Parking Wars: A Descent into Madness

As you might have heard, we had another BART strike in the Bay Area.  This forced every commuter into new modes of transportation.  That meant I had to drive to work.   There were two key impacts here:  traffic was ridiculous and I needed to move my car each day at lunch.  There are plenty of pay lots, but with the abundance of 4 hours spots, and meter maids that only make 1 circuit, it seems silly to pay $7 a day.

You may recall, I have an on-going feud with a business around the corner that harasses people who part outside of their office.  The walls of their office had been cargo bay doors, but now they are walls.  There is one door which might still be a bay, so I don’t park in front of it.

I tend to park other places in the morning, because I can always park in front of their faux driveway in the afternoon.  A few weeks prior I had noticed they had added a new sign on their walls (not the steel doors that protect the walls at night).  They read “Tenant Parking Only  Violators will be towed.”  This is the part of our show where we get to discuss reality and some people’s lack of it.  I have no doubt that the tenants want to park there.  But, as I discussed with a parking enforcement officer, unless there is an official city sign, those signs that were bought on line for $20 hold no weight.  Wow they must be committed to the cause.

(Seriously, check out that link.  Clearly there is a market for people tricking others into not parking in legal spaces.  I bet they make a ton.  Wish I was selling these idiots their signs.  And yes, I know I completely ignore the fourth wall.)

They must have forgotten that the street and sidewalk are public property.  They have no specific rights to stop others from parking there.  While there was a cargo door they had easement rights of access and the right to be unimpeded, but they forfeited those rights when they built walls. The reality is that if they tow someone’s car for parking legally in front of a wall, in a public space, they are liable for the cost and inconvenience. I personally would love for them to tow me so I can sue them and go after punitive damages.  I will.

As delusional as their signs and appeals for drivers to park other places are, they have finally hit a new low.  Last week I got a new harassing flyer.  I put it back in their mail slot, so I’ll have to paraphrase.

[In an angry, yet pleading tone:]

You can’t park here.  We will have you towed.  Really we will.  We haven’t yet because we don’t know how to contact you.  We need these spaces because when we use the cargo door, we need to park the truck at an angle so as not to block the street.  We WILL tow you.

This is so ridiculous that I don’t know where to start.  How about that it’s a very wide street and only a double trailer will block the street?  Or that trucks that are unloading block streets all the time? Perhaps they use the only driver in the US that worries about other cars being able to drive when they are off-loading?  If they park at an angle, how will the cargo be off loaded to the bay, if the truck isn’t flush?  Let that sink in gentle reader.  Reread this list till you realize that it has been proof of sorts.  (I’m sure more than a few of you took geometry in high school.)

Thus, I believe we can safely say that if their goal isn’t to use the bay door as a cargo bay, because the cargo must go the sidewalk before it can be lifted up, then they don’t really need a bay door and the need to not block it is silly.  The truck can park parallel to the parked cars.  I really can’t see how they are making their case.

Therefore, I propose a call to action.  Everyone should find a reason to park in front of 229 Harrison St. in Oakland.  (This is a visual daily double.)   If you look at the picture, you’ll see 4 garage doors:

  1. The first has a stair case in front of it you can park there
  2. I’ve never seen the 2nd open, I wouldn’t park there
  3. The third is an office wall
  4. The fourth is an office wall

This is our cause, take up your keys and park happily.  And when the wicked witch of parking delusions accosts you, tell here Lee sent you.  I don’t suffer fools and neither should you.

This was the start of an exciting several days, don’t miss the next post, you won’t believe my Tuesday.

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Of Art, Ice and Fire and Untimely Deaths

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It is no secret I am a huge George R. R. Martin fan.  A Song of Ice and Fire with its  layers of hidden mysteries, plots twists and characters is one of my favorite obsessions; first the book, then the TV show. I am often called on to answer questions for my father and engage in deep analysis with some of my coworkers.  One area that I’m also a fan of is the comic book.

