- Temperature Rising
- Found Object
- Howe Case
- Management Style
- Tattoo Talk
- Planning Response
- Pop-Up Chorus
- Driftwood Removal
- OCD Nightmare
- RIP ChiChi
- Rate Hike
- Female Doctor
- Philo Feast
- Frontier Days
- Yesterday's Catch
- Fukushima Fish
- Two Orlandos
- Tax Dollars
- Inauthentic Opposition
- Buzz Windrip
- Why Hate
- Insane Clowns
- Just Stop
- Attempted Murder
- Biden's Friends
- Expert Demagogue
- Despicable Dubs
- Couch Chant
- Oligarch 19
TEMPERATURES OVER THE INTERIOR will heat up this weekend as a ridge of high pressure builds back in aloft. Sunny and breezy weather will continue for most of northwest California as well. Cooler and potentially cloudier weather will follow for the week ahead, as a broad area of low pressure drops southward across the Pacific Northwest. (National Weather Service)
BARBARA HOWE’S DAY IN COURT
by Bruce McEwen
Judge Jeanine Nadel called the case of Tammy Moss-Chandler v. Barbara Howe first thing on Wednesday morning in the Ukiah courthouse. She gave each party a copy of the Standard Settlement Agreement and sent them into the hallway to talk it over and “see if this can be resolved” – either that, or come back and go through with a formal hearing.
Also on the calendar was the case of Mendocino County v. Barbara Howe, and so County Counsel Katherine Elliot and CEO Carmel Angelo were also present.
In the hall, Ms. Howe’s lawyer, John Rarick, was telling Ms. Moss-Chandler’s lawyer, Mr. Christian Curtis of the County Counsel's Office, that his client (Howe) would agree not to call or text Moss-Chandler, or go to the county offices – except on essential business – and stay away from Moss-Chandler’s house. Mr. Curtis was one of Ms. Elliott’s huge County Counsel staff – it appears Elliott does no legal work herself, which is probably a good thing, since she was not a very effective criminal defense attorney, and since her elevation to County Counsel her duties have been reduced to something she’s really good at, prattling away with an effervescent effusiveness, bubbling over with optimistic good humor and blissful euphemisms.
On this day Ms. Elliott appeared to be on a date with County CEO Carmel Angelo, snuggling happily against the CEO’s shoulder and cooing in her ear as they sat side-by-side in the theater seats of the courtroom, or shuffled down to the far end of the hall where I couldn’t hear what was being said.
Mr. Rarick also said that if Curtis and his client Moss-Chandler would not sign the Standard Settlement Agreement, he was going to ask for a continuance so he could better prepare his case, and that he would be suing for a wrongful termination on behalf of Ms. Howe.
Back in the courtroom Judge Nadel was taking care of some other requests for restraining orders and in doing so she explained that the Standard Settlement Agreement was not enforceable, that the police would not respond if either party broke the agreement; but, at the same time, if anything serious happened, they (either) party could bring it back to court. Both parties must sign and date it, and the case would be brought back for review in one year’s time. Both parties would “treat one another in a civil manner, refrain from using foul or threatening language, and put yourself back on the calendar if you feel the other party is not in compliance.”
If everything goes smoothly, neither party needed to come back to court for the review date, and the matter would simply end at that. “We live in small towns and should all try to get along.”
The case of Moss-Chandler v. Howe could not be resolved, so after the other litigants left, the parties from the County came back in the courtroom and Mr. Rarick asked that the TRO for the county be dropped, since the county wasn’t a person, and Judge Nadel agreed to consolidate the county’s case with Moss-Chandler’s. Then Tammy Moss-Chandler took the stand.
Exhibit A was the text messages sent by Barbara Howe to Moss-Chandler and each of these were read by Ms. M-C, at the promptings of her lawyer. We have the text of these messages posted in the ongoing coverage of the Howe matter on our website, so it isn’t necessary to reprint them here, except to say that Ms. Howe suggested to Ms. M-C that she “stop spreading Carmel’s poison, it is killing you.”
It may be helpful to note that M-C was asked how the texts made her feel, and she replied in such a roundabout way to every question that it was hard to get it all down.
For instance, at one point M-C said that Barbara Howe had either picked her up at her house at one time and taken her to the airport – or maybe she had brought her home from the airport – in any case, when asked if she knew whether Howe knew where she lived, she said she didn’t think so but couldn’t be sure. “But for me it was more the aspect of her seeking out where I lived that made me uncomfortable with that after all the…” Ms. M-C’s voice had a tendency to trail-off into a barely audible murmur, and her wordy way of answering even a simple yes or no question with soft-spoken verbose evasions made any definite response hard to discern.
When asked about how the texts made her feel she said, “I think my reaction initially was that I uh was um uh a little um you know I have a support system and I honestly haven’t experienced this kind of um, you know my friends and my family all know what a fearless person I am and how I’ve done so many things that are really daunting and traveled alone to foreign countries and I’ve never felt afraid to be alone in the office before but now, for the past three weeks I would never go to the office without two or three, at least someone I can and even at the office pot luck I’m afraid of eating any of the food and um uh…”
On cross-examination Mr. Rarick tried to get an answer as to where the Letter of Resignation had originated. M-C answered something like this — on the third or fourth try: At first she affected to know nothing about any Letter of Resignation – but finally came through with, “It was a part of the materials provided.”
“From whom did you get the document you allege was a Letter of Resignation?”
“Who? We, uh, well I suppose it must have been from Human Resources.”
