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Off the Record (July 10, 2019)

SPORTS NOTE from Stephen Rosenthal: “For me it’s a bit bittersweet that the Women’s World Cup Football Tournament has ended, albeit successfully for the US Women. I’m so happy the US National Women’s Team won, but somewhat sad that it will be another 4 years until the next opportunity to see these remarkable athletes play in a significant setting. Sure the Olympics are next year, but that event has become such a commercial and political miasma that it no longer captures the spirit of sports. Soccer is a beautiful game when played by women, not so much by men. It’s time to recognize the women’s game not merely with cheering, platitudes, congratulatory tweets and victory parades, but with equal pay as well.”

COMPTCHE SCRIBE KATY TAHJA reports that the Kate Wolf Music Festival, also known as “Geezer Fest,” presented another great weekend of music with Mother Nature contributing lovely weather. Two bands worthy of note were Old Blind Dogs and Blind Boys of Alabama. If you think including bagpipe music in folksongs sounds like cruel and unusual punishment you haven’t heard Old Blind Dogs…with strings, drums, vocals and yep, a bagpiper. 

They produced amazing foot stomping music and listeners discovered how GOOD bagpipes can sound. The Blind Boys of Alabama took “Amazing Grace” lyrics and sang it to the music of “House of the Rising Sun” and it was great. If you want to hear great music and discover new talent and don’t want to drive to the Bay Area to do it, plan on going to the Kate Wolf Music Festival next year with about 4,000 other music lovers at Black Oak Ranch in Laytonville. 

WE FOUND THESE ITEMS in the minutes of the Fort Bragg City Council meeting of Monday, June 24, 2019 to be noteworthy: 

Item 6. Disclosure Of Ex Parte Communications On Agenda Items 

“Councilmember Peters disclosed that he spoke to two members of the cannabis community about Item 8A. Mayor Lee disclosed that he had exchanged text messages with Jon McColley regarding a presentation for Item 8A. He noted that because he is giving Mr. McColley additional time to make a presentation, public comment on 8A will be extended to five minutes per speaker. Vice Mayor Norvell disclosed that he had a couple of brief conversations with Mr. McColley.” 

Later: “Jon McColley of Root One Botanicals gave a PowerPoint presentation to the Council regarding his project application. Kris Harris of Lit House also spoke. They both responded to questions from Council.” 

HOLY SMOKE! Can you imagine what the Supervisors minutes would look like if they "disclosed" their casual conversations? I loved the statement that Councilman Peters “had spoken to two members of the cannabis community.” If he’d spoken to two persons not members of the cannabis community we’d have something truly worth mention. 

WHEN THE SUBJECT of the Skunk Train track rehab grant application came up we noticed this item from public expression: 

“Amy Wynn expressed excitement about the possibility of having a freight connection here.” 

“Excitement” about freight? What freight is shipped into or out of Fort Bragg? But, as late as ’57 you could catch the Skunk in the morning, catch the southbound train in Willits, and be sipping a martini at the Top of the Mark when the sun went down. 

AND ITEM 8c: “Receive Report and Provide Direction to Staff Regarding City Loan of $250,000 From the City's Housing Trust Fund for the Proposed Affordable Senior, Multi-Family and Permanent Supportive Housing Project to be Located at 441 South Street.” (Approved unanimously.) 

IF FORT BRAGG can do genuinely low cost housing, why can’t the County with its much bigger investment pool? 

A READER COMMENTED: "Mendocino County uses Zillow to base property values on which anyone in real estate knows that Zillow falsely inflates values by upwards of 50%. They set the tax rates based on Zillow rates so all residents who own properties should be asking for a reassessment based on an actual REAL appraisal!!!"

FOUR EXCLAMATIONS? Dude, calm down. We were pretty sure that Zillow is not a factor in Mendo property assessments, but to be certain we called the Assessor's office, an agency of local government we've always found to respond promptly and courteously to questions. The Assessor herself, Katrina Bartlomei, assured us that "98 percent of the time we base our assessments on what you purchase your house for. We do look at Zillow from time to time to see what was on the property before and what's on there now, but we don't base anything on Zillow." She said anyone with questions about assessments is welcome to come in to her office for one on one tutorials.

INTERESTING (AND TELLING) story wafted in this morning from cyber-space that described an American caravan to Canada to buy insulin. In Canada, where insulin was first invented, and where a vial costs about $27. Here in Liberty Land, a vial goes for at least $350. Diabetes sufferers rightly want legislative change. Trump has promised to cut drug prices, but as we know Orange Man is long on promises short on delivery. 

