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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

January, 2006

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San Andreas, It's N.ot M.y Fault: Affordable Housing In Marin
By Stephen Simac

It'd been a while since I'd last seen Harry Pothead, the forgetful wizard. I wasn't unhappy about such a long separation, but was plenty glad to see him driving up in his mini-van. Walking over the Bolinas Ridge had sounded healthy when I started this affordable housing trek to Fairfax, but my dogs were yelping now.
Certain characteristics in a population can be plotted in a bell curved graph, most clustering around the bellybutton. Harry Pothead made me that much closer to the norm for normal. Sometimes it's better to be part of the crowd.

I'll admit I've got a temper, but Harry could get a little scary. Zap you with a residual spell he remembered on a spur. Basic stuff, princes into toads, parallel universes, lighting a joint with his fingertip.

He'd spent his prep-school years at the Hogwash School of Majik doing bong hits before breakfast at that institution for budding wizards. So he'd missed out on the higher powers lessons.

Thus, a wizard in name only, imho, unable to battle Lord Moldyfart and Queen Esprit, his mortal enemies. His only escape from certain death over the years had been hiding out in undisclosed locations like Cheney, or he'd be taken out like Osama by Rummy.

Drove him nuts if you reminded him about that. Said he'd been self medicating to cope with panic attacks by having deadly enemies because of his bloodline. Be damned if he wanted to hear about them now. Besides they were busy in Iraq.


Go West, Paradise is There╔ milk and honey over there

I got in his minivan. Told him I was on a mission to find affordable housing in Marin. Heard it could still be found in Fairfax by word of mouth, the new age grapevine, anonymous sources.

Harry laughed bitterly, "Affordable housing in Marin, you've got to be crazy. You need to be rich to afford to live in Marin. Remember when you first found me back in 1999, living in my mini-van down by the river? It wasn't for the motivational speaking gigs. "

Harry reached way back in the bowels of the mini-van, steering with his knees as we whipped around hairpin turns with steep drop-offs. He produced an alabaster bone, waved it under my nose, described it's ancestry going back to the Mayflower, cannabinoid/cannabinol assay, medicinal values.

He's a cannabis connoisseur, the really annoying kind, names his buds Flintstone Fruit Loops, Scarlett O'Haira, Cripple Creek. After we'd both inhaled a few times, coughing contentedly, a buzz crept up from the base of my spine, through the brainstem, wrapped around my corpus callosum, anesthetizing along the way. Still had the frontal lobes, though. Must be his guest stash.

Harry always started with flattery when he was about to spring a scam. "Slimac, old buddy, crusading tabloid journalist. Here's a hot tip: top Democrat Nancy Pelosi is as bad as Walmart and Whole Foods, no unions for employees at her businesses. dot, dot, dot."


In the Madhouse Asylum╔where a wild eyed misfit prophet raved of saving me...

He cackled. "You want really affordable housing in Marin, meals included, cable options? I've been shacking up with women from craigslist for the last year. Replied to posts in cl/nby/missedconnections w4m, from chicks who'd smiled at dudes but didn't talk. Went back in the archives, if no one had answered yet, I was golden. I'd been out of the country for a while, yada, yada. They only had a hazy memory of their ship in the night by then, so it was like boarding the Love Boat. Only lasted through the first flush, then restraining order. That's how Love is, my friend. But the first weeks are the hottest sex, anyways."

Harry turned somber, "Turns out I'd already had a fling with the last one. I mean like decades ago, or so. I'm not a politician, can't remember everyone I've ever screwed. I hate it when women cry, then bitch, insult my manhood, start throwing knives. Got a new scam now, without all the headaches from trying to please women."


Such a nightmare raving╔how could we save him from himself

I really didn't want to hear about Harry Pothead's exes. Just because they're all witches now, doesn't make him a wizard. It's pulling off scams that qualifies, if you ask him. That and staying out of Moldyfart and Esprit's clutches. He has a wicked head injury from her diamond bladed ax.

We wound through woods, over dales and grassy hills. I'd been told by Bolinasians that Fairfax was the place for affordable housing in Marin. It's the last hippie outpost left in the county. Now get outta here. Bo never was known for a welcoming committee, 'til I came along.

Fairfax. Lots of bars, live music, medical marijuana, coffee and tea dens, cheap eats and ethnic shopping with plenty of ramshackle rental housing and even a trailer or two.

I told Harry about my research. I'd learned from Dwell magazine that affordable housing is passe, the fresh buzzword is Sustainable Homes. Their prize winning sustainable palace cost a half a million, minus the costs of property and other minor stuff.


