Wednesday, August 27, 2014


"HERE / THERE" sculpture on the Berkeley/Oakland line
Image captured from a passing bus window
EMERGENCY across the sky-- helicopters last night


Monday, August 25, 2014

Wandering Earth

It was quite late, the wee hours of Sunday morning. The Flaneur closed the hard-bound book he had been reading and turned out his bed lamp.

The book was Morrissey's witty and insightful Autobiography. The section I had just finished reading (pp.229-239 US ed) told an odd tale. At six o'clock one night in an early January, when people are often prone to paradoxical behavior and when paradoxical events sometimes take place, Moz and three close friends went for a drive on the wind-swept barrens of Saddleworth Moor. They stopped the car at one point and got out of it in order to experience the blast full force and to shine their flashlights into the pitch blackness with its intimation of non-being.
As is often the case with such an excursion, they were somewhat  relieved when its conclusion seemed near and they had again reached a proper roadway. Just as they were turning onto it an alarming figure came suddenly into view. It appeared to be a gaunt young man of eighteen or so years, with long-matted hair and wearing only a short open jacket to cover his nakedness in the freezing night air. He stretched his arms out toward them in a frantic gesture of appeal. His girl friend Linder wanted them to stop the car but Moz insisted that they drive on. As they passed the figure he appeared to beg for mercy in what Morrissey describes as a "Christ-like" pose.
They drove on in great upset, speculating about what they had just seen. Was it some youth who had just escaped from a grisly captivity, a lunatic who scared people for kicks, part of a ploy to waylay good samartans foolish enough to pull over?
They found a phone box at the shuttered village of Marsden and called the constabulary to report what they thought they had seen. The police were dismissive after some talk Moz posse gathered that they considered it to be a ghost sighting. A lot of strange things are seen on Wessenden Road they were told.
The shock was that at this point they had to admit it to themselves. They all recalled that the figure seemed entirely grey and without color, and that they had all felt a profound grief at its sight.
They went back  to the spot the next day and saw that no vehicle could have concealed itself there and that not so much as a sheep-feeding shed where someone could have been held captive was available to the eye for spacious miles and miles.

These were my thoughts as sleep approached. I weighed the possibilities of natural explanations for the occurrence and I imagined the vision as if supernatural in origin, as I drifted off.

Shaking... I'm weary  just fell off at last ... shaking my bed ....the ghost of the moors is shaking my bed...shaking my shoulder waking me... temblor shaking my bed...long seconds until it stops.... my heart beats a heavy beat...I follow the grey youth back toward sleep

There had been I learned a substantial earthquake with its epicenter in the wine country capital of Napa forty miles from where I slept.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Lovecraft's Birthday

The Flaneur doffs his cap to an early and abiding inspiration, Howard Phillips Lovecraft of Providence Rhode Island (deceased). On the night of the anniversary of his other-worldly birth, I heard the call of the Cthulhu and set out walking through a forgotten sector of the City in search of the the spectral and the mystical concealed, barely, in the entropic quotidian midnight.

The Temple of Shrouded Knowledge
the secrets of the ancients
inscribed in a language now dead

 The burning of the midnight lamp,
 arcane research behind the fan-light window
illumination while others are deep asleep

 The house appeared to have a mind of its own,
not ready to reveal all its wonders,
the universe flies ever away

20 August 2014

Monday, August 18, 2014

Early and Pre-History of San Francisco (The Secret of the Sea Pt.III, Chap.3.)


History is a voyage from the real to the imagined

1. Pre-history:
The Origins of Yerba Buena

It is widely accepted that the land mass 
that became San Francisco rose out of the sea 
 a sudden manifestation of tectonic tumescence

Petrified redwood provides us with clues
to what were once coastal forests

Little is known about the earliest animal life
widely presumed to have been very nasty
and to have died off quite a long time ago

It is thought that there were still whales in those days

With the first human inhabitants,
we peer around a rock darkly

In previous eras scholars idealized
noble savages who lived Romantic idyls,

Actually, our understanding of these first people
remains quite primitive

Examples of populations considered extinct
still turn-up on sundry beaches,
Here we observe a prehistoric flower-child

Early History of San Francisco

Historical studies are best compared 
to a Miro-shaped hole in the floor
in which ancient objects of desire persist

