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Letters (Aug. 7, 2019)

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Ringing doorbells in the inner Richmond. 

I have been listening to Kevin Starr's "Baghdad by the Bay: Herb Caen’s San Francisco" — in the 50s and 60s. A hundred incidents and people that I'd forgotten. 

Scott Newhall’s rescuing the Chronicle (fourth of four dailies in circulation) from going under. Mayor Christopher invites Willie Mays to live in his home until they can find someone to sell him a house in a white neighborhood. Horace Stoneham brings the Giants to town. USF basketball teams. Don Sherwood, Gavin Arthur, Charles McCabe, Warren Hinckle, Lenny Bruce, Harry Bridges… (Disclaimer: I was mentioned in Herb Caen’s column once for a new idea I'd had.)

When I was on the beach in Frisco I usually stayed at the Bay Hotel Sacramento at the Embarcadero. If they didn't know you, you had to spend a probationary period on the second floor. If you didn't get drunk and tear the room apart you could stay in the upper floors on your next visit.

The union hall was nearby on Drumm Street and I could catch a bus to the race track at the Terminal Hotel. If you didn't want to go to the track you could always get a bet down in a cigar store on Third Street just south of Market. The early edition of the Chronicle hit the newsstands at 9pm. The first chance to get the race results. There were always horse players waiting. They would grab the paper, pull out the sporting green and then stomp down the street cursing the jockey and trainer. 

One time I decided to do some volunteer political work for Helen Gahagan Douglas. I did not know much about her except that she was a movie star and a congresswoman from Lozenges running for an open Senate seat against Richard Nixon. I was reading the Nation magazine in those years and the Nation didn't like Nixon so I didn't like Nixon either. 

The Young Democrats had a campaign office at Eighth and California where I was introduced to my partner Phil Burton and given instructions. We were supposed to start at Lake Street and cross California, Clement, Geary and Balboa and Cabrillo to Fulton working one side of the street only with Philip and I taking every other house. We started on 11th Avenue and scampered up the steps, rang the doorbell and when the door opened we gave the residents a black and white single sheet of paper folded over which had a picture of the candidate holding a wicker basket of groceries on her arm. The residents said thank you. When we got to Fulton we were plumb tuckered out from running up all those steps. 

What ever happened to my partner Phillip Burton? He went on to be the chief gerrymanderer for the Democratic Party and today you can see his name on the front of the big federal office building on McAllister Street. 

It was not until many years later that I read "No Ordinary Time" by Doris Kearns Goodwin that I learned that Helen Gahagan Douglas was one of FDR's favorite people and was a frequent guest at the White House living quarters. In Robert Caro's Volume #3 of the LBJ biography, LBJ showed his penis to his colleagues in the house bathroom, asking isn't this the most enormous thing you've ever seen?

It turns out that Helen and Lyndon were sleeping in the same bed and strolling arm in arm to the House office building each morning. 

And Bob's your uncle.

Ralph Bostrom


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To the Governor of California, the Sheriff of Mendocino County, the Commander of the National Guard, the California Department of Agriculture, the California Department of Fish and wildlife, and various newspapers and radio stations:

My name is Nick Felli, I reside at 3784 Dos Rios Road out of Laytonville. I am obviously one of the biggest illegal "growers" in Mendocino County. Until your media famous Operation Clean Sweep I was growing six (6) big plants in my garden in the open known to anybody from sky or road. But wait, I have a "huge" greenhouse made of 2x4s, clad in construction clear plastic, measuring 10' x 8' x 6’ (wanna borrow my measuring tape?) containing six small plants for genetics. Furthermore I had the audacity to have another towering three-foot hybrid plant behind my trailer. Holy bleep! That is 13 "plants"! (Let me do the media spinning for you: Boss, that is 116.666% of the legal limit.) 

