carol's kitchen

Thursday, April 07, 2016

THE NEWS TODAY



WAITING FOR A PARK
Still waiting for fiber optics?  You can relax now.  Your very own Macroneurotic is launching a new business -- venture capitalists please take note.   This will be a carrier pigeon service, AKA Carol’s Cold-Blooded Carriers (CC-BC).  Our service is designed for people carrying on illicit love affairs, secret committee meetings, and/or engaged in private conversations with politicians, wink wink. 
Our pigeons deliver messages anywhere on land, on sea, or in the air.  Whatever message you want kept secret, we can handle it.  Our birds are swift and tell no tales, even when tortured by the likes of Donald Trump. 
The CC-BC fleet can fly over the highest walls & through barbed wire fences; they carry no viruses nor can they be hacked.  Our secret revolutionary encryption method (© ™®) is simple: we break your message into three parts and use three pigeons flying three different routes, so even if they get one bird, what are the chances of catching all three? 
How about that!
Ladies & gentlemen: this is the most secure secret message transmission method that exists today; better than Apple, who by their own admission could create a back door if they wanted to.  Our pigeons have no back doors; they’ve got wings and tails and they know how to fly.  Best of all, they reach destinations without use of the internet or PG&E.   
Please ask about our soon-to-be-released highly skilled trained flock of drone pigeons who carry remote controlled cameras & other surveillance appliances – latest technology, of course. 
Our pigeons will always nod in agreement; they are proud to please.

OLD NEWS (JANUARY) BUT GOOD HISTORY – MEA CULPA

NOT GUILTY!  What did I say about entertainment in Vallejo?  You just can’t beat a Tuesday night special meeting of the City Council for high drama.  On one of those nights earlier this year, in the raw painful wake of exposing MISDC (secret committee for helping Orcem & VMT dredge the river), I watched a series of events that could have been lifted right out of a Hollywood movie. 
Here’s how it went: a certain ex-vice mayor committed a lengthy tearful reverse-auto-da-fe, denying guilt over and over, all the while refusing to apologize, pleading with the peanut gallery to feel sorry for him, telling us we could not possibly imagine what it feels like to sit up on that stage and be publicly vilified for more than four and a half hours, for something of which he is completely innocent. 
I felt no pity for the fellow, and besides, nobody asked him.  His tirade showed up at the start of the meeting like a bat out of hell; out of order and off the wall, but no one stopped him.  He simply had to get it off his chest.  He’ll probably play that monologue in his mind for a long long time.  I wonder if late at night he watches re-runs of that meeting when the citizens of Vallejo accused him of wrong-doing, over & over like strokes of a whip.  Does he feel like Capt. Queeg?   
Nor was I moved by the blonde at the end of the table who also elicits pity; she’s really so sweet, and her golden locks sparkle under the spotlights.  What I imagine about her is she just does what she’s told.  Anyone out there get a different impression? 
Best of all, for me, Miss Katie, who took the same ethics course for Public Officials that I did, and repeated the words I’d directed at the mayor only one week before: the perception of wrong doing in the eyes of the people is enough to make you guilty.  Whatever he’d done to make so many people mad enough to come down to city hall on a cold blustery night in the middle of winter and tell him about it, is wrong and he should not do it even if he thinks it’s right.  That ethics course, incidentally, taught that the consequences of such wrong-doing could be fines, jail time, and public humiliation, but there was no talk of the first two in our city hall under the watchful eye of our legal hawk. 
Then the public spoke: a homeless mother of six addressed the council; claimed a city employee hung up on her when she asked for help.  No one knew what to say.  As she walked back to her seat the silence in the house was deafening. 
Things got worse.  The lover of cement factories on precious waterfront property put in his two cents, and it was all we could do to remain in our seats.  He accused us of being against business, and not interested in what’s good for Vallejo.  I bowed my head and hissed.  Yes, I did. 
Our own brilliant AC, the best, most eloquent, intelligent & informed citizen activist in town, and my own personal heroine, was vilified for characterizing Filipino people as being “respectful of the law,” a quality she found lacking in a council woman who’s ever-changing lipstick colors I always find stunning. 
There was a well-spoken MMD owner who told the council that the secret committee meetings had destroyed all her respect for our government and they had lost the trust of the people.    
Somebody got up & told the Vallejo City Council we the people were fed up seeing the same 4 – 3 votes on motions; time and time again, the same people voting together the same way.  We also don’t like that they don’t get along among themselves, let alone with the likes of us.
McConnell, who should have been vice-mayor but lost in a 4-3 vote, suggested the council create an ad-hoc committee and hold open discussions about the recent debacle in order to learn how to do better and try to regain the public’s trust.  The mayor said it would be wasting time making new rules & regulations when we already had perfectly good ones in place.  When it was pointed out that he himself had broken the rules he called that “a mistake,” and even excused the blond at the end of the table for making the same mistake.
That’s what my ex-husband called it when I caught him cheating.  A mistake. 
But the city manager advised the mayor to do what the good councilman suggested, which must have really bugged his honor big time seeing as how he and the white-haired knight are always duking it out up there on the dais in front of the hoi-polloi.  I wonder how they behave when we’re not around.
I was embarrassed when our legal eagle corrected one of our most outspoken activists, who’d given the impression that his website, exposing the secret committee, had been pulled by the city staff when it had not.  I’m not happy with him because I want us to be better than that.  Ditto about the recall efforts, which I’m glad to see have come to an end – for whatever reason.  There was something insidious about that movement & I’m glad it’s over.  And who could ever forget screaming like a banshee at the mayor.  Puleeze!
We’ve got to be better than that.  We’re on the side of right and must maintain the high standards we require of our leaders.  Here I am bashing my friends and colleagues so I need to say something about myself to cut me down to size & put me in my place.  OK.  I confess to a weakness for bad boys; smart ones; preferable sharp dressers.  Nuff said. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

