The priest brings Christ's sacrament to us

 The nature of all physical things is to decline
The art of man expressing the sacred
Will crumble if not restored

 The prophet not only sees over the line of dawn
He must speak of the truth to others

 He must be able to hold his own
 When faced by the reflexively skeptical

Lamb of God,
You take away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us


 The prayers have risen here for centuries
There is a path worn by them 
That one may follow oneself

Lamb of God
You take away the sins of the world
Grant us your peace

 The exquisite exit window

The "real" world
As viewed from the steps of St Mary's Church

Saint Mary's Giftshop

 As the kaleidoscope of solstice celebration
Tilts into vertigo

 There are inducements to pause 
and to calm one's pulse

 The key is enjoying the holiday is 
Turn your pad into the a winter wonderland
Rewind the cuckoo clock to old-time tunes

The miracle of the Madonna and Child
The essence of it always in our mind

Out again into the chilly City streets
The joy of the coming Christmas in our hearts

22 December 2013