Spanning the globes

Is this what Trump meant by “shit-hole countries”???

Journey to the Center of the Earth

The terribly tragic morning when I ran out of cat food and there was none for Moo Cat

“Meow! Meow! Meow Meow!! MEOW!! Meow! Meow! Meow! MEOW!!!!”

I ran out of cat food this morning. It happens once or twice a year. And it’s always a disaster. I had just enough food for Mini and Micro Scaredy and Fatty. So I was hoping Moo Cat wouldn’t show up.

But no. Here she comes, and meowing up a storm. She’s HUNGRY. Moo Cat thinks if she just meows at me long enough, or jumps on my head enough, or claws at my backpack enough, I’ll get it through my thick skull and realize she’s hungry and fix her her breakfast. Pronto.

I patiently try to explain to her that no matter how long or how loud she meows at me I still won’t be able to conjure up cans of cat food out of thin air. But — as usual — the dumb beast refuses to understand simple English. And continues to get more and more exasperated by our Failure to Communicate. I crawl under the covers to try and block out her barrage of righteous indignation.

Finally I get up and scrape some of the bits of food that were wedged on the bottom of the empty cans of chunk chicken. And I scraped off some of the leftover food that was stuck on the sides of the other cat’s food dishes. So at least Moo Cat got a little something..

Then I made a hasty exit down an alternate trail to avoid having Moo Cat pestering me every step of the way down the hill.


Bill Clinton comes to Berkeley

Bill Clinton gets to meet Dan McMullan.

Probably the last great moment for Cody’s Books was when Bill Clinton came to Berkeley to sign copies of his just-released autobiography. I forget the date. 2004? And I forget the title of the tome. Something very original like “My Life.” The thing was something like 900 pages. I couldn’t imagine anybody actually reading the thing.

But a HUGE crowd showed up for the event. We were all thrilled that a major celebrity and actual historical figure like Bill Clinton was visiting our humble little burg.

I was stationed at my usual spot on Telegraph and Haste. And I immediately spotted Bill Clinton when he made his entrance. He was a block away. But you couldn’t miss him. He had the white hair that shown like a spotlight. And this unmistakeable aura and glow. A lot of celebrities are actually “smaller than life” when you actually meet them. Not Bill Clinton. He had that unmistakable star power. That you can see from a block away. As soon as he stepped out of his limo he was surrounded by a mob of fans. He was like the center of a hurricane as he waded his way through the crowd.

My friend Danny — who is a savvy motherfucker — figured out in advance exactly which side entrance of Cody’s Books Clinton would likely enter on arrival. And stationed himself there. Which is how he got this great shot of him and Clinton right before he disappeared into Cody’s Books.

Event on 6/29/04 in San Francisco Former President Bill Clinton autographed his long-awaited book about his presidency today at Book Passage book store in the Ferry Building. The event drew a huge crowd of admirers. Chris Stewart / The Chronicle Photo: Chris Stewart

The line of people waiting to get their books signed stretched all the way down Haste Street. And down the next block. And up the next block. It was a HUGE crowd of people.

Somebody actually offered me 50 bucks if I would wait on line with their book and get it signed. And as much as I was intrigued at the once in a lifetime chance to look Bill Clinton in the eyes. I passed (I HATE waiting in lines).

So a huge crowd of us are milling around outside Cody’s Books as Clinton is inside signing books. We’re all waiting around hoping for a brush with greatness. But after about four hours they announce the event is over. Clinton has to move on to his next scheduled event at some other bookstore. So everybody outside is disappointed. There are still hundreds of people waiting outside hoping to get their books signed.

But then suddenly out of the blue Bill Clinton comes walking out of the front door of Cody’s Books. And we’re all in a state of shock. THERE HE IS! It’s actually Bill Clinton himself walking amongst us. Walking amongst the crowd. And he looks just like Bill Clinton. So it’s a surreal moment. But a totally joyous moment. Because we all realize we’re getting a once in a lifetime moment to breath in the same air as Bill Clinton.

Clinton is methodically working his way through the crowd. Quickly signing as many books as he can. And it’s one of those “above and beyond the call of duty” moments. He knows all these people have been waiting and hoping to get his autograph. So he’s trying to accommodate as many as possible before he’s whisked away in his limousine. But you can also tell Clinton is loving it too. He’s lapping it up. That he can’t get enough of being in the midst of this adoring crowd of people. The whole thing is like this big love-fest .

And Andy Ross — the much maligned owner of Cody’s Books — was right by his side. In his best suit and tie. Escorting The President Of The United States through the crowd. Andy Ross was one of Berkeley’s favorite villains at this point. But you can tell this is his one last shining moment (Cody’s Books would go bankrupt two years later).

