Non-Profit Corporation

The Marina Dock Newsletter DECEMBER 2005

Dear Marina Dock Members and patrons:
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 thief".

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 Program

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!

The Campground

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.


Lita Goring, 1936-2005

Died recently. Lita worked with me at the Henry Ohlhoff House, as a substance abuse counselor, in the mid to late nineties, she had almost thirty years of continuous sobriety. Lita was an indefatigable carrier of the A.A message, she never faltered when it came to talking the talk and walking the walk. She was a fighter and defender of A.A. principles, a true humanitarian who loved what she did and did it well. She loved to bring her clients to meetings at 2118 Greenwich Street, as an initial introduction to the world of recovery. She was a staunch supporter of the Marina Dock.

John Mulligan, Writer and Vietnam Veteran, 1950-2005

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 Best, International soccer legend of some repute, 1946-2005

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 me at:

We, the Marina Dock, must continue the good work, with your help of course.

With Gratitude,

"Irish Tony"


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