Chapter Twenty-Eight

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Know More/ Know Less.
More about Israel/Palestine than you may care to know.
this chapter seeks to lay a somewhat credible foundation—
primarily for those in the know. If you don’t care to know more,
just skim on, to know less.
___________________________ 

  “Playing ball may be the
game. But be wary of the 
devil, and the details.”

“There, there, sweetheart—we’re only thinking of what’s best for you…” 

“I am not going back—never, ever, ever, ever!”

“It’s just that we feel things will go so much better for you at home.”

“Things are going great for me here, I’m telling you!”

“Look, the Pirates! And the Tigers!” No Halloween parade, this—rather, a procession of Peewee League baseball teams, grade schoolers in miniature big league uniforms, arrayed on their respective full dress bannered pickups and flatbed trucks. Their adoring parents and extended family fan bases, in town from all over the Bay Area for a weekend post-season tourney down at Moscone diamonds, cheered them on along the sidewalks to either side. For the moment, calculated Chestnut Street cool dissolved to unabashed suburbanite playground cheerleading.

          “Here come the Redbirds, Jays and Rays!” It was an odd spectacle, as any kids actually still living around this neighborhood mostly played soccer and lacrosse. “Rock em Rockies, go, go, go! We love the Giants, mighty, mighty Giants!”

          “Listen to your grandpa, dear. You really don’t belong here…”

          “Mom, I love it here. I’ve never belonged anywhere more in my life.”

          “Joannie, this devil town is eating you alive…”

          “I don’t want to talk about it anymore! I’m a grown adult, mother, can make my own choices. They may not all be the right choices, but they’re my choices, alright?!”

          Planted among the junior league fandom, seated on the bus shelter flipseats beyond Pierce Street, was this three-person family rescue mission. A motherly and grandfatherly intervention, these folks were modestly Mervyns attired, as though in The City and a Lombard Street motel from Cloverdale or Grass Valley—here in a hurry on behalf of a pouty, sullen young woman in ragged denim vest, small tattoos and several studded piercings.

They were homegrown deprogramming, struggling to talk her down, from a swarming Civic Center flash mob, from which she was apparently spun off like an errant wing nut. Wearing purple-striped clown socks and red plastic shoes—and raspberry polka-dot sweater and yellow culottes: she had a little bit of Ellen Feiss going and likely didn’t live in this part of town. Bernal, not Pacific Heights, maybe…well could have been the Panhandle or lower Haight, possibly luded up for a step-brotherly parade.

          “Eating you alive, aint that the truth,” I noted offhandedly, leaning against a corner news hawk stand, just as anxious as young Joannie Rebel to change this subject, for reasons still too searing, onerous to mention. Sheeit, what would Doc know about my multiple choices?! “Sounds about like what the whole Mideast situation is doing to you, too, huh?”

          “Curious way of putting it—but it pains me to say it does. And yet that’s only because the Middle East is serious as a Katusha attack,” Reese Paulen responded, as we turned away from the parade route and squeezed further out Chestnut Street. “Sad part is it didn’t have to be this way at all.”

          “OK, I’ll bite,” I sighed, licking at a cocoa-chip ice cream sample scored up the block, why not?” We slowly put some distance between ourselves and the intersection, its three out of four corners of branch piggy banks now clogged with old-timers windowshopping interest rates on their money markets and rollover CDs. For my part, the going rate was lower income to nowhere income. Such fiscal cravings were eased, however, by the malt shop aroma of RocketBurgers and fries from over on the southwest corner. “Not that I’m exactly thrilled I brought this up…”

          The brief parade surge was already dispersing our way, its bunted bandwagons having proceeded toward Moscone Playground fields amid succeeding blocks of curbside streamers and cheers. Like a late-inning rally the fans were, extended families fanning out, enveloping Chestnut’s fragmenting bands of antsy, fashionably casual neighborhood foot traffic, whipping up a Cuisinart-folded kind of crowd.