It was hard to get a good look at Clinton as he was milling through the crowd. But I happened to have one of my folding chairs from my vending table. So I climbed up on it so I could get a good look at Clinton. This black guy that was standing next to me asked if he could climb up on the chair to get a good look, too. And I said “Sure” and I held the chair steady so it didn’t get knocked over by the crowd as he gazed at Bill Clinton in the flesh.  And he had a big smile on his face. And it struck me that there were a lot of black people at the event and Clinton was one of the few white people that black people actually liked.

And then I looked up and noticed all the Secret Service agents that were on the roof of the apartment building across the street from Cody’s. Keeping an eagle’s eye on the crowd. As Clinton made his way through the throng. And they no doubt had their fingers on the triggers of their guns in case anybody did anything weird. And I reminded myself not to make any sudden movements.

And then Clinton got in his limo and was gone.

And we all felt joyous and thrilled and buzzed. It was a bit of an extra kick than the usual afternoon on Telegraph Avenue. Seeing Bill Clinton hanging out on the corner of Telegraph & Haste.

Sometimes it seems like the computer has changed virtually every aspect of modern life, and virtually overnight. . . Some times for the better





Its weird when you really think about it. I mean we take it for granted because cellphones are so ubiquitous nowadays. But it’s really something out of science fiction. That we’re all walking around with these things in our pockets that contain just about all the recorded human knowledge down through the ages of history.

Breakfast at McDonald’s

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God there are so many nuts in this damn town!!

So it 8 in the morning and I drag myself out of my doorway and go to McDonald’s so that I might purchase a large dollar coffee plus free refill (such a deal). The guy waiting on line ahead of me is this big tall lunatic with haunted eyes who looks like Abe Lincoln and is talking to himself in this loud angry harangue. Even more disconcerting, he’s not facing the cash register, he’s turned around directly facing me and delivering his loud threatening harangue right at me. So I’m tense and alert for any sudden movements. When suddenly somebody bashes into me from behind.. I swerve around to confront the person. It’s just some homeless guy with a big load of stuff on his back and his stuff had whacked into me as he passed by. Course he doesn’t stop to say “excuse me” just keeps walking.

So I get my coffee and sit down. But before I can even take a sip a pack of loud boisterous high school kids come in. They’re yelling and braying back and forth and shoving and pushing each other for fun. And they make their way to the cash register. But before they can even order, some other disturbance breaks out and they all go rushing out the front door. An Asian man is fighting with the pack. He throws something at them. One of the guys throws a haymaker punch at him. One of the girls starts whacking at him with her umbrella. And the whole pack disappears down the street to do God knows what (I’m watching it out of the front window).

Then the girl with the umbrella who had instigated the whole thing comes back in to order. But the cashier refuses to serve her. So she goes to the drink machine and starts pouring water all over the floor and spraying it at the cashier. “WELL THEN FUCK ALL A’ YOU MOTHERFUCKERS. I COULD GIVE A FUCK ‘BOUT Y’ALL!!” And storms out in a huff.

And that was my first 5 minutes at McDonald’s.

Micro Scaredy finally goes too far

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I love Micro Scaredy, of course. But, frankly, she can really be an asshole sometimes. Did I mention she wakes me up every night at 4 in the morning, meowing at me incessantly, and jabbing at my face with her claws. It’s her special way of letting me know that she’s hungry and she wants me to get up and fix her a nice big breakfast as soon as possible.

Mini Scaredy has always gotten along with Micro Scaredy. Usually they’re like two peas in a pod. Best friends. And I’ve never seen them have any conflicts. But Micro must have done something to piss off Mini this morning. Because while I was lying under my blankets I suddenly heard the loudest cat-screeching sound I had ever heard. For some reason Mini is screeching right in Micro’s face. At one point Mini even lunged at Micro’s face, fangs bared, like she was thinking of biting Micro’s nose. Then she did the weirdest thing. Mini started spinning around in circles while she was screeching. I’d never seen anything like it. She was pissed.

Meanwhile, Micro is just sitting there looking at Mini with a blank expression on her face, like: “WHAT is your PROBLEM, girl??”

Finally Mini Scaredy walked away in a huff. And laid down at the end of my blankets with her back to Micro. Instead of nestling with Micro like usual. It was like the classic move when a couple is arguing with each in bed. The guy grabs some blankets and goes and sleeps on the couch.

But I guess that’s one of the things that makes cats interesting. As long as you know them they can always come up with something new. That spinning-around-in-circles move was a new one.