Dear Marina Dock Members
It's December 05. The transition to the new owners has gone
smoothly. Not only are we all still sober, but also we are happy,
joyous and free, and the place looks great. The response from
our members to the building being purchased by friends of the
fellowship was overwhelmingly positive. Some even sent a contribution,
which is greatly appreciated. Without your help, we could not
do it. Do I need to remind everyone, about half our monthly
income comes from donations?
This month we are
enclosing a financial statement of your tax-deductible contributions
for this year, up to and including Nov 18th 2005. If you have
any questions about your statement, feel free to give us a call.
A new lease will be signed in January, and we are looking for
people to help us out over the next 12 months with the additional
$6,000.00 a year rent increase. Obviously any donation, period,
will reduce our stress level; we value your support regardless
of the amount.
The Holiday Weekend
We had people visiting
from England, South Carolina, Baltimore, the Big Apple, Hawaii,
and the great State of Texas. I always ask visitors where they
are from and try to make them feel special. Why? Because, they
are special. Just to give you an example of how small
this world has become, a guy came in the other day, Keith, visiting
from Wandsworth in South London. I asked him if he knew my niece
Jennifer who lives in London and secretaries a meeting in the
East End. "Yes" he replied "as a matter of fact
I do". Wow! I thought this is wild. What a coincidence.
I wonder if he knows Jay Walker, or am I the only one who knows
Jay? Does Jay really exist, or is he a figment of my already
over active imagination?
Jay Walker Walks
Jay exists all right
and a number of readers wanted to know Jay's true identity,
which I would never ever reveal. Jay's anonymity must be protected
at all cost, even if Jay himself, at this time, does not know
he is Jay.
A few weeks after
my last encounter with Jay, I am coming up Post Street heading
west from Union Square when a black and white cruises by and
screeches to a halt right alongside me, two of San Francisco's
finest leap from the patrol car, and pointing to me, holler
to a well dressed lady in the backseat, "Is this him?"
"No! No!" she exclaimed, somewhat agitated, "he
is over there", and she pointed to the other side of the
street where a scraggly figure was crouched behind a sixty thousand
dollar S.U.V. One of the officers issued a command for the guy
behind the vehicle to the officers issued a command for the
person behind the vehicle to "step out onto the street
with his hands outstretched and visible".
A voice, that sounded
like a load of gravel being dumped on a driveway, responded,
"OK officer, OK officer, you know me, it's me Jay, I was
only trying to help this lady find Neiman Marcus, and she accused
me of trying to steal her purse." In an accent that cost
at least half a million bucks of Ivy League schooling, and a
voice that sounded like Katharine Hepburn in "The Lion
in Winter", this lady bounded out of the patrol car and
shouted to the officer, "arrest this reprobate - he's a
She was a tall tanned
blonde, in her mid-thirties, with aquiline features and an attitude.
Her gown was definitely Armani, her purse a Louis
Vuitton, and her shoes were decidedly Giuseppe Zanotti,
shoes by the way, that sell for around nine hundred bucks a
pair. As the officers cuffed Jay and bent his head downward
to get him into the back of the patrol car, she glared at the
Jay-man with a look of utter and absolute contempt. Jay entered
the back of the cruiser with a certain swagger conveyed an element
of defiance and bravado, surveying the scene as he departed
the scene like an artist admiring, his latest work on canvas.
As the cruiser rolled away, Jay, for the first time, caught
a glimpse of me standing on the sidewalk next to Miss Ivy League.
He started to gesticulate
wildly and point in my direction. "Do you know this loser?"
she asked, incredulously, turning to me almost white with rage.
I wanted to say, "Yes many years ago - when he was sober".
Instead, I couldn't resist this morsel, I replied in my best
Alistair Cooke accent, "I'm sorry madam, I do not speak
English, and I am a green card lottery winner from Ireland.
She shot me a look of skepticism. "This kind of thing would
never happen in Hartford", she raged, pointing her finger
at me, with an air of superiority. "This is very different
from what I expected of San Francisco", she continued to
rant, "this city is full of bums."
A couple of hours later I am going through the intersection
of Sutter and Larkin and here comes Jay. He doesn't see me;
he is having dinner, and is too busy chowing down on the remains
of a burrito he has just retrieved from a garbage can. As I
made my way up Sutter Street, I thought about events earlier
that day and the Ivy League lady in the nine hundred dollar
Zanotti shoes. She reminded me of an utterance by Oscar
Wilde that seemed particularly appropriate, "Other people
are quite dreadful, the only possible society is one-self."
Recalling The Westminster
Woods Retreats by Steve M
Long, long, ago Mike
H. got lost while driving back to San Francisco from Russian
River. Admitting to himself that he didn't know which way to
go, he pulled into a campground to ask for directions. The manager
of the facility gave Mike directions to get back to the City.
