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MCT: Tuesday, July 30, 2019

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WHY I WRITE MURDER MYSTERIES

by Jonah Raskin

“The Valley is a good place to write about precisely because behind the white picket fences and the mansions with their green lawns and swimming pools, you will find the kinds of human dramas that inspired Hammett, Chandler and Dorothy Hughes, another great California mystery writer who ought to be better known than she is.” – Jonah Raskin

The other day at Peet’s Coffee on Broadway in the town of Sonoma, I had a conversation with a young woman I have known for years, but have never really gotten to know. Let’s call her J. She is white, tall, fit and single, though her hard-working parents live close by. J has four jobs to make ends meet; all of them require physical labor, some more than others. She also interacts with people at all of her jobs. That means that she has to have communication skills and be savvy about human relationships.

At one of her jobs, she’s a caterer for a large catering company. J prepares food, serves food and cleans up after every event, which is usually in a private home. “It’s all old money,” she told me. A friend who was sitting next to me smiled and asked, “Do you get a chance to talk to people at these parties?” J raised her eyebrows and responded, “No, not at all. I never speak to anyone, unless someone speaks to me first. That’s one of the biggest rules. I’m there to do what I’m told to do. I show up. I work. I leave. I have no personal relationship with anyone, except to pick up after the hosts and the guests, take out the garbage and go home. These people would never think of touching garbage.”

When J. left Peet’s with her iced coffee and made her way to her next job, I turned to my friend and said, “I can’t write about J’s experiences with old wealth families in any of the newspapers or magazines around here. I’d have to smuggle her, under a different name, into a novel.” My friend said, “Yes, if you want to keep your job you’ll have to fictionalize.”

J is way savvier about life in the Valley than most of my friends. She knows that there’s “old money” and “new money.” That’s big.

For the past three years, I have been writing fiction about old money and new money in “The Valley” where J lives and works. My novels are noir murder mysteries in the vein of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. Some of the characters are inspired by rich and powerful people in the Valley, though at the front of the book there’s the customary advisory, “This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.”

Recently, I managed to persuade one of the reporters for the Valley’s main newspaper to insert an announcement for a reading I was to give at the public library. Though I didn’t ask him about his job, he must have sensed what I wanted to ask and hear. “There are a lot of scandals here, but we’re not allowed to write about them because this is a family newspaper and family newspapers don’t write about scandals,” he said. There are more than just scandals. There are also real crimes—murders, sexual assaults, fraud and more—though ask citizens who live in the Valley about crime in the Valley and they invariably say, “There is no crime in the Valley.”

In my experience, when my neighbors talk about crime and corruption they point to Washington DC and to big, distant cities. They don’t point to their own backyards and their own newspapers, wealthy families and civic institutions. They are in denial. If you want to see the corrosive impact of wealth and power by all means look at Washington, DC, but also look at valleys where women like J don’t speak unless spoken to, and where reporters don’t cover scandals because they work for a family newspaper.

I have lived in and around the Valley for 45 years. The Valley is the first place where I heard the expression: “It’s all good,” uttered without irony or sarcasm. Soon after I heard it I repeated it to friends in New York. The immediate response was, “No, it’s not all good.”

A month ago, while back in New York again, and having lunch in a restaurant, I played the part of the reporter and asked the waitress how she was. “Livin’ the dream,” she said sarcastically and added, “Someone else’s dream.” In the Valley where I live, work and write, citizens think they live in a paradise, though the real life, nearby town of Paradise recently burned down in a huge fire.

The Valley is a good place to write about precisely because behind the white picket fences and the mansions with their green lawns and swimming pools, you will find the kinds of human dramas that inspired Hammett, Chandler and Dorothy Hughes, another great California mystery writer who ought to be better known than she is.

My Valley is a feudal society, with brown skinned people (and some whites like J) at or near the bottom. The higher you go on the social ladder, the whiter the color of the skin, the older the money and the larger the sense of entitlement.

The Valley’s oligarchs give millions to charity, perhaps to assuage their sense of guilt, perhaps because they wish to be perceived as good folk who care about those less fortunate than them. The Valley newspapers and magazines I write for rarely rock the boat. The wine, the weed and the tourist industries float the publications. Editors and publishers are disinclined to bite the hands that feed them. And, wouldn’t you know it, some of the same people who own the hotels and the wineries also own the newspapers and magazines that cater to the tourists and show them where to spend their money.

I’m working on my next murder mystery now. The first is “Dark Land, Dark Mirror,” the second “Dark Day, Dark Night.” I think I’ll call the third, “Dark Page, Dark Rage.” I expect there’s going to be a rebellion in the pages of the next novel. And who knows? Maybe it will inspire citizens to rise up in anger.

(Jonah Raskin is the author of For The Hell of It: The Life and Times of Abbie Hoffman and American Scream: Allen Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’ and the Making of the Beat Generation.)