REMINDS me of an old guy I met in Fort Bragg years ago. He took prescription drug orders from a bunch of Coast people, many of them elderly, and all suffering from one ailment or another, drove to Mexico to buy the medicine at a fraction of the cost here, and saved lots of people on fixed incomes lottsa money.

ON THE SUBJECT of our fearless leader, Trump said last week that he's thinking of using the Army to clean up the streets of American cities beset by the unhoused and the unhinged. According to official statistics, about 550,000 of our fellow citizens are living on the streets, which seems like a low ball figure but that's what the number supposedly is. "Police officers are getting sick just by walking the beat," Trump claimed. "We cannot ruin our cities. And you have people that work in those cities. They work in office buildings and to get into the building, they have to walk through a scene that nobody would have believed possible three years ago… We have to take the people, and we have to do something. When we have leaders of the world coming in to see the president of the United States and they're riding down a highway, they can't be looking at that. They can't be looking at scenes like you see in Los Angeles and San Francisco… So we're looking at it very seriously. We may intercede. We may do something to get that whole thing cleaned up."

WELL, DON, you might begin the clean-up by agitating for the re-introduction of the national hospital programs we had in this country before Republicans of the Reagan type dismantled them. Homelessness is, however, a civic disgrace. You're right about that, O Orange One. Right here in Mendocino County, according to a County-paid investigation that the County promptly ignored, the Marbut Report, there are about 350 homeless individuals — max — adrift in Mendocino County, and that number may be high and probably includes transients or the recreationally homeless who pass through here and linger because of the array of freebies they get in Ukiah and Fort Bragg. (Willits doesn't have many homeless people because the city basically offers a sandwich and a See Ya.) A number of the homeless are drug and/or alcohol dependent, so totally screwed up they’ll be dependent forever. More than a few of the homeless are crazy by any standard and are periodically housed at the County Jail. But the total number of free range dependents is small enough to be accommodated, one would think, and of that number a much smaller population could be housed if there were a serious, unromantic effort to house them. For instance, instead of investing County money with distant money markets, a portion could be committed to public housing in Ukiah and Fort Bragg. Or a couple of trailer parks, as Supervisor Pinches has suggested. 

THE ANNUAL GAY celebrations always remind me of my late mother's take on the movement. One afternoon we were watching the evening news, probably ABC, which she preferred "because I like the weather people," when visuals suddenly appeared of two women getting married at City Hall in San Francisco. "O my god!" she suddenly yelled, "turn that off, quick!" Never one to thwart the old girl, I was halfway out of my chair when she said, "Oh, nevermind. It's probably a good thing homely people find each other."

I'M LISTENING to Chernow's hagiographic biography of Ulysses Grant, but hagio and all, Grant's life begs the question: What happened? How did we go from Lincoln and Grant to this sorry collection of grifters and corporate bagmen in a mere hundred and fifty years? But Grant's presidency was injured by the crooks around him, and Lincoln was succeeded by Andrew Johnson, a closet Confederate, and round and round we go.

AS A STUDENT of the grotesque, I was disappointed in Trump's gala 4th of July on the Washington Mall. Only two tanks? I thought we’d see at least a battalion. A puny fly over? Meanwhile, over at Public Television, we got the Muppets, mawk and muzak, confirmation that the country is more infantile by the day. I’d expected back-to-back the equivalent of Super Bowl half-time shows, but these DC events barely registered on the vulgo-meter.

MIGUEL LANIGAN of Clearlake Oaks writes: “Today, I memorialize a true American hero, my father, General John Ralph Lanigan, a combat officer who lead Marines on five island campaigns in WWII: Saipan, Tinian, Roi, Numar and Iwo Jima. On Iwo Jima, he was awarded the second highest medal our nation awards Marines: the Navy Cross, with a “V" for valor under fire. Were it not for my father, the iconic Flag Raising at Mount Suribachi photo would never be. Joe Rosenthal, the photographer who took it, got a tip from my dad that there was to be a flag raising on Suribachi and the rest is history. After the war, Rosenthal had my mother and father as his guest in San Francisco, where he gave them what dad called 'The cook's tour.' They remained friends for the rest of their lives.”

FRED GARDNER REMEMBERS: “After we moved from SF to Alameda, one day at work I was extolling the town to Kamala Harris. 'It's cheaper, it's warmer, it's friendlier, homeless people are few and far between, it's an island so no big trucks rumbling through town...' She cut me off: 'Everybody in my circle knew to steer clear of Alameda. When I was a teenager we got invited to a party there and the police let us know we weren't welcome.' I recalled this reading Ali Alexander's put-down of Kamala that has gotten millions of views: 'Her family does not descend from American slaves. Not even post-slavery blacks. She’s Jamaican and Indian.' Which made no difference to the Alameda PD.”

