All posts by Dana Smith

Author and Entertainer

glass fire – Napa county

Wildfire on Fire

September 19, 2015 I was on the Calistoga Fairgrounds. I had jotted that date down in my calendar getting up that morning and driving the hour and fifteen minutes from Emery Cove north to this location intending to investigate this northernmost corner of Napa County. I had come to look over the historic racetrack as I pieced the plot to my next novel together.

The hotshot had fought too hard this season, “You give fire a crack, especially with a five year drought on and she’ll make it a moody unpredictable conflagration every time.” From Women of the Oak Savannahs

National championship motorcycle races were scheduled then cancelled. Instead the fairground became a base for the evacuees of the Lake County Fire burning out of control east of the famed wine growing region.

I met activists and volunteers on fairgrounds that day. I had lunch downtown talking to people arriving to pickup friends, family and their pets to take them home until the fires were put out.

“I pray to god I’m to hell and gone,” another hot shot said, “when that road reopens, and the homeowners are allowed back in. I don’t know if there’s a man among us who has the stomach to witness that much grief.”

This wasn’t the first big fire, but it was the worst of them. Unstoppable wildfire in late summer to early fall have become too frequent. California is a little dryer, a little hotter, and this combination combines with high winds and low humidity to make for near perfect conditions for fire.

Satellite View of the Glass Fire

With the economic recovery after the global financial crisis of 2009 came a run up in real estate prices along with an increased demand for markets seeking Napa Valley wines. Attending a Napa County Planning Commission meeting was to witness a frenzied bubble of speculators rushing to buy a piece of Napa County paradise.

“I hope we never do a show like this ever again.” Jo said. “One is enough, two is more heartbreak than a girl ought to have to bear.”

In the last ten years with most of the valley built-out attention turned to the hills surrounding Napa Valley. One developer then another obtained a permit to build. Tens upon tens of thousands of trees were removed, thousands of acres of vines were planted, homes were built, wells punched, and tasting rooms were opened.

All the while each year there were more and ever more dangerous wildfires in the region. Instead of halting further development, consolidating infrastructure, finding solutions to the traffic choked highways, the pressure to keep approving new developments and keep the expansion on track was the unstoppable force.

“What if the whole world gets so hot that there’s nowhere to run? What are we going to do then?”

“Can’t let that happen.”

Wildfire is forcing Napa County to change its plans. Global climate change is forcing the region to reconsider how to even coexist with the now deadly serious autumn fire season. A small army of specialized scientists already have the answers to questions the planning commissioners don’t want to hear. Hazard insurance for homeowners is about to disrupt the real estate market. The cost of protecting hillside homes is spiking. Water scarcity, salmons fish runs going extinct and a spike in childhood cancer rates plague the once pristine region.

Forest Protectors

Locals try to keep their chins up but confidence has dipped, knowing at any moment in any future autumn that orders to evacuate their home because of another wildfire has to be planned for. Having to run for your life with what you can grab before a wall of flames ingulfs your home isn’t workable.

Solving this crisis will inevitably turn to working with the international effort to reverse climate change. The singular focus of increasing vineyards to take what precious little water there is here and ship it in the form of wine to over there is no longer viable. Like the pandemic the wildfires are forcing us to reconsider how we may move forward. This is what we confront now. How to preserve and protect our people and world.

Jo bent over and untangled her long hair with her fingers. “I saw that look, the one you’re talking about. After the show, then it hits them all over again, everything they had in this world has gone up in smoke, gone like that, and now? How do you pick up the pieces when there are no pieces left to pick up?”

Singing Telegram Gigging

Living in an Unpredictable World

Psychological resilience in this after-times is demanded of civilizations players. To survive this rollicking adventure we must adapt to fast moving viruses, wildfires, and weaponized inequality.

Mask wearing, I don’t mind. Socially distancing, I’m hermetic by nature. Vaccinations, I’m ready when they’ve got one that works.

Yesterday I could see and smell smoke here in Northern California where wildfire erupted in Napa County. Evacuations were ordered. Being forced out of your home is disorienting, especially while fleeing and having forgotten your mask.