The history of Western man is tied to beer,
from its earliest forms in ancient Egypt
to ales top-fermented on backdoor stoops
to the eldritch breweries and taprooms 
to modern-era factory suds and today's microbrews,
Man marches on

In from the sea a sailor could trade
a dazzling tortoise shell
for three bottles of Wunder beer;
Intricate scrimshaw
fetched a bottle of good whiskey

An establishment selling brews on July the Fourth
Hobos of the sea landed here for centuries 
One cannot overstate the importance of beer
 to the opening of the West,
to the founding of this Nation 

Dolls have a great deal to do with it too

Next thing you know you have
many a gay caballero on your hands

Hence the early arrival
of the civilizing influence of religion

The Gold Rush

Tall ship inside of a vitrine,
 a message in a bottle

The message was that the Europeans 
were the new dominant sub-species of primate,
Formal, organized, and technologically adept,
they replaced the local flora and fauna

Those damn Yankee traders showed up,
bringing with them all sorts of confidence men,
the Flaneur here includes himself

 Certain intrepid mercenary types
 roamed the earth as colonial front men
for the arch-capitalists


Then, a whirling milky way 
of gold dust 
was discovered upstream

An "instant city" appeared overnight,
coming on like sleepy mushrooms

Today the story is relegated to potted histories,
Steam Punk drive-in movies,
buried gold dental crowns
and dry dusty ghost towns

Gold's glittering legacy
consists of continual financial crime
and a permanent plutocracy

With its burden of struggle and strife,
cramped quarters for most,
a pauper's burial at Land's End

Is that a "C" or is it a "G"?
In the first American Gilded Age,
  the custom was for Robber Barons
to build temples to house their dead souls

A system of justice arose
to protect the property rights of the wealthy,
law and order to maintain the status quo

The infamous Barbary Coast was host
to rough men who did quick work 
with a paintbrush
or with a sailor's knife

Around this time Chinatown was first founded
as a source for cheap labor, florid housewares
and peut-etre a bowl of O.

The opening of the railroads,
A revolution in industry
dead tech too magnetic to discard

Charming and uncanny momentos 
of our race to the bottom

Examination of the historical record:
  souvenirs: coffee cups, matchbooks, 
room keys, and a slender opium pipe

 4. The Military Era

Bringing things up to the present

Ever vigilant in a turbulent world
of rising seas


Keeping the peace in our nation-state

Responding to emergency of any kind

Never mind Richard Serra, 
nautical military debris produces
real heavy metal enigmas

As long as there is fuel left to burn

The military you shall always have with you

 4. Epilogue

A solitary room in the dim past
watches the tide roll this way

 Almost check out time,
the tidal clock seems to say

San Francisco,
Alameda, Oakland

Summer 2013-Summer 2014

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Torpedo Update

The Flaneur's faithful will no doubt recall the image of a somewhat weathered torpedo appearing in a recent post. Well, grab hold of your furbelows and dig the refurbished and greatly enhanced new memorial to underwater stealth warfare.

 Where the previous model was proudly prodigious,
this baby is outstandingly protuberant. 
The engraved tablet and the Pampanito illustration are also new.

The whole thing moved me to an atavistic state 
of nationalist militaristic aggression.
I felt I had a lot in common with the passing crowds

13 August 2014

Monday, August 11, 2014

Next Stop Nowheresville

Remember like bees? They were hella scary. But today's technologies of industrial farming, pesticide chemistry, genetically engineered crops, robo-bees, super-highways, refineries, and radical new fracking forms of energy exploration, will soon solve that pest problem of old.

August 2014

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Washington Street Addendum

Another side of Washington street is seen here in these images of the weekly farmer's market. The Flaneur passes through with a coffee and a burning ember under the nearest great tree.

 This is Suzanne Holland, 
who sings folk songs from America and the Isles,
I listen to those styles a lot, on radio, on record, in person,
and I regard her as unusally gifted

 It was a sparse day with a brilliant and scalding sun, 
neither a lot of farmers nor gleaners had showed up,
I pulled a chair up close to listen

Lovely folksinging with deep soul running through it, 
if you see Suzanne playing, stop and listen,
 and, who's gonna throw that minstrel girl a coin?

June 2014