          We stepped aside a baby stroller load of blue-blanketed twins, easing around the flip seat bus shelter, where that familial rescue mission intervention was still going down. This double-wide stroller squeezed us against the shelter’s far-side advertising panel reminder panel for Advil, the toddlers strapped into it like honey-baked hams, screaming something shrill, stereo fierce. Their mother shook the whitewalled buggy like a Cajun omelette in a sizzling Calphalon pan to calm them down—her navel bulging out from under a third trimester ruched top and maternity jeans, straining all three lumbar vertebrae. She was looking sweet sixteen, feeling at the very least all of her 24 years, diggin’ on downloaded Katy Perry through her iPod Nano earbuds.

          “But since you have brought it up,” Paulen said, as we passed another political ironing board, this one postered with, ‘Raising McCain Republicans for Compassionate Change’. Manning it was a tall retiree in farmer overalls, pinned with campaign buttons dating back to Bob Dole and the Boobengrabber ousting Governor Gray. Covering his blind sides were a pair of veteran barflies leaning right in their lawn chairs, holding firmly to wheeled oxygen tanks, hoses up their noses, defiantly taking on the uncommitted suburbanites and moderate locals left-coasting by. Their board’s tapered end was skirted with signage for Proposition 8—portending more ballot box outrage on election night, renewed protests and/or gay hitched prancing in the streets. We just elected to move on.org. “Alas, the Middle East could have been a historical model of peaceful and progressive postwar cooperation and coexistence, that everybody from Theodor Herzl and his Der Judenstaat’ to Chaim Weizmann to Rabin and Arafat could have embraced.”

          Bring it up? I was trying to tamp it down like a griddle grease fire. That peewee parade commotion had largely subsided, its procession of team trucks moving on toward single-elimination bracketing and the ceremonial first pitch. “How do you figure?”

          “Prima-facie, the proof is there in the original post-war U.N. plan,” Paulen said, over the din of an SFFD engine company escort running parade interference, then a couple of hungry taxicabs horning in behind. “But let’s examine more carefully the Arab hostility and intransigence Israel has had to deal with from the start.”

          Looking even more their years were the neighborhood’s dour elders and dowdy widows, hefty rent receipts, passbooks and pocketbooks in hand, grumbling about all this hubbub over a dadblasted kiddie parade. For here among Marina District veterans, it didn’t do to merely look at, you had to look hard, long and derisively at whatever crossed your territorial lines.

          Running a cautious pick and roll around some of them, a pair of towering hoops dreamers in Duke and Georgetown jerseys dribbled, shovel passed their way to some playground pick-up game, being Kobe crisp with the rock, weekend basketball clowns dressing way, waaay down. White and blue hairs arched their backs to curse the fakes and spin moves—aching old backs crooked as the handles on their walking canes. By turns, they were shocked into near thrombosis by a tyke honking past them in a red-yellow plastic toy Mercedes SL under hell-raising battery power.

          Yet even that electro-whirring kiddie sports car was no match for the full-race strollers. Harried helicopter parents in khakis and micro fleece pushed high-performance Kelty and Bugabo power buggies with 16-inch lockable magnesium spoked wheels. Beaming, gleaming choppered grandparents doted over the red surrey covers of Stokke elevating strollers. Aerobing dads in Asics Lycra running skins paced sling-shaped aluminum jogging strollers in and around foot traffic and over-parked SUVs. Bibbed infants giggled and gurgled out from behind snug five-point harnesses. We dodged the three-wheeler onslaught as best we could, not to mention the jettisoned formula bottles, baby sneakers and animule squeeze toys. Then of course there were ever more dogs.

          “But I’ve read there were righteous Arabs who actually helped Jews during World War II…” I said, as the roaring red and black American LaFrance rig reverberated off the cross Chestnut storefronts and brick faced, brown bay windowed upstairs dental and therapist offices—mental, physical, metaphysical, pick your tricks. “What was that, some kind of Semitic brotherhood kind of thing—the whole kissing and feuding cousins phe-nom?”

