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Letters To The Editor



J. Biro seriously needed a buzz. He could talk the talk but like everyone he knew would rather do anything than actually meditate. He had already smoked up the moldy roaches stuffed into Cyril's truck's ashtray. It was hard to get into the truck because Cyril had crammed it into the shed when he left to get rich in organic gardening up north. There wasn't room to open the doors even if they could open which they couldn't because Zack had dropped a tree on the cab. “Don't hit my truck!” “I'm not gonna hit your truck!” Wham! Biro had to crawl in the window to get the roaches. They smoked like cat shit and to equal effect.

Biro was actually an alcoholic. He had nearly drunk himself to death, then took a year off to grow a new liver and learn to meditate after the fashion of an old-time guru. He healed up, rode a bicycle across the country, then returned to the mountains and fell off the wagon. At least he had learned not to mix his drinks in large volumes. Now he was alone, snowed in, and without a drop in reach. This situation was intolerable!

The problem was distance and climate. It wasn't easy to get down the mountain in winter and a lot harder to get back up. There were three basic options. Option One was to chain up and try to make it up Rancheria to Sawmill Road. It was 20 miles from the cabin to the Wofford Heights Liquor Store. This dreamy vision floated in front of him, a whole liquor store, and fresh newspapers too! The fat LA Times, the Bakersfield rag, even the SF Chronicle was delivered daily this far from the City. But it was all uphill to Sawmill, the snow was thicker, and the Forest Service had put in a serious gate at the Basket Pass road to keep the mudbogger nuts from ruining the surface. There was nothing these guys liked better than chewing dirt roads to shreds, except for the challenges the pissfirs tossed their way. A pile of five-ton boulders across the top of a steep pitch was typically detoured by massive cutbank destruction. If one of them rolled over the edge or got hung up on this or that, there were a couple buddies to winch him back into business. But now in winter Rancheria was closed from Basket Pass to Shirley Peak and the monster truckers had been firmly warned to leave the gates and banks alone. And Biro had already burned this option previously after discovering that the gate was locked by a flimsy piece of brass junk that yielded easily to his close-quarter hacksaw. He'd then floored it up through the mud and snow and thought he had it made going down Sawmill only to find a more solidly locked gate at the bottom of the hill. It took an hour of earth moving on the cutbank to create a ramp, then bash the truck over and around and finally down to the liquor store. The Forest Service put two and two together and let it be known to Biro that he was now on very thin ice. So Option One was out.

Option Two was worse in that it meant going to Bakersfield, 50 miles away and 50 miles back. This route got off the hill by way of Eugene Grade, the steepest pitch in Kern County, partially exposed to the winter sun but with many ice patches in the shade. For Biro, getting his truck down this chute meant standing on the brakes and inching along as slow as possible. A velocity over three inches per second was a foolish challenge to the ice gods who would gladly add his vehicle to their extended junk collection way down at the bottom of the draw. It could take the better part of an hour to get down the grade and then there was a long uphill out of Little Poso, churned up clay, slick as snot. So there was no guarantee of making it to Bakersfield, and even if there was Biro had to return on Rancheria which meant surviving Schoolhouse Grade, only a half mile long if stretched out but sunless, narrow, twisted and coated with hard packed ice all the way. Biro had to stand on the brakes with both feet and creep down the slope while making only the most gentle steering wheel adjustments. The whole trip was too unnerving to contemplate, buzz or no buzz.

Option Three had charm but took the most effort. The cabin sat in a little pocket just below the crest of the range. Biro could take an empty backpack, plod through the snow out to Grey Eagle Point, and see a bit of the Kern glinting in the sun at Miracle Hot Springs, 3000 feet below and miles away. The good part was that the snow would be gone after the first thousand feet so the rest was usually warm, green and flowery late-winter Sierra foothill beauty. Biro had a route down a particular spur to the highway. He'd stick out his thumb, hitch to Isabella, fill the backpack with booze, food, mail and newspapers, then get a $10 room at the motel by the onramp. After a relaxing night of hot water and TV and a breakfast at the burger stand he'd hitch back down the river to his spot, hop the fence, and hump the heavy pack up the hill. 3000 feet is 3000 feet and the footing got worse with each step and going up the thousand feet of snow was always different than going down, but Biro would stumble back to the cabin, exhausted and happy, with booze to swill and newspapers to read. However on this day the weather was shutting down so Option Three was inadvisable.

Biro still badly wanted a buzz but there was no hope. He would have to find another distraction or force himself to sleep or even, God forbid, return to his guru's teachings and start meditating again. The clouds rolled over the ridgeline and into the trees. All was gray, cold, gloom and despair.

Suddenly, a bolt of inspiration! The cow camp! The Forest Service had fenced the range into leaseholds of several thousand acres and one of them belonged to the people who ran their herd in the lush grass around the mines between snowmelt and gun season. The cowboys had gotten friendly with Biro when they found out that he brewed his own beer. All Biro learned from brewing was that he drank more of lower quality at greater expense, but the cowboys drank anything no matter how green or yeasty. They'd drain bottles of Old Imperial sludge and exclaim “Damn that's good!” while Biro stared at them incredulously. Some of the cowboys were cowgirls, fearless on horseback, who rode like mountain goats. They liked to drink too. All these people were native to the Kern Valley and hated the changes that the dam had brought.

Biro used to visit at their old place next to the Corps of Engineers campground at Wofford Heights. The camp was built in a grove of huge ghost pines and live oak growing on the fan of Tillie Creek. The ranchers sat around a big spool table all day, smoking and drinking Buckhorn. They had owned all this before it was condemned for the lake. The lake had vanished in the drought and the soil had vanished in the lake. It was a long stumble through the rock and sand down to slackwater where the Kern fed in, the bleached trunks of the dead riparian forest drying in the sun. “You wouldna believe how beautiful it was,” they said. Come summertime they'd leave the lake to the noisy tourists and vacationers and camp on their allotment in a jumble of old trailers and a board bunkhouse in a little meadow surrounded by cedars.

There they would do a lot of drinking, which was what now flashed J.Biro into excited action. The buzz-search was on again! They had to have left something, anything! Biro grabbed his pack and nearly ran the two miles through the snow to the cow camp — there has to be something! — where'd they put it? He looked in all the cupboards and cubbyholes and ruffled through the trash. Nothing! Nothing but piles of empty plastic cheap vodka bottles.

Shit! But wait! Each vodka bottle had a gram of liquid something pooled in the low spot where it lay. Could be spit or worse, but it smelled like alcohol! Biro took half an hour to carefully drain all the near-empty vodka bottles into the cleanest one. The vodka or whatever it was wanted to cling to its home bottles so it took much patience and tapping to coax it out, but Biro was fully determined. Buzz or Bust!

J. Biro's steadfastness of purpose had yielded him a couple fluid ounces of sort-of clear something. He ran back to the cabin, juiced an orange, mixed in the whatsit and took a sip. A drink! A real drink! Praise God, the best drink in the world! Biro swallowed it down and licked the glass. A familiar and most pleasant buzz crept along his neurons. Ah, success! Success and happiness! How wonderful everything is! This lasted about 15 minutes, but as they say, One Day At A Time.

J. Biro

Santa Rosa




Our sister city, Otsuchi, Japan, has been destroyed. Out of a population of 17,000 people, over 10,000 people are missing in Otsuchi town. Last night on the news it was called “The Lost City.” The Mayor and the 20-member assembly were making emergency response plans when the tsunami swept through the two-story city hall, taking windows, doors and people with it. Only the Deputy Mayor and 20 staff that the Mayor sent to the roof survived.

Ten years ago the folks in the township of Otsuchi looked straight out across the Pacific on the 39th parallel and there was Fort Bragg, a small remote town like Otsuchi with a salmon fishing heritage. They sent a delegation to California and our sister city relationship began. The next year students from both cities visited the other and our cultural exchange program began. The next visit from Otsuchi students and adults was to have been in July of this year. In 2005 I went to Otsuchi to sign our Sister City agreement.

Our hearts are breaking and we wonder what can we do? We have started a fund to directly assist the survivors in Otsuchi. I have ordered that our flags be flown at half mast until the end of March to honor the lost souls in our sister city.

Information about Otsuchi can be found at our Otsuchi-Fort Bragg Cultural Exchange Program which is linked from our city website: .

Dave Turner, Mayor

Fort Bragg




Hey guys, let’s bomb the causeway!

In Bahrain, citizens loyal to the monarchical form of government took to the streets to demand a voice in their own affairs, and less corruption in the highest levels of government. The US State Dept. said they supported them and urged the government of King Khalifa to exercise 'restraint” and not attack the people. Similarly in Libya, citizens went into the streets to demand more democracy and less corruption. Three major Western powers, US, UK and France have demanded Khadafy stop attacking the people in the streets immediately and let them speak freely and without fear. The UN Security Council passed a resolution sanctifying this international intrusion into a domestic uprising — something not authorized in the UN Charter. (Refer to A/RES 36/103 9 Dec.1981 Annex II(a).) This type of invasion was last done by the United States into Iraq in 2003 and was roundly condemned by UN Secretary General Butrous-Butrous Ghali. (He was then fired by the US).

These same three powers, along with the Gulf Cooperation Council have demanded a no-fly zone and “all means necessary” to stop Khadafy's advance into eastern Libya. In Bahrain, the Saudis have moved 1000 tanks and 2000 troops across the 25 mile causeway between the two countries and advanced into the main square of Manama to fire on demonstrators and support King Khalifa. After the Saudi's move, no further calls for restraint have been uttered in Washington nor have we taken this issue to the Security Council, even though there already is demonstrable foreign interference in a domestic uprising.

We might reasonably propose, were we to take the three powers at their word, that we should forthwith bomb the causeway, so as to let the people of Bahrain speak freely and without fear of Saudi tanks. Why has our Secretary of State and our President not been challenged on this inconsistency by our wimpy press.

Jim Houle

Redwood Valley



Dear Editor,

An answer for your useless trivia section —

A couple of issues back, there was a letter from a fellow who purchased a car with a Grateful Dead sticker on it that gained him some amount of attention from strangers who recognized the sticker. It had a series of bears (five, I think it was) that were either running or dancing. He didn't know the history of it but kept getting knowing winks, waves and comments on it. The mystery being debated was whether the bears were actually dancing or, as some said, were just running. I didn't know the history, either, but I've known Owsley Stanley (Bear) for a long time, so I wrote him and asked. His reply was this:

“The bears are taken from the back cover of the Bear's Choice album and are marching around in a circle.”

I was intending to ask him more details but, as you probably know, he was killed in an auto accident a few days ago. Subsequently, I looked at his website and found this.

Douglas George





What a stupid, stupid, stupid backward medievalist letter from anti-capitalist Don from Eugene. This proves the anti-humanism of the Left and their idea

of an anti-industrial revolution as my Mom, Ayn, predicted half a century ago.

I think if she were still with us she would be glad her attempt at abortion failed in my case. It wasn’t my fault that my Dad turned out to be a sociopath.

Jim Houle’s letter is stupid. Coming from a former engineer at Bechtel he displays a shocking ignorance of the great beneficial effects of nuclear power.

It’s our main alternative to the price-gouging Jim Taggarts of FedGov connected Big Oil. You have been in Mendo too long, Jim, and you have sampled too much of its two main products.

Garry, do you live in Jersey City or New York City or can’t you tell the difference ?

Willie, there is no proper forum to spew your opinions because they are not worh sharing.

Bart, guns are more worthwhile than cars and infinitely less polluting. Stay out

of that brain melting SoCal sun.

Marvin, no sense can be made of your latest wordsalad. Bowel movements are meant for toilets, not public reading.

Mike, you have the only sane letter in this issue. Indiana never had Daylight Savings Time either. The whole concept is stupid. Bush JUNIOR pushed it because he kept losing his pecker in the White House Pocket Pool tournaments.

Lisa, get a grip on your Lookist extremism and take a sober look in the mirror while your at it.

Anthony, try to stay out of jail in the future. We are all getting sick of rantings from cons. Aptly named.

L. Gail, we need to eliminate ALL public funding except for the nationalization of oil companies which can be run by postal clerks AND Citibank too.

John A, now we just need to abolish the rest of downtown Ukiah to join that ugly post office in the rubbish heap.

Carl F, keep your Food Fascism to yourself. Plenty of people enjoy what you call junk food and who needs lectures from old 80ish veggie farts ? Besides which you live in Alameda and I wouldn’t admit to something like that.

Finally Big Bruce, you need to clean up your act. I’m going to be monitoring your rag from here on in and it’s never a good idea to annoy me.


Nathaniel Branden, Jr.




Dear Editor,

I had never heard of Peter and Susan Keegan until I read about them in the AVA. Recently I ran into some people who did know them. They said the Keegans' children do not think their father murdered their mother. Peter is, apparently, back to work at the clinic. I am hoping that you'll do another article, and interview their kids, and maybe some of Peter's co-workers and his friends. It would be interesting to hear their viewpoint.

Nancy MacLeod





I've got to briefly respond to a couple of recent anti-smart meter letters from my friends Julie Drucker and Ed Nieves; while Julie sites the testimony at the PUC meeting of a doctor and some kind of researcher as authoritative evidence of the ill effects of smart meters, in fact, such testimony is strictly anecdotal; I have no particular reason to believe that doctors or researchers are any more immune to psychosomatic effects than any other sort of person. I would make a large wager that in a blind test where they would stay in one house with a smart meter, and another without, that they would be unable to distinguish one from the other.

As for Ed's letter, in which he coins the catchy phrase, “death meters” I mean, come on, give me a break. Without claiming to be any kind of expert in electromagnetic radiation and its possible biological effects, isn't it a little far-fetched to believe that, while we all swim every day in a sea of all kinds of electromagnetic radiation (radio waves, microwave communications, cell phone signals etc.) that these little devices, which send out several-second packets of info a few times a day, could conceivably have any deleterious effect on the human body?

There is no doubt, on the other hand, of the deleterious effect of the army of meter readers employed by PG&E, burning fuel, wearing roads down, doing a job that no longer needs to be done thanks to this technology. Why is it that any time something new is proposed, people tend to cling to the old, even if it is a huge and unnecessary waste of fuel, vehicles and people's time?


John Arteaga





The Mendocino Sister Cities Association will hold their annual Spring Fling Dance Fundraiser at Crown Hall in Mendocino on Saturday, March 26. Doors open at 7pm, music starts at 8pm. $10 per person, 5-14 $5, under 5 are free. Food and drinks will be available for purchase, and a drawing for valuable prizes will be held.

With the recent devastating earthquake, tsunami and power plant catastrophes in Japan and particularly in Fort Bragg's Sister City of Otsuchi, the MSCA is combining our fundraising efforts for our bi-annual student/artists exchange trip to Japan in late June 2011 to also immediately benefit the Otsuchi Relief Effort.

Please come out and enjoy the wondrous dance music of Major Moto (Roger Fritz, David Hayes & James Preston) along with other Special Guest Performers and help support our friends in Otsuchi, Japan who lost everything in the disastrous tsunami of March 11. All donations will be greatly appreciated.

Mike L. Evans

MSCA President




Dear Mr. President.

Please resign!

Take this unprecedented action before you lose what little of your reputation you have left. And — don’t let the first Black president take the blame for the incredible disintegration of the United States Constitution.

Do the right thing and tell the truth why you have resigned at a press conference or on live TV. Before you are cut off, you might have time to say something like this:

“Corporate and military-dominated businessmen and politicians have hindered my every move to resuscitate democracy at home and abroad. Therefore, as of now, I resign the office of the President. God bless the United States of America.”

Of course there is a risk to you and your family. But I don’t think “they” dare kill you or a family member because memory of what “they” did to Pres. Kennedy is still too fresh in the minds of too many of us.

I have voted Green Party since its inception. But in 2008, I voted for you hoping that you might be able to talk sense into the leaders of the Pentagon (including the intelligence community) and Wall Street. But now I see these mostly old men are much too criminally insane with which to reason.

Unlike St. Patrick who allegedly drove the snakes out of Ireland, you probably won’t be able to do this with all the generals, admirals, corporate CEOs, owners of mainstream media, lobbyists, attorneys, spin-masters, etc, etc. who have made the USA a classic fascist state. But at least you will open the eyes of some people, Blacks for instance, who believe that you, like Muhammad Ali, are still The Greatest.

Most honest Americans who think for themselves know why your reputation is in tatters despite what corrupt polls might say to the contrary. So I will list just one reason why you should resign — the six to eight hundred prison camps being built and maintained by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Thank you, Mr. President, for your consideration of this sad action.

Tom Cahill

Fort Bragg







What a group!

To my surprise, there is no word starting “weur…” in my German dictionary. No word “wüerful,” either, and no “wuërfel.”

On the assumption, however, that “ue” represents transliteration of a “u” with an umlaut over it [can you make a u with an umlaut over it?], then a “Wüerfel” is a CUBE, or DIE — as in “dice.”

Mr. Wuerfel does seem to have a proclivity for taking gambles.

Peter Lippman

Reno, Nevada




As this Cheerleading season comes to and end I hope you'll let me take up some space to publicly thank a few people. First and foremost, my co-advisers Kelly Andersen and Jennifer Espinoza — without them I would have never been able to run this program on my own. Robert and Nicola Anderson for their generous donation that went towards uniforms; their support of Anderson Valley's youth is beyond measure. A special thank you my financial advisor Ben Anderson, his assistance and advice has been invaluable. I have to thank Robert Pinoli for his support and the loan of his credit card that also went towards uniforms. The Senior Center and those who attended and contributed at the Crab Feed and St. Patrick's day dinner; the money the Cheerleaders earned has gone a long way toward paying off their loan. I'd also like to thank Candy and Eddie Slotte for their encouragement; it has meant the world to me. Betty Hiatt, Terri Rhodes and Marilyn Pronsolino have been my inspiration and I am especially gratefully to Terri for the use of the cafeteria. I am very proud of how hard the girls worked this year, we didn't have a lot of time to put things together and it was a pleasure working with them. I can't wait for next year!

Thank you,

Kerri Sanchez




Editor —

Linda Ruffing, Fort Bragg city manager, indicates in her column, “City Hall Notes,” in the Fort Bragg Advocate-News, that without redevelopment funds of $25 million the redevelopment of the 425-acre mill-site in Fort Bragg would be even more challenging.

The 425-acre mill site belongs to the Georgia-Pacific Corporation which belongs to the Koch Brothers who are commodity traders.

A few years ago the Koch Brothers combined were listed in the top 10 of the most wealthy men in the United States to the tune of $13 billion. It is apparent that they don't need redevelopment funds to develop their 425 acres, they just need cooperation from the city to develop.

Linda Ruffing goes on to say that without redevelopment funds, $400,000 in personnel costs will necessarily be shifted to the general fund and painful cuts will be required. Why not start with her current salary of $128,172.93, not mentioning benefits? The governor of South Dakota currently earns $90,000 per year according to the Press Democrat in January. Perhaps cutting Linda Ruffing's salary is a good place to start to accommodate the $400,000 shortfall.

Ed Taubold, Retired Architect

Fort Bragg




Mendocino Abalone Watch gears up for opening of abalone season with volunteer training —

Mendocino Abalone Watch, a volunteer citizen organization founded in 2009 to help the California Department of Fish and Game stem abalone poaching on the coast, is resuming its activities beginning April 1 to coincide with the opening of the abalone season. MAW will be hosting a half-day training session on Saturday, March 26 for existing and new volunteers beginning at 9:30 a.m. at the Little River Inn’s Abalone Room. Thirty people, including returning volunteers, have already signed up for the training session.

MAW functions much like the well-known “neighborhood watch” groups. Volunteers wear bright yellow jackets and don matching yellow caps. They are seen posted at various locations along the coastline observing abalone pickers/divers and watching for violations. Probable poaching activity is immediately reported to DFG.

MAW’s existence and influence has spread far beyond the coast, with dive shops in the East Bay and Sacramento areas reporting that inland divers have become aware of this organization and its efforts to discourage law violations and help divers comply with game rules.

This year, MAW is extending its work beyond diver education/assistance and rule compliance. Volunteers are setting up a program to reach out to visitors to the Mendocino Coast by putting on “fireside chats” at the local campgrounds explaining the abalone regulations, the real problems that poachers are having along their coastline, and MAW’s effort to assist game wardens. In a second area of activity, MAW has begun assisting the marine biology staff of DFG in conducting “creel surveys” to document levels of abalone resources and location.

To volunteer and sign up for the training session, or just to learn more about MAW, go to , send an email to , or call 937.3725.

Rod Jones




Editor in Jefé,

Let me be the first to point out that there is no evidence that it was Supervisor Smith who tore her blouse off and engulfed my shift lever causing me to get stuck in the Navarro River after activating the defoliant drip in that wine company siphon. No evidence at all. I even had the upholstery steam cleaned.

God, she thrashed about something awful. Ask her about it sometime and watch her eyes — mmm-nice!