“Who from Human Resources?”
“You mean who? Well I think it must have been Heidi Dunham…” [Mendo’s Director of Human Resources.]
“So you and a Human Resources representative came to Ms. Howe’s office with this resignation letter.”
Mr. Curtis objected as to the relevance, saying the line of questioning had “no probative value.”
Rarick said it went to Ms. Moss-Chandler’s credibility and Judge Nadel hurriedly called the lawyers back into her chambers. Judge Nadel, it should be noted, was Mendocino County Counsel before being elevated to Judge. Apparently, the judge didn’t want credibility issues going on the record as it would necessarily tarnish the unsullied way things are done at the county executive offices. They stayed back there in chambers a long time. When the lawyers came out they took their respective clients back into the hall and fell back into the original Standard Settlement Agreement mode, this time with an instruction of some sort from the judge that the best thing do for all concerned was to keep the details private, and the only way to do that was to sign those agreement forms and not put the witness back on the stand with a reporter present. So far, all that had been said was what was already known – the text messages, and the Letter of Resignation.
Having taken up the rest of the morning, the case was called back on the record just before noon. The parties duly turned in their signed and dated Standard Settlement Agreement forms and the terms were kept secret, but I did overhear Rarick tell Howe that it was basically the same as before – no texting, no going to the County Offices except for necessary business, and keep away from Moss-Chandler’s house. A whole year of review dates were set – one each month – and Judge Nadel pronounced it “a good resolution, and I expect everyone to abide by it.”
Mendo successfully avoided having to air much dirty laundry and Ms. Howe doesn’t have a restraining order on her record. Meanwhile, Mendo's remaining senior staffers better hope they don't get any surprise visits from Ms. Dunham.
To the Editor,
Reading the list of high level staff of Mendocino County who have been shit-canned over the past few years sounds strangely familiar……Oh….wait! It’s a page outta the management style of our VERY STABLE GENIUS president and his LONG list of former ONLY THE BEST PEOPLE.
Having recently had a crash course in how the mucky-mucks operate, I can rattle off this formula: communication ceases, hysteria ensues, County Counsel begins an investigation, the iron curtain descends and the poor schnook who has been de-personed is left to twist in the wind. Life continues for the big guns, as worker bees avoid eye contact and ponder the upcoming “Department Supervisor Skills Academy and Performance Management and The Art of Writing a Performance Evaluation trainings.”
Nameless for self-protection
SKIN STORIES: Panel explores past and present of tattooing among California Indian women
by Roberta Werdinger
On Sunday, June 30, from 2 to 3 p.m., the Grace Hudson Museum will offer a panel discussion on "California Indian Women and Tattooing, Past and Present." Moderated by former Museum director Sherrie Smith-Ferri (Dry Creek Pomo/Coast Miwok), the panel consists of Lyn Risling (Karuk/Yurok/Hupa), Meyo Marrufo (Eastern Pomo), and L. Frank Manriquez (Tongva/Ajachmem). Risling, Marrufo, and Manriquez are all artists with relevant pieces on display in the Museum’s current exhibit on the history of California women and tattooing. All of them, too, bear their own inked skin. The event is free with Museum admission.
Every tattoo tells a story--a symbol, aspiration, idea, deed, or commitment rendered semipermanent by being inscribed on skin. The motive for tattooing varies between Native and non-Native women, between women and men, and among Native tribes themselves. In general, California Indian women, today and in the past, tend to be tattooed as an expression of cultural traditions and affiliations, according to Smith-Ferri. In contrast, non-Native women today tend to tattoo themselves as a means of self-expression.
Native California women’s designs varied throughout the state, but typically could be seen adorning their faces. Traditionally, such tattoos were part of "a much larger cultural gestalt," as Smith-Ferri puts it, one that stated or solidified a woman's membership in a tribe, her roles and responsibilities, and the milestones in her life. Following the massive disruption of European colonialism, most Native peoples ceased tattooing; some assimilated into the mainstream culture, and all faced discrimination, more so if they bore tribal markings.
The past several decades have brought a revival of culture and pride among California Indians, along with a renewed interest in tattooing.
Meyo Marrufo, an artist who works in many mediums, reminisces on the day she, her mother, and her best friend got tattooed together. Marrufo designed the tattoos for them based on basket designs and the meanings behind them. Later, after her mother died, Marrufo had the same tattoo she had designed for her mother incorporated into a full basket design with her grandmother's namesake and had it tattooed to her own arm to memorialize the strength and beauty of those two women.
"We want to not only maintain our culture but also to remember how different we are," Marrufo comments. "We're past the days of the eagle feather and urban dream catcher tattoo." As California Native people learn more about their specific tribal heritage and traditions, they incorporate that into their tattoo designs. "You can look at people whose body is like a timeline of the culture," adds Marrufo. "They're learning more."
Visitors can explore more aspects of the ancient (now revived) art of tattooing by viewing the Museum's latest exhibit, "Tattooed and Tenacious: Inked Women in California's History." Curated by Amy Cohen and traveled by Exhibit Envoy, "Tattooed and Tenacious" contains photos, objects, and a variety of memorabilia that reveal the largely unknown history of California women in the tattoo arts.
The Grace Hudson Museum is at 431 S. Main St. in Ukiah. The Museum is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 4:30 p.m. General admission is $4; $10 per family; $3 for students and seniors; free to all on the first Friday of the month; and always free to members. For more information please go to www.gracehudsonmuseum.org or call (707) 467-2836.