          “Hardly, Herbert. But even if that were so, how would it explain the Arab League’s 1947/48 resistance, the abject rejectionism, answer me that,” he said, irritated, chagrined by the very notion—even more so by the fire engine’s diesel fumes. “Their bloody refusal even to consider the establishment of a legitimate Jewish state, demanding that ‘Palestine must be free, from the river to the sea’.”

          “Couldn’t say, that’s your terrain,” I sighed at doc’s signs of intransigence. Much as I needed to make inroads, this was like talking to a wall. I turned my head away from diesel particulate matter to take in the sun radiated white storefronts—a cut-rate hair salon and steamy old basket laundry-dry cleaners—with some green and gold trimmed Spanish spired tracery crowning their tidy tan stucco façades. “Little before my time…”

          Duelling walkers, teeming, teething baby buggies versus loyal quadrupeds, strollers bumping up against roller-leashed dogs—infants in full harness treated like feisty highland terriers. Pomeranians, furry purebreds and mixed breeds alike treated like a first-born child—hot young mommas still speaking in teeny apologetic questions. Chestnut’s pedestrians slowed further here, as barkers and collar tuggers of various sizes nosed their masters toward a pair of stainless water bowls set out by a specialty store prized by dog lovers, from the Marina up to Pacific Heights and Russian Hill. Kanines+ Katz was a mutt magnet that catered primarily to hypoallergenic dog snobs, childless apartment dwellers with an unfailing, if not unhealthy attachment to their house and comfort pets.

          The canine tack and treats shop was packed with such fanatics and fanciers, pets as conversation pieces, its front window with rubber doggie toys, nappy pillows, quilted huggy jackets and shaggy cat scratch posts. K+K’s clientele were the growing young family with the smiley-faced Goldens and Labs, middle-aged domestic partners fawning over their trimmed and detailed Airedale like it was heir to the family genome, the hang-dog old souls coaxing their crippled up Fleados hopping on their last three legs. Dogs as rallying points, pets as social glue, purebreds as hood ornaments, shelter mongrels as badges of honor. Then there were the snotty posers strutting their trophy dogs, letting the breed do the talking, with a ‘don’t even think about asking or petting’ scowl on their otherwise empty faces.

          We carefully negotiated dominatrix control freaks voice commanding their overweight Corgis, doggie slaves pulling apart humping pugs and French bulldogs, Portuguese Water Dogs hiking leg, raining down on parkway acacias and pitisporums, huge former football types hugging snippy little snowball Bichon Frises or Yorkies, pint-sized women dragged along by Great big Danes. We made hasty calculations as to the strokability of meter-tied curs and snappers that looked like they could use a K+K drink, sniveling, shivering neurotics that had been crapping on cold concrete for far too long, yet still were a bit too cute to resist. But mostly we stepped gingerly around fresh piles and tootsie rolls downloaded before chagrined owners could dutifully scoop their best friends’ proceeds into blue plastic New York Times bags—albeit with varying degrees of success.

          “Its bad enough people living through their kids, but living through their pets,” he digressed, with clinical detachment, yet getting visibly flustered and fuming by now. “Nevertheless, look at the post-war history. What came of that supposed tribal good will? WW II ended. Hitler’s death camps were liberated, and Europe’s surviving, neo-Diaspora Jews desperately needed their place to go.”

          “So they sort of created a homeland away from home, right?” Now closing in on those two horn wrangling taxis—as if I didn’t know from starving, grubbing cab hacks—was this low-down midnite blue ’79 Chevy with the chop-shop, street scraping package—a misplaced vintage Monte Carlo on a Mission tailing the parade, light on the struts and Rock Shox, heavy on the chrome badda bling. The tricked-out rig was bobbing, throbbing over from Lombard Street, some NWA, Tupac and Biggie pounding out from its subwoofer system, tuff-enuff bloods yelping out the back seat to Chestnut at large—totally off the chains. Didn’t seem they were heading for the Peewee Leaguers, no matter how hardball competitive their playground game.