POLITICS & ALL THAT JAZZ

I’ve got a lot to learn.  I never participated in city government before I came to Vallejo.  I don’t know how things work.  In the old days my activism was grandiose intellectual coffee-house BS.  Now I flap around like a stranded seal, trying this and that, always working for truth and justice; at least I’m on the right side – ain’t I?  The good thing is the game is accessible in Vallejo; even I can say my piece, as though it might do any good.  I’ve got a front row seat at City Hall where I get to watch political crime and corruption in 3-D and living color nearly every Tuesday night.  It’s history in the making; the finest entertainment in town (beside the Empress Theatre, of course), and the best teacher if I pay attention.

Listening to our untutored councilors try to figure out rules for cultivating and delivering marijuana made me think I was back in the old world, eavesdropping on a bunch of rabbis arguing some obscure Talmudic point.  The mountain of considerations for each decision for each rule is huge.  How many inches a baby plant may be before it can be moved from its mother?  What is the precise size of the growing area allowed for a vender?  Where may it be?  Fortunately, the lawyer for the dispensary gang set everyone straight when he said, let’s be real, it has to grow somewhere.

As I see it, city staff runs the whole show.  I took part in the citizens workshops that led to the creation of the new General Plan, aka Propel Vallejo, which has been snatched from its cradle by our legal staff because a “certain applicant has spent thousands of dollars” (her words) on his project of putting a deep water port and cement factory on the waterfront that we, the citizens have rightfully claimed to be ours in our new General Plan, and we had better not say anything about it because that’s against the law. 

They’re fixing the pipes and water storage tanks in the parking lot across the street from my complex.  The report claims that “Rerouting the surface storm water flow will also reduce the risk of flooding of the lower levels in the event of a strong storm coupled with a power outage.” 

Man, that scares me.  Will the river overflow?  How long can the power be out?  I get oxygen from a machine that runs on electric power.  In case that storm and outage come to my house, I have 4 auxiliary tanks on my patio that hold 72 hours of oxygen, so they say, and that’s it.  I’ve asked neighbors to help me if the juice stops.  And if you’re around, please come over and help. 

One of the first storms of the year knocked my only tomato plant over, breaking the pot and strewing earth on the patio.  I had to get rid of the plant but managed to save about 15 marble sized green orbs.  What could I do with them?  You can’t eat them, they’re no good to cook, but I didn’t want to throw them out, so I pickled them.  Got the recipe from the nice pickle vendor at Moschetti’s on Saturday morning.  Those babies were so delicious I want to pickle everything in sight. 

One of the most interesting things I ever learned about self-defense is when you tear up lettuce leaves they produce more anti-oxidents, so always tear your lettuce when you make a salad. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

PLAN THE GENERAL


To those who warned me not to trust the Mayor I say this: throughout all the time we worked together on what I’d come to believe was “our” park, mine and the mayor’s, Osby Davis behaved honorably, kept his word, and fulfilled every promise he gave me about beautifying the patch of land known as Independence Park (which is currently being used as a giant bird bath). 

Yes, he did!

If you have any doubts, please take a look at Item E under section # 8 of the Action Calendar of the city council meeting on January 26th.  “REQUEST FROM MAYOR DAVIS TO PLACE THE FOLLOWING ITEM ON A FUTURE CITY COUNCIL AGENDA: PRESENTATION ON A WATERFRONT ART WALK PROPOSAL Recommendation: City Council to consider request from Mayor Davis to schedule a presentation on a Waterfront Art Walk proposal on a future City Council agenda.”  
This small item is proof he means business.  

From the outset, Mayor Davis told me his intention was to get that park done before he leaves office, or at least get it to the point where there was no going back, and that’s exactly what he’s doing.  I was right to believe him and work with him, as far as we could go.  I can only applaud his efforts.  