Then they began to talk about the beautiful camping area, swimming
pool, dinning hall, trails, and cabins that make up the Westminster
Woods get away. While driving home Mike was thinking about what
a great place he had just seen. Upon deeper thought a plan began
to form in his mind. Mike was a regular member of the Tuesday;
Union and Steiner, young peoples meeting. The meeting had about
eighty people attending every week. If half of those folks were
interested in a weekend retreat the group could rent the campgrounds.
Cabins, meals, pool, ball fields, trails, and meeting rooms
were all included for a fee of twenty dollars per person. This
semi-annual retreat began in the summer of 1979 (thus the $20.00
price tag) and ran for several years.
The agenda for the
retreats was to arrive 7:00 PM: Friday evening picks out a cabin
for the weekend. First an A.A. meeting at 8:30 PM: then socialize
in the big meeting room until time to hit the sack. Lots of
people stayed up all night doing all the things young people
do. If someone in your cabin snored or you wanted alone time
with someone special; sleeping bags could be taken to a secluded
spot for sleeping and stuff under the stars. Breakfast, lunch
and dinner were cooked and served by the camp staff on Saturday.
There was lots of free time for swimming, hiking, meditating,
and making new friends, spontaneous meetings and whatever all
day long. After the Saturday night meeting we would put on a
talent show. Breakfast was served Sunday morning followed by
a spiritual meeting. Then there would be an informal get together
to say good-bye to new and now closer friends. Throughout the
retreats a pattern continued. On Friday when people arrived,
most folks were very shy and uncomfortable. At the opening meeting
people would share, "Why did I come?" "I'm not
good at social things like this." or "I'm forcing
myself to stay here". Invariably, by the end of the Sunday
meeting everyone would be throwing their arms around one and
other and saying how glad they were that they had come.
At the first meeting
of the first retreat, Mike H. was announcing the agenda for
the weekend. He was nerv-ous about getting this whole thing
off the ground and running. While announcing the talent show
on Saturday night he became tongue-tied and accidentally gave
the impression that everyone was expected to get up on stage
and perform some type of "talent".
We had lots of people
who preformed and intended to be in the show. But now everyone
believed they had to come up with something. Panic! Panic all
Friday night and all day Saturday. One of the most feared activities
for all people is public speaking. This was even worst! The
stress level was sky high. How Mike didn't discover his error
and tell people participating in the show was voluntary, I'll
never know. Some how the miscommunication continued and the
show must go on!
All over the campground
all day Saturday people were racking their brains for some long
lost talent. Anything they could do on stage for three or four
minutes would do, but what? One women remembered the words to
Shirley Temples "Good Ship Lollypop" she hadn't sung
since the age of three. A guy recalled a "ham bone"
routine he used to do in junior high school. I decided to tell
the story of my friendship with a nineteen-year-old female Indian
elephant in Oakland, CA. There is a zoo there. When 10:00 o'clock
Saturday night finally ar-rived every single person had devised,
rehearsed, and was prepared to perform an act. Right there on
stage before God, the world and everyone. Just prior to announcing
the talent show Mike, finally was made aware of the mistake
he had made the previous evening. He apologized and assured
everyone that performing in the show was not mandatory. However,
with all the blood, sweat, and tears each person had put into
developing an act not one soul backed out. By the time the talent
show was over we had built a team spirit that was a joy to behold.
John died tragically
sometime in October of this year, he was hit by a car in Mountain
View while crossing the street late at night. John, Scottish by
birth came to the United States as a teenager, serving his adapted
country with honor in Vietnam. He emerged from his combat experience
in Southeast Asia determined to embrace the inner demons of the
resultant trauma. His downward spiral took him into a life of
homelessness and despair where he ultimately found his voice.
In 1997 John's influential novel "Shopping Cart Soldiers"
was published. It was quickly recognized as a work of considerable
significance on the post-war travails of troubled Vietnam Veterans.
John was a Marina Dock member since the early days. He loved to
talk about his writing and his desire to get published, always
gracious and well spoken he was imbued with that unique combination,
that is quintessentially Celtic in nature, i.e., an addiction
to melancholia and an excessive use of words. He was definitely
a larger than life figure and will be sadly missed by all.
George died a few days
ago in a London hospital from alcoholism. When I first came to
the fellowship in the early eighties George was playing for the
San Jose Earthquakes, one of his teammates attended a meeting
I was secretary of at the old Garden Sullivan meeting on Wednesday
night, on Geary and Masonic. He was always trying to get George
to come to the meeting and he would discuss different strategies
with me to get George to attend. Every week I waited expectantly
for George to show up, but alas it never happened. George, with
Pele and Eusabio were in a class of their own, definitely one
of the all time soccer greats. He held us spellbound with his
football mastery and personal charisma. George was the original
European super-star, before the Beatles, before the Rolling Stones.
Interestingly enough, George, John Mulligan, and myself grew up
within a radius of 100 miles of each other, in what was once referred
to as "the British Isles". Ironically, it would be really
difficult to find anything British in any one of us.
In closing, thank you
again for all your financial and moral support over the last twenty
years. If you want to contribute a story to the monthly newsletter
or you want to find out how you can contribute, period, then contact
We, the Marina Dock,
must continue the good work, with your help of course.