I must admit, however, I’ve not read the comics of  “A Song and Ice and Fire.” In my earlier days, back when Berkeley was the center of the comics universe (other than DC & Marvel offices of course) I worked in one of the premier stores in the country.  I was the old comics buyer and, I’ve been told, I might have been pretty good.  So I have a ton of comic cred, but I really stopped buying them somewhere around 97 or 98.  Having kids also played into that.  Needless to say I have approximately 20,000 comics.  I also have a nice collection of original art. Even though I’ve sold several items over the years, I still have several nice pieces.  These are a few of them:

Ken Macklin's Contractors (1987)

Ken Macklin’s Contractors (1987)

From Fish Police #8

Ted McKeever’s Fish Tale From Fish Police #8

I’ve always loved great art and these two are wonderful.  Ken Macklin never really seemed to get the fame I thought he was due.  This page found its way into my collection over 25 years ago and it is one I won’t part with.  His ability with shading, composition and making animals interesting, without being cloyingly cute are things I’ve always loved.  He’s an artist you might have missed, but shouldn’t have.

Ted McKeever, on the other hand, brings the deranged to life. I loved the work he did on Eddy Current.  Who would not love the exploits of an escaped mental patient?  This page is from a short in the Fish Police.  You’ll notice Inspector Gill stuck in a bar between two headless men.   I have a special place in my heart for Steve Moncuse’s  The Fish Police.  I might have been sitting there late one Saturday might drinking and watching SCTV when one of us yelled, “Holy Mackerel!!! It’s the Fish Police!!”  I’m pretty sure it wasn’t me. Steve never parted with his originals in those days, so I settled for one of the guest artists.

I may need to pick up the run of Game of Thrones comics.  I’m also a huge Daniel Abraham fan, so I feel bad that I haven’t read these.   While I’ve not read them, I do keep abreast of the covers. Michael Miller does a fabulous job with the covers and postes them regularly on his FaceBook page – Art of Ice and Fire.  You might recognize the background of my blog as one of his covers.  His work captures the look and feel  of Martin’s imagination in fantastic detail.  Needless to say, I think he is great.

I became a fan of Mike’s when he did the comic interpretation of  The Hedge Knight.  What? You haven’t read The Hedge Knight, The Sworn Sword or The Mystery Knight?  You don’t know Dunk and Egg?  These are Westeros stories that are set about 80 years before A Game of Thrones.  Not only do they provide clues to mysteries and questions we have about Westerosi history, they are great stories on their own.  Mike drew the art for the comic versions of the first two.  Here’s some art from The Hedge Knight.

to slay a dragon

to slay a dragon

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Tourney from the Hedge Knight

In both of those double page pieces, Mike uses composition to make the pieces really sing.  The dragon flowing out of the cowl is very reminiscent of pieces Neal Adams drew in his Ben Casey strip.  And who doesn’t want to be compared to Neal Adams?   The tournament piece highlights the speed and clash of steel that happens.  Mike takes the approach of book-ending the violence with the knights’ prelude to contact and the blood lust of the cheering crowd.  This composition helps to make these pages stand out.

I really like the cover of Dunk sitting melancholy on his horse, echoing Frank Frazetta’s Death Dealer.  Growing up, Frazetta was the premier fantasy artist.  Seeing Mike’s homage the first time made me happy on multiple levels; both nostalgic and present.  As a side note, can I get a show of hands for those of you that have a copy of Molly Hatchet’s Flirting with Disaster and just had the “a ha” moment?

DSC01930 (2) rot

Dunk

I have really liked the covers Mike has done for the comic. Clearly you know I like the one I use as a background on this blog, as well as the other ones above. He does such a great job of conveying both grand fantasy and nuanced detail.  It has been fun watching a very good artist continue to grow and be come a great artist.  In the cover below, look at how much work went into the Hound’s chain mail. Combining that with the well crafted rage in the Mountain’s expression is fantastic.

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Check out the detail on the Hound’s chain mail!