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GOOD NEWS FOR ABREU (AND JUSTICE): SB 1437 IS CONSTITUTIONAL

Editor:

Well, that was a bit of a roundabout journey. I have finally managed to return to High Desert State Prison (7/8/19) and am now back living with my previous cellie. (Thank whatever powers that be!) The editions of the AVA that I missed since my return to CDCR custody have caught up with me and I feel it necessary to clarify a few points both for the public and my fellow incarcerated. (Shout out to Walter Miller.)

On June 13, 2019, I was in Hon. Ann Moormon’s courtroom for what was billed as a constitutionality hearing. As Bruce McEwen expertly reported, District Attorney David Eyster and Public Defender Jessyca Hoagland both submitted their written arguments. Mr. Eyster argued that Senate Bill 1437 was unconstitutional, while Hoagland was opposed. Judge Moorman took these arguments "under submission," which is just a judicial way of saying she received the documents.

During this same hearing, Judge Moorman said she was unlikely to issue a ruling on the matter of constitutionality. Her rationale was essentially that she did not want to "wade in" on a matter that was already before the California appellate courts. She wished to wait until a ruling came down from them so she would have guidance in her own ruling.

As it could take any amount of time for the appellate courts to render a decision, she (and, less vocally, I) thought it preferable to await further proceedings in CDCR custody, rather than at that nightmare of a county jail.

As it stands, the Court of Appeals has ruled in the interim that SB 1437 IS constitutional and, as of July 23, has ordered all counties to comply with the rules of SB 1437.

I have not yet received correspondence from the courts or from Ms. Hoagland regarding any future proceedings, but I am sure that some form of news will be soon to follow.

Though things are still ongoing, I wish to take a moment to thank Bruce Anderson, Bruce McEwen, the AVA, Walter Miller, and all of the various other individuals and groups who have chosen to support me.

Sincerely,

Tai Abreu, T-61118,

HDSP, Facility A5-240

PO Box 3030

Susanville, CA 96127

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CLIP-ON OR HAND-TIE?

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FOR SALE. 17-foot wood and canvas Chestnut Canoe Company canoe, meticulously maintained. $800. Can be seen at 1717 Hyde Street, San Francisco. (The editor and the canoe's owner paddled up to the headwaters of Big River in this baby and not a leak. It's a work of art, I'd say, as much as a canoe.) If interested, leave a message at 415 776-4224.

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OTHER OPTIONS

GWYN SMITH: “Time is flying by and our next Village meeting will be in just two weeks, on August 11th, a Sunday, from 4:00 to 5:30. Please note CHANGE OF VENUE: We'll meet at the Veterans Building/Senior Center in Boonville, not at Lauren's. Dr. Mark Apfel will be our guest and will speak to and answer questions about ‘End-Of-Life Issues and Options.’ Refreshments will be provided. I hope you can join us,”

BY GOLLY if Dr. Apfel has an option to The Reaper I’m certainly willing to consider it!

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THE SLOW MOVING "hundred-acre fire" at Usal in the northwestern corner of the county has been partially contained, but one account by Kym Kemp said there was considerable confusion on the narrow, cliffside access road as campers tried to leave the area and fire trucks tried to get in. Last time I was at Usal that road seemed harrowing even though I was driving a 4-wheel drive pick-up. Beautiful site at the south end of the Lost Coast Trail that begins at its north end near the mouth of the Mattole River. But, as recent visitors will confirm, Usal is now unregulated by State Parks and the yobbos have taken over, ruining what was once an idyllic little camp site.

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YOU’RE A MENDO OLD TIMER IF YOU:

Ate a mammoth breakfast at Garibaldo’s in Willits.

Spent a least an hour in the Mendocino County jail as either inmate of visitor

Ate at the old Wharf in Point Arena.

Had at least one drink at Dick’s Place, Mendocino.

Have walked through Hendy and Montgomery Woods.

Have made at least one appearance at a Board of Supervisors meeting to complain about something.

Have served on your local school board.

Remember the drunk tree (and the drunks beneath) at the Navarro Store.

Remember Ted Galletti.

Remember Charles Peterson.

Listened to Ellie's radio show out of Fort Bragg.

Remember Ed Kowas.

Driven the Mina Road to Alderpoint.

Remember Lou Delsol.

Remember when the County Jail was on top of the County Courthouse..

Remember Randy Foster.

Remember Richard Kossow.

Remember Diane Zucker.

Remember Charmian.

Remember when Woody was Navarro postmaster.

Bought land from Fernhoff at Rancho Navarro. (Knew Fernhoff was a crook at first glance)

Got a loan from the First National Bank, Boonville.

Played softball at the Boonville Fairgrounds.

Played basketball against one of Brad Shear's teams.

Know who Turbo is.

Bought pastry at the City Bakery, Ukiah.

Appeared before either O'Brien or Broaddus in Superior Court.

Remember Petaluma as Egg Capitol of the World.

Listened to one of Leo Marcott’s jokes at the old Yorkville Cafe.

Visited Gualala before Sea Ranch was built.

