- More Heat
- Moose Fire
- Live Music
- Great Day
- School Starts
- Cold Cases
- Climate Action
- Backwards Answer
- Joe Scaramella
- Yesterday's Catch
- SMART Fail
- School Days
- Corporate Denial
- Poor Masses
- Woodstock Nation
- Obnoxious Comments
- Dance Party
- Blue Bird
- Convenient Death
- Maxwell Interview
- Epstein Facts
- Remember Pepper
- Bedraggled Creature
- Weed/Wine Conflict
- Driver Checkpoint
- Cosmic Catastrophe
- Market Crash
- Terrific Guy
- Divine Anarchists
- Found Object
WARM INTERIOR TEMPERATURES will continue through Friday, followed by a return to near normal temperatures by the weekend. Nighttime and morning coastal cloudiness will continue through most of the week, with clearing by mid-morning each day. Mostly dry conditions are expected to continue. (National Weather Service)
AS OF AROUND 7PM WEDNESDAY EVENING, Calfire reported that the Moose fire outside of Hopland was up to 65% containment and no increase in overall size at 225 acres. Almost 450 firefighters and associated equipment are still on scene.
RYAN DAVIS, LIVE!
This Friday, August 16… Live Music at La Cantina! (Formerly the Boonville Lodge/Saloon, next door to Lizbby’s Restaurant.) The man, the myth, the legend — the one and only Ryan Davis
Ryan Davis will be performing in the bar starting at 9 p.m.
Come enjoy the scene and an adult beverage or two. Reminder: La Cantina is always 21+ only. ¡Nos vemos viernes! (P.S. Don't forget to get your Taco Tuesday on tonight!)
GREAT DAY IN ELK
The 45th fun-filled “Great Day in Elk” will be held on Saturday, August 24 from noon until 7 p.m. The parade starts at noon on Highway 1, with floats, tykes on bikes, Smokey the Bear and lots more. The carnival follows, with game booths and prizes and do-it-yourself craft projects for children. There's a $100 grease pole, a massage booth, a watermelon-eating contest, sack races, crafts fair, silent auction and a raffle. This year’s entertainment featrures live music, belly dancing by “The Trillium Tribe” and the fabulous cake auction. Daytime food includes tamales, Caesar salad with and without chicken, fresh baked focaccia bread, Moroccan lentil soup, old-fashioned hot dogs and lots of homemade goodies. There will be fresh-pressed Greenwood Ridge apple cider and Elk's famous margaritas, along with soft drinks and beer. Dinner will be an outdoor barbecue from 3:00 to 7:00 p.m. featuring Jamaican Jerk Pork, green salad and bread or Jamaican veggie option. So, come to the “Great Day” in the coastal village of Elk, located 5 miles south of Highway 128 on Highway 1, and enjoy a fun-filled family day while supporting the Greenwood Community Center. For more information call 877-3291 or go to www.elkweb.org
No dogs, please.
SCHOOL STARTS in Boonville today, Thursday the 15th of August, with temperatures predicted to be a toasty, globally-warmed 105.
THE SCHOOL BOARD MEETING scheduled for Tuesday the 13th was put over a week until Tuesday the 20th and will be convened in the Career Center at the high school, not the sensory deprivation called the cafeteria where meeting have previously been held. (BTW, you are mos def an old timer if you remember when the cafeteria was a private business. Can't remember the name of the couple who ran it, but they were succeeded by Gloria Ross, a kind, smart, efficient woman many of us still miss but whose oatmeal cookies live on at the Yorkville Market, baked daily by Sue Marcott, who learned the recipe from Gloria in Gloria's Home Economics class at the high school, circa '67.)
AS OF THIS WEEK, there are 12 personnel changes in the District with, according to Superintendent Warych, probably four more soon. "Half of the changes are internal reassignments and half are new employees,” the Superintendent said Monday. "For now, we have three teachers new to the area and new to the District:
Maye Dickenson from Windsor USD; AVES, Grade 2
Emelia Theobald from Santa Rosa ESD, AVES, Grade 3
Gabe Ott lives in Redwood Valley, AVES, P.E. intern
WHEN PEOPLE GO MISSING in Mendocino, they have a new ally—Ukiah High School journalism teacher Matt LaFever has started a website, Cold Case Mendocino, devoted to posting the details of their disappearances in a coherent story in hopes this might spark some further information and possibly lead to learning their fate. He’s joining us here on Redheaded Blackbelt twice a month to try and spread the missing people’s stories to more people. You can also follow his work by liking Cold Case Mendocino on Facebook.
