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The Marina Dock Newsletter OCTOBER 2003

Update: We have just heard of the sad passing on September 27th of Frank B (1918-2003) who had 57 years of sobriety. Check the San Francisco Chronicle's obituary for service details. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

Dear Marina Dock members and patrons alike,

I got a lot of compliments about last month's (September's) newsletter everyone seemed to get something out of it. This of course presents somewhat of a dilemma for me, because now I feel I have to deliver every month. Ah well! They say God never gives us anything we cannot handle; I just wish she did not have as much confidence in me. In addition to using the newsletter as a means to hone my literary skills, I also have to squeeze in important information about the Marina Dock and it's survival.
Speaking of which, we are doing everything possible, with your unstinting support and random acts of kindness to keep this place open for all of us. Not just for the people who use the Marina Dock as a primary source of spiritual growth and recovery, but also for those of us for whom the Marina Dock is a way of life.
The other day I was reflecting on how this place has profoundly changed the direction of my life, almost everyday someone comes up to me on the street and tells me what a great job we are doing at the Marina Dock and how much the place means to them. That's big stuff, especially when I have the humility to inwardly acknowledge that "God is doing for me what I could not do for myself." I call this the paradox of surrender, the more we recognize our powerlessness, the greater our ability to seek and do God's will, in the service of others.


This month I kind of want to remember all the beautiful people God has put in my life, for close to twenty years now.
It was around ten years ago, the last time I was back in Ireland that I learned my good friend Phil Fay had passed away. Phil was one of those guys that looked like he was about fifty five all his life, you like, always imagined him as fifty five, you could never see him any other way than how he looked. He drove a huge big Lincoln that was about the same size as my studio apartment, and he was an avid racing bike enthusiast. One hot July day he shows up at the then Dry Dock in full racing bike regalia and just casually mentioned he went for a short bike ride. When I asked he how far he rode, he said "Oh, just down to Aptos and back".
He always dressed impeccably, a perfect gentleman and he referred to me always in greeting as "his eminence". We would hang out at the Dry Dock into the small hours of the morning talking about all the characters he knew from his earlier years growing up in San Francisco, his love of boxing and knowing the great gentleman, Jim Corbett.
One night we left the club around 2:00 am and he, as usual, gave me a ride to where I was living. At that time I was at McAllister and Jones in San Francisco. On the way we stopped at that all night place on Mason and Geary for breakfast. Phil was a great storyteller and he loved to talk. On the way down Jones after breakfast he got into a great story about a barroom brawl he had with Ty Cobb. He was so into his story that he completely ignored a flashing red light at Jones and Turk and the big Lincoln demolished a speeding yellow cab that was going through the intersection on a flashing yellow. We got out, there was hardly a scratch on the Lincoln but the cab driver wanted evidence of insurance from Phil. As all of this paperwork was being sorted out, the cabbie left his cab unattended with the keys in the ignition whereupon a young gentleman who looked like he was overly medicated jumped in the cab and sped away with the cabbie in hot pursuit. The remains of the cab, I believe, were found outside Bakersfield several weeks later. We got great mileage out of that story, and then just like that he was gone. Recently I heard a quote "Today is the first day of the rest of your life, except the day you die. "

A LAMENT TO LIZ S (1953-2003)

Liz died August 29th 2003 at her home in Palm Desert. Liz and I worked together as counselors at the Henry Ohlhoff house on Steiner Street several years ago. Liz was dynamic, brimming with ideas and energy, she had a huge heart and smart as a whip. She could turn her hand to anything and you always felt she knew what she was doing. We also took Psychology at Dominican in San Rafael together; she ended up working in the Psych Department and everyone there was in awe of her passion, her lust for life, and her skills with people.
At that time she had a couple of Jack Russell terriers that she insisted on bringing to class. One night she brought them to a music class we were taking together. As the instructor tried to get us to sing "The Streets of Laredo" her terriers jumped on the piano keys, and that was the end of that. Liz was one of a kind, doggedly independent and feisty, with brains to burn, she reached out and impacted the lives of hundreds of less fortunate individuals.
She loved coming to the Marina Dock and hanging out with Frank B. Her Marina Dock friends extend their deepest sympathy.