KATHY WYLIE: In response to my request to have Coastal potential ADU [accessory dwelling units, aka “granny units”] changes heard on the coast (rather than in Ukiah), Julia Acker Krog, Chief Planner, Mendocino County, wrote back:
“We looked into be able to put the meeting on the Coast but unfortunately we were not able to make it work. Coastal ADU's will be reviewed by the Planning Commission on July 18, 2019 here in Ukiah. The draft ordinance and staff report will be posted at the following location 10 days prior to the meeting: https://www.mendocinocounty.org/…/meeti…/planning-commission. Also heard the same day will be Coastal Cannabis Cultivation and Facilities Ordinances and changes to inland Cannabis regulations as recommended by the Board of Supervisors Ad Hoc committee.
Julia Acker Krog
County of Mendocino
DRIFTWOOD REMOVAL AT NOYO BEACH
In preparation for this year’s Fireworks event, the City is authorizing individuals to hand remove driftwood washed onshore at Noyo Beach. In years past, wood has been removed through a variety of ways including removal by City Public Works Crews, controlled burns by Parlin Forks or the Volunteer Fire Department, and by individuals who obtained permits to remove woody debris from the beach.
Beach wood removal will be allowed between the date of this notice and Friday, July 5, 2019 by persons who abide by the following conditions:
Wood removal from the beach may take place from 7:30 AM to 5:00 PM Monday-Friday only. No weekend removal is allowed.
Applicant shall follow all park rules displayed on beach property signage at all times.
Wood removal may be completed with the use of hand tools only.
Persons removing wood shall be respectful and cautious of all citizens on the Noyo Beach; and shall use safe work practices at all times, especially near citizens and pets.
Persons removing wood shall do a site cleanup at the end of each day to ensure that any litter or debris gets removed from the site.
This notice does not permit any closures of the beach or give persons removing wood any more right to any area of the beach or trails than other citizens using the beach and trails.
No person shall drive any motorized vehicle beyond the limits of the paved parking areas regularly accessible by private vehicles.
Any persons wishing to collect wood in any manner beyond those conditions listed above (i.e. using a vehicle, using mechanized equipment, or work on weekends, etc.) shall submit a Noyo Beach Access Permit application and provide proof of liability insurance to the City of Fort Bragg to receive authorization from the Public Works Department prior to commencing any activity not described herein.
Questions regarding this information should be directed to Chantell O’Neal, Engineering Technician, at (707) 961-2823 ext. 133.
(Fort Bragg City Press Release)
FROM PETIT TETON….
Petit Teton Monthly Farm Report - May 2019
Summer is here and we're already exhausted. It's been a very difficult spring with planting delayed due to rain, very erratic hot and cold weather, insane politics, terrifying news from scientists regarding global warming, daily reports of all the beauty of nature being destroyed…from lands to animals to bugs…and worst of all for us, the demise of our best friend ChiChi. We've enclosed a couple of photos, one the view of the farm from her burial spot from which she'll watch over us forever, and another of a happy memory.
I just don't feel like writing. Take care and be well.
Nikki Auschnitt and Steve Kreig
SUPERVISOR WILLIAMS ALERTS US
PG&E is seeking approval from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to increase customer rates by 6.4 percent.
The nearest public input session for Mendocino County residents is:
July 31, 2019, 1 p.m. AND 6 p.m.
Santa Rosa City Hall Council Chambers
100 Santa Rosa Ave. Santa Rosa, CA 95404. Webcast:www.youtube.com/user/CityofSantaRosaorhttps://www.facebook.com/cityofsantarosa
Listen-only phone line: 1-877-937-0554, passcode 7031793
Monday the 24th of June we will be hosting a pop up at Poleeko Roadhouse from 5pm-9pm.
Kalua pig slow roasted served with white rice and Mac salad $15
Panko breaded served with a special dipping sauce also with white rice and Mac salad $15
And last but not least a spam musubi
A glazed slice of spam with rice wrapped in nori
Combo plates $25
Please come stop by and enjoy paradise like we always have, Aloha! Any questions call 909-789-7869 Or poleeko at 707-895-ribs
Tiffany Punihaole-Figueroa to Valley Hub
FRONTIER DAYS: A COLLECTOR’S JOURNEY
Mendocino County Museum Exhibit Opening on Sat. June 29
Frontier Days: A Collector’s Journey
Exhibit Opening June 29, 2019 at 2 p.m.
“Frontier Days: A Collector’s Journey” exhibit opening celebration will be held on June 29, 2019 at 2 p.m. The exhibit opening is FREE to the public and includes the following: a ribbon cutting ceremony, refreshments, Frontier Days themed crafts, a stunt photo opportunity, and more!
“Frontier Days: A Collector’s Journey” features history, artifacts, historic photographs, and memorabilia pertaining to the Willits Frontier Days Rodeo, Sweetheart Contestants, and the 4th of July Parade. This new exhibit expands upon Mendocino County: A Collector’s Journey which debuted on April 6, 2019. Both exhibits explore the journey of a 5th generation Mendocino County resident and collector, Dusty Whitney, who acquired a fascinating historical collection of historic photographs and artifacts related to Mendocino County’s peoples, communities, and industries over the past decades. Learn more about Dusty Whitney’s generous donation of historic photographs and artifacts to the Museum, and view rarely seen treasures pertaining to Mendocino County, and the celebration of Frontier Days, a Willits community tradition that has been ongoing since 1926—the longest continually held rodeo in California.
