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MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) - P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924

November, 2005

 

Into the Heart of Darkness: An Affordable Housing Odyssey
By Stephen Simac

I had to ditch the RV in downtown Bolinas, after firing off the gun that came with it. It was all a misunderstanding around affordable housing on the Big Mesa.
I thought the neighbors would be cool, since they were like hippie artists and all. People said it was a time warp out there, in Bo. In the old days we would've sat around trading bong hits and swapping bad trip horror stories.
Turns out, unless you're improving property values these days, "you're ruining the neighborhood." So much for hurricane refugee sympathy. I needed a new approach to finding affordable housing in Marin.
I was eating breakfast in the Stinson Beach Parkside, telling my hurricane survival stories. I didn't mention they were from Camille. One smartass said "Why should I believe you? You just make stuff up."
"First, I'm not simply making things up, I'm following New York Times journalistic tradition, like Judy Miller. At least my articles didn't help get us into a quagmire war. Besides I'm actually constructing a narrative framework, creating a character driven new gonzo journalism. Man, I hate explaining myself to idiots."
That was about when this fisherman started getting in my face. He was shaking the last issue of the Coastal Post, pointing to an article by some Sierra Club guy, who claimed that yet another new study of the Bolinas Lagoon had vindicated the no dredging group. Core samples showed the silting up of the lagoon was from ocean tidal sediment, not from the logged and farmed watershed.
According to the enviro guy, it's futile to spend a hundred million dredging the channel to keep it from it's natural fate. Mother Nature has intelligent designs to turn it into a meadow. A faith based approach.
Sure, some fishermen will be bummed, but the cost/benefits come out to a hundred grand or so per salmon. Eating salmon is supposed to relieve depression, however you could buy a hell of a lot of Zoloft for that. I told the fisherman it might help with his mood swings, too.
Besides letting it turn into a meadow would kick out the seals, which are getting lazy, lounging on the ever growing, mud flats. Before you know it, they'd be like the sea lions in San Francisco, or the campers on Bolinas beach. Never leave, living the vida loca.
You know how many salmon those porkers eat? And where do you think their poop goes? Want to clean up lagoon waters, you better start with the wildlife. Kick 'em back out in the ocean to keep the great white sharks from starving. Cycle of Nature, babe. I'm not just talking about the seals here.
The fisherman asked me how logging schooners and butter boats could sail up the channel halfway to Dogtown in 1870. He asked how ocean sediment could be carried all the way to the wye. He sneered at this UC Berkeley study of only five core samples.
Hey, just because I write for the rag, doesn't mean I agree with everything in it. That's why I read it, to get enraged. It blows out the pipes. I had to leave the restaurant after I framed the fisherman with a painting from one of the local artists on display. The waiter told me the pictures have to stay up until after the show, no matter what.

Nature's Son
On the walk around the lagoon to Bolinas, I looked at it with a fresh eye. Seeing it's affordable housing potential as a meadow. What a great spot for a FEMA disaster trailer park! So I called FEMA, but they said hurricane season was over. They were gearing up for biological weapons or maybe a dirty bomb evacuation during Christmas shopping season. They're part of Homeland Security now.
I was going to have to do this on my own. With out much effort, I snagged a free trailer in downtown Bolinas. Some guy was dragging a bathtub full of cold remedies out of it. He gave me a copy of The Purpose Driven Life, said it had changed his life. He said I could have the trailer, but he needed the tub. No problem, ever since Ranger Rick pepper sprayed me, my sinuses are amazingly clear.
Unfortunately the Bolinas meadow was still a work in progress, so I'd have turn the trailer into a houseboat until it emerges. Maybe call it Lemuria. By which time I should have eminent domain.
If Tom Hanks can build a raft on a desert isle, it should be easy to turn a trailer into a floating island in the midst of plenty like west Marine, I mean Marin. I was going to have to scrounge everything, the budget was tight.
So I gathered up a slew of empty water bottles, no problem finding for free. Hunted and gathered some bright orange construction netting, plus a beach volleyball and a tennis court net. Had to do that at night.

Goin' Out The Country, Where The Water Tastes Like Wine
Bartered some street hippie jeweler to weave them together with braided hemp for some cold remedy left behind. Then we wrapped the buoyant bottles with it, under the trailer. Slipshod Construction worked 'til dawn. I got a bottle of champagne, named the houseboat Sabrina, then slid her off the dock into the lagoon as the sun rose over the Bolinas Ridge.
Turns out I should have waited for high tide. Patience has never been one of my virtues, I'll admit. I might have been somebody, with a little patience. I used to have a hell of a memory, so I could have been a card counter, or some other respected profession, like a lawyer.
Before I met Maryjane. Now I can only remember the humiliating moments. This was fast shaping up to be one of them.

Nature's Way Of Telling You Something's Wrong
Miraculously the trailer/house boat contraption did not sink. Wasn't really enough water in the channel for that. Neither was it likely to ride very high when the tide did come in, carrying the future meadow. Currently the carpet was simply damp.
The houseboat was pretty effectively blocking the channel. I mean people could walk around it, and I was fully prepared to welcome them aboard, ahoy matey and all that. Care for some cold remedy?
The same fisherman showed up first, though. He was no one I'd want to end up in a confined space with. Luckily I'd kept the gun from the RV, so he didn't come aboard. The safety was on this time, the bullets in my pocket, where they gave me some courage.
So I wasn't intimidated by the razor sharp fillet knife he was waving around. He threatened to slit me from tail to gills and feed my guts to the crabs, if I didn't move this piece of trash. It was the seagulls behind him, screaming like banshees for my guts that were intimidating.
I was hurt, Sabrina might look a little sluttish, but she was all I had. I've never acted kindly when people criticize my work. Lost more jobs because of it. Luckily the anger management classes finally kicked in.
I merely brandished the gun and yelled "If you're going to act like a pirate, by the law of the sea I can shoot you down like a rabid dog and walk away Scot Free." In Florida you can do this on dry land. Getting ready for global warming, maybe.
That calmed him right down. To make any hard feelings go away, I told him the vessel was part of the Army Corp of Engineers dredging operation, ahead of schedule for once. The dredge should be getting here anytime. Maybe they'd gotten lost because of the missing road sign.

Have Some Purple Berries, I've Been Eating Them For Weeks Now
I don't think he believed me, but it's more proof that sometimes a man needs a gun to defend his castle. I was going to have to figure out booby traps so I could get some sleep though, or keep using that cold remedy. Luckily the answer to my problems swam up right then.
Seal, sea lion, male, female? Who can tell these pinnipeds apart? Or what goes on in their minds. Perhaps it's unusual for a seal to adopt a human, but I was well into bizarre. Still not as surreal as current events.
Part guard seal, part entertainment system, Trixie fended off the fishermen, with some truly ferocious barking. I managed to drag the houseboat, Sabrina out of the channel at high tide. After that, they just shot me the finger as they motored by.
Trixie kept bugging me to take her out, so I finally strapped a skateboard to her belly and we went into town. She could balance a ball on her nose for a beer, so she'd been well trained. If the tattoo of the anchors on her flipper, was a clue, probably a Navy killer seal that got away.
It was her insane jealousy that finally broke us up. The trailer kept sinking farther and farther into the silt. The county imposed bigger and bigger fines, until finally the costs of house boat living was too much, even for Marin. Looked like I was going to have to give up on west Marin and try to find affordable housing in Fairfax.

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