Spare the innocent ones╔together we will be drifters free"

Harry giggled, he's amused at the excesses of the rich, on his theory 'that much closer to the revolution'. Paris Hilton makes him titter, but he's been laughing ironically for a long time. "Here's my latest scam. With a diagnosis and a mental health disability I can get into subsidized housing in San Rafael. Otherwise I'd have to move in with twenty Mexican roommates in the Canal district. I'm not good in crowds. So it's either rich or crazy if you want to live in Marin, even better if you're rich and crazy. Then you get treated like royalty."

Royalty in Marin had just treated me rather poorly. "So where do the luxury workers live? Rich people need help. Without it they'd be like stranded baby seals, well dressed but stuck on the ice. I could live out in the poolhouse."

Harry sneered, "As a pool boy, you've got to handle a lot of white powders, I know how chemically sensitive you are, Mr. Natural. What makes you think rich people are going to hire you? How good are you at wiping buttcheeks with your brow? Nope, gonna have to get a diagnosis to succeed in your quest." His chuckle wasn't comforting.


Wander over the crazy days in my mind, watch the river flow╔take it all away"

I slumped back in the seat, or as far as I could with the pile of presents behind it. I really hoped it wasn't a Grinch thing. Harry was worse than the ACLU in putting the X in America's potlatch, Christmas.

Unopened still, and almost time for a New Year's resolution. I resolved not to make another one. 2005's resolution to report only on Positive Solutions, not Negative Vibrations had gotten me here. Homeless in Marin. Slightly disheveled, stinking of sulfur. But that's from the hot springs, not any demons in my intestines.

I'm not crazy, believe me. Sure I've gotten a little disturbed by the state of the world, especially by jerks, where homicidal threats had to be made to keep the situation under control.

I'm not paranoid, they are out to get us. The FBI has issued 80,000 national security letters without a warrant in America since 9/11. They've been collecting telephone numbers and e-mail addresses sent or received, credit card transactions and other records if they feel it's relevant to international terrorism or espionage. Which can be based on an anonymous tip.

Those linked to the subject of the letter from this data can be suspect as well, spreading out like a virus. Just calling the same pizza place as a person of interest might tangle you in this net.

They can even save and sell this information to commercial companies. Maybe all those Larger Penis spams weren't from an ex-GF, after all.

The NSA is continuously monitoring all Americans' international communications, letting computers flag any identified suspicious info. They've also been conducting warrantless wiretaps of up to 500 Americans, changing the lists as often as they liked, by executive order. The FBI and military intelligence are spying on Quakers and other subversive peaceniks, "communistic Catholics", violent vegans, eco-vandalists, anti-semantics. If you ask me the government is the paranoid nut, not me.


I've walked these streets in a spectacle of wealth and poverty╔ the scarlet welcome carpet╔ rolled out for me."

I know my weakness. Rendition me to some foreign country where they could stop just short of torture, say by blaring Neil Sedaka songs and Jerry Lewis telethons 24/7. I'm guilty! I helped Osama and Saddam plan 9/11 and assemble WMDs. I left the plans inside a hollowed out pumpkin.

Desperate to elude oversight, in a moment of weakness, I'd tried to join the Dark Side. I'd applied at the companies awarded $300 million to create and plant propaganda in the foreign press. There's no oversight on them, kinda like the Senate Ethics committee.

No, I'm not crazy. Irritable and impatient, yes. Hang up the phone before I've said good-bye. Hypercritical, even. It's not my fault the world is filled with idiots.

I blame the sudden mood swings on the mercury in my fillings, not their radio reception. The warring factions in my mind held elections. They're standing up, so I can sit down. The insurgency is in the final throes.

We were descending towards Fairfax, the hills green with the winter rains. Harry said he'd buy me a cup of coffee and tell me about his surefire ways to get a mental health disability, or hook up with lonely ladies.

Somehow, I'd run out of actual cash so I was disposed to oblige him. I'd forgotten how hard it could be to get a word in wedgewise when Harry drank coffee. Some kind of bipolar cannabis-coffee tempo. "Dr. Fihlgut gave it to me good, a diagnosis that is. He said Adult ADHD is like a kinder, gentler bi-polar. The meds sell for more on the street, too. My concentration powers have gone way up, and I hardly sleep at all."

I just had a bout with insomnia, because of some excess cold remedy, so I wasn't interested. Technically it wasn't finished, until something stopped the nightmares. "What about Cannabis Rx." I asked Harry Pothead.

"Dr. Fihlgut won't officially recommend medical marijuana or prescribe enough pain meds either, too afraid of the DEA. He will refer you to a specialist cousin of his, Dr. Feylbtr, who's got a grow op/clinic in his RV. A moving target and all. He's parked in a back alley in Fairfax, right now. Planning on expanding into abortions, once Alito gets seated on the Supreme."

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