Museum Hours and Admission Information
Mendocino County Museum is located: 400 E. Commercial Street in Willits, California. The Museum is open to the public Wednesday - Friday 10 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. Visit us on our website for more information about programs, hours, admission, and more: www.mendocinocounty.org/museum, or call 972-6458.
CATCH OF THE DAY, JUNE 21, 2019
BRIAN BIDOU, Ukiah. Domestic abuse, false imprisonment, damaging communications device.
RAFE BJORKLUND, Ukiah. Contempt of court, probation revocation.
CHRISTOPHER DOTY, Fort Bragg. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
DREW ERSLAND, Ukiah. Controlled substance while armed, controlled substance, ammo possession by prohibited person, interfence with police radios, contempt of court, resisting a court order, probation revocation.
MARIO FUENTES, Ukiah. DUI, suspended license (for DUI).
ROBERT JAMES JR., Ukiah. “Proceedings.”
by James Kunstler
Surfing the cable channels the evening before my Friday a.m. blog duties, I came upon Sean Hannity at Fox News completely losing his shit in a colloquy with Geraldo Rivera about the Iran drone incident. “Bomb the crap out of them!” Mr. Hannity ranted, several times, the veins in his neck throbbing visibly on the high-def screen. I thought I was having an acid flashback to Doctor Strangelove. Geraldo himself seemed a bit nonplussed and embarrassed by Mr. Hannity’s tantrum, but his attempts to calm down the raving anchorman only ramped up the hysteria. One wondered: are there any adult producers off-screen on that network?
Perhaps the Golden Golem of Greatness, our president, who is also known to follow the Cable TV news, witnessed the cringeworthy incident and realized that every other head-of-state on this nervous planet would also see it, and might infer he was doing the bidding of a crazed boob-tube performer if he actually went forward with an air strike. Earlier, he’d told reporters, “You’ll soon find out,” what the USA’s response to the drone shoot-down would be. He should have just kept his mouth shut. Planes and ships were on their way to the bottleneck in the Persian Gulf known as the Straits of Hormuz. Before they could deliver any payloads, Mr. Trump called the whole thing off suggesting that maybe some “loose and stupid” Colonel Borat type on Iran’s side had gone rogue in the incident.
Is there some virus loose in this land that is turning anyone in authority here into reincarnations of the Three Stooges? The illness is certainly not concentrated on either the Right or the Left. There’s plenty of craziness all around. America’s cup runneth over with some toxic agent that interferes with thinking. It’s most conspicuous among what was formerly considered the Thinking Class, since minus thinking they have no identity at all.
Imagine The New York Times presenting a coherent idea! Today, The Times is celebrating the New York State legislature’s passage of harsh new laws against sexual harassment: Sex Harassment Laws Toughened in New York: ‘Finally, This Is Happening.’
Can you guess what the unintended consequences of this “happening” will be? I’ll tell you: men who run companies (there are some) will avoid hiring women because men and women who are not sexually neutered behave as sexual beings when they spend a lot of time together. You can only pretend to regulate that — especially in a culture as devoid of traditional manners as the US has become — and if the regulations are stringent, any sentient CEO will hear the cloven hoofbeats of personal injury lawyers pounding down the hall of the C-Suite behind every moderately attractive female job-seeker. Or, perhaps the CEOs will just move their companies to another state. Nice going, NY State legislature and our grandstanding guv, Mr. Cuomo.
On the national scale here in Crazyland, we have on the docket in Congress reparations for descendants of slaves, another fabulously bad idea. Could it be that the Democratic Party is only dangling this giant goodie-bag out now because black America is rumored to be disenchanted with life on the Democratic plantation? And without them, they can’t possibly win a national election? The unintended consequences of the proposal were nicely set forth in congressional testimony by a 23-year-old philosophy undergrad from Columbia University named Coleman Hughes who writes frequently for the Quillette website (and several major media platforms) on US race politics. The hearing room was incandescent with Wokester suspense when Hughes was called to speak, and he laid it out with stark eloquence:
“…the people who were owed for slavery are no longer here, and we’re not entitled to collect on their debts. Reparations, by definition, are only given to victims. So, the moment you give me reparations, you’ve made me into a victim without my consent. Not just that: you’ve made one-third of black Americans—who consistently poll against reparations—into victims without their consent, and black Americans have fought too long for the right to define themselves to be spoken for in such a condescending manner.”
Ouch! That stung a little! Naturally the room erupted in boos and catcalls of Wokester indignation. (Did he actually say that!) You could hear the sentimental arguments of Ta-Nihisi Coates just gurgle down the drain. (Watch the five-minute YouTube.) Of course, this reparations cherry on the over-baked victimhood cake would arouse so much resentment and disappointment from all concerned (repeat ALL concerned, black and white), that any hope for social comity in this sore beset nation would lie moldering in the grave… along with John Brown, Martin Luther King, and 360,000 Union dead.
(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting his Patreon Page.)
CANADIAN RESEARCHERS: ALL FISH FROM PACIFIC TESTED POSITIVE FOR FUKUSHIMA
A TALE OF TWO ORLANDOS
by David Yearsley
If you book an EasyJet flight now you can pay as scandalously little as twenty-five dollars to get from Hamburg on the North Sea to Venice on the Adriatic for the traditional opera season taking place during next February’s Carnival. In less than two hours you’ll traverse the torso of Europe, cross above the rapidly receding glaciers of the Alps and come down at Marco Polo airport a short ferry ride from the increasingly submerged island city. A ticket to the opera house La Fenice will run you about seven or eight times the price of the flight, and the performance will last at least an hour longer than the time you spent sitting on the plane.
