"evil sum"



No Longer Writing, Philip Roth Still Has Plenty To Say | New York Times | January 16 2018

Photo: Philip Montgomery | New York Times



Small hands. Small heart. Small mind.

History will bury his smallness.

Breaking Up, Melting Down


Michael Wolff is not what you would call a thoroughly reputable journalist. He has a history of playing fast and loose with facts ("in search of the actual Truth of the matter", he would say in his own defense) and you'd be foolish not to suspect he's up to his old tricks in Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. His colleagues in the press don't like him or his work so I expect to see a great piling on against him as soon as the book's jucy-est bits have been run through the pundit mill today. There probably is a lot of "actual Truth" here but take the written accounts with a healthy grain of salt.

That said, Wolff DID have access to the White House and he DID have undisputed access to Steve Bannon. And the interviews are officially "on the record".

The legitimate takeaway is and will continue to be Trump's reaction to the book. There will be no denying his open fury or the empty flurry of cease-and-desist orders his lawyers are already sending out.



Land Grab


Past Perfect


The iPhone 4. Just sayin’.

Berkules United




That was December 1993 or early January 1994 and the young woman in the new Mustang convertible was Roberta Hernandez. We worked together at Sierra Designs in Oakland from 1979 through the mid 80s. She had a vintage Mustang back then and the biggest, wettest, most beautiful brown eyes I had ever seen.

One day she came to me with an idea for a vanity license plate: BGBRNIS. Big brown eyes. She asked me what I thought.

“I don’t know,” I said. “I see BGBRNIS and what jumps out at me is Big Bernice.”

Big Bernice. Roberta didn’t like that. She began to pout a little.

I had another idea.

“How about BGBRNII instead?” I offered. “II instead of IS. It’s more of a puzzle, you have to work it a little harder, but there it is. Big brown eyes.”

Roberta pondered this for a moment. “Not Big Bernice.”

“Big Bernice is gone.”

She went with BGBRNII.

A few years later, on 5 January 1994, long after I had left Sierra Designs and shortly after Roberta had moved on to be one of the founding core employees of Mountain Hardwear in Berkeley, some years since we had last seen each other, I was reading Herb Caen’s column when, in the very first graph, I saw her BGBRNII as big as life, right there in black and white in the San Francisco Chronicle. That vanity license plate had moved with her from her old Mustang to a new one. Our BGBRNII. I’m sure I glowed all day.

I don’t know if Roberta saw Caen’s column, too. I hope so.

Klan Country


Bannon Out


Goners, one and all.

Trump on the telephone with Vladimir Putin, 28 January 2017.

Photo credit: Reuters

Current Issue


Surfer’s Journal Summer 2017

Water is the New Black
Screen print by Shepard Fairey

Elsa Martinelli, 1935 - 2017


In the sixth grade I had a secret crush on Lisa Kempson. Being a dopey kid dopey with love, I drew a picture of her on a piece of classroom manila art paper and wrote 'Lisa' on it. Well, Lisa caught sight of it and immediately asked if it was a picture of her. Embarrassed and trapped, I blurted out, "No, it's Lisa Martinelli, she's in the movies."

Elsa Martinelli passed away today.

In case you're curious: yes, Lisa and I *did* go on to briefly have a silly little sixth grade 'romance'.

[By the way: no idea how I knew Martinelli's name when I was 12 years old (the movie Hatari showing on TV?), not surprising that I mixed up the name Elsa with Lisa in that moment. By the way, Elsa Martinelli and Lisa Kempson *did* look alike: dark hair, brown eyes, Natalie Wood-esque; my 'type', I guess.]

Photo: Paramount Studios | 1957

RIP The Med


This morning I was on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley (searching for the right edition of a certain book for a certain newly minted high school grad) when I noticed that the Med (aka Caffé Med, aka Caffé Mediterraneum) is still shut down seven months after new ownership took over and closed it for remodeling. Crossing the street and peeking through the window you immediately realize that the ‘remodeling’ began and ended with removing the tables and chairs and some sweeping up.

An independent coffee shop named Romeo's recently opened right next door; a Peet's is half a block up the street. Game over.

As a rule I’m totally and brutally heartless when it comes to business closings, including (especially?) beloved restaurants, bars, and bookshops. Survival of the fittest. Hand over the keys and get out of the way. Next! Can't make me cry.

Even so, allow me just a moment of self-indulgent nostalgia for the Med.

For one thing, it was the first place I ever drank a cup of coffee that wasn't instant and named Maxwell House. It wasn’t great coffee, it was never the sophisticated artisan stuff like Alfred Peet started roasting and brewing on the other side of town in 1966, but it was always good enough for a rube like me.

And the joint had some history, none of which I knew until much much later. Like Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac and Gary Snyder and those Beat guys hanging there when it was simply a coffee station inside a bookshop named Il Piccolo. Ginsberg wrote chunks of Howl there in 1955 and 1956 while he was living in Berkeley on Milvia Street. Mario Savio and the Free Speech Movement folks were regulars. In the 60s and 70s the Black Panthers used to meet in the upstairs mezzanine where a decade later I'd be drinking my moka (the Med's preferred spelling, not mine) and reading a book and/or a magazine I had just bought at Cody’s or Moe’s across the street. People's Park is literally right behind it, outside the back door, sharing the same city block.

Truth be told, though, I haven’t stepped inside the place in over 30 years. The Telegraph Avenue business district grew increasingly seedy and even dangerous back in the 80s and the early 90s, and I was getting increasingly not young and increasingly not so adventurous. The Med itself was getting more and more seedy, too (even in the best days I spent there it sort of had a spartan North-Beach-meets-Greyhound-bus-station vibe to it, part of its hobo-hemian charm). So Telegraph Avenue and the Med drifted into my rearview mirror.

And now it’s gone. Really gone, man.

RIP Caffé Mediterraneum.





Bloomsday 2017


“The heaventree of stars hung with humid nightblue fruit.”
James Joyce


Good Friday


Spam-free FedEx delivery this morning.

Die, world, die



He’s killing us. No joke.

Fight for your planet. Fight for your life.


Breakfast in Sonoma County






I love this place, especially for breakfast. Not fancy-schmantzy, not out-of-this-world, not cutting edge, though not tradition-crippled either, with old favorites done very well and often pushed a bit further.

• Buttermilk biscuits with ginger rhubarb jam
• Cheddar Jalapeno Cornbread with honey and butter
• Spring Cobb Salad with Pt. Reyes blue cheese, 7-herbs chicken breast, avocado, house bacon, pickled onions, asparagus, and snap peas
• Stone ground grits with shrimp-sausage gravy, bacon, and green onions
• Oyster Sandwich of Pacific Coast oysters, arugula, remoulade, & bacon on a roll with butter bean salad and juniper pickled red onions
• Poached eggs with tasso ham, buttermilk biscuit, and hollandaise served with side salad

The only real swing-and-a-miss is their truly awful vanilla syrup on pancakes, waffles, and French toast. We smuggle in our own maple syrup. I’m also not a fan of Nashville fried chicken in general (cayenne, chili and garlic powder, and spicy spicy spicy oil) but that’s just a matter of my personal taste.

The Fremont Diner is a little hipstery around the edges, OK, but only around the edges and not so much on the plate.

Bette’s in Berkeley is still better in most regards, yet…

Colonel Sessions

Screen Shot 2017-06-02 at 7.57.41 AM

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III

Smokey Is Woke


Erin says...

Ms Ryan’s graduation speech for young women everywhere: