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Off the Record (May 29, 2019)

I'VE ENJOYED Kate Magruder's and Sarah Reith's interviews on KZYX with Back to the Landers, the BTLs being pretty much the NPR demographic, you might say, given the transition of many hippies from their adventurous youths to the social-political assumptions and lulling securities of mainstream media “appropriateness." I haven't heard all of them, but the interviews I have heard are uniform in their avoidance of the true sub-theme of many of these lives as they transitioned from debauchery remembered as Little House on the Prairie. I know some of the people interviewed and, to put it gently, their stories have been laughably whitewashed. But, as the sage said, people can only stand so much reality. But occasionally a harsher memory of the back to the land experience slips in as it did last week when two young women recalled their pioneer lives on the Greenfield Ranch north and west of Ukiah, and even that mention was almost subliminal, mentioned then, with kryptonite speed, moved away from. They said that Greenfield was not a safe place for young girls raised or stuck living there. There’s no mention ever in any of these romantic accounts of the back to the landers of the grim fact that far too many of the hippie young got into premature dope whose casualties walk on all around us today. 

THE TWO SISTERS interviewed deployed mass murderer Leonard Lake as one example — hopefully the least representative — of the kind of guy tolerated in their neighborhood. But Lake, as I recall, was even too much of a perv for the aberrant population of Greenfield and was "shunned out of our community." (Criminals feasted on the hippie’s suicidal tolerance.) And wouldn't you know Lake popped up in Anderson Valley as the dishwasher at the Boonville Hotel and a volunteer fireman! Whether or not he was abducting and murdering people during his Mendo sojourn isn't known, but he had his eye on local kids for a fact. One day my daughter came home from her junior high class with the news that her teacher's aide, Lake's wife Cricket, was recruiting girls to pose for her husband in the couple's Philo hot tub. Cricket was immediately fired, and the next any of us heard, an FBI swat team had closed 128 at Philo to raid Lake's house on Ray's Road, where he and his lunatic associate, Mr. Ng, had stockpiled a large cache of weapons Ng had stolen from a Marine Corps armory in Honolulu. Then-deputy Squires said if Lake and Ng had chosen to shoot it out "it would have been a bloodbath."

A READER WRITES: Heard last night in Point Arena that there is an undertow amidst the Council and possibly Shoemaker that in order to salvage the PA pier, an ordinance may be in the works to seek support in the form of a Parcel Tax of $34.00/parcel (improved with structures and unimproved and unimproved parcels) on all lands between Elk and Gualala. Apparently the thought is that the Point Arena Pier provides a real service to the inhabitants of these parceled areas. Don't know how it would work, don't know how it would pass muster with the populace, don't know how an incorporated City can pull that one off with the unincorporated areas, but it sounds about right in that the PA Council recently held a Goal setting revision meeting on May 24, 2019 to present goals to perform a complete makeover of the town: Skateboard parks, City interior golf courses, a Frisbee golf course, revised signage of welcome into the City limits, etc. But the agenda does not specify a pier ordinance. I did not attend so I do not know how it turned out.

REDWOOD MARY WRITES on MCN’s chatline: "The Mendocino Indian Reservation was discontinued in March 1866 and the land opened for settlement in 1867 for $1.25 an acre. No one asks what happened to the indigenous people. ‘Established in June 11, 1857, Fort Bragg was located about 50 miles south of Cape Mendocino and situated one and a half miles north of tile Noyo River, at the present town of Fort Bragg, Mendocino County. It was established within the Mendocino Indian Reservation for the purpose of both controlling and safeguarding the area's Indians. Established by 1st Lieutenant Horatio Gates Gibson, 3rd Artillery with a detachment from Company M, the post was named for Captain Braxton Bragg, 3rd Artillery, a Mexican War veteran and later a general in the Confederate Army. There was a period of agitation to have the post's name changed because of his disaffection but the post retained the name during the Civil War.’” 

CLARIFICATION, I HOPE: There is still a tiny Native American in-holding out on the Fort Bragg bluffs settled by, as I understand it, the families who survived Mendo's own Trail of Tears, that one to Covelo, where all the Indians from the Fort Bragg, Anderson Valley, Point Arena and points between, were driven at Army gun point to the Nome Lackee Rez established at Covelo. Native Americans from the Sacramento Valley, in a second forced march were also driven at gun point to the Covelo reservation. The trail from the Mendocino Coast to inland ran roughly along what is now the Branscomb Road to what is now Laytonville, then to Covelo via Long Valley. Mendo had just become a recognized county in 1850 but not trusted to govern itself. (Some things never change!) Mendo's affairs were handled out of the marginally more settled Santa Rosa. But the initial genocide, which is not too hyperbolic a term for the state-funded attempt to exterminate all the Indians in the Eel River Basin, kicked off with Jarboe's Rangers, a company of hired killers paid by the state of California to murder all the Indians they could over a year's time. Jarboe went on to become Mendocino County's first badged lawman, responsible for law and order in Ukiah. The slaughters of native peoples in Mendocino and Humboldt counties was as horrifying as any mass murders of Indians anywhere in the country. Incidentally, the new state of California refused to pay Jarboe's entire bill for sneaking up on Indian camps and murdering men, women and children, accusing him of padding his kill stats and fudging his reimbursements chits. 