NORTHERN CARDINAL (Cardinalis cardinalis) in Indiana, USA by Greg Chaney.
THE REAL THREAT
To the Editor:
PG&E’s shut off plans threaten the very lives of many of our most vulnerable fellow citizens.
Think of those who need oxygen to breathe, those citizens who need sleep apnea machines. My son, for one!
I heard a PG&E spokesman on the radio quoted as saying (paraphrased): We are not in the air business!
What about ordinary citizens who would experience refrigeration or air-conditioning failures, etc.?
Naomi Klein spoke of Disaster Capitalism which uses every catastrophe to advance their moneymaking schemes.
Let's use this in reverse -- that is, to invent our climate action plan. Let climate action begin!
Why couldn't the supervisors start a solar fund to put solar panels on as many roofs as possible? We could all contribute via a designated account. (Redwood Credit Union was voted best by members in Sonoma County.)
The hundred thousand dollars could be reinstated and the climate action committee could oversee the funds and the program. They could even create a program plan. The hundred thousand dollars for the climate change committee should be reinstated but not just limited to this amount.
Imagine -- independence, security and freedom from the giant, greedy, inhumane, seemingly arbitrary, irresponsible, arrogant power(ful) company that is being PG&E.
Then, on August 5, 2019, I heard on ham radio (KPFZ) of an insidious, demonic deal between our government and PG&E which would seem to short-circuit such a plan (if I may use that phrase). I don't claim to understand it all. I'm technically illiterate. But all solar panels would be wired to also be shut down by PG&E. Hah! Furthermore, all new solar panels would have to be wired in this way! Off grid?
According to Thomas Elias, columnist, in the August 6 Ukiah Daily Journal, "Newsom himself accepted more than $200,000 from PG&E." Also, "the vast bulk of legislators … took campaign donations from PG&E in the last election."
This article also shows how a new law, AB-1054 "pushed urgently by Governor Gavin Newsom and passed by a huge majority of legislators” is a sham "to tap taxpayer financed wildfire funds in order to help PG&E pay tens of billions of dollars in claims that it anticipates from fires it helped cause."
I first smelled the stench of Newsom's smokescreen when he went to Lake County, the poorest county as well as the most fires in California. He appeared in Middletown, he departed, and he left pledging no money at all to all those most needy fire victims. "Gruesome Newsome!" (I never thought I would agree with Jerry Philbrick.)
Enough! When are we just going to say, Hell No, we refuse to continue to be passive pawns of massive corporations in collusion with "our" government?
PS. Mike Thompson, more compassionately, came to Lake County and commiserated, then he left giving money to the timber companies.
PPS. We have solar and were unaffected when Ukiah went dark because we are off-grid!
WHAT CENTURY IS THIS?
The idea of buying gas-powered generators for use during power outages seems like a step backward. How will this bring about change so that we don’t rely on generator power into the future? With all the advances in electronics and powerful batteries, why is PG&E not looking at additional options?
Today, there are cars able to drive hundreds of miles on battery power. There are thousands of us with solar panels on our roofs. It seems odd that we would be running a gas generator while the panels sit there charged with electricity. Can’t PG&E design a way for us to at least use these for minimal power during a blackout?
There should be more alternatives, even for emergency measures, and continued progress to eliminate the need for these measures. Gas-powered generators? Which century is this?
JOHN STEINBECK said that no one has ever successfully photographed or painted a redwood tree, because the feeling they produce isn't transferrable. Well, we think @seancareyphoto did a great job with this shot, but we do agree that you need to experience them firsthand. #visitmendocino
by Mark Scaramella (June 11, 1997)
(repost by Special Request)
“People don’t appreciate it when you shoot straight with ‘em, Mark.” This was one of the first pieces of advice that Joe Scaramella, my uncle and friend, gave me after I moved back to Mendocino County and started writing for the AVA. He was speaking from experience. And, as usual, he was right.