You’re an old old timer if you had a drink at the Last Resort in Philo, watched a semi-pro baseball game in Fort Bragg, know who Pop Marshall was, saw logs shipped out of Noyo.

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LEAD STORY in all the outside media over the weekend is about two kids from my high school alma mater, Tamalpais High School, in Mill Valley. One of these two yobbos apparently stabbed an Italian policeman to death. How a couple of 18-year-old dope heads could get to Italy in the first place is a sign of the Marin times these days. A trip like that was inconceivable in my day. All the stories about the awful event cite the school's student body as privileged young people from privileged homes in the privileged community of Mill Valley. And all the stories imply, "Look at these rich punks murdering a young Italian policeman. Let's see their money get them out of this one." Well, it's complicated. But there are over-indulged young people everywhere, even in Boonville, but especially in the wealthy enclaves. In my time, the Tam High student body did indeed have a fairly large sector of rich kids, but they were more than offset by the children of working parents. (My mother was a nurse, my father worked at whatever he could find.) Unlike any other high school in Marin at the time, Tam High School also boasted a large number of black students from Marin City, the sons and daughters of World War Two shipyard workers. (Black people could not own or rent anywhere in Marin except Marin City until the late 1960s.) And there wasn't the kind of money around then that there is now, and dope wasn't even on the social horizon. There wasn't even much drinking, at least in my relatively chaste circle of friends, which derived from team sports and included no wealthy kids whose preferred competition was swimming because, I guess, they enjoyed swimming pools at home. Some time in the late 1950s, the school district was gerrymandered to create a brand new all white high school in Larkspur called Redwood High School, which drew students from the truly posh communities of Ross, Belvedere, Kentfield, Tiburon, Corte Madera, and Larkspur. Corte Madera and Larkspur were still not particularly posh in the 1950s but headed in that direction, while Ross, Belvedere, and Kentfield were home to serious money then and now. Only from the middle seventies on did Marin become synonymous with money, most of which was new and had settled in Marin as the economy boomed for the more nebulous professions of finance and lawyering. But just like anywhere else, Marin people are up early and on the road for employment, albeit at higher wages than, say, residents of Mendocino County. These days, of course, and as we all know, people struggle to find affordable shelter even in Ukiah and Boonville, and rich cities like San Francisco are overwhelmed by the walking wounded and the homeless, and even Marin has plenty of both, and Marin also has the Canal area of San Rafael where immigrant families crowd into laughably over-priced and ill-maintained apartment buildings built on Bay fill certain to liquefy in the Big One.

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SONOMA COUNTY VINEYARD MANAGERS spend millions to build on-site housing for pickers

pressdemocrat.com/news/9826970-181/sonoma-county-vineyard-managers-spend

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CATCH OF THE DAY, JULY 28, 2019

(Unavailable due to consistent “internal error” on the Sheriff’s Booking Page/server.)

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ON LINE COMMENT OF THE WEEK #1

I have a strong hunch that the economic shit storm will begin before November 2020. That will be the only reason that a Dem can beat Trump. Unfortunately if the Dems sweep in to power they will have absolutely nothing to propose in steering the US through this mess. Even the “perfect” solution would take years to start working. But the Dems have invested everything they have into proving Trump is a Putin puppet. Even when their hero Mueller spent over two years looking for proof and didn’t find it they can’t accept it. It is a pathetic shell of a party now. When all you got to offer is proving that the guy in the WH is a Russian Agent and there is no there there, then you’re just lost. And the Dems are lost. And spent. And delusional. And yes thanks to Obama most of the young people who went to college are saddled with unbelievable debt. These make up a large base of the Dem party, and they are unbelievable broke. Can’t even buy their first home. So they will be wanting to be bailed out and I don’t blame them, but there is now nothing to bail them out with. Obama bailed the banks and financiers out though kiddos. And the next Dem President probably will try to do that again. You really don’t matter to them in reality. WASF.

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WHEN I FIRST HEARD about the possibility that Russians had interfered with our election and were the cause of Trump’s win, I thought it absurd and laughed aloud. ‘Playing on the old American fear of the Russians, huh?’ is what I thought, and didn’t given it much thought. After noticing the media talking about it repeatedly, day after day, with the common people joining in, I then wondered if Trump would go through his first term with this ridiculous story distracting people from the real problems. And now the answer is clear: the media and political establishment have accomplished a monumental feat, talking about this absurd story for two-thirds of his term already, day after day, with nothing really being said, and no real movement.

— Chelli Stanley

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"MALE COMMON NIGHTHAWK on Back Porch"

(Photo by Harvey Reading)

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THINGS TO COME

by James Kunstler

The economic contraction ahead will put this borderline psychotic country through some interesting ch-ch-ch-changes. Mr. Trump now fully owns the Potemkin status quo of record stock markets poised against a withering rot of human capital at the core of an industrial society in sunset mode. Leadership at every corner of American life — politics, business, media — expects an ever-higher tech magical updraft of fortune from an increasingly holographic economy of mere fugitive appearances in which everybody can get more of something for nothing. The disappointment over how all this works out will be epic.