Into the Wildest Places

Perhaps yours is not but my economy is shattered. For the moment if you are landing on your East Hampton’s helipad things might be just dandy. The peasants in pitchforks are plenty stirred up by the madness that passes for a Republican President and Congress but whether they are going to slow roast their hard-hearts remains a longshot. As we say in the trade, “I like oligarch I’ve just never been able to finish a whole one.”

Swift moving flames of wildfire burn one thing down and odd as it seems another thing isn’t touched. Entertainment industry is shuttered the lives of tens of thousands of ballet dancers, actors, singers, musicians, choreographers, conductors, orchestras, theme parks, circus shows, street performers are all out of work. Movie theaters, Las Vegas, nightclubs, comedy joints, strip clubs, and singing telegram gigs are all kaput.

Better Living Through Virus Dodging

All of what had been reliable and true is no longer the case. We may not wander about the world with our passports, enter and exit most of the world as we once did. We may have thought living on some leafy lane a terrific bit of pastoral splendor at one time and of course now you’ll have to have your head examined before occupying such a residence.

We continue to struggle about whether citizens are going to have access to health-care. Two months from now our Supreme Court may toss out the Affordable Care Act and with it will go coverage for Americans with pre-existing conditions. Depending upon how you count that group of unfortunates, to give you a ballpark figure, approximately all of us will be affected by this change.

Starter Home

As we all dash about dodging the plague and wildfires while searching for new jobs, because we can’t perform the work we’ve spent our life training for, our titans of finance are doing their damned best to get their morally bankrupt huckster back in the Oval Office.

History’s warning chastens our self-conceit. Turning the page on the industrial revolution and building a brighter more survivable renewable energy economy is like you know going to take a moonshot. The technology has all been invented, we have the tools, what is lacking is a means of organizing the human spirit into a coherent civilization saving act.

We’ll need leaders at the top. We’ll need an activist citizenship. Mobilizing will require a colossal deployment of people and technologies. Jobs will be plentiful. The economy will thrive, but yeah there are going to be winners and losers. To that end we’ll show those sectors of the economy that need a hand up how a more compassionate capitalism can work.

None of what I’ve outlined is remotely original. This plan waits. November’s election is crucial. Democracy, civilization and the football season are all on the line. Vote like your season tickets depend upon it.

Love Scene

I write a novel after making a plan. The initial work includes list of scenes I want to put my list of characters into. I want them to have to go through some things on the way through the story.

I knew that planning a novel about saving 2500 acres of oak woodlands was going to be based on readers caring about the characters that have found themselves joined to the struggle.

I wanted two very intense people try to grapple with how their greatness has been the cause of so much interpersonal failure.

Each scene adds another building block to this effort to hook readers into caring. And of all the things worth caring for, the characters may be the most important.

This is not a sex scene, this is a surrender your heart scene, to a complete stranger, a pair having some kind of love at first sight experience, both having been not so much unlucky in love but more a bit too clever and professionally pressured to make room for love.

The novel can’t work unless this scene works. This is a clash between two immensely talented, proud, vulnerable, successful, competitive people who more than anything else can’t quite admit out loud how much they both crave the possibility of creating a durable intimate life with a partner.

Here is their first meeting. Shocked, blown away, struggling to make their way in, both stumble from start to end trying to figure out what it is they have found.

Chapter 3 Jo and Buzz Calistoga

sailing the california coast

Humpback off San Luis Obispo

Offshore a mariner fixes their attention on the task of sailing. Between the departure and arrival during a passage there is much to do. Steering and trimming sails as the wind dictates, motoring when becalmed, utilizing your navigational equipment, keeping your position marked on your chart, keeping skipper and crew fed and hydrated.

Depending upon the day the motion of the boat may keep the crew on their toes. Being thrown off your feet while moving about can be dangerous, keeping an eye out for crew unaware that they are getting motion sick, keeping a good lookout for vessels approaching.