          “Create nothing—reclaim,” Paulen replied stonily, ignoring the Monte Carlo’s ‘wassup, sluts?’ gangsta overtures to passing Marina femmes. “The birthplace of Judaism, their ancestral home from the 10th Century BCE: preordained in the Old Testament, Book of David—God’s gift to Abraham, the promise of Ezekiel everlasting. Thread it back to the Israelites conquering the Hellenists and ruling in Canaan. Consider the evidential artifacts of Hebrew parchments and Dead Sea Scrolls. This is a fervent, palpable Jewish yearning and desire for their vestigial roots, dating back 2,500 years to the Babylonian Captivity. Moses’s Greater Israel, from the Euphrates to the Nile.”

          “Bible stuff…that I really wouldn’t know about. But didn’t Palestinians consider them interlopers from the start. Some say, ask Israelis where their ancestors are from, they’ll say Eastern Europe.  Ask Palestinians that question, and they’ll say, right there in Palestine.” I tapped away like a pricker awl at the wall. “Matter of fact, aren’t there actually some Jews who disavow the whole idea of Israel as a Jewish state? Making it out to be like putting a serrated peg in a surrounded hole? I mean, if the Promised Land was so promised, why the Diaspora in the first place? Why didn’t they just stay and fight?”

          “Listen, why do any people flee a deadly situation, even today? That’s a rather small potatoes question, if you ask me.”

          At the same time coming at us, striding past, was an impatient, intentful flow of the Marina’s latest generation of unscathed, ambitious young millennial comers and itinerant careerists carrying themselves as though they had been strutting around here for years. This being the weekend, Cubavera casual account reps with soul patches and baggies clogged along toward the sports bars for some macho nachos and man sodas, a fair number of shaved-headed, ear-studded point spreading stiffs in full Nike swoosh sacking up for some preseason scrimmages on ESPN2—begging the question: why did uber-bald men all look alike?

          Countering this man crush, a stirringly greater number of woman—fresh faced, feisty, yet in a wholesome, whole grain, holistic sort of way—gorgeous in their shape and form, ballet to comme des runway—accent on the élan but a little leaner on the glam. Wellness, head-stopping wellness was the balance to be struck here, beauty and all business, as evidenced by the thunder thighs busting forth from spandex running tights, the firm roundness of capri and kick-up cropped rear cheeks, the rocket bolt rack-gracing scoopneck knit and stripy ribbed tube tops, the loop terry hoodies carelessly cloaking it all. So much healthful, glowing wellness, wasted on the dubious catchitude of a few sweaty nimrods in oversized basketball shorts and stained college jerseys with riptorn sleeves, Bosox and Giants ballcaps spun around backwards on their oil slick heads. Wrong, so flat-out wrongyeah, as if I was Mr. Right about now…

           “Hmph, merely some apostates like Tony Kushner and that American Council For Judaism crowd say that, anyway,” Paulen added. “But very well, try thinking of it in terms of the social sciences…can you do that for me, Herbert?”

          “Dunno, dochowz that work again?” We squeezed between two bursting free-weighters from the Ripped City gym, hard rockin’ their conceps in sleeveless Gorilla Wear shells.

“Focus, my friend, think geopolitical histography,” he raised his hands to form blinders around his eyes.

          “Geo what,” I said, mind gripping with the perhaps the latest academic buzzword, suddenly feeling on shifting, shakier ground. I could just picture him, up there peacock posing behind his lecturn. Slightly dancing around the pedestal, paging through lectur notes, eyes scanning like a bomber pilot side to side, row to row, across his classroom, picking off the captivated coed birds of prey. Peeling away the marginals and grinds, annotating his chalkboard—me in the back of the class, scribbling notes, my pen running dry. “And by the way, who’s Theodore Hezzel you keep bringing up?”

          “Herzl—a German Jew who published ‘The Jewish State’ and founded the World Zionist Congress in Basel in 1897—calling for an independent Jewish nation, even way back then.”

          “A raving Zionist…in Germany?”

