It's Not Alright, Ma


‘even the President of the United States must sometimes have to stand naked’
—Bob Dylan



The live television coverage of the Parkland shooting yesterday, while the shooter was still at large and then in the hours after he was apprehended, was everything coverage of such incidents should't be yet always is: repetition after repetition of limited known facts, spiraling speculation and conjecture, continuing statements of the obvious, endless loops of the same few videos. It's bad journalism and does not well serve the public except as grotesque entertainment, the further 'OJ-ification' of the news.

We would all be best served by cable news channels NOT going live wall-to-wall, by us as viewers not WANTING to watch it live wall-to-wall, by us as news consumers and citizens WAITING until the incident is buckled up and the big immediate facts are in. This acceleration of news delivery is not always a good thing, either for journalism or society at large. Slow can be good.


Bruce 10 04 2017 RGB

If the National Rifle Association is not itself a domestic terrorist organization, at the very least it aids and abets domestic terrorism in the United States.

Every single politician who takes money from the National Rifle Association and does nothing to stop the American epidemic of guns and gun violence is an accomplice of the Parkland shooter. This is a simple and obvious truth.

Editorial cartoon by Bruce MacKinnon in the Halifax Chronicle Herald, published following the October 1 2017 Las Vegas shooting.

Driving Music 2018


My first car was a spanking new Porsche Yellow (no joke) 1971 Toyota Corolla, given to me by my parents in October 1970 when I was a junior in high school. The built-in 'sound system' was an AM-FM radio and a cassette tape deck. The first cassette I bought to play in that car was Highway 61 Revisited. I'm pretty sure that I played everything too loud.

Within a couple of years the cassette deck had chewed up its last tape so, from then through college, it was just me and the radio.

Fifty years later I don't often listen to the radio or CDs while I'm driving. I like to keep it quiet in there, to wallow in my own meandering, shallow thoughts. But there is a CD player in the car I'm driving these days, as well as a CD changer that holds a stack of six CDs. And of course, being me, I feel compelled to fill the changer with CDs. See above.

The six albums pretty much picked themselves, given my cranky criteria of no vocal performances, no live recordings outside of a studio, and absolute greatness.

By the way, a CD of Highway 61 Revisited is in the car, in an 18-CD case holding a mixed bag of jazz, rock, and R&B. Maybe I'll give Dylan 1965 a spin on my way home this afternoon.



This is almost a great burger. They think it requires a thick smear of pimento cheese. They are wrong.

The Fremont Diner, Sonoma Calif.

Photo: The Fremont Diner



London street art: tile mosaic on Nine Elms Lane opposite the new American Embassy.

NYT Stumbles


The New York Times is not on a roll this week. First it was Michael Schmidt's impromptu and sadly lackadaisical Mar-A-Lago Grill Room interview with Trump on Thursday, and today it's this wildly spun Tweet that seemingly lauds Trump's demolition of the U.S. Presidency. Sheesh.



Land Grab


Past Perfect


The iPhone 4. Just sayin’.

Berkules United




That was December 1993 or early January 1994 and the young woman in the new Mustang convertible was Roberta Hernandez. We worked together at Sierra Designs in Oakland from 1979 through the mid 80s. She had a vintage Mustang back then and the biggest, wettest, most beautiful brown eyes I had ever seen.

One day she came to me with an idea for a vanity license plate: BGBRNIS. Big brown eyes. She asked me what I thought.

“I don’t know,” I said. “I see BGBRNIS and what jumps out at me is Big Bernice.”

Big Bernice. Roberta didn’t like that. She began to pout a little.

I had another idea.

“How about BGBRNII instead?” I offered. “II instead of IS. It’s more of a puzzle, you have to work it a little harder, but there it is. Big brown eyes.”

Roberta pondered this for a moment. “Not Big Bernice.”

“Big Bernice is gone.”

She went with BGBRNII.