Santa Cruz Island

Sailing off the coast ten miles or more the shoreline becomes gauzy, the contours become blue gray misty silhouettes. Sailors listen to the hull moving through the water. Often the sound is delicate and you may discern the cutting of the bow into the sea or the swirling wake off the stern.

Crew in Reverie

Clues of what is ahead can be read by the size, steepness and direction of the ocean swell. Off Big Sur in September of 2018 we greeted sunrise with 8-10’ swells coming from the north while from the south we were being overtaken by smaller 4-6’ swells generated by the far off remnants of a hurricane. The morning was moody. Fog lifted but above the sky remained overcast, dark, offering no cheerfulness.

To Monterey we had been 32 hours northbound from Morro Bay. In the darkness of the early morning before daybreak a pod of dolphins playing chase would swim out away from the bow of the boat then turn and race back to the tip. Again and again the pod maneuvered for most of an hour. What an eye could pick out in the pitch black night was the bioluminescence stirred up in the dolphins wake and the glimpse of white to their underbodies as the animals leaned to the side or corkscrewed through the sea.

Winged Wonder Albatross

A Laysan albatross soared on 7’ wings near our vessel as we made our course north approaching Carmel. The bird’s wingtips kissing the tips of the waves. In the time the sailboat took to make another hundred yards north the albatross had circled about the boat coming in closer then soaring out further perhaps a flying one mile to our three hundred feet. To be sure this animal is a swift master of flight.

In Monterey Harbor by noon we took a guest slip. Squaring fees with the harbormaster we returned to the boat and snacked, rested on our bunks reading, and got much needed sleep for the next twenty-four hours.

Monterey Harbor Entrance

Winds were calm but an approaching low pressure system dictated we motor north to San Francisco. At the fuel dock I spoke with the workman handling the pumps. He had been commuting from Salinas where he was born and had signed a lease on an apartment in Monterey. He had sold his car after the move and bought a bike. His lifestyle was on the upswing. The fuel dock in Monterey provides a good wage and chance to make small talk with fishermen, sailors and the like. Like everyone up and down the coast the conversations were much the same. Cost of housing, congested roads, tourists everywhere, big money types coming into town driving up prices and driving their friends and family out.

Some remain and make do against all odds. Born and raised types tend to try and stick it out. The smart ones if they can get rid of their cars and commutes. They’ll know which coffeehouse to frequent and saloon to drown their sorrows in. Some will have just found love, others have just lost love, there were no fuel dock workers I met that didn’t have one kind of love or another square in the middle of their lives.

Arrival 56 days along the coast

A good wage, someone to love and no commute. That’s being at the top of your game in California in the second decade of this new century.

‘Electile’ dysfunction

Sacred Rights

Electile Dysfunction seems to have been creeping back into our election system. Chief Justice Roberts and his band of merry curmudgeons gutting of the Voting Rights Act and then their naked partisan decision in Citizens United have set the table for the fat authoritarian orange monster to wage his dictator takeover America for his buddy Putin plan. All this for one measly tower in Moscow. Selling your country out comes on the cheap.

Electile Dysfunction has many symptoms you are all familiar with. One of the most telling signs of political illness is the, both sides are the same canard. “Bothsiderism,” infects the deepest inner most sanctums of the journalists seeking to maintain access to the politicians they are paid to cover. No access and no pay.

The Once Well Oiled Empire

So how does this look? Well, start with Benghazi. Four Americans from the embassy in Libya were killed and the Republicans went into full dungeon blaming Obama, Hillary and Susan Rice. There you go one side, but we need one more side so we can have some good old “bothsiderism.”

Next comes the death of 200,000 victims from the Covid-19 virus. One side spewing venom and a pox on all your houses over four dead in Libya while that same side has not uttered one word about the President’s bungling of the global pandemic and the preventable death of TWO-FUCKING-HUNDRED-THOUSAND-CITIZENS-OF-THE-UNITED-STATES-OF-AMERICA.


I have a special place in hell all picked out for “single issue voters.” There are a lot of these misfits in our midst. Guns, abortion, immigration and anti-tax types are four of the most popular single issues. Other most popular issues include Caucasians advocating for White Supremacy, misogynists, homosexual dread-mongers, and climate change denialists are found trapped in their one trick pony voting booth myopia.