Back in the seventeenth century—the century of opera’s invention—it was far more arduous and expensive for northern culture vultures to descend on Venice for the pleasures of opera and other pre-Lenten debaucheries. But descend they did. To do so they had to make long journeys by coach, but often by ship as well, so as to avoid the snowed-in Brenner Pass leading down into the Veneto.
Among the most ravenous of these birds of prey were the Dukes of Hanover, the forbears of the current British royals. (These descendants have mostly moved on to other cultural interests, though they will appear at their Royal Opera House in London when commemorative duties demand.) Ernst August, who ruled in Hanover until his death in 1698, was derisively known by many in his own domains as the Duke of Venice: come Carnival he vacated his realm and headed south for weeks on end. Given the long days en route getting knocked about in his carriage and then the hours spent sitting in one of the many boxes he held in Venice’s opera houses, it is little wonder that he was beset by chronic hemorrhoids. His long-suffering wife, Princess Sophia of the Palatine reported from Hanover to an aristocratic correspondent in February of 1680, while her husband was living it up as best he could in Venice, that “I don’t know if I can find suitable words to describe Ernst August’s backside since I haven’t seen it recently.” Bitterly perhaps, she went on to do just that.
When posterior health and geopolitical concerns kept the Dukes away from Venice they brought Carnival to them. Ernst August was intent on elevating his house’s European standing: his marriage to Princess Sophia, granddaughter of James I of England, meant his own opera-besotted heir, Georg Ludwig, would be crowned as British King George I in 1714. Cultivating opera was crucial to the image of first rank European powers, and so Ernst August imported Italian singers, librettists, designers and composers and inaugurated an opulent new opera house in Hanover in 1689. The theater was kitted out with all the latest machines for special effects: flying chariots, thunder, lightning, waves, monsters.
At the head of this enterprise during the years on either side of 1690 was the cosmopolitan native of the Venetian Republic, Agostino Steffani, a brilliant musician, rigorously trained in Italy and Germany, and gifted with dramatic intuition, melodic fluency, and ambition. Steffani also acted as a diplomat on behalf of the Hanoverians, and, during the last two decades of his life (he died in 1728) as a Roman Catholic bishop and leading representative of the Vatican in Protestant northern Europe.
Among Steffani’s most famous operas was Orlando generoso, inspired by Ludovico Ariosti’s perennially popular sixteenth-century epic poem, Orlando furioso. Steffani’s opera was a hit in Hanover, and was staged across Germany in the ensuing decades. Three centuries on, the work received its North American premier last week at the Boston Early Music Festival in a sumptuous and richly inventive staging that those attending its first performances during Carnival in Hanover in 1691 would have marveled at.
The eighteen-year-old George Frideric Handel knew the piece, too. He passed through Hanover in 1703 and was given a warm, fatherly greeting by Steffani. Handel would later serve for a few months as a successor to Steffani in the post of Director of Music in Hanover under Duke Georg Ludwig. Handel was a great admirer of Steffani, the man and his music—so great, in fact, that the younger musician pillaged many themes, fragments, and fully formed ideas from the older composer, not least from Orlando generoso.
As chance would have it, Handel’s 1733 London opera Orlando, indebted in innumerable ways both obvious and subtle to Steffani’s work, is being performed in San Francisco. In Boston to play an organ recital at the Early Music festival, I took in Steffani’s opera last Thursday and, on returning to the West Coast a few days later, heard Handel’s rightly celebrated telling of the tale. Flagrantly indulging in bicoastal opera-going, I covered even more territory and crossed more mountain ranges than the Dukes of Hanover when shuttling back and forth to Venice. Even jammed into economy, I’m guessing that my trip was made with a damn sight more (and certainly carbon-rich), comfort, if far less class, than the junkets of Ernst August and his ilk.
Aesthetically these two Orlandos seemed more than a mere 3,000 miles apart. Both operas confront a theme beloved by the opera-loving rulers of yore: the conflict between love and duty. Orlando is a warrior who just happens to be out of his mind in love, though exactly with whom and why, his addled self can’t be sure. His unhinged infatuations might be taken as a metaphor for the risks of being fatally seduced by opera itself.
The East Coast production of Steffani’s work was baroque in the fullest sense: filled with fantasy and folly, unafraid of visual splendor, even excess, embracing its own exuberant humor. This yielded an uplifting counterpoint of energy and poise. Under the guiding hands of stage director Gilbert Blin and musical leaders Paul O’Dette and Stephen Stubbs, the opera’s human truths were ravishingly conveyed to ear and eye from the Hanoverian past into the Bostonian present. The show was colorful in every way: from the flamboyant (even risky) exoticism of the period costumes to the glory of the perspectival sets whether woodland grove or palace, to the bright lines and nuanced shadings of the singers’ voices and orchestral timbres.
West Coast Handel was visually stark, minimalist, muted, not just by comparison with the sumptuous staging in Boston, but because baroque opera is at its essence an art form of extravagant display, which, if downplayed or just plain ignored, has to be made up for with plentiful imagination and even more taste. British stage director Harry Fehr had the clever notion to set Handel’s Orlando in a hospital in 1940, the broken hero a fighter pilot suffering from PTSD in the midst of the Battle of Britain. But aside from a would-be suicide rope thrown over a modernist light fixture, a brace of curative shock therapy, and the usual updating gags of cigarettes and sexy luggage, there was not much action or art to captivate during the long arias. The onstage antics were more distracting than delighting.