Joe Scaramella died Wednesday June 11, 1997, about one month short of his 99th birthday, suffering from leukemia combined with a bad case of pneumonia he couldn’t shake.
Joseph Scaramella was born in Delebio, a small town in northern Italy in 1898 and came to the United States in 1906 with his younger brother (now deceased) John, and his mother Anna. They arrived in San Francisco on April 16, 1906. The great San Francisco earthquake was April 18th putting the city and the journey to Mendocino County into a state of chaos. After being put up with samaritans in Oakland, Joe and the family were reunited with his father, Carlo, who had come to California months earlier and made their way back to the Mendocino Coast. When later asked if he remembered the earthquake Joe laughed and said, “Remember it? Hell! I brought it on!”
For the first few years the Scaramellas were nomads, like many poor Italian immigrants on the South Coast. “There would be a layout, tie-making for example,” said Joe. “We started out by the Garcia River, we moved across the river and went up to Brush Creek, finished that up and went down to Valley Crossing. That's down there by Sea Ranch near the road to Annapolis. That was the last layout we had. After that we rented and later bought the ranch out near Alder Creek and went into the dairy business.”
Although he spoke almost no English upon his arrival, and he quit school at age 15, Joe learned English and became a voracious reader and autodidact. “I got much of the philosophy you express in your paper, but in more moderate terms, from a publication that was published in Topeka, Kansas called The Appeal to Reason. I used to read that. Eugene Debs was my favorite. He could preach a sermon or deliver a political speech, whatever the occasion required. So I always had that lingering feeling that there was much to be desired in the way society operates. I was only about 14 or 16 years old at that time. I liked to read him. I enjoyed it every much. It didn’t have much of a following in the County though. That type of thinking was considered to be foreign to American Principles. As you could well understand. The way I got a hold of it… there was an old man, a railroad tie maker, who subscribed to it. When he got through with it he'd throw it away. I'd go pick it up. He was the only one of probably a couple of hundred people working there at the Gualala Company making ties who had any kind of active political feeling regarding society. I liked it. I used to see the potential for change myself, quite well.”
Joe left home at the age of 18 because his father made some bad agreements with some smooth operators in Point Arena on a handshake and a promise — after a few drinks — and then his family would have to make good on the deal.
“All you needed to do was go down to the cellar with him [Joe’s father] and open the spigot on the wine and sit down at the table to visit and endeavor to tell him, by God, he was a smart man. I guess we all succumb to flattery at times. But these scheming adults would take advantage. He would enter into agreements and bargains that would condemn him and his family forever to get the short end of the stick. One time he told me, ‘You eat polenta, not words.’ In other words, once you give your word, you're bound. I always felt that way too. Once you give your word, your obliged. If you don't want to commit yourself, don't give the word. If you give the word, then abide by it. That's the way we operated. He was a good man. But, you'd have to add that he simply liked wine.”
After leaving home Joe went to San Francisco where he met and married his wife Geneva and then returned and started a repair garage and later a gas station, what is now Point Arena’s only gas station, Point Arena Shell.
Joe got into politics initially in the 30s in the aftermath of a problem he had with a south coast school board:
“The most significant thing that affected my total approach was the time I had a contract to transport high school kids. I got that contract by means that some people thought were improper, although they were totally legal. The result was that it manifested itself into a political situation. They elected a man on the school board — the man who I had gotten the contract from — they got him a seat as a trustee. In those days there wasn't much of a big deal about things like that. I started out with a three-year contract. It was written up. But every time there would be an election or something they'd want me to go a little further, a little farther south, less north, etc. I was a little ignorant about such things. They would modify the contract — oral modifications — but I always did what the governing board wanted me to do. All I tried to do was to accommodate them. I could have insisted on the terms of my written contract. But then I would have had trouble of course. However, I was just getting started and I thought I had to be a good guy so I accommodated them. So this fellow who had the contract before me gets up on the board and he raised all kinds of holy hell saying the governing board didn't know what they were doing. And I certainly didn't know what I was doing — I just obeyed what they told me to do. But according to him, what we were doing was ‘Wrong!’ It was wrong — technically, legally; it was not permissible. So they called me up there and, godammit I thought I was heading right for San Quentin. So, damn it to hell. It was quite a scene. Fortunately, I had a friend there on the board who was more experienced and we cleared the situation up and I didn't suffer any consequences. But the exposure and the danger got me to thinking: By God, No More! I would no longer rely on those guys to tell me what to do, I was going to do it on my own and document it and have it out in the open. And I made it a point in my life to make sure that kind of thing didn't happen again.” And it wasn’t long before Joe Scaramella made his first run for Supervisor.