The problem is he’s going full speed ahead without me now.  He’s found an artist who wants to fill the entire waterfront, from my house all the way up to the bridge and on the streets as well, with sculpture that will depict and glorify the history of Vallejo.  He brings mighty sponsorship with him.  This artist is a nice fellow; I’d like to sit down and have a glass of wine with him, but his style of work is not to my taste and I think it’s wrong for Vallejo.  I related these thoughts to my friend, the Mayor, who no longer returns my calls. 

Oh, the ironies of life are cruel.  I will get a park, but it won’t be my park.  I yodeled that tune when it was taken over by PB, and I’m howling it again now that the Mayor has taken it over.  Yet, it’s not done yet; we’ve yet to hear from the fat lady. 

I recently took part in the development of an “arts element” to be included in the Next General Plan, and that element foretells the reconstitution of the much needed Vallejo Commission for Arts and Culture.  And, it’s my opinion that it should be the Vallejo Arts and Culture Commission that takes up the question of whether an artist’s work meets their criteria for art in public places of our fair city.  Until the commission is established no permanent Art should be installed on our waterfront, Parks or other public spaces.  That’s my two cents.  Otherwise, it’s a free-for-all, or so it appears to me when I walk out in the streets of Laredo, I mean Vallejo. 


My memoir is still for sale: www.flatbushprincess.com. 

Happy New Year, and all that.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

VALLEJO DREAMING

I visited the Vallejo City website to express my thoughts about housing and wandered into the section about Mare Island.  What a place!  What a situation!  If I was a developer I’d buy up the entire western shore and as much land as I could get, and create a Martha’s Vineyard type of place, with beach homes and apartments, protected beaches, little town centers with shops etc. etc.  It would have its own ferry to San Francisco and other towns on the bay, maybe a car ferry.  Hey!
From the pictures on the website those Mare Island warehouses look fabulous.  As a New Yorker I think of the old deserted buildings in Soho and the meat packing district that became million-dollar lofts, high class international art galleries, and home to some of the fanciest restaurants in the city.  I don't understand why this property hasn’t been snatched up by smart investors, especially since they'll get a ferry service to the mainland very soon.  Personally, I’d love to see a bridge at the southern section of Curtola to get most of the traffic off Mare Island Way. 
While I’m at it, those parking lots across from the ferry are in the wrong place.  Put three or four multi-storied parking structures on Santa Clara Street and allow the waterfront to become the beautiful place it should be, with shops and walks and outdoor cafes.  We can make better use of that place, dontcha think? 

Let me ask you: which would you rather do after stepping off the Vallejo ferry?  Stop off for a drink at a beautiful bar with a view of the sunset, sit down in a cozy tea room/pastry shop, eat a good dinner or grab a stand-up snack, purchase some last minute grocery items, a loaf of artisan bread, look at an art exhibit, buy a book, eat an ice-cream, and more fun activities like the above…… or go to the dentist?  The city should buy him out; rent him a nice spot at the bottom of Georgia Street, and let him drill, baby, drill.

Imagine visiting Vallejo.  Whatever for, you may well ask?  What is there to do in Vallejo?  I took a drive down Lemon Street recently and was inspired by the beauty of the long, tree-lined lane along the river that leads to the old Sperry Mill, which later became General Mills, with its lovely old buildings and beautiful river vistas.  Why not re-purpose those buildings, like London turned their electric utilities station on the Thames River into the Tate Modern, one of the great museums in Europe?

My idea is to turn some of that gorgeous waterfront property into a world-class spa and health resort, with shops, restaurants, a five-star hotel, a pleasant motel, and a youth hostel, expensive and reasonable places to eat; a condominium complex, senior and student housing, a pier for ferries and other boats that bring tourists and visitors like Mark Zukerberg and his wife, who will sail over in their google-driven speedboat for a great seafood lunch and an afternoon of mud baths and massage.  Movie stars would rent beautiful river-view suites while they get Botox treatments and recuperate from plastic surgery.  

It needn’t be only for rich tourists.  Let’s have a learning center with free seminars for Vallejo residents, and courses on marine life and tidelands, good nutrition, free weight-lifting and yoga classes; a carousel, a fine planetarium, a great day-care center. What about an art film house? And a fine, fitting home and performance hall for our great symphony orchestra - it's about time!

How about this: the hottest night-club in the Bay Area, right down there on the shores of our southern waterfront, with top notch DJ’s and world-class entertainment, where guests can arrive directly by boat at its dedicated pier, and let’s call it THE CEMENT FACTORY. 

Vallejo is gorgeous; it could also be prosperous, and clean and healthy at the same time.  I can easily imagine a beautiful river city, with a thriving, integrated community, great schools, active citizens, and elected officials who listen to and represent the people.  

