Goodtimes:Taking Time to Catch Up On My Dad’s Stories | Up Bear Creek
by Art Goodtimes
Jun 10, 2007 | 703 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
VISITING VINCE … It was a real pleasure spending time with my 87-year-old dad down the peninsula from Herb Caen’s Baghdad-by-the-Bay. In Mountain View, best known these days as Google’s headquarters, it’s a busy California dreaming.

Once a tiny stagecoach village set in a sea of Mexican land grant orchards, the town’s become a node in the Silicon Valley dot com revolution … He told me stories this time, and I transcribed them for him. He wanted to do his “autobiography” of sorts, and I was most willing to assist. When my brothers and I were young, mom told us all about her youthful adventures, but Dad was not as forthcoming. So there were lots of startling revelations. And that was endearing … Living alone, I was concerned about his situation in a big house without any family close by. But I found him with all his wits about him (in fact he looked a lot like Walt Whitman, having let his hair and beard grow long). And his neighbors were taking great care of him. The wonderful Janet and Mary adjacent on the south and friend Ray Andrade across the street … Vince had voluntarily given up driving, to his great credit. Not because he couldn’t drive any more, but he couldn’t be sure that he wouldn’t make a miscue and harm someone else. A good driver all his life, he wasn’t about to let old age lead him into some great mistake. So his neighbors were shopping for him, when he needed it. And he had his routines – reading the San Francisco Chronicle (a family newspaper tradition), reading his westerns, watering his garden, cleaning the house, making his meals, watching tv … It’s a bit lonely. His second wife of many years, May, have passed away several years before. Though people do call and visit some. All and all Vince seemed to be doing well, as well as could be expected. And I was grateful to spend time, just him and I, without the distractions of my own children and the complications of family. And he seemed to enjoy it as well.

CALIFORNIA … As a young man, I thrived on the intensity of San Francisco. These days it’s just daunting. And disturbing … Bigger and faster. Shinier buildings and dirtier streets. Cafes with great food and fascinating waitrons. New marquees and old cockroach bathrooms … Everyone rushing to and fro. Traffic snarls. Crowded sidewalks. The full range of languages & wardrobes, affectations and ornamentation. It’s a freak show. In fact, they had a retrospective of R. Crumb cartoons at the Yerba Buena Center, where Iris Willow works as event planner and calendar person, and that was perfect. R. Crumb was a visual poet of the first order, and his cartooniverse sums up city life for me, just like our own valley cows epitomize today’s Telluride.

SPEAKING OF SENIORS … Currently, over 70 percent of the nation’s counties are considered non-metropolitan. We have over 15,000 communities of 2,500 or less population in the U.S. Twenty-five percent of all older people in the U.S. live in or around these small towns; more than a quarter of elderly Americans residing in “rural” areas. A North Dakota State Center study concluded that a net out-migration of 44,000 people cost the state nearly $1 billion in net taxable income from 1993 to 2005. The report found that significant out-migration from rural areas ends up costing the taxpayers more because infrastructure still needs to be maintained and upgraded, institutions like schools still need funding, and the population left behind in the rural communities – often the very young, the very old, and the very poor – need more services than the income-producing citizens who moved away. The report suggests that government investment in programs, such as the New Homestead Act and community development initiatives like HomeTown Competitiveness, which have, as a goal, stemming rural out-migration, may be quite cost-effective or “profitable” for taxpayers.

TRI-STATE, SMPA, LISTEN UP… Environmental groups and other partners have engineered a recent buy-out of Texas TXU Corporation, which in April of last year, had announced plans to build 11 old-fashioned pulverized-coal-burning power plans in Texas. These plants would have added 78 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, more than the emissions of 21 other states and twice the carbon reductions from California’s clean-car legislation. The new buyers, Texas Pacific Group and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Company, agreed to a long list of stipulations which will re-create TXU as a “green electricity generator.” The deal was initiated by William Reilly, the former head of the EPA under George H.W. Bush and now a vice president with Texas Pacific Group, who contacted the environmental groups to help them define the terms of the deal which would accomplish this … TXU under this new ownership will 1) withdraw plans for eight of the 11 new coal-fired power plants in Texas; 2) immediately scrap plans to expand coal operations in other states; 3) endorse the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, including its call for a mandatory federal cap on carbon emissions; 4) reduce the company’s carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2020; 5) increase spending on energy efficiency to $400 million; 6) double TXU’s investment in wind power; 7) cut nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, and mercury emissions from TXU’s operations by 20 percent; and 8) establish a Sustainable Energy Advisory Board, including a representative from the environmental group Environmental Defense. ED President Fred Krupp remarked, “Smart companies are realizing that green business is good business. You know that the world is changing when the biggest buyout deal yet is made contingent on conditions having to do with global warming.”

THE TALKING GOURD

white letter

-for J. Mueller, the Budada

dear jack, i too just back

from san fran. caen’s great city

by the bay.

took a yerba buena tour

with my eldest daughter.

who works there.

her smart black suit

counterpoint

across a vast expanse of

gallery white.

the dance piece she took us to

edgy. urban. pomo-avant-guarded.

yerba buena

the Spanish settlement’s

first anglo name.

also the name for an aromatic mint

rhizomic to my pacific rim home.

the “good herb”.

used to make tea.

& now what they put

on top of the moscone center

in that stretch limo dot com capital

feinstein took back

for the downtown interests

after their twinkie hit man

dan the white man

offed harvey and george.

gunplay

the way we settle up accounts

out west.

hope you had

as lovely a golden gate rush as i

cannot.

© 2007 Art Goodtimes
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