Highland Way, Nisene Marks, 7.2018

Somewhere around 30 July I found myself in a car with a sleeping kid on 17, so I figured it’d be a good day to drive out to one of my favorite views in the world, southwest from Highland Way, which is in fact not what the Los Gatos crowd calls Summit Road, but indeed the road below it. At sunset the view to the south (left in the photo) feels like the end of the world. Not even the Hearst-Argyle tower is visible; just a curtain of pointy trees and the coastal fog.

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This photo was taken from the well-known lookout point about a half mile southeast of “Mar Vista,” only about 14 miles from the bottom of Buzzard Lagoon, as the sign indicates. Recently it has been polluted by what appears to be a truckbed full of household refuse.

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I wish I knew what that ridge to the south is called. I can only say that this deep valley heading toward the void Pacific (center of photo) is where the Hinckley and East Branch Soquel creeks slice down deep over the shoulder of Nisene Marks and help create the moat around the fortress of the Soquel Demonstration Forest. I went to a crazy crazy party up that damn muddy Hinckley/Amaya territory in 2007, let me tell you. But you wouldn’t believe it.

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As you can see, nature is leading a successful roadfighting campaign, probably from winter 2017. I’ve tried this on my bike when I was a wee little boy, from the Mount Madonna Road side, which is a fucking puker. Not knowing at the time that said road becomes Loma Prieta Way and not indeed Highland, I made it only as far as Croy Ridge Road before I turned back (still don’t bring food or water on rides), and now I see why. This was before Google Maps or practical internet in my house.

IMG_0308.jpgNow that I’ve seen it and counted the miles from the Los Gatos side, I’m excited to try the escapade again by bike, this winter, using my old pal the Los Gatos Creek Trail route. Living in San José has its perks!

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Marchers Demand Justice For Nia Wilson, 26.7.18

On 14th and Alice in downtown Oakland about 11am this morning we ran into a group gathered across from the Malonga Casquelourd Center preparing to march to the KTVU Fox Channel 2 television studios. Presenters were reading the story of how KTVU intentionally selected a photo for broadcast portraying murdered 18-year-old Nia Wilson with the typical corporate television wash of poverty and violence, a tactic well-known to anyone who’s watched commercial television from Fox to CNBC. They called the decision “dehumanizing.” Other people online have published videos interpreting the meaning of the photo as well as gestures of sympathy.

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The group was to march to KTVU and demand that KTVU publish an admission of guilt and that the producers in charge of the decision be held accountable. Artists present to help build the vibe included Khafre James of Hip Hop for Change and the group Samba Funk (hope the link is correct). Cops closed off two or so intersections to allow the marchers to fill the streets on the path.

In fact, East Bay Express’ Josh Slowiczek beat me to publishing this story by an hour, so you can read his more in-depth piece here. We can corroborate Slowiczek’s number of about fifty people in the march at any given time. Those interested in contributing should find the Facebook and Instagram hashtag #Justicefornia.

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In order to understand, the reader must let go of the racist and classist conditioning that controls perception of people we see in media: the person of color is an aggressor, the white person the victim. Nia Wilson was 18. That makes her a fresh highschool graduate. She could’ve been any teacher’s student, any parent’s child.
Her skin color and socioeconomic inheritance put her in the lowest class in the US, a measly 12% of population for whom the country can’t find a shred of empathy. She was murdered at the MacArthur BART last weekend almost certainly by cracker John Lee Cowell, who was also charged with attempted murder of her elder sister Lahtifa (sources have also Letifah, Latifah; correct spelling unconfirmed –there you have it with the white media) on Wednesday according to SF Gate.

How Liberals Reason #2

Hate to repeat myself, but, this is the world I live in.

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One thing liberals and conservatives agree upon, it’s the need to drive the rest of the planet’s lifeforms to extinction in order to please humankind’s every appetite and whim. They don’t seem to ever find this common ground, though, when you get them in a room together…

Laswell/Zorn, Konx Om Pax, Chapel SF 13.7.18

I saw fuckin Bill Laswell, the man, last night in SF with his frequent collaborator John Zorn doing a thing they call Konx Om Pax. I went with my old pal Diahrrio of A Fashionable Disease, the best band in Santa Cruz in the oughts, and his girlfriend Danielle, who together do various noise projects. One of my other old friends showed up at the Chapel by surprise and a fine time was had by all. Below is the lame cellphone proof photo of the Chapel, one of SF’s great newish venues in the face of so many old ones dying.
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Laswell’s doing his Material bass thing with all the effects and Zorn’s farting into his thigh with those red army camo pants. Tell me he wears those around Manhattan.