You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one…

Monday, December 21, 2015

CHANGES



It appears I got my park, but I never expected it to arrive as it has, cram-packed full of junk, including a submarine sail, whatever that is (I thought they go under-water), and heaps of tchotchkes they call sculpture, a questionable judgement in Vallejo.  I feel like I’ve bought the wrong ticket for the right place, or the right ticket for the wrong place.

What the heck is History Arts?  It doesn’t sound like anything I want in my park.  

Will someone please tell me who’s behind this?  Participatory Budgeting, who, incidentally, pay more than $500,000 - aka ‘administrative welfare’ - to city employees for assistance on these projects, guards its secrets well, and so far my simple question has gotten no answer.  I’m not supposed to know who on PB worked on it.  Top secret.  Is it Isis?

Why should the city pay for this park?  The rumor is a certain Mr. Callahan is supposed to clean up and beautify that park as part of his deal with the city in return for the development of a parcel of waterfront land nearby that he’s clearly in no hurry to do.  City staff, working hand in hand with PB, surely know about the deal with Mr. Callahan, who, no doubt wakes up each morning with a big smile on his face, knowing that we the people are going to fix the park for him and pay for the privilege out of our own pockets, and he doesn’t have to do a darned thing.  We must be so rich.
I feel guilty that so many people who signed my petition and supported my project voted for the PB Park thinking it was the same park.  Someone should have told me before it was put on the ballot.  I should have been included.  If I had my way it’d be just me and the Mayor making that park, our way, without the city. Yes, I said that! 

But, don’t worry about me.  I consider this development a windfall and intend to make the most of it.  I’m looking at it now as an opportunity to join with others, whoever they may be, to work on the design of the park, with the needs and desires of those who live beside it, foremost on my agenda.  We want a peaceful quiet place, with nothing that will spoil our view, no junk, and nothing noisy.  Please.
Will the city approve it on December 8th?  They know all about Callahan – better than I do, and they know about my petition and have heard about the Topher Delaney design I submitted.  T’will be interesting to see how they deal with it.   

Did anyone else hear what I heard last night at the City Council meeting?  Council member Katy Miessner warned us not underestimate the effects of drought on world politics.  I don’t recall her exact words, she said them so quickly, but the gist was that an important reason for the problems in Syria started with a drought, bringing on the subsequent troubles we now witness with horror in that country, as well as those manifested in Paris, Beirut, etc. 
 
Basically, as I understood her, Katy blames terrorism on the drought, ultimately, which she cautions us to take seriously.  Presumably, our drought will turn us into terrorists if we don’t.  I like the theory that weather is to blame for the problems of the world.  Why not?  We wouldn’t need armies to fight it.  We could use our brains. 


Sunday, November 01, 2015

INDEPENDENCE PARK BULLETIN



To My Friends and Neighbors,

     No one was more surprised than I to read the bit on the front page of the Times Herald last week announcing a Participatory Budgeting project “to transform a dirt area south of the Vallejo Ferry Terminal into the Waterfront History Arts Park.”  

     Huh?  What’s that?  

     Sounds like a description of my own Independence Park, the park I look at every day, that I'm working hard to transform.  Then I saw the pictures on the PB website, and knew for sure.  My park - OUR park has been parknapped by the Participatory Budgeting Cycle 3 ballot. 

     This PB proposal does not fit the vision of the park I worked on with the mayor and other people.  I asked for a peaceful place, for families, gentle paths, with benches, a few tables, and if we can’t plant grass, let’s have a good-looking natural drought-resistant ground cover, like granite chips.  I wanted a labyrinth as a point of interest, some appropriate plants, and perhaps a bocce court for fun.  I wanted stations along the river walk, where people could look at Mare Island and learn about its rich history.  The original vision was a simple elegant haven of peace, a joy for Vallejoans, and a statement to visitors that says we care for our city.  

     I confess my ignorance of the PB plan for Independence Park until a few days ago.  I should have known about it but I didn’t, and I’m sorry about that.  I apologize.  I do know, however, if the PB Independence Park plan doesn’t get enough votes to go through, I’ll have a plan by the middle of next month, which the mayor and I will have put together after gathering various elements together to actually get it built, and, this plan will be closer to the needs and desires of the many more supporters who’ve been cheering us on since we started, and the more than 700 people who signed our petition.
 
     While I’m confessing, I should say that I don’t care for some of their plans, and wonder if they’ll get enough votes to make it happen.  Moreover, I’m a dreamer, politically naïve, and fearless; I didn’t foresee the excruciatingly long process of getting a park project off the ground (ahem), and I’m running out of patience -- but not out of enthusiasm and dedication to transforming that “dirt area” on the river into a lovely, peaceful Park.

     Thanks for bearing with me. 
    
     Faithfully yours,