Archive for May, 2021

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This week we’ll take a look at who’s been sleeping around Mitchell cabin besides Lynn, me, and our previously stray cat Newy. These days it’s not just a matter of sheltering in place but also of finding shelter.

A tranquil doe. My wife Lynn found this blacktail deer sleeping on our front steps Tuesday morning. (Photo by Lynn Axelrod Mitchell)

Snoozing raccoon. Early Tuesday evening I was surprised to find this raccoon sleeping on our deck quite close to our front door.

Sleeping place invaded. A short while later, another raccoon began snoozing a few feet from our kitchen door only to have two skunks show up to finish off the handfuls of kibble I’d given the raccoon. It appeared to pay only drowsy attention to the skunks and stayed put.

Two raccoons asleep on our front deck still later Tuesday evening. Mitchell cabin has obviously become a secure enough retreat that a variety of wildlife nap here.

Billy Hobbs (left).  Aside from his hair on a windy day, Billy is not exactly wild, but he has been homeless for more than seven years since the breakup of a 25-year marriage.

When I first met Billy, an artist, he was living on the street in Point Reyes Station. After the weather got bad in the winter of 2019-20, Lynn and I offered to let him stay in our basement. Last year I let him sleep in my second car, which I parked on Mesa Road downtown, moving it every 72 hours to comply with the law.

At present, Billy, 63, is being sheltered at Motel 6 in San Rafael, with county government picking up the tab. Wednesday afternoon, his friend Gaspar drove Billy out to Point Reyes Station so he could visit his onetime hangouts. Thank God, Billy at least for the moment has a secure place to sleep. Society too often treats the homeless as if they were all wild animals.

Caveat lectorem: When readers submit comments, they are asked if they want to receive an email alert with a link to new postings on this blog. A number of people have said they do. Thank you. The link is created the moment a posting goes online. Readers who find their way here through that link can see an updated version by simply clicking on the headline above the posting.

Cartoonist William Hamilton, 76, (above) died five years ago last month in Lexington, Kentucky, when he ran a stop sign near his home and his car was hit by a pickup truck. “I don’t know whether he had a malaise or was distracted,” his widow Lucy said at the time.

This being near the fifth anniversary of his death, it seems an appropriate time for a retrospective look at several of his cartoons, most of which were first published in The New Yorker.

One of his more popular books, Money Should Be Fun (Houghton Mifflin Co., 1980) “lovingly satirized high society,” The San Francisco Chronicle commented at the time of Hamilton’s death.

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The expressions on the two faces say almost as much as the caption.

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The themes of alcohol and adultery run through many of Hamilton’s cartoons, not altogether surprising in parodies of the wealthy.

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Here the eaves-droppers’ expressions tell much of the story.

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William Hamilton started drawing for The New Yorker in 1965. His drawings also appeared in Newsweek, The New York Observer, Town and Country, and other publications.

Caveat lectorem: When readers submit comments, they are asked if they want to receive an email alert with a link to new postings on this blog. A number of people have said they do. Thank you. The link is created the moment a posting goes online. Readers who find their way here through that link can see an updated version by simply clicking on the headline above the posting.

Humor in newspapers and magazines goes far beyond straightforward jokes such as this. In fact, some of the funniest items in print were not intended that way.

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• Often the humor results from unintended double entendres. If “condemned” in the headline below is read as a noun, it refers to all people condemned to death in Utah. If it is read as a passive verb, it would seem to refer to all the people in Utah.

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 • Some of the most hilarious humor results from the juxtaposition of different news events. In the case below, President Ronald Reagan’s visit to a school unfortunately was published alongside an unrelated story about child molesters.

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• Similarly, this woman pictured with her prize piglet has nothing to do with the story about sexual misconduct at city hall.

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Say what? Just who is doing the trampling, crowds or the Pope? A change in word order could have avoided this absurdity.

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Likewise if you reverse the order of the two lines above, the absurdity of 18 years in a checkout line would be eliminated.

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And who’s the foolish person, the Garden Grove resident or the judge?

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Lake Henshaw offers opportunity “to” goose hunters or “for” goose hunters?

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And then there is the humor most readers never get to see. A book titled The Best of the Rejection Collection 10 years ago published 293 cartoons The New Yorker had rejected, many of them from regular contributors. For example:

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The Best of the Rejection Collection consists of cartoons that “were too dumb, too dark, or too naughty for The New Yorker.”

Caveat lectorem: When readers submit comments, they are asked if they want to receive an email alert with a link to new postings on this blog. A number of people have said they do. Thank you. The link is created the moment a posting goes online. Readers who find their way here through that link can see an updated version by simply clicking on the headline above the posting.

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A row of flowerpots now parades down the raised section of sidewalk on the main street of Point Reyes Station (between C and D streets). The story behind this array of flowerpots is intriguing.

The town was born in 1875 when the North Pacific Coast Railway opened a narrow-gauge line from Sausalito to Cazadero with a stop in Point Reyes Station. What started as a whistlestop in a cow pasture owned by Mary Burdell became a town subdivided by her husband Galen, a dentist. Soon there was a depot on the main street, but it was turned 180 degrees when tracks east of town were converted to standard gauge in 1920. 

Back in the days of the narrow-gauge trains, the building housing Cabaline Saddle Shop and the Bovine Bakery housed a general store, the Point Reyes Emporium. The train tracks went up the the middle of the main street, which was not yet paved, meaning that in wet weather, workers transporting cargo from a boxcar to the store had to slog through mud.

The raised sidewalk with two people sitting on its edge in the way many did until recently.

Their solution was to build a sidewalk as high as the floor of a narrow-gauge boxcar. When a train stopped in front of the Point Reyes Emporium, workers stuck sawhorses in the mud, laid planks on top of them, and then had a level, dry passage from the floor of the boxcar to the door of the store.

The narrow gauge up the coast shut down in 1930, and the standard gauge east of town closed in 1933. The line had never been profitable, and the Great Depression, along with the advent of competition from trucks, brought about the end of West Marin’s railroad era. The former Point Reyes Station depot is now the town post office.

The raised section of sidewalk flowered this year. The Bovine is to the left of Leona’s. 

The town was left with a raised section of sidewalk which became an unexpected problem during the pandemic. The already-popular Bovine Bakery became even more so as out-of-towners escaping the monotony of sheltering at home frequently chose West Marin for an escape, stopping by the Bovine for a snack. In order for the bakery to maintain proper  social distancing, customers for now don’t go inside but get their pastries at the door.

Many of them had taken to eating their pastries sitting just outside on the edge of the raised section, and as inevitably happens when people eat pastries beside the street, birds show up for the crumbs some folks throw them. Before long, Leona’s next door began finding an overabundance of people and birds nibbling at the door. Messy. The solution? Flower pots so folks can’t use the edge of the raised section for a bench.