AN INSOUCIANT CALLER demanded, "You guys are old, right? How much longer are you going to put out that rag?" I said we were only old in dog years, and look at all the newspapers that read like term papers published by an order of geriatric nuns, the Press Democrat for example. I ought to charge you double for your ageism. The guy said he intended no insult. "I just wanna know if I should renew my sub." 

THE SUCCESSION has been discussed, I can reveal that much, but for now we totter along, relics of the Print Age, barely treading financial water as communications move entirely to cyber-blips. People under the age of 60 don't read paper-papers anymore, and a lot of them under 60 can't read-read anymore either. Anyway, so we're doubly doomed — triply doomed considering our placement on the actuarial tables, but so what?

THE ONLY MENDO MEDIA attitude I truly appreciate belongs to Tommy Wayne Kramer in Sunday's Ukiah Daily Journal and Mr. McCarthy over at MendocinoSportsPlus, a Facebook newspaper. They bring the brio, for sure, in a cringing Mendo media context that reads and sounds like it's written for very young, very slow children. 

I'VE BEEN going through boxes of what I guess can be described as my memorabilia, sorting through the accumulated artifacts and communications accumulated over the long years in the newspaper business and, additionally, stuff I collected from about 1967 on, of interest to me and maybe ten other people who share similar experiences. I plan to leave the relevant items and documents to the Held-Poage Library in Ukiah, and by relevant I mean the material pertinent to life in Mendocino County unlikely to be included in their collection or any other collection in the county.

DECIDING what's relevant is more complicated than I thought. I have stacks of candid correspondence and notes of the type that might have to be sequestered until all persons mentioned and their heirs and assignees are long gone. Going through the dubious trove, it belatedly occurred to me that taken as a whole, my accumulation is unlike anything in the existing Mendocino County archive which, and I intend no insult, is a chaste assemblage of romantic accounts of the lives and times of our leading citizens and families. Those lives and times tend overwhelmingly to be at odds with my experience of Mendocino County, not that Mendo's population and its written reflections of itself are any more self-deceiving and self-aggrandizing than that of any other population. I'll have about ten museum boxes of stuff, which I'll leave to Held-Poage's new archivist, the smart and lively Alyssa Ballard, to sort out for "appropriateness."

FRANK HARTZELL: “Mendocino 4th of July parade is advertised to tourists as "wacky," but it hasn't seemed like that to me for several years. Lots of firetrucks this year leading the parade. (Who doesn't love to cheer firefighters on the 4th?). Flags, kids and funny stuff. Lots of mystery floats! A friend and I were trying to figure out what floats were about and who sponsored them. One I termed "long haired guys playing cool music" and others seemed to be just showing off an old car or a bunch of flags and patriotic imagery. There was a sizeable Native American group marching to get out the word about a missing person. Flynn Creek Circus had some fearless acrobats, as usual. There was a radio station (89.3) lots of young people were excited about. We saw old neighbors and friends. Babe the Blue Ox but politics was muted. There was a troop carrying hand held baby Trump balloons and a lone dog with the name of the guy turning the 4th into a political rally in DC. Concern for children in the detention camps was there, but not as much as I had thought. People are tired of the daily yuck and scapegoating I think.”

THINKING BACK to the 4th's of my youth, they were much wilder events than now, now that lawyers and accountants decide what we can and cannot do at public celebrations. The 4th in Boonville, for instance, is designed for children — bouncy houses but no beer, no fireworks, home by 5pm. In 1948, the 4th in Larkspur was highlighted by a water fight between the Larkspur and Corte Madera volunteer fire departments, and by water fight I don't mean they lobbed water balloons at each other. The opposing trucks staged at opposite ends of a long street. At "GO!" they roared to hydrants. The first truck to hook a hose to a hydrant washed the other department down the street, full blast. Nobody got hurt — everyone was drunk — but it was positively thrilling for us little kids to see our authority figures hurling good natured insults at each other as they tumbled awash head over heels.  I particularly remember one water fight because my neighbor, Mario Schenone, couldn't find the Corte Madera's hydrant wrench, and CM’s volunteers, tumbling down the street at the wrong end of Larkspur's fire hose, was still loudly denouncing Schenone that afternoon at the barbecue.

COUNTY WORKERS PLEASE NOTE: Spotted at the four-way stop next to the Library on Friday: A shiny brand new large green Tesla Model S Sedan (list price around $90k) driven by CEO Carmel Angelo.