Michael’s latest piece is stunning.  Of course it doesn’t hurt that he has a dynamite colorist adding drama to the finished piece.  In his latest cover, the Kingslayer, Jaime Lannister is bearing down on several unfortunate Northmen.  I thought the detail on the Hound’s chain mail was exquisite. Then I saw Jaime’s armor and his horse’s plating.  Especially exquisite is the details on the coward at the bottom of the cover.  I think he really got that guy’s goatee and nose right!  What really got me is that the character, though unnamed, is Me!.  Seriously.  I had joked with Mike previously about drawing me into a crowd shot.  If I estimate correctly, my face will peek out between the “G” “H” and “R” on the cover.  If only I could use those superimposed letters to hide from certain doom at the hands of the greatest warrior in Westeros.

recognize the guy in the bottom left?

recognize the guy in the bottom left?

Look at me prepare to die in the mud like the sniveling coward I am.  Maybe I can be resurrected and be a blue lipped warlock in A Clash of Kings.

An Awkward Conversation

“I don’t know why I’ve always been so misunderstood.”

Looking up from my steaming coffee, I watched my new table mate sit down.  No invitation was offered or accepted; he just decided to bend my ear.  I was perplexed at his opening salvo.  All I could manage was, ”Oh?”

He nodded subtly.  “I’m really an optimist, trying to see the best in people and helping them when I can.  But people say the worst things about me.”  He shook his head slightly, sighing as he looked down at the table.  “ I’ve never forced anyone to really do anything,” he said quietly.

Sipping my coffee, I took a more studied look at him.  His hair was dark and brushed back.  If this was 1958, he probably would have worn a DA, but now in 2013 he wore it shorter and slightly spiky.   But there was definitely a nod to that duck’s ass.  It wasn’t so long as to be a mullet, but it was just short of becoming one. There was a slight, well groomed point to his sideburns as if to punctuate some as of yet unvoiced hypothesis.

“You’d think all I ever did was take advantage of people and make their lives miserable.    Honestly, I just listen and try to help.”  He sipped his drink.  It smelled like a chai latte.  He  wiped his mouth and the sun sparkled off his sharkskin jacket.  It was more of burnt sienna than true red.  It was an odd choice for a winter afternoon.

“Do you like my Jacket?  It’s my favorite color, though for some reason people think of me as more of a bright red kind of guy.  I wish I liked blue more; I like black, but this isn’t Manhattan.”  I realized he had a black silk shirt under the jacket, diamond studded cuff links were just visible at his cuff.  There wasn’t anything subtle about his appearance.

“Honestly,” he continued, “I just want to help people realize their dreams.  I don’t judge their dreams or try to change them.”  His mouth twitched to a mournful smile.  “Is it my fault that people rarely think through what they want, what they believe they need?”  He shook his head.  “I don’t think so either.”

“You would have thought the old story The Monkey’s Paw was about me.  I have no idea where W.W. Jacobs got that idea.  And I never met Daniel Webster.”  I noticed as a turned his head, scars at his hairline on both sides of his head.  Not symmetrical, but close.  The device that made those scars was not as sharp as it could have been.

I took another sip of my coffee.  I looked at my cup; it was black with candy apple red letters, sparkling like gold leaf.  Diablo Coffee it said.  I had always assumed it was named for the mountain behind me.  I wondered.  To this point my contribution to the conversation had been a single syllable.  I wasn’t sure I had much to offer and was considering just letting him finish his monologue. Maybe he’d move on.

“ I’ve never tricked anyone into doing anything they didn’t want to do.  Robert Johnson? I didn’t do anything, other than give him a pep talk.  Why do people always lump me in with the deep blue sea?  We aren’t conjoined twins.  Do you think Mick Jagger really did me any favors suggesting that I needed sympathy? Not at all.”  For an instant I was sure his eyes shone red.  And then it was gone.

“Why are you telling me this,” I asked cautiously.

He pointed over to the corner where one of my coworkers sat.  “He says that you are a source of great career advice.  I think I’m ready for some.”  I was stunned.

Talk about pressure.