THE INEXORABLE slide backwards to neo-barbarism. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed 880 cases of measles in 2019, marking the worst year for the disease in America in 25 years. Health officials have now confirmed cases in 24 states, with 41 new cases in the last week alone. Thirty of those new cases were reported in New York. Despite the total number continuing to rise, a CDC spokesperson told CNBC the pace of the disease appears to be slowing down. Officials continue to attribute the recent surge of cases, which was declared eliminated from the U.S. in 2000, to an increasing number of parents who refuse to vaccinate their children. The CDC said Monday there are several outbreaks in progress across the country, but the majority of cases are concentrated in two outbreaks in New York City and New York’s Rockland County. The newest state to declare a measles case is Oklahoma, where a person contracted the measles after traveling domestically and internationally.

THE GRUNWALD REPORT: Things were very confused at the courthouse one day last week. Short of judges, and due to a fire at the jail this morning, there's been lots of delays in transporting prisoners to court. My neighbor, Michael Grunwald, was supposed to have a prelim yesterday, but he walked off instead, saying he was going to the hospital. But when I got home the cops had Grunwald's place surrounded and I could hear him down the street yelling at everybody, saying the usual stupid things, like he's suing the police for running a child prostitution ring, and he tried to tell me all about it later when I went out for something to eat, but I ignored him and went on my way. Judge Behnke had issued an arrest warrant yesterday when Grunwald failed to appear for his prelim, that he would hold the warrant until this morning, and Grunwald's lawyer, Daniel Moss, said Grunwald would be there this morning, but he wasn't; and Moss later heard that his client had lit the fire in the reception room at the jail, and so, he's now under arrest with new charges. (Bruce McEwen) 

GOT A TIP that the spectacular local screw-up, Mr. Blahut, did not report to the County Jail to do his one year for, among other things, terrifying a Coast family at a drive-thru restaurant in Ukiah by deliberately ramming their car. Blahut is also wanted in Iowa for assault. Blahut’s local history can be found at our website,

THE SAN FRANCISCO SUPERVISORS have given themselves a 12% raise, although The City has never been in worse shape, with the walking wounded everywhere, rents unaffordable for working people.

A COAST MAN called to report he'd beaten back the Big C, and wants everyone in Mendo to know that our local Cancer Society was of enormous help to him in his hours of multiple needs. He said the national Cancer Society did nada for him.

SOME GOOD NEWS: 7 in 10 persons flunked the California Bar exam back in February. Personal note: Way back, I took the Graduate Record Exam when I thought I might want to go to graduate school until, contemplating more hours of irrelevant classroom hours, I opted for cab driving and subversion. I was 22, I think, and shamefully knowledge-deficient. But I could read, and that's basically what was tested — reading comprehension. Lawyers tell me the Bar Exam is also basically a matter of preparation and reading comprehension. That so many young people fail it is not surprising, given today's low academic standards from kindergarten through college. 

ARTURO REYES, jefe at Mendocino College, is first in line for the boss job at Rancho Santiago College in Santa Ana. Reyes' tenure at the dependably quiescent Mendo College has not been without controversy. His monarchical attempt to build a grand reception room/office for himself was slam-dunked, he beat back an unfounded campaign by white instructors that he was loading the faculty with Hispanics, and he finally dumped the football program after tolerating the shabby housing for imported athletes. We've gotten our share of hit notes aimed at Reyes, none of them verifiable, all of them anon, but all of them indicating some serious hate aimed at the guy. According to the Ukiah Daily Journal, "Kristen Darken, acting director of public relations and marketing for MPC, said she was not aware of specific circumstances surrounding the departure, only that it was related to 'professional circumstances'.” Translation: Reyes has nailed down a new job.

SUPERVISOR WILLIAMS tried to persuade his colleagues to “collaborate not negotiate with unions” failed to persuade his colleagues, falling 4-1. Nice try, Ted, to correct a typically grotesque set of only-in-Mendo circumstances. We already have 8 (count' em) County-paid lawyers who would seem to obviate the hiring, at $300,000, of an outside legal firm to at last arrange a fair raise for County employees. Really, why should negotiations with County employees be adversarial? Really, do you think any of the other four Supervisors would shell out a Trumpian 300 thou of their own money for lawyers to conduct their own legal affairs? What exactly can the already-employed County lawyers do, all 8 of them? Count this as one more gift of public funds, Mendo branch.