Wade D in Nebraska celebrated 53 years of sobriety September first and he also turned 88 years young on August 18th. Wade has recently moved to a home for seniors in Valentine. I know he has legions of friends all over the place and perhaps some of you may not have this information yet. For those of you who want to know how he is doing the best source of information is through his son Mike who can be reached via e-mail at (replace the anti-spam AT with @ to send).
I would like to take this opportunity to once more thank Wade for all the years of friendship he exuded love and tolerance in the service of others, through the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.


Mental Health, according to Freud, is the ability to work and love. Mental Health depends also on the sense that one's life has meaning. It is through meaning that we are protected from existential transience, anxiety and despair. It is how each of us confronts this dilemma of existence that measures our mental and emotional stability. It is through the spiritual experience of connectedness that we overcome the feeling of isolation in a random universe
When I was younger and still seeking altered states of consciousness through mind altering substances, I scoffed at the mystics, and the notion of being one with God. Today, I see my skepticism and self-centeredness, as a barrier to experiencing connectedness. It's not however, all entirely my fault, for my resistance is dominated by a mode of consciousness that is strongly materialistic and competitive. A situation that has evolved over thousands of years in order to survive as a species. This according to scientists creates barriers and boundaries (described as the instrumental state of mind) that prohibit us from transcending our immediate self-centered reality. The experience of service can provide access to this higher state of connectedness as long as it is other-centered and not self-centered. The problem of course is the idea of service in modern society is filled with moral and religious associations. To some it means sacrifice, the handing over of time and money for the reward of being "good" entitled to a place in Heaven.
True service, on the other hand, is the kind that opens the doors of perception and creates a sense of wholeness. Let me see if I can rescue this concept from abstruse and obscurantist rhetoric, by giving a practical example.

  • I am walking down the street and I see an older person standing at a crosswalk afraid to step out onto the street for fear of being run over. I look around and make sure everybody is watching and I escort this lady across the street.
  • I see this person needs assistance to cross the street, but there is nobody around and I still help her across the street because I know God is watching.
  • I see this lady needs help crossing the street, I help her regardless of who is watching, simply because that's what needs to be done. In other words it's not ego-directed.

What an order!


This is something that's been in the works for some time now. After lengthy consultation with AA members who have many years in service. It was decided to restructure the amount of rent charged for hourly meetings in the East Room. We agreed that there should be a realistic attendance rent ratio. In other words, the amount of rent we charge should reflect the amount of people who regularly attend the meeting in question.
For many years now we have been asking $36.00 for hourly meetings in the East Room, regardless of the time of day or how many people attend that particular meeting. This we determined is unrealistic and creates problems for us the Marina Dock management as well as AA's compliance with their 7th Tradition.

There are a number of AA meetings in the East Room that consistently have a very small attendance. The 10.00 am and the 1.30 pm are two in question. Commencing October 15th, the rent for those two meetings will be $15.00 per meeting.

All the remaining AA meetings in the East Room from 3.30 pm on will be scaled back to $25.00 per meeting. This is a bold but necessary step, which we believe will have a positive impact on all concerned:

  • By making this change, we can help the group/meeting comply with AA's 7th Tradition: "Every A.A. group ought to be self-supporting, declining outside help".
  • It would also help if the Secretary or Treasurer announces at each meeting that the rent for this room is $15/25 per meeting.
  • Ideally each meeting ought to pay outstanding arrears the following week. Under this new attendance/rent ratio, at least in theory, it allows all groups, to not only make their rent, but also in most cases accrue a prudent reserve so contributions can be made to the various services designated under AA's 7th Tradition.

Until next time,

"Irish Tony"


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