. . . Oakland

. . .

The San Francisco Bay area: William H. Chambliss had the style and humanity of a 19th-century Limbaugh ("Then a man named Booth took pity on society and killed Mr. Lincoln, to keep him from making a giant April fool of Uncle Sam..."), but he also had the gossip of a Drudge:

Married men who were determined to bring their wives out here were advised to steer well clear of San Francisco. They were told that any place in the State, even Sacramento and Oakland not excepted, would be better for married gentlemen who entertained hopes of raising children of their own.
. . .
These were not by any means the only interesting persons whom I saw at San Rafael. Besides Mr. Wilberforce, who always makes people weary when he attempts to talk, and Webster Jones, who is always talking about the quantities of wine consumed at the latest parvenu dinner party, -- but never mentions his father-in-law's "business," or past record, -- and Charley Hoag, who was looking around to see if there was anybody in the crowd whose name he did not have in the Blue Book ; and "Billy" Barnes, who ruined his prospects of getting the nomination of the "Octopus" party for governor, by publishing his picture in the Wave ; and Ward McAllister, Jr., whom C. P. Huntington appointed to a fat position, as Pacific Mail attorney, in order to curry favor with a certain leader of some of New York's prominent dancing people, there were some remnants of a crowd of silly parvenus who disgusted everybody of any refinement at the Sea Beach Hotel, Santa Cruz, in June, 1893, by putting "private parlor" signs on the reading room door.

. . .

The first generation of Web designers came either from the print world or from the software design world. The nice thing is that the two worlds tend to make different mistakes which can be played off against each other. The nasty thing is that they agree on the importance of the Big Dumb Intro Page (or BDIP): a graphically intense page whose only useful element is a "Click Here!" button or a timer script that eventually takes the user where they wanted to go in the first place.

. . .

Ed's Redemptions

Dan Leone is an undeterminable variable as a restaurant reviewer and a terrible influence as a social diarist (nary a Bay area columnist now but must refer to their dining companions by cutesy pseudonyms), but as a pundit he's just fine:

At this point, instead of saying Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas and Top O' Ramadan and Whatever Whatever to you all, I would like to say something about holiness in general; but before I do, let me point out, in the interest of offending everyone equally, that I despise all religions and every notion of sacredness, and if I had a big enough stick I'd knock down God and Allah and any other piñata full of Smarties® anyone wants to hold up over our heads. Higher powers suck. They inspire nothing in us mere mortals more consistently than the desire to exercise other mere mortals' mortality. But, bad as the killing is, what really gets my goats is when they start fucking with what's-for-dinner. Go ahead and knock off your neighbor, but whatever you do, you must not eat that sacred chicken or goat or cow or pig.

Back when I was a kid in no-meat-on-Friday school there was a lot of talk about putting Christ back in Christmas. I say we get him the hell out of there entirely. I mean it: happy holidays, everyone! Here's hoping that your happiness has nothing to do with holiness and everything to do with general human givingness and, most important, what's-for-dinner.

- close of review of Your Black Muslim Bakery, Oakland

Of course, he was best as a rock star, but what can you do..?
There are dogs & cats & owls & pets
& people & cows & elk & moles.
Here's what I think: I'm placin' a bet
that chickens are the only ones with souls.

Good ones go to heaven, bad ones to hell;
People & dogs & cats just die.
You didn't want to hear it but you may as well.
You didn't want to know. Well, neither did I.

- Another Song in Celebration of Chickens

. . .

"I determined to think no more of America; but to set off the ensuing morning for the village of Oakland, in quest of my dear Sophia."
- John Thelwall, The Peripatetic, 1793

Economic Wisdom
Photo by Juliet Clark

. . .


An astute reader raises a point of order:

HMOs are a "there"?
Indeed, one must wonder what kind of illiterate fool would refer to a plural noun as "there." Particularly given how many HMOs are in Oakland.

I agree too with Mr. Silliman when he predicts that "the present spate of literary publications 'in response' to 911 are doomed" to be "almost luridly obsolete before the ink dries." Certainly among the most lurid of the doomed must be this nadir of recent manuscripts from our unsolicited acquaintance Anselm Dovetonsils:

Publications of Mortality

My heart leaps up when I behold
    An airplane in the sky.
So was it on September twelfth;
So is it on October twelfth;
So will it be when we all die.

Perhaps it's the fault of the times. Perhaps it's the fault of the involuntary detox. But this retreat to more conventional forms seems almost, to be blunt, a bit derivative. I confess to feeling deep disappointment in Dovetonsilses recent work. And I never imagined that I would someday be "disappointed" by a Dovetonsil's poem. "Confirmed" was the worst I could possibly imagine.

It would be a shame if such a promising youngish poet -- he's been promising to pay me back next week for literally years now -- well, uh, it would be a shame.

I do seem to remember, though, that somewhere in this shambling ichorous mass lies an appropriate occasional verse... yes, here we go:

The Island of Doctor Moreau

The dog comes
on little cat feet.


+ + +

From Rolling Rock, Out   His present condition (dog-eared, some water damage) is especially disheartening since Dovetonsils's's influence has never been greater.

As a result, gadabout poet and mystery writer Owen Hill's recent From Rolling Rock, Out: Poetic Meditations on the Life and Art of Anselm Dovetonsils (Angry Dog Midget Editions, 2002) far outperforms its supposed inspirational figure. But isn't that always the way with these things?

. . .

Notes & Queries


I ran into your name on the big Internet, and I thought: "Hey, I used to know a Ray Davis...I wonder if it's the same guy?"