Even the video projection forsook gripping tableaux in favor of the psychological probings of faces and eyes and a ring coveted then spurned. This stuff looked like outtakes from the credits for a Netflix series. Indeed, I began to wonder if Fehr’s recipe merely combined various ingredients of Brit-fluff: two parts The Crown with one part The King’s Speech. At the outset the screen at the back of the stage showed images of the abdicated Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson shaking hands with Hitler—royal “heroism” in a crisis it has never recovered from. This Windsor (i.e., Hanoverian) embrace with the devil was perhaps being offered as another vague explanation for the title character’s neuroses—and the nation’s, too.
Through no fault of their own, many of the voices were often unable to penetrate far into San Francisco’s cavernous War Memorial Opera House. Mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke was often covered by the orchestra: a fine enough symbol of the clouding of Orlando’s reason, but not recommended for Handel’s bracing stretches of song. The title role was originally taken by a powerful castrato, the male alto Senesino, that singer who premiered so many of Handel’s great heroes. The part was probably just too low for the diminutive Cooke, who would have been dwarfed physically and vocally by Senesino. Yet her performance of the long and tortured mad scene in the third act, with its startling shifts of rhythm and harmony was riveting. The boos that greeted her bows were unfair. Christina Gansch was winning as the naïve shepherdess, Dorinda, her coloratura clear, her expressive range broad, her tone pure but warm. She also possesses a glittering trill—perhaps the most important eighteenth-century trick since every aria ends with one. The brightly-futured countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen (whom I heard as David in Handel’s Saulhttps://www.counterpunch.org/2019/04/19/call-saul/ earlier this year) was a noble Medoro. Cohen is agile in the demanding Handelian passagework and there is richness to his sound, gravity to his acting. Baritone Christian van Horn sang powerfully and with flair as the sorcerer Zoroastro, transformed in San Francisco into a white-smocked psychiatrist.
Visible just below the lip of the stage, British conductor Christopher Moulds’s was the most vigorous physical presence, his swooping arcs and trilling fingers held high above his head, though these motions did not impart the punch and precision that a top notch Handelian orchestra demands.
The Boston Early Music Festival Orchestra, its members seated facing each other in a long narrow rectangle according to the practices of the baroque opera house, was led not by a conductor but by first violinist, Robert Mealy. The San Franciscans have a much wider repertoire than the baroque specialists in Boston, but it is nonetheless remarkable that even without a conductor the latter were far more precise, whether in sprightly or lyrical stretches.
The Boston production embodied the baroque ideal of variety in unity. One recognizes and thoroughly appreciates the individual contributions of the team: stage director, choreographer, production designer, orchestral players, singers, and dancers. These elements can be appreciated individually, but the cumulative, cooperative effect is stunning, the product of historical research, sensitivity, and—most important—creativity.
Steffani’s sorcercer is named Atalante (baritone Jesse Blumberg); he has the habit of descending from the cloudscaped skies in a fancy flying chariot. Once on the ground he enlists the often wayward aid of canny comic sidekick, Brunello (tenor Zachary Wilder). At the close of the second act Atalante decides to sow confusion by creating a phantom palace and staffing it with decoy courtiers. In concert with director Blin, choreographer Marie-Nathalie Lacoursière made these court dancers automatons, wound up by their creator and let go.
To the elegant strains of Steffani’s dances, these mechanical beings clumsily attempted minuets and other court dances. They managed some of the steps but most bumped into one another, moving about rather like James Brown transported to Versailles and doing his robot dance in the finest French fashion of the day.
Their charming , ever-inventive movements produced a multi-layered commentary on the miraculous fluidity of the human body, on the superficiality of court life, and even on the nature of consciousness—all concerns of the period’s philosophers and artists. On the right occasion, and especially in the theatre, kings and dukes were fond of having their own pretensions and rituals sent up. There is historical precedence for this style of pseudo-mechanical dance, but its invocation required a leap of imagination aided by comprehensive skill and historical understanding. What emerged from this misbegotten beauty was a provocative commentary on the ancien regime and even the present-day ways of monarchs and their minions. In the grand finale at the close of the evening these baroque androids had been transformed by some other power (their own?) and now moved with human grace and self-awareness. Buoyed by Steffani’s last dance, the question hung in the applause-filled air: what is the difference between man and machine?
Unlike the high-voiced Orlando in Handel’s telling, Steffani’s was a tenor, here done with crazed conviction by Aaron Sheehan, wide-eyed and open-voiced. (Sheehan was also heard as Jonathan in the above-mentioned Saul). Whatever the changes in vocal style and training since Steffani’s time, no difference can be as drastic as that resulting from the barbaric Italian practice of castrating boys.
Steffani’s arias are generally shorter than Handel’s, and he is a particular master of duets: Handel learned in very specific ways from Steffani’s talent for crystallizing the emotional states of characters and their relationship to one another. These talents found unforgettable form in Boston in the second act duet sung by Angelica (soprano Amanda Forsythe) and Ruggiero (countertenor Christopher Lowrey). The two are brought together by unlikely circumstance, each lamenting the loss of other loves. She sings first—“If you are gone, O light of my life, I am full of dread”—a yearning, almost fearful countermelody ghosting her in the oboe. Orlando is eavesdropping and admits his raving jealousy in a quick aside, before Ruggiero starts his own plaint in which he likens his own beloved to a star, Lowrey’s luminous voice shadowed by a bassoon. (Handel’s later use of this instrument as a signifier of pathos comes directly from Steffani.) Steffani then brings these elements together in a rapture of despair: a quartet made up of two singers, and two woodwinds—the instruments perhaps projecting the lovers’ feelings of hopeful sorrow and sorrowful hope. Never was sadness sweeter than on the baroque stage.