Yes, good old E.D. allows a low information voter to go full head in the sand. Still here we all are, and we are in this together, and not just together, but with the world’s population rocketing ever higher there’s a lot of us piling up in one cohort of voters or another.  

Our current occupant in the Oval has been dismantling our government before our very eyes while doing everything he can to overthrow our systems of checks and balances, so he may appoint himself President for life. Yeah, that guy.

Oligarchs Suck

Seeing as I would prefer not to find myself locked in a cage for being an artist. Believing that our Attorney General seems to be showing severe authoritarian sympathizing symptoms. Spines and backbones have been removed from all Republican Senators at the same instant they suffer paralysis of their vocal cords. I’ve never seen a more silent group of blabbermouths arriving at the same place in history at the same time. Basically this is the intersection where the party crackup is so severe it renders itself utterly unredeemable.

You see I’m beginning to think if we are in an authentic global emergency, that if there is a raging pandemic, increasing signs of civilization ending climate change, raging income inequality, systemic racism and not just a tent city but a whole living in your tent megalopolis about to explode on the scene then I think all of us may want to reconsider how and who we vote for this November.

Climate Emergency Panoramic

Without inventing one new technology we already have everything we need to defeat climate change. A few tweaks to the tax code and income inequality is fixed. Demanding our cops not blow holes into Black Americans doesn’t seem too much to expect. Affordable housing, a living wage and universal access to health care are all within reach. Next year we are going to be in the biggest pornographic pickle without condoms corner our economy has faced since the 1930’s.

Civilization Celebrates Survival

Here’s my advice to our next President. Put millions to work deploying an energy system for the 21st Century. Wind turbines, solar panels, batteries, and heat pumps need to be stood up to replace our antiquated 19th Century fossil fuel energy system. If we made it a moonshot, go full ‘fly me to the moon let us all swing among the stars’ we can expect our economy to recover, citizens to have good paying jobs and our one precious earth to survive Putin’s puppet and everything has to be made in China or we sure as hell won’t want to buy it.

I know, I know I’ve given you a lot to think through, but dang you know I’m not really sure I want to do the full Nazi’s in America thing. In fact I know if we dump democracy we can expect banana futures to skyrocket, Molotov cocktails for happy hour, and some of the least desirable grifters from Kansas all going to Washington seeking work in voter suppression.

So, pay the hell attention and if vote for a candidate be sure as all hell, he or she isn’t a Nazi sympathizing Putin puppet. You want a few names? Sure, Senator Ron Johnson from Wisconsin, and Devin Nunes from Fresno. Want more names? Try Donald J Trump, Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, and Michael Flynn. This isn’t hard people; this is a no-brainer… Our republic stands at the brink and your 401k isn’t even going to afford you an empty grocery bag if you muff this one.


I’ll Drink to That, and one for Mahler!

One day we’ll all take our masks off, get plowed at the local pub, and remember how close we’ve come to destroying everything we have held as precious and sacred.

The In and OUt of the affair

Scene from Women of the Oak Savannah’s

Recording this novel is coming along. This is a smaller scene but there are challenges. Narrator, three female roommates and a gentleman stopping to say goodbye to one of the women.

The scene is quite intense, there is a lot going on. A character is attempting to create a path to creating a relationship with someone she feels she may be capable of loving.

Ultimately this is a story about a group of pregnant environmental activists trying to halt the desecration of 2500 acres of hillside in Napa County. Here is one of the activists embarking upon a journey she knows nothing about. Her life and this event all coming out of the blue.

I hope some of you might let me know if this works for you. I think it is pretty close, not perfect, but I think I’m getting some of the voices, emotions and circumstances to play as live drama via the novel as spoken word.

Forced offstage due to the virus this is turning out to be a huge performing project and I’m having a lot of fun.

