Jul 21, 2011

Things are going awry again. You can tell by the strange calls coming into the Taraval Street police station. All over the Outer Sunset, people are afraid. It’s the fallout from the debt limit crisis, of course. It’s just what the pundits have been saying. Krugman insists we’re all to blame for going along with this Tea Party claptrap. Laura Ingram says that anybody that goes along with Obama is an idiot and a Marxist moron and should be committed.

The point is that the public is to blame and now we're beginning to realize our foolishness. I know I do. The truth is that we're all going crazy out of remorse and self-hatred.

In the Outer Sunset husbands are threatening to throw their wives off the top of buildings, although less because of the economy then because their wives don’t have sex with them; wives are coming after their husbands with kitchen knives. Or even stranger stuff. For all the old reasons. "You never cook, you never clean. You never wipe the toilet bowl. What about you doing the laundry once in a while?"

Then this happened just down the street. It could have happened to any of us. A suspect came up to a 74-year-old man claiming to be a prince who needed to give money away before he went back to Africa. It's the old story. He told the old man he could keep $15,000 if the old man would help him donate $70,000 to charity. That's a good deal, thought the old man. Charity to help all the jobless in America and the destitute in the new country of Southern Sudan, and the Japanese who have been irradiated.

The suspect/prince told the old man that it was all but a done deal but that he would need some ‘good faith’ money, just to make sure the old man was on the up and up and could be trusted. The suspect then showed the man a roll of money with $100 bills on top, but the old man does not know what was underneath. Could have been just green toilet paper. But at the time the old man had his lust eyes on that money. It had been a long time since he'd felt that much longing.

The prince had to step away for a moment to adjust his feathers and restack his bangles. He pulled a gray hair out of the top of his head. In the same moment he received a phone call from his “lawyer”, whose entire practice is focused on the problems faced by African princes in America. The prince shook his head and approached the old man saying, ‘you talk to him’, as though to say, 'I can’t understand what he’s saying, you Americans are all weirdy-white, three-dollar bill types.'

The lawyer told the old man that he was waiting for the princes. They were supposed to have lunch at the Slanted Door and they would lose their reservation if the old man didn't quickly accept this stunning opportunity.

The old man, having no idea what the Slanted Door was, bowed his head and allowed the suspect prince to get in his car. They drove around and picked up another suspect. An assistant prince, in full regalia. The assistant told a fable about the animals who come to the watering hole for refreshment but then get eaten.

"It's a sad world, is it not," said the prince.

Then they all went to the old man’s house to look for the good faith money. He lives a few streets away. One of these dreary streets all cemented up, no trees, no grass, no charm whatsoever. But the old man couldn't find the money, he couldn’t remember where he’d put it, he looked in the rice bags and under his mattress, in the crawl space above his wife's closet and in the old Toyota gas tank he’s kept all these years. But no money. He called his wife who polishes toe nails up on Irving and 20th. She didn't know what he was talking about and hung up.

The princes said that was no problem, the Slanted Door would hold their reservation for a little while longer, and now if the old man could just go to the bank and get a cashier’s check along with some cash, everything would be, how you say, hunky dory.

So the old man dropped the suspects off at the street at their request, near their ‘day castle’. Not their night castle, which is down in the Filmore District. The old man obediently went to the bank and withdrew $9,500 in cash and a $9,500 cashier’s check. The old man then went back near the 'day castle' and gave the prince and his assistant the money and the check.

Now the old man has lost all his money but he does have the memory of having met two princes in one day, albeit an assistant prince.

Again the analogy to Obama. Sean Hannity would say, “so you see this is what happens when you deal with Africans; you get fleeced. You fall in with them because they seem well spoken, they're well dressed, but as my sons could tell you — and did I mention what terrific tennis players they are — these black immaculates are all just corrupt.”

* * *

Meanwile, back in the neighborhood, more chaos. A man reported that someone is calling him on his cell over and over again. He can’t find out who it is.  This has never happened before. A woman said someone broke into one of her vacant homes and didn’t take anything or damage anything, but did use the toilet.

Speaking of feces, a man said he found two sacks full of feces in the back of his pickup truck.

A woman said she saw a man defecating into a bag near her car. She honked the horn to drive him away; he spit on her windshield and fled.

A woman said that when she was sleeping in her boyfriend’s room, his roommate came in. He French kissed her and left. She was scared and pretended to be sleeping. He was cited.

A woman said that she received text messages on her cell phone. The messages from the unknown person gave detailed information about her. Other text messages had statements about raping her.

An officer met a female student who said that she was asked by a male student to perform a sexual act. The student showed her his genitals. The male student said that he did ask, but she asked to see his genitals first. No sexual act was performed. The parents of the students involved were notified.

But wait, that’s not all. This is also true. People called the police because a neighbor knocked on the door yelling that he “needed to get laid.” The neighbor was cited.

What was that all about? Rumors in the neighborhood are that the man had exposed himself to so much Internet porn that he was unable to control himself. He didn’t know where to turn and so flipped a coin to decide whether he would go to the neighbors on the left or on the right to see seek relief.

Someone else said he was misunderstood. He was yelling that he needed to get ‘staid’. Not laid. He had come to Jesus and wanted to get "staid."

Jul 7, 2011


It’s the post-modern life of a maestro. Just back from Switzerland and Germany. Catch a breath. Play full-on dad with the children, under the cherry trees in the garden. Talk to your wife about her work, about architecture and the orchestration of space. Invite people down from London. Talk about how the Arts are being undermined by uncultured polticians and what ever will become of this island.

Then back in the cab. A quick change of personalities. Heathrow, please. The transition from familial tones to orchestral tones is tart. You cannot be loyal to both at the same time. “Have a pleasant trip, Mr. Goodwin.” And before you know it North America is off the starboard wing.

The Mastro is coming to Carmel. To direct the Carmel Bach Festival. Mr. Paul Goodwin, it is: the oboist turned conductor, the “energetic master of gesture”, well known for his baroque-era interpretations. Best known for giving clear cues.

And to himself, perhaps best known for his love of both ‘ancient’ music and contemporary. Best known to himself for his appreciation of musical nuance, and showing those nuances: but also the intersection of competing artistic forms, the endless weave of the Arts, and for fulfilling his notion of what a good conductor should always be, above all — a magician.