          Wellspring for a goodly measure of the Marina’s naturalized feminine beauty was a Venus Rising spa/salon across Chestnut there, flying its haute style French flag sky high. Here again, getting naturally fabulous to the luxe, VR devotees repaired in with mantric regularity for Biotone botanicals deep-tissue work and hot stone Swedish massage, undergoing everything from microcurrent cucumber glycolic facials to ultraceutical alpha-beta acid peels—layering on the Pan-Cake foundations, face-base primer to matte contours—anything to pump up their Facebook pages and maintain that clean, grade-A complexion to make the A-list connections.

          After the Juvederm and Restylane face time at Venus’ front window beauty bars, the helio-bed tanning, the cherry body butter—busy chicks getting g-shots for their G-spots out back—it was over next door to the hair stylist studio for some trim, highlights and balayage. Then they’d bound down to the designer shop for that understated little pour-me-into red party dress, maybe even some gold jewelry next door. Whew, ’cause darlin’, even up in these mostly gentrified parts, it could be dog-eat-dog city, and the competition was an absolute bitch.

          “Raving nothing. Theodor Herzl was a true visionary deeply troubled by European anti-Semitism—not least, France’s Dreyfus Affair, that despicable frame up,” Paulen said, scanning the beauty progression for absolute purities. “Actually, he wanted Uganda for the Jewish state—Jews all together so they could start fresh, stop with all the painful Continental baggage and history. He took heat on that, because most Jews insisted on the Holyland. Still, he was the prophetic father of modern Zionism—and not in the pejorative sense it’s being used today.”

          “Bet that’s one father the Arabs didn’t honor.” What else was there to say? By now, might as well have been talking to myself. I glanced over at the Jazz Bistro, out front of which a turtle-necked four-piece sidewalk combo were buffing and rearranging their instruments. Loud red and yellow, the Bistro was on last drags, a tad shabby these days, particularly for up scaling Chestnut Street storefronts, not unlike one bad tooth affront a gleaming porcelain lower bridge. So unlike a Hasty Pig Pub rumored to be succeeding it, let alone the storied ol’ Chestnut Street Bar & Grill.

          Still today, the Bistro was a haven for local jazzbo veterans, from Gerald Beckett and Jesse Foster to the long-winded Jules Broussard. Even from here, I could see through its lush plants and skylit arched doorways, back to a long-ago former reign here of the glorious CSB&G, a sunny patioed singles meat market, in tasteful champagne and spritzer tones, that I so often lapped around and patrolled for any crazed jealous glimpses of She Herself.

          Talkin’ about unfair bitchin’ competition? Tell that to the Italian Ginas seated on a bench outside D’Angelo’s. Even this afternoon, the old neighborhood Italian restaurant had something of a waiting line. The two ripening Marina tomatoes filling out their peasant skirts and bosomy georgette kurtas sorely checked watches, fussed with their Gucci knock-offs, as they shared Villa St. Helena daydreams, and gimlet-eyed the toney younger women flocking past them.

          Trouble was, if plunging cleavage and low-hanging sundresses didn’t grab headlines anymore, what else they got? So their sun-krinkled faces seemed painted with the resentful reality that an au courant woman was either a hottie or a naughty nottie, and it didn’t help their case that adjacent to the restaurant stood a newer age skin and hair franchise, shelves flush with Black Malva and Madder Root shampoos, Sap Moss conditioners, Phomollient Anti-Humectant Pomade—fruity nourishing conditioners and babassu oil body butters—all so socially responsible while costing a volumized arm and leg.

          A Tournado aria ringing out via D’Angelo’s storefront loudspeakers proved little consolation to the native Marina donnas, what with warm-day sewers stinking downwind toward them, not exactly sharpening their appetite for simmering calamari or cioppino. Then again, the succulent promise of Octopus Carpaccio and Salsiccie Don Polenta e Fagioli inside the restaurant’s varnished window shutters kept them patient and planted. So what if D’Angelo’s gold-leaf window lettering pointed in to a tasty fishnet and framed Napoli harbor décor, to added saturated fatty junk in the gluteal trunk? Greek yogurt and wheat grass be damned…

          “But it wasn’t until toward the end of ‘The War To End All Wars’ that world powers really began warming to Herzl’s idea,” Paulen continued, stepping aside a pair of fussy tennis tanoids down from Marin, talking hilltop Ross real estate and cushy Larkspur Landings.