Question: any of you know the difference between the "letter" and the "spirit" of the law? Any of you ever drove 57.8 mph? Any of you live in my neck of the woods? If I was to overtly plant and disrespect the law, don't you think I would "overtly" grow more than six cannabis plants? Needless to say coming back from a short camping trip I was shocked and bleeping disgusted by your spineless and cowardly act of cutting all my plants down. (Five years of genetics gone forever, bleepers). 

I then learned that you also had cut down the 12 plants of my retired landlord and his wife. Did I mention retired? Wow! Cutting down a 60-year-old mom and retiree’s garden. What a score! Whoever is the commander of this operation — I will not waste my unlimited time and infinite resources being red taped ad infinitum trying to find out who she/he is, so I will just name "it" Commander Bleeping Spineless — needs to be fired, demoted or reassigned. If you do not know the difference, in this part of the County, between supplemental income and the “I don't give a bleep, 15,000 gallons a day, let's put up another blinking greenhouse, illegal ‘grows’," you have no business in your business!

What goes on in your morning briefings? Listen up, boys and girls, we have identified and located two major illegal growers posing an imminent threat to another burgeoning, inefficient government bureaucracy of an overregulated overhyped overtaxed "legal" cannabis market. Let's show them old unlawful fogies that we mean business and that "we" will not tolerate that blatant display of lawlessness. 

Okay! So Commander Spineless: Where is my list of crimes? My probable cause? Where is my bleeping warrant? When the kids doing your dirty cutting work are asking among themselves, "What the bleep are we really doing here?" you know that something is seriously wrong! Well, Commander Spineless, it takes a real man/woman to admit that you are in the wrong place at the wrong time hurting the wrong people.

Okay guys, let's move on and find real offenders. All that technology and "intel" and you still can't find your way out of a postage stamp! Governor, sheriff, Spineless et al, you can go home with your head held high with no less than 30 government vehicles — where is the Army, the FBI, Homeland Security and the CHP when you really need them? In half a day you managed to eradicate 18 plants and a few stragglers! High fives for the righteous! I'm sure you needed such a number to round out the 9,982 plants you so efficiently cut down in the previous half hour on the way here so that you could print another BS headline: 10,000 baby! Please pat your spineless backs again!

You have flown over my garden and dwelling five times this year alone! Front camera equipped chopper (3x), unmanned aerial vehicle (1x) and a drone (1x). What happened to all that data? Do you hire a legally blind person to review it and confuse six with 600? Could you morons really not find a more worthwhile target? Do I need to teach you to review your own data? What am I? A training exercise? Look at his gates — see they are open and unlocked. It's easy access on maintained roads. Let's teach Beth and Billy how to work the cutter, never mind whose lives we [bleep]! 

What laws and whose orders give you the "right" to ransack my living space? Why go through my personal belongings and records? Again, what is my crime? My own government does this. Why not cut and go? Why? 

It is crystal clear to me that the money part of your "operation" is of more importance. (Got to fund that behavior, don't we? I am so relieved that you couldn't find my $999,988 stashed under my bed and the 505 pounds gleaned from last year's sales of my seven plants (Whoops! Did I say seven? Why didn't you bust me then, bleeps?) Have you found it, I would have gladly given you the extra 20 bucks needed to make another BS headline. What? You didn't know that you can make $1 million from the sale of seven plants? Boy, you guys really have a lot to learn, one of those things being to keep pissing off people will engender its own unforeseen consequences. The smoke you people hide behind comes from a fire that does stink! I judge people by what they do, not by what they blah blah blah blah. You have lost the last shred of respect I had for you, your actions prove that you are nothing but legalized, budgeted, indiscriminate, uniformed thugs hiding behind the letter of your laws. Better wear those dark shades or someone might actually see how few brains are left behind them! You are a waste of energy, time, taxes, resources and most of all a waste of breath! I can't for the life of me think of any better way to spend the meager resources of his county. 

Wait — hiring a few more inspectors and clerks to speed up real permitting? No, that really would be mismanagement of funds, wouldn't it? Way more fun to cowboy up the hills.

Anyway, I like to spend 115 cents on my dollar so your agencies can balance your budgets. The Governor, Commander, Sheriff et al — you are all invited, say mid-February, to come for a photo op showing the creation of so many well-paying jobs around here. Got a job washing those vehicles every day? How many gallons does that waste? I'll let you answer that one.

You can tell I am in a great mood after your show of intelligence, compassion, care and respect for the people who live year-round here. In normal times I would stay polite and ask you to find a preferred spot, drop your lower garments, put both hands in front of you, choose your favorite one, stick that hand’s middle finger out proudly and ram it up where the fabled sun doesn't shine! But your bleeping acts lost you any rights to decency. So it is from the bottom of my heart that I unkindly ask you all to go [bleep] yourselves!

Nick Felli


PS. If you guys care to make another friendly visit you know where to find me or do you need ANOTHER grant to launch a new satellite and receive new GPS phones so you can find where the [bleep] you are? I am sick and tired of your military approach to a civilian cause. If you act as pigs, be ready to be treated as such. Not one person pro or con cannabis that I have talked to since thinks that you have done right by us. You want to legalize cannabis cultivation? Act legally!

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Since getting on Medicare in 2017, I am puzzled by the term “Medicare for All” from Sen. Bernie Sanders and all the Democrats who back that proposal. It makes Medicare out to be free for those on this federal government program and a single payer. Here is the reality on Medicare:

It is a hybrid program that Medicare administers and pays much of the costs. First, working people pay 1.45% of their total income to Medicare, and so do their employers. When on Medicare, recipients pay a monthly premium, which is taken out of their Social Security check.

But there are coverage caps on medical and drug prescriptions. As a result, many people pay for a supplemental policy with a PPO or an HMO. These policies vary in coverage and cost. The services are usually administered by third parties from the private sector, although it can come from a municipality. Not from Medicare.

What Sanders wants is a Department of Veterans Affairs-style program. The federal government provides the services directly, owns the facilities and employs all the health care workers and administrators. And no cost to those using the system. So why not call it “VA for All”?

Andrew Smith

Santa Rosa

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Every time we have a mass shooting in this country, and statistically we are nearing one a day, the push back from some politicians is, “Don’t politicize this!” With Americans still trying to absorb the horror of shootings in El Paso and Ohio, a day after the slaughter of innocents, there is the acting Chief of Staff at the White House , Mike Mulvaney saying, “Don’t make guns political.” Well, what planet is Mr. Mulvaney living on? Of course guns are political.

We are told all the time that the shooter is just some lone wolf, a loner, a person with mental problems. So, gun-rights politicians gin up their mantras—it is people not guns, law abiding people don’t shoot people, the sky will fall if people don’t have guns, everyone has the right to protect themselves, yada, yada, yada. 

On the other side we have politicians who see an opportunity to get air time decrying the mass killings, blaming those opposed of being the problem.

Clearly, if we are ever to get some relief from this ongoing horror show, some things must be done. We can ban assault weapons and the ability to make them, limit ammunition sales for such weapons, have real waiting periods for would-be gun purchases, require that guns are not sold to those under 21 or who have a history of mental problems, domestic violence, racist rants on the online media outlets that allow hate speech to spread. 

Oh, we all can come up with a list.

In the meantime, as nothing is done, we can all think of what the next trip to Walmart might turn out to be,

The prospect of going to a concert or food festival, whether our appearance is such that we might be mistaken for someone of the wrong faith, ethnic background, as someone who has made it versus losers. Any category you might fall into is now open season to disaffected young men with too much testosterone to control their imagination. 

Meanwhile, the hate blogs continue to grow. The President is content to say that what is happening is terrible, while he takes in gun lobby donations and roils up xenophobic twits and speeches. Democrats wring their hands, yet see the opportunity to rile up their bases of support.

Yes, once and for all, let’s politicize this issue and settle upon serious reform of our gun laws. Some people will feel that their side is losing something in the deal. Well, is that not what political life is about? Those who win on an issue and those who feel they did not get what they want. Welcome to America!

Franklin Graham

Rancho Navarro

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In the 1940s and 50s we had summers that were so hot I could have fried hamburgers on the sidewalk at the Apple Fair in Boonville. You couldn't even sleep in Comptche at night, too miserable. Where was the climate control 70 years ago? I can remember a winter when it was so cold that the frog pond near my place here froze completely solid, 19 inches of ice. I was a freshman in high school. Climate control? 

Gruesome Newsom wants to be a big hero by starting some fire rules and giving tickets to landowners with brush around their place so they lose their homeowner’s insurance. Meanwhile, local highways have grass growing up to the pavement at least 4 feet high. They mowed a little, but not much. If a fire started along the roadside and burned a house, or killed somebody, who is responsible? The state! 

Same thing with Mendocino County. Every county road has grass and brush to the edge and they are supposed to have a 15 foot right-of-way clear. If a fire started on the Comptche-Ukiah Road it would burn hundreds of acres. In the spring they could use highly nontoxic pesticides and spray for 15 feet along the edge of the road to kill the grass for a firebreak. But oh no! The environmentalists would put a stop to that even though the herbicides they use would be harmless. 

Just drive on 253 and look at the edge of the highway and see how easy a fire could spread to hundreds of acres of grass at least 4 feet tall. The danger is everywhere, Branscomb to Ukiah. Fish Rock Road. Mountain View Road. The county has all kinds of equipment to do this and hundreds of thousands of dollars of tax money is not being spent on the infrastructure. What the hell is going on? They give themselves $20,000 a year raises and buy new pickups for their employees but they don't do a single stinking thing for the roads! And the people of Mendocino County just stand around and say Who cares? Typical Republicans. No balls. 

In all my years I have never seen such hypocritical, rotten, stupid asinine people as the Democratic Party running California. Some of the stupid rules they make could make a child laugh. Now they are trying to interfere in football practice and get President Trump off the ballot in California. 

The climate change heroes at California Air Resources Board, CARB, have ruined thousands of lives in Northern California by taking away their trucks that they've had for 30 years. We keep our trucks for years and work on them and fix them. I have a truck that's 33 years old that looks brand-new; it was in the parade last year. It doesn't smoke. What would you do if somebody ruined your life? Wouldn't you like to get even?! 

You can put me in jail if you want. I'm 83 years old, nothing to lose, hundreds of people will back me up. 

Gruesome Newsom told people that the bullet train was not worth the money and he was going to stop it to get the votes. Now he's pushing it through. He's getting so much money from the CARB and their BS, that he's got too much money to spend. Newsom and Mary Nichols and the rest of his administration should get on that train to nowhere and ride it to nowhere. Billions of dollars of taxpayer money for nothing.

The liberals are already calling the El Paso shooting a hate crime. People like Newsom and O'Rourke and Harris and Castro are screaming President Trump. Liberals better listen closely because if this was a hate crime you people might all be next. Think about "hate."

To stop mass shootings you have to get rid of people like Gavin Newsom and Nancy Pelosi and Maxine Waters and the Squad and the other anti-Americans. That's what's causing the hate that they are creating. And that causes the shootings. People have had enough of this liberal opposition to our way of life. There's no other way to stop it. Thousands of people in our country hate what's going on. You'll never get all the guns! For every gun that is picked up there are 10,000 to take its place. So the best way to stop the hate killings is to stop the hate by by getting rid of the people who make the stupid laws like I just mentioned. They don't know what they're doing and they are creating a lot of hate in Americans. Stop the hate — stop the liberals!