Globalism is wobbling badly. It was never what it was cracked up to be: a permanent new plateau of exquisitely-tuned international economic cooperation engineered to perfection. It was just a set of provisional relations based on transient advantage. As it turned out, every move that advantaged US-based corporations blew back ferociously on the American public and the long-term integrity of the social order. Sinister as it seems, the process was simply emergent: a self-organizing evolution of forces previously set in motion. And, like a lot of things in history, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

“Off-shoring” US industry jacked up corporate profits while it decimated working class livelihoods. In return, that large demographic got “bargain shopping” at Walmart, a life of ever-upward revolving debt, and dead downtowns. The country got gigantic trade deficits and government debt loads. In effect, globalism compelled America to borrow as much as possible from the future to keep running things the way they were set up to run. Now, there is just suspicion that we’ve reached the limits of borrowing. Soon it will be a fact and that fact will upend everything we’ve been doing.

You can see how this is playing out in politics, especially the proposed government-enforced redistribution of whatever wealth is supposed to be left. Of course, much of that wealth is a figment, represented in abstract financial instruments pegged to “money” that may have a lot less value than presumed. The Democratic Party detects opportunity in the gross imbalances of this notional capital and so they are promising every conceivable form of grift to voters from a guaranteed basic income and free medical care and college education to reparations for the descendants of slaves.

They certainly might win the 2020 election on the basis of that proffer, but good luck scaring up the actual financial mojo to make it happen without destroying whatever value remains in the US dollar. The predicament may be aggravated by foreign capital seeking refuge in US financial markets as the banking systems in China and Euroland unwind, giving politicians the false impression that other people’s money belongs to Americans. And anyway, what will these foreigners actually be investing in here? Collateralized loan obligations based on seven-year used-car payment schemes?

The American Left just can’t grok the fact that we missed the window of opportunity for setting up a national health system. That was a mid-twentieth century thang: cheap oil and industrial growth. Please note: it was the Democratic Party under Mr. Obama that turned the college loan industry (and Higher Ed with it) into the appalling racket it’s become, because it fit the template of a society pretending to prosper by racking up debt. That demographic of debtors will be seeking magical debt relief. If they get it, it will be at the expense of the government that took on the guaranteed backing of all that debt, now well over a trillion dollars.

Industrial growth is over, and with it the expectation that all the old debts can be paid back. A few economic commentators are predicting “stag-flation.” We’d be lucky if that’s all it turned out to be. But we’re unlikely to get a re-play of the 1970s. That was an era of geo-financial disturbance that resolved for a while with new oil from Alaska and the North Sea. That’s not going to happen again this time. Stag-flation was just a matter of going nowhere for a decade. The contraction ahead will be brutal, not going nowhere but rather going down hard to a lower and harsher standard of living.

It’s also hard to calculate how disturbing and disruptive the prosecution of the RussiaGate perps will be. If the Democratic Party is acting batshit crazy about it now after the Mueller testimony fiasco, how will they react when dozens of their partisans are marched into court to face charges of sedition. That ugly business looks on-track to collide with the coming financial distress. The result will be much more severe political turbulence than the thinking class expects. It’s easy to imagine circumstances in which normal institutions get suspended and the old major parties are superseded by “emergency” seizures of power by other parties as yet unknown.

(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting his Patreon Page.)

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NEWSOM TOURS KERN COUNTY OIL SPILL AS LOCALS CALL FOR IMMEDIATE HEALTH & SAFETY PROTECTIONS

by Dan Bacher

McKittrick, CA — At a time when oil and gas drilling continues to expand in California, Governor Gavin Newsom on July 24 visited the site of a big oil spill in Chevron’s Cymric oilfield in Kern County.

The spill has seeped 974,400 gallons of a hazardous mix of oil and wastewater into the surrounding area for over two months, according to the latest data from the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) of the California Department of Conservation, the agency responsible for regulating the fossil fuel industry in the state.

In both the map of the incident (Cymric Surface Expressions) and the update on their website, they refer to the oil spill as a “surface expression” or “surface expressions.”

“I’m seeing progress,” Newsom told reporters during a media availability during his visit to the site, where the oil and water mixture has spilled into a dry creek bed.

During the media availability, the governor pledged to continue his work reforming DOGGR following his firing of the head of the agency after the Fracktracker Alliance and Consumer Watchdog released a report revealing that fracking permits had increased during his time in office.

“I want to focus not just on demand but supply, and that, I think, is a new approach in this state with this new administration,” the governor told The LA Times.

However, on the day after the Governor fired the DOGGR head, Newsom said he does not have the legal authority to impose a moratorium on permits for fracking operations in California, according to Ted Goldberg at KQED.

“The governor of California cannot do that,” Newsom told reporters on July 12. However, representatives of frontline communities believe that there is more that the Governor can do right now.