          You see, after the Turkish Sunni Ottoman Empire’s collapse, Great Britain was convinced by skillful diplomats Nahum Sokolow and WZO activist, Chiam Weizmann to back a Judea for the Jews. This, despite Lloyd Georges double-dealing and Jewish assimilationists like Montagu and Lucien Wolf,” doc posited, though no less taken with the abeyant fragrance of breaded Bistecca Alla Fiorentina and Costolette Di Agnello—as though momentarily reflecting on Columbus Day specials with the family, way back before all…this.

          “Huh? Since when did assimilation become a bad word?

          “Ahem, in this historical context, Herbert. Moving right along—by 1922, the League of Nations had supported the Mandate, upon which they divided Historic Palestine away from an eastern area called Transjordan after nearly six centuries of neglectful Ottoman rule. The British proceeded to open a redrawn Palestinian territory to Jewish immigration, proclaiming a National Home for the Jewish People, some say as a plum to Chaim Weizmann for providing them with his secret formulation of galignite and Cordite explosives.

          “Brits,” I asked, “maybe they should have just gone to the Arabs directly in the first place.”

          “To whom? Ermir Hussein? I’m afraid their Zionist cause would just have gotten lost in the translation. Anyhow, Balfour was a vast improvement over the greedy British-French Sykes-Picot Tripartate borderline fiasco of 1916. You see, Balfour thereby provided the foundation stone of modern Israela commonwealth for Jews scattered all over the worldon that sliver of calcerous limestone called Palestine, Delivered it to Walter Rothschild, in fact. But Arabs soon revolted against all that, just like when they sought to establish a vast Vilayet kingdon with their Damascus Protocol in 1915. To little avail, of course, but any hints of peaceful coexistence began dissipating from that point on.”

          “Well, Muslims did have their run of the territory for some 1,500 years, didn’t they,” I edgewayed in. “Up to then, Jews and Christians were pushed to the fringes? And didn’t Balfour say, as long as Jewish immigration didnt prejudice Palestinian civil and religious rights? I guess I just wonder why they always have needed go-betweens over there…”

          “As a matter of fact, yes,” he stared back, seemingly caught off guard by my little factoid, out of the blue. “But historic Palestine had never been a legitimately sovereign country. There was no Palestinian self-determination nor national movement to speak of. They were just a scattered Arab and Bedouin dwellers, people of the hut and tent…”

          “To some, still isn’t, right?” Once again, that revolving black Ninja grabbed my attention. Slow rolling along to the revs of his Nissan Z and Motorhead beat into grooveworn AWB, the ranger was getting crowded on the backside by a honking Meals-on-Wheels Mazda way behind schedule. But that didn’t stop him from re-snaring my sight line.

          A pensioner tosspot limped out of Dennehy’s red and green Victorian gin mill, crossing Chestnut behind the Mazda delivery man, just in time to intersect with a pair of tandem leashed red-coated Vizslas weaving our way with dilated abandon. The burly former dockworker, long on disability and living out his days at the end of the bar, was known on the street as Captain Treats, always ready with a pocketful of doggie biscuits and candies to feed any mixed or full breed within reach.

          The two slender Hungarian pointers, lineage dating back to the Middle Ages, proved no less receptive, tangling Paulen and me up in their roll-out leash, the slack line let fly by a leather jacketed Austrian CPA skank-eyeing the good captain as though his treats were laced with Drano or butane fluid. The captain and tandem’s leash master slowly disengaged, clearing the way. So we contemplated smoothing things over in a sunny Santa Barbara-style ice cream shop, only to be stopped cold by a twelve-deep queue.