(David Yearsley is a long-time contributor to CounterPunch and the Anderson Valley Advertiser. His latest book is Sex, Death, and Minuets: Anna Magdalena Bach and Her Musical Notebooks. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
THERE ARE NO DEMOCRATIC ADULTS IN THE ROOM
What got Trump elected that horrible year was neither interference from Russia (or any other foreign power) nor an electoral uprising of white nationalists (just over 1 in 4 adult Americans voted for Trump) but rather the neoliberal nothingness of the Democratic Party, aptly described as the “The Inauthentic Opposition” by the late political scientist Sheldon Wolin in his 2008 book, “Democracy, Inc: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism.”
IT CAN HAPPEN HERE
LAURA INGRAHAM DISMISSES REPARATIONS:
“No Do-Overs…We Won, You Lost.”
That’s Fox News star Laura Ingraham wading into the ongoing debate over reparations for descendants of slaves during her podcast on Thursday by proclaiming there are no “do-overs” after a “conquest.” Talking to Kentucky State professor and “Hate Crime Hoax” author Wilford Reilly about the recent House hearing on reparations, Ingraham played a clip of author Ta-Nehisi Coates taking Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to task for saying reparations are unnecessary because Americans elected Barack Obama as president. After praising McConnell’s remarks, Reilly stated that the logistics of paying reparations would be far too difficult before wondering if Native Americans would then be next to request compensation over their treatment. “I mean, obviously both white and black soldiers, frankly, took this country from the Indians, the first people,” Reilly added. “People would argue that the whole world, and I would, the whole world has been reshaped by people taking other people's land,” Ingraham weighed in. “It's called conquest.” Mentioning past empires and how there was a “totally different map” in the past, Ingraham, whose own brother thinks she is a “monster,” then complained that “they want to live in a fake world,” presumably talking about liberals. “As Trump always says, ‘You don't get do-overs’,” she declared. “No do-overs, that's it. There was an argument, sometime, I think it was the 1980s. There was a quote, you won, we lost, that's that. Describing world politics, we won, you lost, that's that. That's just the way it is.”
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
It’s as if there are a whole lot of Dr. Strangelove characters hanging with the yellow-haired wonder. The totally deranged Bolton is the worst of the posse. Would someone please show him the door? He’s manipulating the boss and it’s going to get us all killed. Does he have a death wish or what? I’m half expecting Trump to suggest that Godzilla be sent over to incinerate the evil Iranians. God save us from these insane clowns. Where are the adults?
CONGRESSMAN HUFF PUFFS:
I am working with congressional colleagues on legislation to remind President Trump he does NOT have authorization to take us to war with Iran. In the meantime, he should stop tweeting, stop blustering, stop threatening, stop bluffing… just stop! This past 24 hours reminds us (again) why having a totally dishonest, unstable, unprincipled, unfit Commander in Chief is such a disaster.
"I DID 8.5 YEARS ON AN ATTEMPTED MURDER CHARGE."
"Some 30-year old dude kept harassing my twelve year old sister. He'd wait outside her school and invite her to parties. So I tried to kill him."
ON TUESDAY NIGHT at a fundraiser with big donors in New York City, Joe Biden wistfully recalled serving with a leading segregationist Mississippi senator: “I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland … he never called me boy, he always called me son. At least there was some civility. We got things done.” Eastland was more than a segregationist. He was a full-on racist and virulent anti-Communist, who called black men boys.
We constantly hear the MSDNC crowd castigating the Republicans for not standing up to Trump’s race-baiting. But where are the Democrats who will condemn Biden for this nostalgia for the lost comity of the Jim Crow Senate?
If you want to know who Biden’s pal, Sen. James Eastland, really was, read Robert Sherrill’s Gothic Politics in the Deep South, one of the most fearless books ever written on American politics.
Here’s a taste of the rhetorical stylings of James Eastland :
“In every stage of the [Montgomery] bus boycott we have been oppressed and degraded because of black, slimy, juicy, unbearably stinking niggers…African flesh-eaters. When in the course of human events it becomes necessary to abolish the Negro race, proper methods should be used. Among these are guns, bows and arrows, slingshots and knives…All whites are created equal with certain rights, among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of dead niggers.” (James O. Eastland at a rally of the White Citizens Council in the Montgomery Agricultural Coliseum, 1956, as quoted in Robert Caro’s Master of the Senate.)
Here’s Biden writing a love letter to Eastland, on June 30, 1977:
“I want you [i.e., Eastland] to know that I very much appreciate your help during this week’s Committee meeting in attempting to bring my ANTIBUSING legislation to a vote.”
Biden on Strom Thurmond:
“Long before he was a committee chairman; indeed long before he came to the Senate so many years ago, Strom Thurmond was the consummate public servant. Though he holds the record for the Senate’s longest filibuster, Strom Thurmond is a doer rather than a talker.”
In his tribute to Strom, Biden neglected to mention that Thurmond’s “filibuster” was against the Civil Rights Act.