A few years later, on 5 January 1994, long after I had left Sierra Designs and shortly after Roberta had moved on to be one of the founding core employees of Mountain Hardwear in Berkeley, some years since we had last seen each other, I was reading Herb Caen’s column when, in the very first graph, I saw her BGBRNII as big as life, right there in black and white in the San Francisco Chronicle. That vanity license plate had moved with her from her old Mustang to a new one. Our BGBRNII. I’m sure I glowed all day.

I don’t know if Roberta saw Caen’s column, too. I hope so.

Klan Country


Bannon Out


Goners, one and all.

Trump on the telephone with Vladimir Putin, 28 January 2017.

Photo credit: Reuters

Current Issue


Surfer’s Journal Summer 2017

Water is the New Black
Screen print by Shepard Fairey

Elsa Martinelli, 1935 - 2017


In the sixth grade I had a secret crush on Lisa Kempson. Being a dopey kid dopey with love, I drew a picture of her on a piece of classroom manila art paper and wrote 'Lisa' on it. Well, Lisa caught sight of it and immediately asked if it was a picture of her. Embarrassed and trapped, I blurted out, "No, it's Lisa Martinelli, she's in the movies."

Elsa Martinelli passed away today.

In case you're curious: yes, Lisa and I *did* go on to briefly have a silly little sixth grade 'romance'.

[By the way: no idea how I knew Martinelli's name when I was 12 years old (the movie Hatari showing on TV?), not surprising that I mixed up the name Elsa with Lisa in that moment. By the way, Elsa Martinelli and Lisa Kempson *did* look alike: dark hair, brown eyes, Natalie Wood-esque; my 'type', I guess.]

Photo: Paramount Studios | 1957

RIP The Med


This morning I was on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley (searching for the right edition of a certain book for a certain newly minted high school grad) when I noticed that the Med (aka Caffé Med, aka Caffé Mediterraneum) is still shut down seven months after new ownership took over and closed it for remodeling. Crossing the street and peeking through the window you immediately realize that the ‘remodeling’ began and ended with removing the tables and chairs and some sweeping up.

An independent coffee shop named Romeo's recently opened right next door; a Peet's is half a block up the street. Game over.

As a rule I’m totally and brutally heartless when it comes to business closings, including (especially?) beloved restaurants, bars, and bookshops. Survival of the fittest. Hand over the keys and get out of the way. Next! Can't make me cry.

Even so, allow me just a moment of self-indulgent nostalgia for the Med.

For one thing, it was the first place I ever drank a cup of coffee that wasn't instant and named Maxwell House. It wasn’t great coffee, it was never the sophisticated artisan stuff like Alfred Peet started roasting and brewing on the other side of town in 1966, but it was always good enough for a rube like me.

And the joint had some history, none of which I knew until much much later. Like Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac and Gary Snyder and those Beat guys hanging there when it was simply a coffee station inside a bookshop named Il Piccolo. Ginsberg wrote chunks of Howl there in 1955 and 1956 while he was living in Berkeley on Milvia Street. Mario Savio and the Free Speech Movement folks were regulars. In the 60s and 70s the Black Panthers used to meet in the upstairs mezzanine where a decade later I'd be drinking my moka (the Med's preferred spelling, not mine) and reading a book and/or a magazine I had just bought at Cody’s or Moe’s across the street. People's Park is literally right behind it, outside the back door, sharing the same city block.

Truth be told, though, I haven’t stepped inside the place in over 30 years. The Telegraph Avenue business district grew increasingly seedy and even dangerous back in the 80s and the early 90s, and I was getting increasingly not young and increasingly not so adventurous. The Med itself was getting more and more seedy, too (even in the best days I spent there it sort of had a spartan North-Beach-meets-Greyhound-bus-station vibe to it, part of its hobo-hemian charm). So Telegraph Avenue and the Med drifted into my rearview mirror.

And now it’s gone. Really gone, man.

RIP Caffé Mediterraneum.





Bloomsday 2017


“The heaventree of stars hung with humid nightblue fruit.”
James Joyce


Good Friday


Spam-free FedEx delivery this morning.

Die, world, die



He’s killing us. No joke.

Fight for your planet. Fight for your life.