If you are the same guy, prove it by answering *this* question:

In "Not Fade Away", Buddy Holly sings "my love is bigger than a Cadillac". Was he referring to the intensity of his emotion or the size of his equipment?

Doug Asherman
Oakland, CA

According to the late Mr. Holly's associate, Mr. Penniman, Mr. Holly meant by "my love's bigger than a Cadillac" that it comfortably seated six adults.

. . .

John Cage in a highrise with an M21

Belying his reputation as a self-obsessed '70s has-been, Mayor Jerry Brown atunes to the national mood by swinging back to the nineteenth century and reinstating the proud volunteer tradition of the Bowery fire department.

Hotsy: Say, Mr. T., why haven't you joined Oaktown's most exciting new civic organization?

Totsy: Nobody axed me!
Oakland Random Acts Firefighters

. . .

More Triumphalism

As another indication of our growing academic legitimacy, a researcher at Radcliffe has produced a study of bloggers:

Type I. This consists mostly of girls who are found naturally in literature courses and men who are going in for law. The type is nervous, high-strung, very imaginative, has the capacity to be easily roused and intensely interested. Their attention is strongly and easily held by something that interests them, even to the extent quite commonly expressed of being oblivious to everything else. But, on the other hand, they find it hard to concentrate on anything that does not catch the attention and hold the interest.... I could never get them to write well unless I got them distracted by talking to them or making them talk to me. The more interested and excited they got the more their hands would write. Their results in writing were of two kinds: either they would be taught a movement and then hold it firmly until the next one was taught, or else, being taught one movement, they would stick to that resolutely, and it was not possible to draw them away from it. As soon as they stopped talking, or their interest flagged, there was a strong tendency for the movement to slow up and soon stop....

Type II is very different from Type I, is more varied, and gives more interesting results. In general, the individuals, often blonde and pale, are distinctly phlegmatic. If emotional, decidedly of a weakish sentimental order. They may be either large, healthy, rather heavy and lacking in vigor, or they may be what we call anemic and phlegmatic. Their power of concentrated attention is very small. They describe themselves as never being held by their work; they say that their minds wander easily; that they work on after they are tired and just keep pegging away. They are very apt to have premonitory conversations, they anticipate the words of their friends, they imagine whole conversations that afterward come true. The feeling of having been there before is very common with them; that is, they feel under given circumstances that they have had that identical experience before in all its details. They are often fatalistic in their ideas. They indulge in day-dreams, but not those of a very stirring nature. As a rule they don't seem to have bad tempers are rather sullen. Many of them are hopelessly self-conscious and rather morbid.

They write best as a class when they are quiet. The effort to explain something usually stops the hand. They get rather sleepy, the arm and hand get cold and occasionally go to sleep. As a rule they are highly suggestible and learn movements readily, but instead of getting a new movement and sticking to it, they often show great vacillation, a constant tendency to return to other movements taught some time before. And even when a new movement gets fixed, there is a constant tendency to outcroppings of an old movement in most unexpected places. [...] The sense of otherness, of something else pulling or setting the arm going, was a very common experience.

I might use this to organize my loglist.


I do not like the idea that I am going in for law.
I have recently visited Berkelely, and am pleased to report that the "there" is there, possibly on the other side of a fault line from Oakland. I suspect Type I lives on one side of the fault, and Type II on the other.
Type II sounds about right for me.
She was ahead of her time.

Or perpendicular, maybe?

what is the null hypothesis?


Ooh, seeing that reminds me: I'm reading The Cambridge History of the English Language, Vol. 3: 1476-1776, and the only part that's made me sadder than I already was is that we don't still call "?" "the asker" and "!" "the wonderer".


. . .

Ba-lue Mun-deii Ba-lues-Are : Ed's Man's World

Like everyone else I liked Mudhoney and acknowledged the one hit of the one-hit crybaby. But my favorite grunge band was Ed's Redeeming Qualities. When I first heard them in '89, Ed's consisted of four songwriters and one musician:

Eugene the Jeep
Sleeve of Ed's Day EP

Together they seemed happier than they expected to be apart; they sounded like a 1989 unheated-apartment version of boiled cabbage at the Hungry Hash House. Or, OK, then, they sounded like "garage-folk, with an emphasis on storytelling and black comedy and poignancy." They taped a couple of cassettes and released an EP, curated and hosted a fine vaudeville series, made mistakes on the radio, and then Dom Leone got sick.

Characteristically the opening number of Ed's next release, a final cassette of the original line-up, promised "So many things that can kill you dead; if you don't have cancer there's a hole in your head." Someone like They Might Be Giants could easily have recorded a tribute to the periodic table of elements; Ed's made it personal.

Carrie, Dan, and Neno moved to San Francisco, kept playing Dom's songs, and kept sticking Dom's scrawls on the merchandise. Their first CD was gratingly bare, but their second seemed more at home in the trio format. Third was best, recorded live, with all-musician no-songwriter Jonah Winter to put sonic love handles on the old favorites.

For now, though, and with the aid of these fine digitizations, I'm reaching back to 1989. From the "Ed's Day" EP, Carrie Bradley explains how the patriarchy maintains power in one solidly idiomatic pun. From a tape made the year before, Dom Leone explains how the patriarchy maintains power in one completely moronic consultation.


Part 2 of this exciting serial!


Copyright to contributed work and quoted correspondence remains with the original authors.
Public domain work remains in the public domain.
All other material: Copyright 2015 Ray Davis.