(Jeffrey St. Clair, CounterPunch)
WHATEVER ONE THINKS OF TRUMP, he is a highly skilled politician, with a good sense of how to gain popular approval, even virtual worship in some circles…. He’s been very successful with his two constituencies: the primary one, wealth and corporate power; and the voting base, relatively affluent fairly generally, including a large bloc of Christian evangelicals, rural whites, farmers, workers who have faith in his promises to bring back jobs, and a collection of others, some not too admirable….It’s clear why the primary constituency is mostly delighted. Corporate profits are booming. Wealth continues to be concentrated in very few hands. Trump’s administration is lavishing them with gifts, including the tax bill, the main legislative achievement, across-the-board deregulation, and rapidly increasing fossil fuel production…To keep the rest in line is sometimes easy, among them the Christian right, white supremacists, ultranationalists and xenophobes, and those in terror of ‘hordes’ of immigrants. It is easy to throw them occasional chunks of red meat. But sometimes maintaining their allegiance takes the kind of demagoguery at which he is expert. Thus many who are understandably aggrieved by the economic policies of the neoliberal years still seem to feel that he’s the one person standing up for them by shaking his fist at those they blame for taking away their jobs: immigrants and ‘the scheming Chinese,’ primarily.
— Noam Chomsky
BILLIONAIRE WARRIORS TRY TO RIP OFF OAKLAND
You knew the owners of the Golden State Warriors were phonies after their stupid "The Town" fiasco that was supposed to show how much they appreciate Oakland, which they had already decided to abandon for a tonier venue in San Francisco: Warriors to show Oakland some love with debut of "The Town" jerseys.
Chris De Benedetti in the East Bay Express:
The owners of the Golden State Warriors…are asking a court to overturn a decision that would force them to pay $40 million to settle the team's Oracle Arena debt.
The franchise has filed a notice of appeal in a San Francisco court in its second attempt to reverse the ruling issued by an arbitrator last October, according to court documents…
The long-running dispute centers on the $140 million bond debt that Oakland and Alameda County took on to renovate the arena for the Warriors in the late 1990s. Warriors owners since then have followed the arena's license agreement by paying $7.5 million per year to the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority, the agency that runs the Coliseum complex. The remaining arena debt today is roughly $40 million, according to the authority.
But now that the Warriors have played their last game in Oracle Arena and are leaving East Oakland for the glitzy $1.4 billion Chase Center in San Francisco, team owners claim they no longer are on the hook for the renovation costs.
If the Warriors franchise gets its way, Oakland and Alameda County taxpayers would have to foot Oracle Arena's bill. The recent appeal means the team is taking the matter to a judge for the third time in less than a year. The Warriors already have a legal losing streak in this dispute.
First, the franchise lost an arbitrator's decision last October when Judge Rebecca Westerfield affirmed the authority's argument that the Warriors must continue paying the debt if the team terminated the arena's license agreement any time before June 30, 2027.
The Warriors appealed the arbitrator's ruling and claimed they were no longer responsible for the bond debt because they were allowing the arena lease to expire at the end of the 2018-19 season. But Judge Ethan Schulman rejected that argument and upheld the arbitrator's decision…
After those two courtroom losses, however, Warriors owners are refusing to take no for an answer. Team attorneys filed the most recent notice of appeal on May 30…
The Warriors franchise is the NBA's third-most valuable organization and is worth an estimated $3.5 billion, according to Forbes magazine. That's up from the Dubs' $3.1 billion franchise value in 2018. The team's value likely will rise again after its fifth-straight NBA Finals appearance this spring and with a new arena opening in the fall.
The Warriors' ownership group, led by Joe Lacob and Peter Guber, paid $450 million to buy the franchise in 2010.
The team has already booked about $2 billion in "contractually obligated income from sponsorships, suites, and season ticket holder fees" at Chase Center, Forbes magazine reported in February.
Some critics wonder why one of pro sports' most lucrative franchises continues to risk negative headlines by squabbling over money with cash-strapped government bodies.
Oakland City Council President Rebecca Kaplan has sharply criticized the Warriors' legal maneuvers, saying the effort "to stick local taxpayers with their arena debt" runs counter to the team's popular slogan.
"To spend that much effort to do something so offensive to their longtime fans and supporters is the opposite of 'Strength in Numbers’," Kaplan said.
"And if they are trying to steal $40 million from struggling people while bragging about their billions to waste on an inaccessible San Francisco palace, it is despicable."
Rob Anderson, District5Diary
MOMENT TO MOMENT IN MENDO
Summer Solstice 2019 Message
Having just now returned from miles of walking on country roads chanting the Hare Krishna mahamantram, halfway point being the intersection which is "downtown Redwood Valley, California"; enjoyed a delicious chile relleno burrito and a bottle of raspberry flavored Yerba Mate. Visited the market nearby for an energy drink to enhance the walk back to The Magic Ranch. Bored to near death with the pointlessness of postmodernism, am doing nothing at all but witnessing moment to moment here in Mendocino county. Am awake! Chanting the Hare Krishna mahamantram continuously. I'm ready! Sending out networking emails to the Washington, D.C. region stating that I am available for more radical activism. No offers are being received other than I am welcome to stay for short periods of time on a couch if I show up. Also, networking emails recently sent to the San Francisco bay area saying that I would go there if anybody offered me couch space have gone unanswered. Unsure of why I have been receiving email messages for awhile saying that it would be great to see me again there. If it would be so great, where are the invitations to stay some place?? Bored to near death with the pointlessness of postmodernism, I am here. I am awake. I am chanting the Hare Krishna mahamantram. I am available. I am here. I am awake. I am chanting the Hare Krishna mahamantram.
Craig Louis Stehr
KNOW YOUR OLIGARCHS (#19)