I'm surprised there aren't more Ecco-terrorists in the woods these days what with the tempting targets abounding. I love it: all the Dobermans you can eat, trigger-happy cartel spawn to snipe and then I could use some help getting my truck unstuck.

Now she's gone?


Edward Abbey, still dead after all these years

via Hephalumphe, Everett, Washington



Dear Editor,

Todd Walton's piece about Norman O. Brown, “Myth & History” in the March 9 edition just bowled me over. I too had the “Nobby Brown experience,” and he was already nicknamed “Nobby” at Wesleyan University in the fall of 1961 when I took his class on “Western civilization.” It just so happens that I begin Chapter 2 of my memoir, Mowee Wowie, with an account of the first day of that class. As you can see from the enclosed, the Brown Todd Walton knew is not the Norman O. Brown I knew. In fact, I find his portrait unbelievable. “Voluptuous lips”? Brown weeping in public? I also enclose a photo of him which accompanied an ad in the New York review for an anthology put together after his death by some of his admirers containing essays about him by colleagues and former students as well as a previously unpublished autobiographical essay of his own: In Memoriam: Norman O. Brown. Judge for yourself. He looks like a leprechaun to me.

Brown got to me where I lived and I've never been the same since. Our friend Jeff Costello who has done a lot of typing for me knows better than anyone else how much Brown has influenced my thinking and writing, about which he took considerable pleasure in making derisive remarks. But then again, Brown never “got” to him. Perhaps Walton's tribute will occasion more of that caustic wit of his we love to see.

The funny spelling of “Mowee” in the title of my memoir is after the first known rendering into a written language the name of the island in the ship's log by Captain James Cooke. In a chapter I still have to write, it's all about Bobby Brown, and the reason for the “Wowie” in the title.

In Hawaii back in the day it was said that the ultimate high was to surf Pipeline on acid. On the other hand, it's hard for me to imagine how it could ever get any better than one night on Maui when I read Brown's introduction to his translation of Hesiod's Theogony on acid, and, if you'll forgive the expression, it blew my mind!

I'll be sure to send you a copy when and if I can put the pieces back together.


Bill Brundage

Kurtistown, Hawaii

PS. Few would disagree that painful cuts to entitlement programs are necessary to reduce the federal deficit. How about, along with Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, we cut out the tax exempt status that churches, temples and mosques now enjoy? Some will think it is perfectly fine, for instance, that “pro-choice” taxpayers should have to support churches with “pro-life” agendas with tax breaks, but I am not one of them.




SmartMeters can play a key role in undersatnding how and when people use energy. This information can then be used to produce energy more efficiently and determine the best roles for solar, wind, wave and other methods of generating power.

The problem is that to attain the benefits of SmartMeters we'd have to trust a company that tries to legislate its own monopoly and blows up neighborhoods.

Ransom Stephens




Dear friends,

People like John Arteaga of Ukiah are living in some make-believe world where sovereign states can have the illegal policies. That implies a world government exists somewhere. The United States, as we all should know, does not accept the World Court and as long as we all should know, like the previous 11 presidents, lets Israel use our veto — i.e., wants to be re-elected. The United Nations has no authority over Israel. As Mao famously said, “Power comes from the barrel of a gun.” Before guns were invented it was the sword, before that rocks and clubs. The United States stole all its land except for Rhode Island (those Indians who sold Manhattan didn't live there), Russia and China stole 90% of their land, the English stole “England” from the Welsh. All you idiots who hate Israel can kiss my ass. (And, I think America should give Israel no money. They won three major wars in 1948, 1956 and 1967 with none. Nixon started the United States aid to Israel in 1973 because Russia gave tons of aid to Egypt and Syria and he thought it was in our interest to counter that.)

Thank you Fred Gardner for intelligent views on marijuana. The original “skunk weed,” named from its odor, was an Afghani strain which, like the best sativas of the 60s such as Acapulco Gold and Panama Red, was high in both THC and CBD. Around 1980, most Humboldt County growers embraced the ideology of high-THC/low-CBD selective breeding which I opposed. God meant for pot to be pot, not a smokable LSD plant. CBD makes pot relaxing and mellow. THC brightens colors, makes food taste better. You need both.

Michael Bear Carson


PS. I loved Alexander Cockburn's “President Gasbag.” All those people who thought Obama was the Messiah were insane. Our last great president was Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Our last honest presidents were Truman and Carter. Our last fairly competent president was Bill Clinton. Hillary Clinton should have been elected in 2008. I say this as a student of history, not as a Democrat. I believe myself in the Libertarian Party since 1979 and love Ron Paul who does not believe the earth is 4000 years old as that Kunstler a-hole claimed.) Obama reminds me of Reagan, nothing but BS.

PPS. A big part of the drive to develop the lowest CBD pot was people wanted “daytime pot” for smoking while working, driving, etc. They didn't like pot that made them want to sit and contemplate. Many of those fools started drinking alcohol at night to relax, a drug we looked down on in the 60s pop culture. Obviously, it's best to drink coffee at work and smoke pot to relax after work, good old-fashioned pot. THC with CBD is great!

PPPS. Your paper may be the world's last bastion of real free speech. Thank you!