HASCHAK & MCCOWEN want Mendo to support rails to trails scam: “Resolution Of The Mendocino County Board Of Supervisors Supporting The Creation Of The Great Redwood Trail…”

WHAT’S MOST AMAZING about this resolution is the “whereas” that says that “the Great Redwood Trail envisions a world-class regional trail experience through redwood groves, stunning oak valleys, remote river canyons and other unique California environments as well as offering improved mobility and outdoor physical activity within local communities.”

THIS IS THE SAME fantasy language that McCowen and his fellow NCRA Board members used when they insisted for years and years that there would be a train running on the northern half of the track from Willits to Eureka — and there never was and never would be and all of them knew it and now it’s being converted to a “Grand” trail. Nevertheless, the NCRA continued to borrow money from the Bosco-Williams-owned Northwest Pacific (NWP) Railroad Company at high interest rates which was then spent on paying NWP do track upgrades and maintenance (for a train that never ran) and which NCRA then turned around and billed the state/taxpayers for which created the upwards of $12 million now owed Bosco-Williams. Brilliant!

AND NOW they’ll pretend there will someday be a Grand trail from Willits to Eureka through some of the most remote and impassable areas of the North Coast. And the millions for it will flow from Sacramento to the same Democrats, or their progeny. (Try, just try, hiking through the Eel River Canyon along the old rail line. Can’t be done. The track has slid into the Eel, tunnels all collapsed. Conceivably, with enough money, a trail could be built from San Rafael to, say, Dos Rios, but even that, given all the givens, is pure fantasy, a huge fake promoted by professional office holders to their most gullible constituents.) 

RECOMMENDED READING: Anyone who reads newspapers knows that Jerry Lee Lewis is something of a madman. Which is all I knew about him until I read "Hellfire" by Nick Tosches, a fascinating, poetically-written, informal biography of Lewis, a man so far out of control that his survival into old age is simply miraculous. Married seven times, including to his 13-year-old first cousin who, when she was questioned about her matrimonial age, explained, "Down here [outback Louisiana] we can get married when we're ten if we want to," Lewis spent years on a diet of pharmaceutical speed and whisky. But all that time, which included a bizarre, drunken attempt to murder Elvis, who Lewis saw as his undeserving rival for king of rock and roll, and much truly awful behavior, the reader can't help but laugh and admire his survival:

"Back home, Eddie Kilroy arranged for Jerry Lee to make his debut on 'The Grand Ole Opry.' ‘They didn't wanna let him on,’ Eddie said. ‘I had to promise them he wouldn't cuss, that he wouldn't show up drunk, that he'd do only country songs. So he shows up that night, goes onstage, and completely fucks with their heads. There was Ernest Tubbs, Hank Snow, Roy Acuff, lookin' around the curtains at this wildness out there.

"Jerry Lee did not say a word as he sat down at the piano that night of January 20. He went right into 'Another Place, Another Time,' the song that that had brought him back five years before. Then, with barely a pause, he began pounding out a manic version of 'What'd I Say.' For almost a half hour, he alternated country songs with rock 'n roll, refusing to stop for the scheduled commercial breaks. He called out Del Wood, the woman who befriended him on his 1954 journey to Nashville, and they sat at the piano together, pounding out her old hit, 'Down Yonder.' By then the crowd was in the palm of his hand, wild, as no other Opry crowd had been since Hank Williams's debut in 1949. He tore into Chuck Berry's 'Johnny B. Goode,' then 'Great Balls of Fire,' then 'Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On.'…

"The crowd roared and stomped and whistled, and when they did this, Jerry Lee began to sing Merle Haggard's 'Workin' Man Blues,' and when the crowd recommenced roaring and stomping and whistling, he stopped singing that song in mid-line, and he went into 'Rock Around the Clock,' then back into 'Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On.' He stood and howled 'Chantilly Lace,' playing the piano with the heel of his boot, and then he waited for the crowd to cease their noise of frenzy, and he beheld them.

"'Let me tell ya somethin' about Jerry Lee Lewis, ladies and gentlemen,' he said. ‘I am a rock n' rollin', country and Western, rhythm 'n blues singin' mothafucker.'

"Disregarding the distraught gestures of the Opry management at stage left, he descended upon the piano and began to sing 'Good Golly, Miss Molly.' Then, abruptly, he fell still, closed his eyes, and performed the most perfectly sad rendition of Hank Williams's 'I'm So Lonely I Could Cry' that anyone had ever heard; and he left the stage and flew home to Memphis."

ALSO RECOMMENDED is William Manchester's "A World Lit by Fire, The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance." The clearest account of the "Dark Ages" I've read, the others being so academically turgid as to be unreadable. The Roman Empire had brought a measure of order and civilization to the wild tribes to the east, but when the civilized Romans did a slow fade resembling the one we have going in America, the barbarians were soon at the gate, the diff between US and them being our barbarians are home grown. Anyway, and also like US, as the dark as the Dark Ages were, they produced some great art and architecture.