The spill has occurred at a site that employs steam injection, described as an “extreme oil-extraction technique” by environmental justice advocates. The site continues to leak and rather than focusing on stopping the spill, Chevron officials said Monday that the company plans to appeal a state-mandated order to ‘take all measures’ to stop it and prevent future occurrences, according to a statement from the Last Chance Alliance.

While environmental justice, climate and community groups in the Central Valley affiliated with the Last Chance Alliance say they are encouraged by the governor’s visit to the site of the spill, they are urging him to take immediate action to protect Californians against the state’s fossil fuel industry, the most powerful corporate lobby in Sacramento.

“While this incident occurred in an isolated area, other similar oil production-related incidents have occurred in proximity to Kern County communities,” said Juan Flores, a Kern County community organizer with the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment. “It is time that state leadership and decision-makers take action and pay attention to the gravity of such incidents. It is time that we put our money where our mouth is and set in place a buffer zone of no less than 2,500 feet to protect our communities, ecological areas and the environment as a whole.”

“We applaud the governor for coming to see first-hand the McKittrick spill,” said Cesar Aguirre, a Kern County organizer with Central California Environmental Justice Network. “The McKittrick spill goes to show that both the regulated industry and regulators are not meeting their responsibility to protect public health and the environment.”

“Even after the governor and his administration requested that action be taken immediately, the spill continued – to what end do you regulate a declining and irresponsible industry? We have seen issues like this before with Nelson Court, where families are still dealing with the ramifications of a leaking gas pipe. CCEJN would like to invite the governor on a tour throughout Kern County to see how this industry devastates the health of communities to understand the full scope of the oil and gas industry’s impact,” Aguirre concluded.

The oil and gas mixture continues to seep at the spill site. On July 18, DOGGR issued a statement that on Wednesday, July 17, “DOGGR field inspectors reported a small seepage of oil and water from one of three surface expression vents where the flow had previously ceased.”

“DOGGR notified Chevron, and the Acting Oil and Gas Supervisor amended the July 1, 2019 Notice of Violation to expand the well shut-in radius from 600 to 1,200 feet. The Acting Oil and Gas Supervisor and DOGGR field engineers were on site Thursday,” reported DOGGR.

On Friday, July 12, Jason Marshall, the acting oil and gas supervisor at DOGGR, ordered Chevron to immediately “take all measures” to the stop the flow and “prevent any new surface expressions” near the oil well site.

The huge oil spill should be no surprise, according to environmental justice advocates. The agency responsible for regulating the fossil fuel industry in California, (DOGGR), “adopted weaker restrictions on the practice earlier this year, making these operations even more dangerous,” according to the Last Chance Coalition.

Despite California’s “green” image, Governor Jerry Brown’s oil and gas regulators approved over 21,000 new oil and gas wells, including over 200 new offshore wells, according to a 2018 analysis of Department of Conservation data by the Fracktracker Alliance. The approval of oil and gas drilling permits has increased even more under the Newsom Administration to date.

Background: Oil and gas drilling has expanded under Newsom

The news of the Kern County spill came just hours after Governor Newsom fired DOGGR head Ken Harris for doubling the fracking permits issued during his time as governor — without his knowledge, according to Newsom – and reports of conflicts of interest among eight senior officials, as documented in my article on a groundbreaking report by Consumer Watchdog and the Fractracker Alliance.

From January 1 to June 3 of 2018, the State’s Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) approved 2,365 new oil and gas well permits and 191 fracking permits, according to Department of Conservation data analyzed by the two groups.

The data reveals that this year regulators have increased the number of permits granted for drilling new wells by 35.3%, well reworks by 28.3%, and fracking by 103.2%, as compared to the permitting rate during the final year of the Brown administration in 2018.

Even more alarming, of the 2,365 well permits issued, 1064 or 45% of them benefitted oil companies invested in by DOGGR officials, the groups reported.

This latest disaster takes place in a state where Big Oil and Big Gas have captured the regulators from top to bottom. The oil industry is the largest and most powerful corporate lobby in Sacramento and the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), the trade association for the oil industry in California and other Western states, is the largest and most powerful corporate lobbying organization.

(Dan Bacher is an environmental journalist in Sacramento. He can be reached at: Dan Bacher danielbacher@fishsniffer.com.)

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ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY #2

Usal Beach/creek campground was a nice place once. It has been destroyed by disrespectful people, off-roading through the Creek, leaving trash strewn all over, and terrorizing wildlife.

That a fire started there now is a direct result of the total lack of any management or care by CA state parks, an agency that purports to manage the place. Actually total neglect.

RFFI, some kind of non profit was supposed to help, maybe fix some roads and offer a seasonal campground host. That never happened.

Based on my last visit, this is a lawless and dangerous place, especially on weekends like now when people have excess fireworks and alcohol. Never a good mix, especially in a remote wilderness setting.

CA State Parks should be taken to task over their mismanagement of Usal Beach and Sally Bell Grove, not to mention their total paralysis when it comes to the Sinkyone Wilderness. These lands should just be transferred to BLM for management with the King Range. At least BLM dedicates some staff time for actually managing their lands, unlike State Parks which pretty much sits on their hands in offices in Eureka or Sacramento.