I've got to add my voice to that of Robin Sunbeam, who expresses, in her recent letter to the editor, her extreme consternation with the blind gullibility of the American people. Ever since the advent of the blatantly corporate-funded, public-relations-firm managed 'Tea Party' phenomenon, I have been awestruck by the effectiveness of cynical public-perception management pursued under contract to, and serving the ends of, the most greedy and ruthless segments of elite power, typified by the Koch brothers. This pair of unimaginably wealthy oligarchs made their money the old-fashioned way; they inherited it from their daddy, who built oil refineries for Stalin, returning to our shores in the middle of the Depression with a boatload of Bolshevik cash, at the perfect time to scoop up whole bunches of industrial facilities, pipelines etc. at fire-sale Depression prices. I believe that they currently own the old GP mill site in Fort Bragg, a trinket that they picked up for an investment comparable to a pack of gum for most of us.

In addition to stealing unknown quantities of oil from Native American and national lands over the years, they have been poster boys for irresponsible corporate power; corrupting and manipulating regulatory agencies, abusing their workers and paying trivial OSHA fines rather than trying to provide a safe work environment.

The abuses suffered by Koch Industries’ unfortunate employees, however, pale in comparison to their unrelenting assault on our democracy; like their daddy, who founded the wacky John Birch Society way back when, Charles and David are devoted to a ruthless vision of how society should be ruled; one that most would consider an extremist form of predatory capitalism, where any interference with the prerogatives of those with the most money and power is not only wrong, but evil; constituting a step out onto the slippery slope toward godless communism.

The irony of this view is that in the deification of capitalism and free enterprise, extremists like the Koch brothers and their many like-minded plutocrats have brought about what seems more and more to be a dictatorship of a tiny number of extremely wealthy families. Michael Moore, speaking to the huge crowd which braved the Wisconsin winter to stand up for workers rights there, said that today in this country, the 400 richest families possess more wealth than the bottom half of the US population! As Justice Louis D. Brandeis noted more than 60 years ago, “we can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both.”

It's worth noting that Justice Brandeis' observation was made long before the recent Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court. If meaningful democracy was difficult with the stratification of wealth during his day, it is completely impossible today in our neo-gilded age; after decades of double-digit growth in the incomes of the top tenth of 1%, while the rest of us have seen our incomes flatline or decline (if we're lucky enough to still have a job). Then, as if the disparity of power were not already galling enough, to have Citizens United on top of that, it truly makes the political opinions of the vast majority of Americans simply irrelevant to 'our' politicians. As the late, great Molly Ivins put it; “you’ve got to dance with them what brung ya.”

Studies of many national Economies over many years have shown that whenever tax rates are lowered below a certain point on those at the top of the income ladder, it invariably leads to those lucky few being awash in cash and seeking somewhere to invest it. This leads to speculative bubbles in one area or another, always resulting in a crash, with its harshest impacts falling on those least able to afford to cope with them.

The US falls far outside the mainstream of nations when it comes to collecting taxes on those most able to pay them; ethical billionaires like Warren Buffett complain about the fact that his tax rate is less than his secretary's. Most international corporations are able to play a shell game with the IRS that results in them paying zero US taxes, in fact, many of them end up getting money back from taxpayers! They have no shame (of course not, they're corporations). Nevertheless, the law regards them as “persons” with regard to their copious free speech and political contributions. How wrong is that?!

If we were actually living in a real democracy, with a well-informed citizenry, the streets around the Supreme Court would have been filled with angry citizens demanding that the absurdly anti-democratic Citizens United decision be reversed, if for no other reason, because of the hand-in-glove relationship between the Koch brothers and both Scalia and Thomas, as well as Tomas's wife, who “accidentally” failed to report $600,000 that she had been paid by the Koch brothers or their agents in recent years for her right-wing political “work.” Clearly, It is an outrage that they failed to recuse themselves from the Citizens United case.

I guess that the other day was the fifth anniversary of the last time that Thomas spoke at all during Supreme Court proceedings; the only time that he does not vote with Scalia is on those rare occasions when Scalia renders a halfway reasonable opinion, rather than one based on his right wing ideological extremism. On those occasions, Thomas will carry the torch of the hard right. Why is there no movement afoot to recall these clowns!?


John Arteaga




To the Editor:

Thank you for your careful article of February 25th regarding the death of Susan Keegan. I gather from comments on your web site, and in the community, that the question of what actually happened continues to be a subject of spirited debate.

Those of us who have known and loved both Susan and Peter for many years are not eager for this to devolve into a popularity contest. Nor should it become the subject of a straw poll. While a bit of gossip is inevitable, uninformed conclusions based on rumors serve no one.

Clearly, there are hard questions to be asked about this tragedy. I believe that most friends and family members hope that they will ultimately be answered in the appropriate venues of the justice system.


Karyn Feiden

New York City



Dear AVA

I don't know about you, but all this news of death and destruction is really getting to me! I imagine I'm not the only person to feel this way. I ache when I learn about the chaos going on around us, cringe when I see the video footage. I empathize when I read the accounts of everyday people’s lives being shattered in moments, be it from a tsunami or an allied forces air attack, a driver falling asleep at the wheel, or a twisted soul “going postal.” Even something so banal as losing your job and prospect of a pension, I think “What if that were me?” “How would I handle that?” In the face of inexorable loss, what would I regret that I had never done?

It's not a comfortable question to ask, to try to really put yourself in those shoes. I'm not trying to preach, I'm just pointing out the obvious, that is often all too easy to ignore. Death and decline will get us all in the end. Mankind has spent thousands of years trying to weasel our way out of that one, and we just can't. So deal with it! Maybe some of this global mayhem will really get to us and wake us up to the realities of life and death. You don't have all the time in the world. You'll never know how much time you have.