Sheepshead Rock Stew

2002 Wildfire Ravaged

The pavement ends two miles west of Decker, Colorado. Highway 211 is a dirt one lane road starts out bumpy and dusty as it cuts a harrowing path along a wicked steep hillside into a region of Pike National Forest that depending upon your destination, of which there are many, could take you to Goose Creek Trailhead.

Once you roll about a mile up the dirt one lane road a broader granite based coarse sand and pebble byway follows the contours of a series of hills and gulches (ignoring the cutoff for Goose Creek Trailhead) and instead take the south fork that cuts a ten-mile path yonder west to Lost Valley Ranch. The road is cursed, consisting most of the way of washboard. For eight miles I could make at best 10 miles per hour. Our primitive campground features the best view in the world of Sheepshead Rock. The passable bumpy road is by most accounts a cure for keeping at bay the insincere and unmotivated.


Sheepshead Campground View

You’ll need patience to roll the length of hell on four-wheel drive earth. With the pandemic affecting our social life the ideal setting would be blessed if it weren’t an easy drive so that we could put all the world’s people a safe distance behind us. Never did expect to be all alone, our self-delusion was that we might just luck out and locate a campsite that wasn’t too full. As our washboard fortune provided for three days, we shared a campground of about 10 acres in size with five other people seeking much the same solitude as we were hoping to find.

Rare Earth by Bottle

Rare chilled French wine from Provence, Cotes de Rhone, and Cahors was provisioned to be shared late afternoon’s along with shade and an almost tolerable group of cedar gnats. The pests nibbled a bit at our bare ankles and to our everlasting gratitude disappeared with breeze and finally at sundown. The pesky gnats were not so awful. I mean I can be just as annoying if not even more according to the volunteers that have been trying to love me these many long years.

No Two Fates the Same

Wine drinking is according to my wife not a right but is rather a privilege earned by getting out of your bunk and spend your day hiking. The steeper the climb, the further you hike, the longer you are giving Mother Nature a shot at reviving your soul, the more likely she will be to grant volunteer’s most challenging partner a lapse in time to enjoy a glass of wine. For the life of me I cannot locate written down in any kind of human inspired operating manual an official codification of this wife wisdom. To my knowledge there is no written law, covenant, or rule. Common sense comes closest to the mark.

Headlong Plunge into the Sheep of the Thing

Now, having polled other potentially sedentary tyrannized by testosterone types it turns out that their partners know the same truth and in every fiber of their being know this rule to be an enforceable by punishment of jawboning.  This is a cosmic immutable truth of camping grounds and hiking trails wherever love and an abundance of hormones are lost or found.

Modern Day Skillet Cooker

Suppers were a one pot affair. Scratch made beans, brown rice, kale, and corn was our main dish. Heart healthy coleslaw was the side dish. Customary to our table we set sriracha and soy sauces out with hummus, olives, and pepperoncini’s. After we have watermelon.

Searching among all the married and near married men I know the answers to these eternal conundrums are much the same, while the quarrelsome details vary from one table to the next this sparring between equals is pretty much how it’s been and always will be for as long as anyone seeking to further a durable bond can get their stubborn mind and fit to be tied temperament around. You will need approximately one million national forest acres of land to give this glass of wine and soul of humanity enough room to breathe.

Drowning in Love

Once there were idle days that I whiled away sipping Pernod. In a previous incarnation unconcerned with tomorrow my sweetheart of that era draped around me, her cashmere sweater dangling from her shoulders, we together went lost on the backstreet sidewalk cafés in the South of France. We’d whisper and nibble into one another’s ears beneath the parasols. Not her or I were skinny enough to be mistaken for French, still there was this Old World aching sense of late afternoon unquenched desire. We’d pretend that we were lost (before the smartphone ruined this pleasure) on narrow alleys paved of cobblestone. Wandering until we found our hotel where we could make mischief before showering then once more departing to dine long into the late night.

Soft voices mix with chatter. From village to village exploring the Dordogne there is now at last time to study the French people’s way they express themselves with the fine art of the frown. The facial expression is comprehensive and quintessential. A skilled Frenchman often greets the deepest emotions and most noble philosophical possibilities with a frown of a thousand distinct discernably different meanings. It is the smoking of the cigarette, the sipping of an aperitif when a sparkle in their eye provides the answer to the proposition.