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AND MANY HAPPY RETURNS…

Editor,

You probably won't believe this story. I have a hard time believing it too. But it is true and it really happened.

An acquaintance approached me and asked me to do a sex change operation. I said, "That's ridiculous. I'm not a doctor. I know nothing about it. And I have no interest in it."

To make a long story short, after being badgered for weeks and given 100 reasons why I should participate, I just couldn't take it anymore. In a moment of weakness and against my better judgment I said, "Okay."

The day of the operation _ one patient on one table and the other on another. I'll spare you the gory details. Parts were exchanged, healing took place, and the patient, I'll call "B," went out the door and never looked back. I should now tell you that this patient "B" was a book, and this is how it came about.

My friend’s daughter turns 13 this year. I always try to remember this special day with an unusual gift — something strange and unexpected. This year when she opens her gift she will find a penis book written by a urologist. This will probably be an awkward moment for her. Later, when someone opens the book they will find that it is a vagina book written by two Swedish women, one an MD.

So the real gift was a reason — a reason to never judge a book by its cover.

Jerry Minnick

Santa Cruz

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“We could catch the 7:15 showtime or we could watch it in five years when the pressure to have an opinion about it is gone.”

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ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY #3

I will say from talking with several friends that were up there that there were people shooting off fireworks at 11:30 at night bottle rockets into the trees. The amount of lawlessness that happens app that you saw Campground with no Rangers coming around and everyone can just go up there shoot their guns and be drunk all day. Throw their trash around and shit everywhere is just becoming ridiculous. They’re going to ruin it for everybody and now with the fire that’s pretty lame.

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A FRIEND WRITES:

Katy Tahja piece on Curt Gentry's "The Last Days of the Late Great State of California" has a Manson connection. Curt Gentry was Vincent Bugliosi's co-author for "Helter Skelter" as well as a few other books written after "Helter Skelter". Gentry published "Last Days…." just prior to signing up with Bugliosi to do what is considered by many to be the seminal book on the Manson murders.

What most people don't know is that Bugliosi planned on writing a book about the Manson case from the get-go, even before the trial started in earnest. Gentry was given a coveted press pass to sit in the gallery for the entire trial. This information came out in a 1996 book, "The DA," by Lawrence Taylor. I have to believe it's true because if it wasn't Bugliosi surely would have tried to sue the pants off Taylor and that didn't happen.

Also, "The Vincent Bugliosi Story" is a compilation of documents and narrative on two incidents that really put Bugliosi in a bad light. Yeah, the Bug did a marvelous job as prosecutor in the Manson case but the guy was frikkin' nuts. This story was written by attorney George Denny III, who, at the time, was also running for Los Angeles District Attorney against the Bug (neither won that race) and he was Bruce Davis's attorney when Bruce was tried for the murders of Gary Hinman and Shorty Shea. It's almost an unbelievable story except for all of the documentation. It's about 80 pages but reads fast.

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DING-A-LINGS

Dear Editor,

Yes, I did think you rejected my letter because of the ding-a-ling reference, not because of the word but due to the action behind it -- masturbation, the single most common sexual experience in the world. Developing male fetuses in the womb have been photographed holding their own penises.

My comment about Little Richard's little known Ding-a-ling song needs to be put in context so AVA readers won't think I'm nuts to suggest you censored my letter because your prudish inclinations make you touchy about masturbation.

In his song, Little Richard was coaxing his engaged audience toward their own ding-a-lings with girls, then boys singing in rounds respectfully, wholesomely. He pulled off quite a feat with everyone singing and laughing.

About a decade or so ago, I noticed a gay cartoon as part of a series in the AVA much to my surprise, since it was not known to educate on matters of sexual freedom. But I thought perhaps Bruce was venturing outside of his comfort zone since the times require enlightened attitudes, like live & let live.

Not having that cartoon in front of me, going by memory, there were two characters in two panels with the third panel slated to be a masturbation educational with show & tell. Suddenly, the ax fell, the opaque curtain came down. We were not allowed to see what came next.

I protested the censorship of the masturbation scene in the next issue in no uncertain terms. You dear editor said it wasn't suitable for a 'family newspaper' and made a big distracting joke of it, laughing, telling me to go home without any dinner or goodies. What was clear was…you did not want to go there.

I lost that round but here, 10 years later, the issue comes up again with my letter not printed. The subject in both cases was masturbation, a wholesome universal sexual activity the world over but not fit to print in the Anderson Valley Advertiser, a family paper responsible for guarding community morals. It figured you were refusing to print it rather than have to deal with sexual freedom implications, like last time. Or perhaps I misinterpreted you.