          “To twisted, hateful deniers, yes,” Paulen said, nayshaking the sudden pedestrian contretemps as we moved on. “On the other hand, some aboriginal Jewish farmers were always in so-called Palestine. Then given the pogroms in Europe and Russia, the interwar trickle of Jews to so-called Palestine turned into a steady stream. Historically, the Diaspora had long been persecuted the world overexpelled, murdered, losing businesses and property. But by the 18th and 19th centuries, Jewish Haskalah Enlightenment emerged, aspiring to emancipation and equality, with smatterings of immigration to their homeland. The tipping point came with vicious European and Russian Shtetl pogroms in the 1880s. Hence the first Aliyah, or ascent, to Mandate Palestine: some 30,000  Jews, the largest such movement since the Second Temples demise.

          “Whats more, a Jewish National Fund was soon created by philanthropists such as the Rothschilds to support more agricultural land purchases from absent Arab owners, and a Second Aliya from 1904-1914. Colonies and socialist kibbutz collectives, many led by a you David Ben-Gurion, sprang up all over the strip. A Hashomer force was formed to guard them all like cossacks, particularly once the League of Nations had reaffirmed Balfour and the San Remo Mandate. Then came massive indigenous Arab resistance to Jewish immigration, namely attacking early settlements and cities.”

          “Welcomed with open arms by the locals, huh? I mean, was that any surprise?” It was about then I noticed the Ninja’s response. Nothing violent, nothing confrontationally verbal; instead, the ranger popped up an oddly familiar gesticulation in his fastback rear window. There it was, as electrified and electrifyingly provocative as ever: The Furious Finger of Fate—to this day making Eric the devious and moneybags genius that he turned out to be.

          “Hmph, more like loaded arms, with clenched Arab fists raised high,” doc said, oblivious to the local strife, as if already acclimated to such commotion. “Palestinians continually rioted throughout the territory in the 1920s, beginning with Nebi Musa, slaughtering 133 Jews in 1929 alone. Killings increased on both sides, as did Jewish immigration to their, yes, ‘Promised Land’. Arabs were taking it out violently on any Jews they could find, tracking them down, hounding them off like so many stray vermin. Nor was it any surprise that Jews countered with Haganah and Irgun paramilitary squads for protection. Soon Euro-Russian pogroms prompted further aliyahs into the 1930s, to where Jewish immigrants represented one-third of Palestine population by 1939. So Arab peasants revolted anew against the interlopers, much less continued British presence from 36 on. Meanwhile, Hitler was tightening his Nazi noose around Europe. And all this was before the Shoah.”

          “Before the what?”

          There, we reached an impasse, stood down for a breather, so to speak. Paulen took to studying a dun’s screen-shot gallery of security cammed shoplifters displayed in the front windows of yet another high-concept sun eyeglass and opticals store. Unaware slimeballs had been caught picking over and pocketing X-Raze’s pricey Sama, Mykita, Roberto Cavalli and Kieselstein-Cord designer shades, techie frames and Trekkie frames, even some floridly bejeweled tacky frames, at that. The eyeglass shop corner anchored a tan and terra cotta multi-storefront with green trim and Deco tiles, shaded by stylish black awnings and its color-printout wanted posters. I turned curb ward to soak in that jazz combo over outside the Chestnut Bistro, now retuning after taking a quick fifteen. About then I was cross-checked by a spooked Weimaraner making a break for it.

          Restless as all get out for being left alone outside Starbucks for far too long, the sleek gray ghost had an empty Apria infant stroller hooked to its rainbow collar, and was dragging it along like Texas justice around the corner, taking off down Avila Street in full gallop. Righting myself against a ticking parking meter, I caught a snootful of that fishy sewer stench, noting a panicked young father sprinting after his dog and rapidly disintegrating stroller, his screaming baby girl clutched like a fourth and goal pigskin up the gut. Dogs as kids, children as pets—indeed, dogs v kids. Here on Chestnut, the familial little chase scene seemed symmetrically, almost karmically fitting somehow.

          Not long after, came a temblor, out of nowhere. They must have felt it clear to the Saturn airship up there, hovering above us all…an uh-oh moment, to be sure…

Care for more?

Chapter Twenty-Nine. Crossing into a more
business-like realm, there was the unfinished
business of the Final Solution and associated failings…