If there is good reason to teach a child to swim, then there is equally as important a reason to teach a man or woman how to love. Without instruction a swimmer may drown, and a lover may be stricken with a grief that they may never recover from.

In the café is where the French peruse and parade their libidinous fortune. From a distance and behind the veil of another kind of frown each with cunning skill steal a look here and there at what might have been if only the twisting fated world had turned another way some distant other day. Sipping Ricard Pastis de Marseille over ice with a splash of water whispering into each other’s ears, nudging nose to cheek, assuring fingers tapping lightly upon the top of the others hand.

Bistro chairs, languid ceiling fans, hatching plans, driving the countryside in a Citroën DS with plans to visit Josephine Bakers Château des Milandes. The next day a trip to a nearby two-thousand-year-old hamlet nestled into the side of a cliff. A cave guide, whose family has for countless centuries continuously resided there plunges us into the depths of a nearby opening along a cliff. We feast upon our ancestor’s inscrutable imagery. Only seventy-thousand years ago did prehistoric man first leave behind evidence of their thinking in the abstract, to draw images into rock that infer something more, the art on the cave walls suggests mankind had setoff upon a deeper investigation of consciousness.

Most of all it is the freedom to spend our afternoons seated in the outdoor café’s where we played make-believe. Best was to admire the still thin French couples, affectionate and sure of their skillful use of romance, fanning the moments in public with a tumultuous undercurrent of restrained passion, nursing an aperitif, smoking cigarettes, pursing their lips, simmering smiles, nodding, winking, this was all foreplay and prequel. Slipping away in the late part of the day, lazy jazzy hours spent with windows flung open, a breeze wafting through a dimming room, before supper, attending to the fine details of furthering a partner’s happiness.

In the South of France, this is how skillful love is served. There is no corollary to how the Japanese, Australians or North Americans approach the same task. Courtesans emerging from the French culture was not an accident. Like every other aspect of social life, a great deal of careful attention has been paid to how to heighten matters of the human experience. As for learning how to love I would recommend embarking upon a field trip, a café, then taking your cues and lessons from the French romantics lingering in your midst.

Making it Real

The Inconvenient truth about wildfires

Laura is a Category 4 hurricane barreling through the Gulf of Mexico’s overheated waters taking aim at East Texas-West Louisiana. The timing of Laura’s arrival is a national nightmare. Predictions are for tidal surges to reach up to 30 miles inland.

Driving through Oregon and Idaho Sunday and Monday I was in thick smoke from wildfires. The haze stretched 400 miles. The scale of our disasters, both political and environmental are unbound.

Patriots that gave their lives for our freedom

Fight like your life depends on it. Don’t think for one second if the current executive office holder can cage those children that he won’t eventually get around to caging your children. Authoritarians don’t play nice. You get on the wrong list and your share of nice is coming to a startling end. Guaranteed by 180k souls that have already found out.

Wildfires are bigger, hurricanes more powerful, our newest pathogen is easily spread, it kills, hospitalizes victims, wreaks havoc on internal organs. Somehow we have gone merrily along the road of denial as our world becomes ever more unmanageable.

Our most populous state, California has in the last five years been terrorized by the largest fires in its history. In 70 years California’s population has gone from twelve million to forty million. Arriving with this rising tide of authoritarian sympathizers and left coast liberals is a mentally deluded leader with no talent for confronting reality.

Look it is now only a matter of time before one of California’s wildfires comes racing down the hillsides toward one of our treasured places. Berkeley, Palo Alto, Mill Valley are all in harms way. What does the day after we lose the fight to save one our city’s look like?

We must not surrender what so many sacrificed to preserve

Like pretending that a highly contagious pathogen wouldn’t emerge crossover from wild animals to infect mankind was to put it succinctly just dumb. And then there is the matter of how deadly a new pathogen might be.