I believe violence toward women is directly connected to explosive sexual aggression, pent up in men without outlets or mature relationships that work. Rising testosterone without sex education demands community savvy about self-pleasuring an safe sex, in addition to knowledge and respect in personal relations. You always have you. Much of life is about being comfortable with who you are, by yourself, with yourself, knowing your own body, relieving your arousals so they don't become your frustrations and aggressions, and in turn sharing what you know. Personal freedom stuff.

In hindsight, AVA missed the boat by rejecting the original cutting edge masturbation cartoon as an enlightened public service with press protections, since sex education was minimal to nil, women were treated less than equal, gay was border line legal.

It's a health right, a self-defining personal freedom right to be who you are, a First Amendment right, since the press exists to preserve the cutting edge. Newspapers exist on that edge to afflict the comfortable. You missed a chance to afflict the comfortable, including yourself.

Pebbles Trippet

Elk

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* * *

ON LINE COMMENT OF THE WEEK #4

Just off the phone with my sister who lives in Amador County, California…in the foothills above Stockton. She told me she received a letter from Pacific Gas and Electric. notifying her, and all residents of her area, that they are now subject to black outs… regional power cuts that will occur at PG&E’s discretion, and that can last up to two weeks, and might come unannounced. The black outs will be triggered by some metric involving of high winds and hot temperatures, to be determined by, I suppose company engineers. The purpose, of course, is to protect the company from liability when their transmission lines fail and start brush fires.

They further suggest that there could be as many as…15 black out incidents, each lasting from days to weeks, during California’s wildfire season…from May through December.

Entire regions…no lights, no water, no traffic control, no hospitals on land line, no gas pumps working. The company suggests that essential services, as well as private citizens, invest in generators or other alternative forms of energy.

PG&E is, of course, bankrupt…this is, apparently, the solution to their deteriorating infrastructure. Oh yeah…and there are going to be significant rate hikes….

Third World solutions for First World issues….

* * *

* * *

MITCH & THE DRAGON FLY

This morning a dragonfly flapping around inside, lost and dismayed, not following the stream of outside air to escape, eventually getting caught in a webby skylight where experienced spiders wait.

I went outside and found a long pole, cut from the woods, long enough to reach the high skylight. (Sort of A-frame-type house, this.) On tiptoes I was able to wind the webs around its tip. The dragonfly had found the only scrap of surface in that skylight casement out of the killing sunlight and was still, awaiting its fate. Why does the patience and resignation of trapped beasts seem like a reproach to us people, who believe so deeply that what happens to us matters?

I had no plan, turned away for a minute, then back, to find the d'fly bottom-up on the kitchen counter. I wondered if the unfriendly heat & light had done for it, but its wings moved when touched. It must've tried to fly with webs on it and crashed. I picked it up by its long segmented abdomen, curled my fingers partly around to keep it from battering itself and tearing its wings in my hand.

Dragonflies are hell on other bugs, but I've never heard of one biting a person, and this one made no move to do that. I took it outside in the bright light and slipped the sticky spider web off its wings and body. In that light it was dazzling iridescent blue--several shades of indigo and other regal peacock hues.

It flew away, ten feet away, in escape mode. Then its flight changed to JUBILANT, and it soared. I like stuff like that.

They accuse us of "anthropomorphism" when we attribute jubilation to a bug, but I ain't so sure. I think the very concept of anthropomorphism is limiting. I think the lowliest thing, plant and animal, has something akin to consciousness. It obviously has awareness of some kind, even a root deep in the ground. Otherwise it would not do its root business and we'd all quickly die. I think animals, including the insects and bugs, have a decisive consciousness. Some things are a little dim. Earthworms don't seem to have a huge requirement for smarts, but even they wiggle like mad when you pick 'em up. Obviously they're aware of what's going on, though they probably don't write research papers in wormspeak.

I hunted a few times when I was a kid. I also killed a seagull with a shotgun and coulda turned the gun on myself when I picked this lovely thing up and spread its wings. I shot a rabbit with a .22. It crouched in a thicket for hours, a hole under its backbone.

I decided, screw it; I won't do this anymore. I was a combat soldier in the army, but it was an amazing interlude between wars and other such butchery, and I wasn't deployed to some lesser country to shoot and get shot. I'm a softy now. If I kill, it's because something is grievously, mortally hurt. Otherwise, you gotta make me.

For the record, in case you ever wondered, it took me forty-five minutes to write this.

(Mitch Clogg)

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27TH ANNUAL ART IN THE GARDENS

Saturday, August 3, 11:00AM to 5:00PM

A celebration of creative expression, gorgeous gardens, music, beer, wine, and food. Over the past quarter of a century, Art in the Gardens has showcased extraordinary creations such as ceramics, glass, paintings, sculpture, textiles, and woodworking. Spend the day strolling through our beautiful garden, mingling with regional artists while viewing a multitude of art on display and for sale, sipping regional wines and craft beers, listening to wonderful music, and tasting the freshest culinary creations from around Mendocino County. Full details on music, food, wine, beer, and artists: gardenbythesea.org/calendar/art-in-the-gardens-2019/

Advance tickets are available online now through Friday, August 2nd at 4:00PM. Tickets can also be purchased at the pre-sale price through August 2nd at The Garden Store at MCBG, Harvest Market in Fort Bragg, and Out of This World in Mendocino. All ticket sales are non-refundable.