EVERY DAY, everywhere in America, there are several hundred violent crimes of the super-heinous type, any one of which, prior to The Fall (1967), would have been front page news for months. Today, they flit across our mind screens and are gone, every day! A man in Las Vegas beats his wife to death with an aluminum baseball bat then tells media “I’m not sorry. I have no regrets.” A convicted Texas chomo snatches a 9-year-old girl walking down the street with her mother. Miraculously the child is found before she’s harmed. New York gang punks drag a 15-year-old out of a convenience store and hack him to death with machetes, later admitting the kid was "the wrong guy." The capper on the week was the guy who grabbed a 74-year-old woman off a San Francisco street and raped her over five hours before leaving her semi-conscious on the sidewalk. The old lady was also bitten by a pitbull in the rape house. Here in Mendocino County, a career criminal, of the lowest type of career criminal — drug punk, basically — marches his "girlfriend" out of her house at gun point, plenty of witnesses, and she's never seen again. I'll bet lots of Covelo people knows exactly what happened and where what's left of her can be found, but they’re afraid to say anything, meaning their criminals have won. We can joke about all this as predictable of late capitalism or The Last Days, but there's a viciousness out there that's more prevalent than it's ever been, far beyond remedies of wealth re-distribution and the gamut of social programs people like me think is the cure. There might not be a cure. 

ED GEHRMAN WRITES: "There are two pieces of evidence that can solve the Bari bombing: the Argus letter and the “you won’t get a second warning” letter. The Argus letter contains information that was known by only a few people including Mike Sweeney. Investigators were able to find and analyze a sample of DNA from that letter. The “You won’t get a second warning letter” was sent to Judi a few weeks before the bombing and was tested for DNA; a sample was also found. These two DNA samples matched one another so they were both deposited by the same person. That person is Mike Sweeney. His DNA will match the DNA found on the two letters. Of course, he could prove me wrong by giving a DNA sample that didn’t match. Why hasn’t he?"

ED NOTE: Sweeney claims it would be an invasion of his privacy, as do his defenders who cleared a cool $3.5 million or so pretending he had nothing to do with it. Mr. G is correct; the “mystery” of the Bari Bombing can be solved via dna.

ACCORDING TO A KQED story PG&E’s decision to underground the replacement and rebuilt power lines after the power lines in the Paradise area were destroyed by the fire PG&E is responsible for, will be done in conjunction with trenching that has to be done anyway for replacement of gas lines that were also destroyed in the fire PG&E was responsible for. And since PG&E will be reimbursed by ratepayers for the rebuild itself this “pledge” has a hollow ring to it. (Mark Scaramella)


[1] Biden is the same old shit warmed over. Voting for Joe is just perpetuating the same old DC song and dance. Joe is embedded in the flesh of Wash just like all the rest of the ticks. Having said that, there’s no reason to think that Trump is any less corrupt than the rest of the Washington crowd. If anything, he’s more power hungry, and money hungry than all of them. I’m really stymied this time around. No idea who to support. The oligarchs who control things, will not allow anyone to take power who does not conform to their expectations, and make no mistake, they run the show, unless Trump is successful at making himself President For Life, in which case they will have to line up behind him for their turn at the trough. The Democrats are no longer the party of the blue collar working class, because there is no blue collar working class anymore. The good paying manufacturing jobs are gone. Like I’ve said before, that was the only way poor people could lift themselves out of poverty, and now those days are gone. After WWII, the country made so much money that there was no way the corporations could hog it all, even though they tried, the middle class managed to get enough to enable themselves to become the middle class. That boat has sailed, however, and much of the country hasn’t woken up to the ugly truth, which is that we are gonna get poorer as a class until we wind up in about the same shape as we were in the thirties. Not good news, but there’s little point in trying to sugarcoat it. What you see in Wash DC is the way it’s gonna be from now on. Money flocks to power, and the sooner people can figure out how screwed they are, the better chance there is that they can do something about it.

[2] The American people are capable of much better. But mental fitness comes a lot harder when your information environment plies you with the media equivalent of orange soda and Doritos morning, noon and night. Re: the fate of Julian Assange, I think there’s room for hope that he won’t face — well, let’s be charitable and call it a “trial” — in the USA. The fact that America is slipping ever further into authoritarianism hasn’t gone completely unnoticed overseas. That, plus the fact that the (likely bogus) sex-assault charges against him in Sweden have been reactivated opens a possible escape hatch. Sweden’s extradition law doesn’t honor requests for what they consider political crimes, and surely that’s how the USA is treating Assange. Should the UK extradite him to Sweden first, rather than the U.S., Sweden may reject extradition for Assange’s inconvenient acts of journalism and pack him off to Russia instead. (They surely won’t want him on their soil any longer than necessary.) It could happen; let’s watch and see.

Whereas if Assange actually gets extradited to the USA it’s game over for press freedom, as the outcome of any proceeding has been predetermined. The First Amendment will join the Fourth in the dead-letter pile.

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