So as we try to scale our troubles we might well consider the corner we are in and how best to extract humanity from this tight spot. First we’re going to have to fight this virus. Getting this bug under control will be no small or easy task but we can’t do much else until we do. Second, we’ll be digging out of a horrible economic collapse and like FDR we’ll need to put millions back to work building an energy system for the 21st Century. Third, we’ll be busy prosecuting the cult that erupted in our midst and followed their dear leader over the cliff. In the midst of all of this we’ll be fighting wildfires and seeking emergency shelter from gargantuan climate emergency fueled hurricanes.

We start by voting. Don’t vote for people that like caging children, want to take health care away from citizens, like to cut taxes on billionaires and send the working stiffs off to foreign wars. Use your head and get a grip about the superficial color of another human beings skin. We are out of options and fascistic alternatives make matters that much worse.

Time to not just be safe but to get real.

born in the usa


East Oakland

First six months of my life I lived here. I’m born in Oakland, California. My Portuguese grandfather, a bootlegger, felon, spent four years in Folsom Prison for hawking whiskey in San Leandro on Friday’s at quitting time to Caterpillar Tractor workers. Having served his time when released he built a saloon in the Elmhurst District in East Oakland. Tambo was a landmark at East 14th and 98th Avenue from the time it was built in 1930 until the day it was torn down in 1965.

Mother and Father Oakland Days

My grandfather, Albert Gonsalves was a man of great influence. He was on a first name basis with a young up and coming Alameda County District Attorney by the name of Earl Warren. A saloonkeeper from Elmhurst was a man you want in your corner when the fight starts, and the voting booth is open. My grandfather supported Warren for Governor even if he never fully appreciated his work on the Supreme Court. Once Eisenhower nominated Warren to be Chief Justice it was deemed best to keep his distance from his constituents. No matter my grandfather knew everyone in Alameda County and down at Oakland City Hall.

Albert Gonsalves Proprietor

Tambo’s interior was constructed with philippine mahogany utilizing a method known as glue and dowel. Around the perimeter of the room were smooth curvilinear wooden booths where patrons may have been seated upon deep green leather cushions. Ceiling fans crawled, cigarette smoke and stale beer wreaked. Behind the booze bottles were mirrors giving a patron the sense that the boozing could go on forever. Atop the rear of the bar a twenty foot long aquarium with tropical fish drifted from one end of the bar to the other all the while keeping a sharp eye on the drunks.

Inheritance of the Brawler’s Waltham

In the backroom from the day Tambo opened lived a parrot. Nobody but my grandfather dared handle the surly bird. There was a teller’s booth, where he stood behind bars while workers on Friday’s cashed their paychecks. My grandfather dawning a green eyeshade visor his long sleeved shirt pulled back with garters. His hands were made for counting money, his eyes glinted the glory of how much currency would be left in Tambo by closing time.

My grandfather drove a new car, usually a Packard sometimes a Cadillac. He was a sharp-eyed no-nonsense proprietor happy to do business with his clientele and even happier to toss a rabble rouser out on their ear.

Car Crashes into Entryway

My grandfather was all of 5’4”. Because of slight stature when it came to a brawl, he preferred to use the sneak attack. This short sweet talking harmless barkeep would gently come up beneath a taller man and then without so much as a word of warning thrust his two palms upward slamming them into the lower jaw of his opponent. My grandfather sizing me up determined I was not short enough and that this surefire technique would be of little use to his grandson.

Senator Kamala Harris would have been a challenge for this 19th Century bartender, but her work as San Francisco’s District Attorney, then California’s Attorney General and now Senator would have influenced his judgement. Kamala was born in Oakland one year before Tambo closed. Great leaders have been minted from here. Remember it was Chief Justice Earl Warren that set in motion the end of segregation. So it is that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will once and for all shatter the glass ceiling, removing all barriers. It is a glory to know that Kamala stands two inches shorter than my grandfather. When it comes to a brawl, I’m betting like my grandfather that this woman is better off not being allowed to stand anywhere near the tyrant in the Oval and for good reason. The best of what Oakland has to give to our democracy is soon to be voted into office as Vice President of the United States of America. Drinks are on me