Jerry Philbrick


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Letter to the Editor,

I haven’t read any of Philbrick’s Trumpkin tirades in over a year. Still, when the AVA arrives, I glance to see if he’s still alive and spitting his Copenhagen at the anti-American Radical Leftist Environmentalist “Democrat Party” crooks, spies and murderers flittering around inside his computer monitor. I’m also sick of turning on the TV news and seeing one of Trump’s “surrogates” broadcasting slanderous and preposterous party line lies while refusing to answer questions or shut their nasty mouths. I’m also tired of hearing about Trump’s fictional “base.” Spent my adult life working agriculture with working fools—grew up thinking just like them, matter of fact—still do on the basics. I’m also tired of us getting slimed with the rich boy’s crimes.

I think there’s a special place in Hell for those trashing our children’s future with their eyes glued to their heavily redacted rearview mirrors. It’s amazing to me that any elderly white boy who grew up in Jim Crow’s USA can now claim to know nothing about slavery, genocide and our endless wars, unending sexist depravities, crypto-Christian fascist movements and national disgraces. And how we can pretend we’re unaware of Fossil Fuel Man’s outrageous and irreparable crimes against nature and humankind, the near total degradation of coastal Mendocino’s once incredibly rich Redwood forests now just a thumb print on a planetary plantation covered with thumb prints?

So the 7/24 AVA arrives, I see Philbrick’s still tilting at windmills, happily turn to your OTR column and, on the back page, I see an ad proclaiming: “Committee to re-elect Trump.” Below are mugshots of four Democratic Party leaders. I get the point, kind of share the sentiment but, hey, there’s no attribution. Must be Bruce, says I. He and his central committee’s arts department. So, listen up, CCAD: the mugshots don’t match. Three are of filthy rich and washed-up Clintonite east coast Yankee geezers who refuse to pass the torch, and the 4th is not at all powerful but a Native Daughter as sharp as a tack who’s from the great state of California.

Then it struck me: the ad came from the internet. Was it Russia? China? Our boys in Brazil? Who knows? But I do know Kamala Harris wasn’t born of the others, isn’t responsible for them and I’ll drink to that. I also know she can beat Trump by bringing our much abused young to the polls—something our generation has never wanted, seeing their own votes in strictly mercenary terms: I got mine, screw you! Yet, while our elections are fixed and our expectations professionally managed downward, you can’t fix the results if traditional non-voters show up in hoards, there’s a paper trail and you collect legitimate exit pools of the representative precincts. Now, with Moscow Mitch and his shoulder-to-shoulder financiers blocking the door to our schoolhouse, what are the chances of that happening?

Regarding your declaration of “1,000th reason why Trump will be reelected,” putting aside the hyperbole, my first thought was: want to bet? Next thought: just how low you think our “lower classes” have sunk? You think we don’t know the bottom of the barrel when they’re stuck gawking at it? Here’s this grotesquely ugly old sleazeball penthouse sicko convinced the TV cameras love him and, smelling lettuce, the rabbits broadcast his every word and we the people are forced to behold the obscene spectacle.

Today’s young people are far more socially enlightened than my generation was and is today. Also it’s their asses on the line—a great motivator that: one powerful incentive. Over long and wasted decades, we blew our chances to secure a decent future and now it’s time we either repent our sins and cross over into the light or get out of the damned way.

Pat Patterson

Prineville, Oregon

One Comment

  1. Terry McDermott August 7, 2019

    A Song Never Sung

    A song never sung,
    Dead before they were young.
    Though just a grain of sand,
    It’s beyond time to take a stand.
    Invisible they must be,
    People look but just do not see.
    At times I long to give up the fight,
    But ending abortion is so right.
    Innocent blood should not be shed,
    American children waking up dead.
    We will never know how much it cost,
    Millions of children forever lost.
    Our conscience should never rest,
    We just may have killed America’s best.
    I close my eyes but still see the sight,
    This is way too sad to write.
    Dylan’s words I wish were not true,
    “It’s all over now, baby blue.”
    I hear a whisper and see a knife,
    “Mom, take my hand, not my life.”

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