Most of us are so fortunate to have what we need in life. If you are lucky enough to enjoy physical well being, some financial stability, and emotional support from your loved ones, then give thanks, and do all you can to live up to life's challenges. Even if life has already handed you a heavy bag of challenges, no matter what your situation, you still have the power to make it better somehow. Do all those things you've been putting off, follow through on that intention! Take care of your business and baggage today, because you never know what tomorrow will bring. Everything can change in a heartbeat. How would YOU handle it? What would you regret that you had never done?

This paper so often serves as an outlet to vent our frustrations and fears, and it's also a lifeline of vitality in our community. I want to use it to reach out to my fellow AVA readers, here in the Valley, and farther afield, folks in the city, or on the cell block, to say “Hold on! You're not alone!” We can make it through these times of crisis. Just keep in touch and don't lose faith in yourself. Follow your heart, you have more friends and allies than you know. And your best friend and ally, just like your worst enemy, is always yourself! Keep up the fight. And don't lose hope!

Karen Bailey





The impact of Richard Johnson—

In the end, we are known by the impact we leave behind. The fruits of our labor live; personalities die with the person.

Richard Johnson — radical iconoclast, environmental activist, publisher/editor of four local newspapers, co-author of Mendocino County's historical Measure G personal use marijuana law, Voters' Union director committed to a third party direction and controversial Green Party Chair — left this earthly plane gracefully, stalwart as ever with a trace of irony, “Well, I don't suppose it'll get any better from here on.” So he granted me a final interview from his hospital bed, not to be edited beyond myself.

Hooked up to an intravenous machine, the two-hour slow-motion interview was obviously a great strain on a person dying of congestive heart failure, but as a stoic he did not complain, not once. He simply repeated things I couldn't hear or spoke louder or moved around in the bed to get his bearings, struggling to remember things from years back. He was lucid and just needed to go slow.

Sheila Dawn Tracy was with me, an able assistant, Green Party activist cohort of Richard's who could hear his soft words better than I could, and from time to time she'd help interpret his meaning. As a gesture of respect, Sheila wrote a short bio to acknowledge Richard's life work, which he approved for accuracy... but with one correction: he was not the permanent Green Party Chair; there was a 4 year period when he was not reelected to the Green Party County Council.

He was crowded out by a Slate of 7 Greens who ran based on mutual support — Bruce Herring, Pat Kovner, Greg Krause, Gail Daly, Lynda McClure, Juan Orosco, David Drell — and won. Richard Johnson, running as a loner without slate support, lost his seat for four years.

After four years in office, with few accomplishments, according to Lynda McClure, none of the slate ran for County Council again. Richard was the only one running and won unopposed. “Richard served on the County Council. He headed up the official Green Party because he ran by himself. There were various members who used various methods to reduce his authority or curb his control over the Party to varying degrees of success. Ultimately when Richard took control of an organization, you did it his way or not at all.”

The popular theory has it that RJ was frequently accused of “being too hard to work with,” alienating members with confrontational tactics, dominating meetings thru overt sexism and other bullying, failing to keep agreements, all elements working together to undermine the potential of the once vibrant Green Party that passed Measure G and the anti-GMO measure, but has been largely quiescent ever since. There are many active involved Greens doing good work but no cohesive Green Party.

If the Greens had 4 years without Richard's irascible personality and didn't pull it together, the responsibility lies with the Greens as a whole.

* * *

Richard Johnson described his life as starting in the 60s at NE University in Boston. “I joined SDS and worked on the newspaper, the New England Resistance. Surrounded by demonstrations against the Vietnam War, I began to see Vietnam as a war of aggression.

“I was radicalized. The sky opened up like a zipper. It was a vast image of things opening up for me. I started writing treatises in campus newspapers. There were political plays on talent night. I was socially and politically delighted to be there.

“I didn't graduate. Instead I became part of a team. My girlfriend and I moved to the country. She was the first woman at UC Berkeley School of Medicine. She told me, 'I will pay the expenses if we live together.' Part of the deal was to run the community newspaper, Winds of Change, and help create an alternative cultural scene with bicycles, fairs, markets, newspapers, and every service. We branched out to the Cosmic Tinker Repair Company — bicycle repair, taxi permits and wildly decorated vehicles. The city tried to shut us down due to code violations. So we moved to Yreka.”

Seeking to establish his niche in Ukiah, and influenced by the Mendocino Grapevine, Richard came to a conclusion: “Since the media was being corporatized, it occurred to me I could publish a newspaper that stood for local sustainability and food and energy self-sufficiency with a produce-filled basket as my symbol.

“In 1985, I started Mendocino Country Magazine with Steve Caravello (?), Buddy Eller, and others. We met in the Ukiah Community Center on State Street, sponsored variously by the Rural Institute and the Ford Street Rescue Center for alcoholics, under a grant to get prisoners out into a special release program. They're operating a drug program and here I am, drinking away. Buddy Eller knew nothing about the newspaper.”

Richard's love for alcohol was no secret. He appears to have used it for decades as fuel for work energy and creative productivity. Even in this interview as he lay dying of congestive heart failure at 67, he seemed to delight in the independence of bucking the constraints of business as usual.

