Thursday, October 28, 2010

There, There, Gertrude

I'm sitting in a coffee shop in Oakland this morning, pausing among friends before heading north tomorrow for a weekend of consulting with a regular client in Sonoma County.

As my life's work is centered around community, and this country's highest concentration of community-focused folks is in northern California, the transitive property suggests that I'd have a lot of friends in the Bay Area—and I do. Thus, my reality sharply contrasts with Gertrude Stein's famous one-line put-down of Oakland, "There is no there there."
While I tip my hat to her clever word play, she obviously wasn't moving in the right circles.

The boundary between Oakland and Berkeley is seamless; and there are interesting groups and people to see in both places. Whenever I have work out here, I try to carve out as much time as possible on one end or the other to renew acquaintances. Yesterday I had three dates, and today I have three more—all in the Berkeley/Oakland hotspot of my community world.

What Can Brown Do for You?
As a bastion of liberal politics, the Bay Area is noted for its commitment to environmental practices. Thus, I note with amusement that Jerry Brown is running for governor again. Talk about recycling! Jerry's California political career goes all the way back to 1969, when he served for two years on the Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees.

Forty-one years later, Jerry is the state's attorney general, and reaching again for the top spot. Right before his current gig, he was the two-term mayor of Oakland (1999-2007). (You see, Gertie, you have to keep your eyes on Oakland.) Way back when Nixon was President, Jerry served as a two-term governor (1975-1983), following in the footsteps of his father, Pat, who had been the Golden State's top official in 1959-1967—thus creating a Brown-bread Democratic sandwich on either side of Ronald Reagan's eight years in Sacramento.

Reagan, as we know, used his governorship as a springboard to the Presidency. Jerry Brown tried the same thing three times, most notably in 1992 (when the more irreverent of my friends were speculating on what it would be like to have Linda Ronstadt—whom Jerry had been dating at the time—as First Lady, rather than on what initiatives Governor Moonbeam would bring to the office). While Jerry's political views made him electable in Oakland, they were not on a national scale, and he was never the Democratic candidate. (In the 1992 Democratic primaries, Jerry ran against Bill Clinton. At the time, Bill admitted to having smoked pot in his youth, yet claimed to have never inhaled. The joke about Jerry was that he never exhaled.)

For all of that, today's San Francisco Chronicle reports that he has a 10-point lead in the most recent Field Poll over Republican challenger Meg Whitman in the race to replace the Governator. I'm reminded of the pagan chant:

Hoof and horn
Hoof and horn
All that dies
Shall be reborn

Cane and grain
Cane and grain
All the falls
Shall rise again

It looks like Californians will get at least one more chance to see what Brown can do for them.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey Laird,

Just emailed you (from Tierra Nueva Cohousing in Oceano), but not sure if I have the correct email address.

Really enjoying your posts and musings!