General admission tickets $20 in advance or $30 at the door ($5 children ages 6 to 16; Free for children age 5 and under)

$25 additional for wine tasting (includes complimentary keepsake tasting glass)

Parking is free but limited, please plan to carpool. Please remember, no dogs are allowed at Art in the Gardens. Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens is well-known for its pet-friendly nature. However, during this special event, we ask that you please keep your pets (service animals excluded) at home or arrange for doggy daycare.

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FOUND OBJECT

15 Comments

  1. Peter Lit July 30, 2019

    The comments about people making a mess in Usal brings to mind the incredible mess that was made at the Navarro River in the early ’70’s. Car bodies, dirty diapers, ruined sleeping bags, trash, abundant animal feces primarily dog and human. human detritus. It turned from a hippy’s riverfront fantasy into a pigsty, the depressing result of a failed communal experiment. We think we are special, here in the “northwest nowhere”, but, collectively, we are the same as elsewhere in America. And it all starts with me.

    • George Hollister July 31, 2019

      Usal Beach was a mess back then, too. I remember an abandon travel trailer, and a beach littered with empty USDA commodity containers. That was Dec 1970. I believe the sea eventually cleaned the Usal beach.

      Remember the beach in Mendocino in either 1969, or 1970, as well? The owner, Boise Cascade, brought in a TD25 dozer with a rake and cleaned it up. The piles of long present drift wood were included in the cleanup and were burned along with everything else. There was the “Meadows” on Jackson State Forest, just East of Caspar. I was never there, but heard it was a mess, too.

      Making a mess has it’s place in the human condition. If the mess stays long enough, it can be classified as a “cultural resource”, and get protections from the doings of the current generation of mess makers.

  2. Harvey Reading July 30, 2019

    https://www.huffpost.com/entry/banks-confiscation_b_2957937?guccounter=1

    Enough to make a person hope for an open, no limit season on rich people.

    I’ve stayed away from the stock market, and for a good reason: in the end, every trade hurts some working stiff somewhere in the world. I did not open a checking or savings account to have some crooked banker take its funds and give me some worthless stock instead. When will this sh*t be brought under control? Are you all asleep, or just drugged with legally presecribed antidepressants to the point that you no longer care?

    • Louis Bedrock July 30, 2019

      That could never happen here!

      • Harvey Reading July 30, 2019

        The whole scheme smells of Obama.

  3. Harvey Reading July 30, 2019

    https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/07/30/it-isnt-rocket-science/

    “It Isn’t Rocket Science

    The gecko’s in the ginkgoes

    And the weasel’s got the measles
    As the diesels chug
    You slump and cough
    For cops won’t allow us to shut off
    The engines
    And Willem Van Spronsen’s in other

    dimensions
    And oh did I mention,
    And oh did you see

    They’re knocking on doors
    but everyone’s hiding —
    The prophet Elijah said:
    Leave the doors open
    Admit me and feed me red wine
    However, the doors remain shut, I suppose
    it isn’t yet time
    And there’s next to no time —
    As everyone watches their watches
    And watches the news and views
    the ruse and what
    Across the whole globe
    All sane people know
    That the president’s a nut
    Get the truck
    lock him up
    And then what?
    Shut the camps
    and the prisons
    Forgive all the debts,
    End the wars
    House all the homeless
    and feed all the hungry
    Plant trillions of trees
    And ban cars”

    –Elliot Sperber

  4. James Marmon July 30, 2019

    I’m sure glad that POTUS is going after Elijah, the King of Baltimore about the ongoing corruption and waste of billions of Federal dollars that have been given to his district. The more money given to some of these districts and cities the worst things become, much like what is going on in the City of Ukiah. I hope this Baltimore thing really kicks off and will finally promote accountability for all the bottom feeders stealing from taxpayers pockets.

    Where’s the money Camille?

    James Marmon MSW

    • Harvey Reading July 30, 2019

      Almost as bad as spending billions on a worthless, useless border wall.

  5. Dave Smith July 30, 2019

    My Ding-a-Ling was Chuck Berry, not Little Richard…

  6. Kathy July 30, 2019

    Usal visitors should remember that Westport Fire Dept. Volunteers are the closest emergency rescue personnel in Mendocino County. It is a 1 1/2 HOUR trip to get out there to Usal (from Westport) in their rescue vehicles. And it is another 1 1/2+ hours to be transported overland to F. Bragg hospital, unless you need to be life-flighted out of Usal via helicopter ride (weather conditions permitting).

  7. Harvey Reading July 30, 2019

    Found Object

    Congress in session.

    • Randy Burke July 30, 2019

      Point Arena secedes from the UNION

      • Lazarus July 30, 2019

        Found Object:
        What am I doing here…?
        As always,
        Laz

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