The coolest part was after the end when the two retreated upstairs after an hour, having said not a fucking word to the audience. Me and this other cat waited at the bottom of the stairs and finally our main man, Security Fred, offers to take our records up with him and get them signed. Thanks Fred! Laswell signed my old Celluloid Records Time Zone single!! Fucking stoked. Thanks Bill!!! It was a once-in-a-lifetime show, and even benefited something about pretending to care about abuse and destruction of migrant laborers over the last 50 years.
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For the uninitiated, it’s hard to put the scope of Laswell’s contribution to punk rock and alternative (in the true broad sense, not like the 1994 BMG catalogue) music over the last 40 years into a quick statement. Before and even with the internet, Laswell is the only reason we know about Fela Kuti in the US. He seems to have been playing a game of making the most connections throughout his life. His bands Material, Last Exit, and Praxis, just to name a few, touch punk, hiphop, new age, ambient, jazz, Coltrane’s biggest fans Pharaoh Sanders and Sonny Sharrock, Bernie Worrell, and the Primus guys. He’s all about collaboration and mutual aid amongst artists. If you play the six-degrees game in contemporary music, you will find Bill every time. That woozy light-funk bass he’s known for might sound goofy in today’s context, but remember that he did it first and never stopped. It’s further notable that both Bill and Zorn have worked tirelessly to unite musicians on both coasts.

Not until I saw the ad for the show did I really feel how much his stuff has informed my life. What a treat to see him play. You can look up the similarly-cosmopolitan Zorn, I’m not really an expert except to say that his record project Tzadik was the inventor of the $35 fucking CD in the 90s, so we never dared hear Naked City even though we knew it’d be the most badass hardcore skronk that we needed to hear. Diahrrio’s band A Fashionable Disease was just a little influenced by Naked City, as it happens.

It was an old-guy set, which I loved, done by 10, and we were in bed by midnight.

 

San José Floats On the Backs of Salmon

In The Guadalupe River and the Hidden Heart of San José, Eric Simons writes in the latest Bay Nature magazine about my beloved and trash-choked Guadalupe River and its system in the Santa Clara Valley. The interviewee, Roger Castillo, has showed the writer around the city where salmon, whom I never see in my stretch of the Guadalupe, are living in the storm drains of the freeway system. I found this astoundingly poetic. Homeless fish living under the freeway because they can’t afford the river! Thanks, successful people!

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Photo by Andrea Laue of the storm channel along the Guadalupe Trail facing Park Avenue from San Fernando Street. I disagree with the sanitization and happy color but it’s a good picture.

The article is worth a read no matter where you live. If it smashes some preconceptions about Silicon Valley, that’s a bonus. There are a lot of us in this town who would love to see the freeways, semiconductors and banks vanish with their neonazi brogrammer operators and have our cheapass stonefruit and goats back.

Those moved to help the river can sign up to clean it with the 222 Crew of South Bay Clean Creeks Coalition, a local organization with community-based anarchy leadership. Make it a punishment for when your kids are on their phone too much!

In related news, I recently looked and found out that people living downtown such as the Washington “Goosetown” and Reed neighborhoods use groundwater, so it’s in everyone’s best interest not to trash the river.

SJPD Clears Homeless Shelf Under 280/87 20 June 2018

Beginning approximately 1PM today, Wednesday 20 June 2018, cops cleared out the Shelf, a popular camping spot for homeless San José citizens.

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The Shelf is on the Guadalupe Path, beneath the 280/87 interchange, whose conception is documented in Jan McDaniel’s master’s thesis Demolition of a San José Neighborhood. The novel I’m working on takes place right here, as does much of my real free time.

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Was on my bike finally on the way to visit someone there, when the cops show up. Crews in trucks marked Tucker and Jensen came to pack up trash and whatever gets left behind. SJPD is known to impound and eventually destroy property during sweeps like these.

It is not totally illegal to sleep out in San José, which is a rare luxury in the area. However, a representative of the Santa Clara Water District confirmed by telephone today that it “owns” the entire Guadalupe River. Water companies in the city are known to frown on camping on their property, so the call to clear the Shelf could have come from them. There is also a restriction on sleeping in cars and “storing” vehicles on public curbs.

It’s a drag because the camp has held out for a solid six months, as peacefully as we can imagine without having seen it the whole time. A man I was talking to as a source for my novel was living there, though I did not see him when the sweep began , and now I’m not sure if I’ll find him again. We haven’t traded phone numbers. I would like to have shown him my appreciation better, even with just a beer or a sandwich.