FLYNN WASHBURNE, Facebook updates: “July 7, 2019. I lived another year. I'm clean and sober, I'm well-housed and-fed, got a car, a job, some féria, a raft of kick-ass Facebook friends, a few awesome live-action ones, and I'm healthy. June 26, 2019: Some time ago, while still a guest of the state, I was contacted by an admirer of my writing down in LA who'd come across it by accident. He's since written again a few times and recorded a desire to meet should he ever venture north, which he has and we did. Turns out he's in the entertainment biz, specifically a producer and documentarian, and admires my work to the extent of wanting to work with me on an as-yet unspecified project, and will be optioning my story and content for potential cinematic or tv interpretation. How exciting is this? I mean, really. Better late than never, right? My one fear-actually just the first and foremost one-is that I will, in classic Flynn style, determinedly and systematically sabotage any possibility of success, leaving this fine opportunity a smoking heap of rubble as I walk away wondering how these things keep happening to me.”

TAI ABREU is at San Quentin awaiting the spin of Mendo's judicial wheels. If there's any justice left in the justice system, he should be released with time served. If you came in late, Abreu was one of three young — 19 — Fort Bragg men whose stoner plan to rob a gay LA man resulted in the man's death less than a mile from the Fort Bragg Police Department. Under the revised California Murder Law, a person present at a murder subsequently sentenced to life without the possibility of parole can get his sentence revised downward if there's no evidence he committed murder which, in Abreu's case, directly applies because there isn't any evidence he committed murder. In fact there's no firm evidence the victim, Donald Perez, was murdered in the bizarre, mid-day episode. I say 'bizarre' because Perez, a fit ex-Marine was somehow over-powered by three un-athletic, no-history-of-violence 19-year-olds, dragged into the bushes off an ordinarily busy logging road on the southern outskirts of Fort Bragg and duct-taped to a tree, where he hung for nearly a month before the police were directed to his remains roughly 15 feet from the road where, one afternoon, I watched pedestrians, bicyclists, a coupla trucks, and a guy walking his dog who paused to smoke a cigarette as he stared down directly at where Perez's body had been discovered between the road and the Noyo River, also busy with recreational canoe-ists. How Perez's remains went undiscovered for all that time is almost as mystifying as the violent, in-plain-sight disabling of the guy prior to his being taped to the tree between the road and the Noyo. The police surmised that once Perez had been secured to the tree, one of the three caballeros plunged a knife into his throat, but that remains a surmise because his remains were so deteriorated that the cause of death could not be for a fact determined. Given what we know of the three perps, Abreu was the least likely to muster the supreme psychopathy it takes to plunge a knife into a man tied to a tree. His two confederates had motive and one had the psychopathy: Aaron Channel often denounced "child molesters" who included, in his opinion, Donald Perez because Perez had engaged in unresisted sexual exchanges with August Stuckey a few months prior to Stuckey's 18th birthday. Channel was released from prison three years ago, Stuckey, is presently undergoing a prison sex change to female, and is eligible for parole. Channel and Stuckey wisely took plea deals of 20-to-life, Abreu was talked into taking his non-case to a jury, that case consisting solely of an argument that he hadn't been advised of his right to counsel. The entire farce of a trial took not quite two days, during which Abreu's "defense" called no witnesses in his behalf or even attempted to introduce exculpatory evidence. Now 37, and having managed a nearly perfect record during all his years of incarceration, plus having taken all the college courses offered, if the revised Murder Law doesn't apply to this guy, it doesn't apply to anybody. Tai Abreu T6118, San Quentin Prison, 3C36, I Main Street, San Quentin, Ca 94964.


This is what collapse looks like: Bogus economics, delusions, spiraling debt, lack of leadership, rising inequality, anger, and focusing on the trivial and what no longer matters. Sexual exhibitionism, desperate political gambits, and additional nonsense that will never be implemented let alone paid for, will all be forgotten as USA continues its descent into hell, all the while proclaiming how great everything is, and how just and fair this rigged rule of law State really is. I always laugh at the MSM meme of USA Justice and human rights, while imprisoning more of its population by percentage than anywhere else on Earth. And NSA keeps trucking along while trump distracts and lines up the elite for an expanded trough. Trump is a metaphor for how the World sees the USA; fat, lazy, crooked, ignorant, loud, bombastic, smug, and stupid. Got preps?

One Comment

  1. Lazarus July 15, 2019

    Woman soccer, to cool for school…
    As always,

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