It is likely that decades of regular alcohol use contributed to his confrontational personality that collided easily with others, preventing friendships, and even friendly work relationships for years on end. He was a “mixed bag” by anyone's standards.

Back to Mendocino Country, Richard described various strategies they employed in order to survive and expand.

“Over the years our focus shifted. We got rid of the color and brought the expense of the magazine down by 70%. Subsidies and ads became more important. I wanted to provide every service. So I came up with a multiple-ad scheme. People could buy a year's worth of monthly ads, which helped sustain the paper. That way, I only had to sell the ad once. Businesses, like Real Goods, had money. I worked with homesteaders and owner-builders. The ad scheme allowed us to expand to 36 pages, sometimes 48 pages.”

Richard went on to describe a whirlwind decade of radical activities, happening simultaneously. He shared his disjointed views of the rocky internal relationships he had with Green Party co-workers that were never resolved harmoniously.

“Judi Bari formed Earth First! Others of us formed a Green Party local in 1992. The Party failed to nominate anyone for Supervisor. Dan Hamburg ran for Congress as a Democrat. One of the slogans was, 'Bears don't vote so why should humans.” They decided not to participate in the election.

“In 1996, they formed a political action committee. There were 8 candidates for seven seats. Their purpose was to get me out of the Greens.

“Later they tried to form a separate group to bypass the county council structure. The Resolution that was passed to get rid of the County Council and me was not authorized in the by-laws. Registrar Marsha Wharff determined that the decision-making power lay solely with me.”

Richard is simply saying that Marsha Wharff followed election law. He alone was elected. To accomplish the goal of removing him, the by-laws would have had to be changed.

In 2000, the Greens authored and the voters passed Measure G, the first county-wide personal use marijuana initiative ever. An active dynamic Green Party group, including Dan Hamburg, Bruce Herring, Maria Brook, etc., pulled it off, and Richard Johnson was the primary author.

They were in tune with Prop 215 and explicitly included medical use in the text. 58% of Mendocino voters voted thumbs up, approving 25 marijuana plants per person for personal use. Richard was a driving force in this equation, though he didn't use marijuana himself. Cultural freedom and choice remained his issues to the end.

While petitioning to put Measure G on the ballot in the WalMart parking lot in 2000, Richard was arrested. Others joined him in solidarity, were also arrested and became known as the WalMart 7. DA Norm Vroman didn't press charges. The WalMart 7 filed a lawsuit. Judge Henderson threw it out. They challenged the dismissal on appeal and ultimately won a change in the WalMart petitioning rules plus $90,000.

Richard's immense value to the Mendocino activist community has become increasingly obvious as we evaluate his life after his death. He left behind four newspapers; they have already been claimed by people willing to carry on the work. Mendocino Country Independent, Vistas and Confluence were passed on to Christina Aanastad and Annie Esposito, as co-publishers, and El Sol was left for Zezzy Chirre as an independent voice for the Hispanic community.

This is a fitting outgrowth of Johnson's respect for the United Farm Workers in their struggle for Union recognition. His work as an environmentalist threw him in with people who honored the earth and worked the land, as he did, being an organic gardener and advocate.

Mendocino County has several diverse community-based publications, including Beth Bosk's New Settler Interviews and Bruce Anderson's Anderson Valley Advertiser. With Mendocino Country Independent in the hands of community-minded activists who work well with others, there is a new opportunity for independent media in the county to collaborate in ways that have not been previously possible.

Along these lines, Beth Bosk wrote, “I have often collaborated with Bruce Anderson. I respected Richard Johnson's incredible journalism. Often told him that. Spent an afternoon with him three years ago doing a follow-up mailing for his Voter Registration campaign, at which time he told me his doctor had just told him he had three years to live. He used those years with amazing vigor.”

Toward the end of the interview, Richard rounded off the day with “There needs to be more women in the leadership.” “Got to be or we won't get there,” I offered. “I'm not against that,” he responded, and then proved what he meant.

Sheila Dawn asked Richard about the Voters' Union voter registration database accumulated over the years. He said, “I gave all that to Clark Ramm.” She asked if that included the 1000 new voters signed up during Measure B. He hesitated, then turned his head away from Sheila and me toward the wall, and in a voice barely audible, he added, “I'll also give them to Sheila.”

In a moment of clarity, he let go of long-hoarded Voters' Union community resources to put them in circulation for the greater good. He left Sheila Dawn and Clark Ramm to oversee a voter registration database of thousands of independent / progressive / third party voters.

In death, the impact of Richard Johnson has become larger than life as he is seen in perspective. His curmudgeonly confrontational personality did not serve him or the community well during his lifetime. But the tangible results of his life's work stand out.

We see a person who stood for justice and accomplished some, stood for being a productive person and was one, and worked hard to help create a better community as best he knew how.

Pebbles Trippet





As the USA is the fattest nation on Earth, let’s chew the fat. The fat’s in the fire in the fat of the land. Fat chance. Fat wood. Fat job. Fat-assed. Fat cash in the fat of the land. Fat fries. Fat. Fat. Fat. Fat-head. A fat lot. Fat Cat. Fatback. Fat Farm. Fat Face.

Flu germs can live 72 hours on a door knob.

Farina bangs her rinse your hands and stay healthy this Memorial Day as I salute my mom and dad buried side by side at Arlington National Cemetery this first day of Spring.

Diana Vance


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