Another time Joe took on an unpopular cause defending a Japanese-American family who was being harassed by locals infected with pre-war fever. “Before the war I was involved in radio stuff. I sold them [a Japanese-American couple] a radio that was pretty advanced for that time. It received short-wave and other things. It was worthless in many ways though, it didn’t pick up too much. So, somehow the word got out that they were going to be shipped out, see. There were prominent people out here at the Grange that were ready to go up there and wipe them out. They thought they were spies, or agents — they had that radio and they must be cooperating with the Japanese. I was a member of the Grange then. I went out there and the Methodist minister was out there. And, by God, the resolution came up to do something about them. Boy, the Methodist minister and I just fought that tooth and nail and by God we beat that down. I thought that was one of the best things I have ever done. There was an American citizen, he hadn't been charged with anything, he hadn't done anything, except that he bought a goddamn radio that was commercially available… Later, they voluntarily left. They probably felt it would be better to get out of this area.”
Joe liked to say that he brought on the 1906 earthquake by his arrival in San Francisco, and decades later as a Mendocino County politician, some old ranchers might have agreed. Joe was the first non-rancher to be elected Supervisor in Mendocino County — after a record-breaking four unsuccessful runs — in 1952. As a non-rancher, Joe was called a “troublemaker” by some of his political opponents.
“I was elected at a special election because John Ornbaun had passed away. I walked into the boardroom one day just before the election and there was a lady by the name of Edith Beck who was the clerk of the board. I was highly critical of the board and she knew about my criticisms. She said, ‘Am I going to have a job?’ — just like that. I came back with ‘Why?’ She said, ‘Well everybody tells me that you're a troublemaker and you're going to change the whole damn thing.’ I said, ‘Let's get this thing straight. Anybody can get an axe and demolish things. It's not my job to demolish things. My job is to construct things.’ I said, ‘You just do your job and you'll have nothing to fear from me.’ And she was one of my best friends from that point on. So you see how they fostered that notion that I was a troublemaker because I was critical. Perhaps sometimes unnecessarily. But, criticism in my judgment is an essential part of life. If nobody says anything negative, how can you expect things to improve?”
Joe served as Fifth District Supervisor for 18 years and subsequently was appointed to the Coastal Commission and was elected mayor of Point Arena in 1980 at the age of 82.
For all the political positions he sought, Joe ran on a platform of openness in an era before the Brown Act when much of the County’s business was conducted in back rooms out of the public eye. At one time Joe created a heated dispute when he refused to let the Union Lumber Company (now Georgia-Pacific) close a public road for a day to haul timber, insisting that they come up with another way to do it. He won. And early in his supervisorial career he had his first encounter with the power of Big Timber.
“The lumber companies thought they could run everything back then. For example, I was called over to approve the budget during my first year as Supervisor. The budget had been worked up and prepared by Paul Matthews, the county auditor. The final budget hearing was held in his office, but he wasn’t there. Present was a man by the name of Charlie Strong who was the general counsel for the Union Lumber Company. Strong was the only man there. Apparently his office had prepared the budget paperwork. After the meeting he took us over and bought us a drink of wine. He liked wine so he did that. Well, I said then and there that this will never happen again. I said, ‘The Board meets up there in that boardroom [in the courthouse at the time] and the budget will come up up there.’ And, by God, that's what happened. I wouldn't go back down there any more. I just didn't like that private sort of thing.”
Among many other accomplishments as a Supervisor, Joe wrote or co-wrote the County’s initial civil service rules and set up the Civil Service Commission to oversee them; he wrote the first set of procedures for the Board, he backed up Assessor Web Brown in the 50s when Brown moved to raise the outrageously low and undertaxed assessments of the County’s large timberland owners and ranchers to pay for the County’s essential but underfunded infrastructure.
On his subsequent short stint on the Coastal Commission Joe was a critic of the Coastal Act and generally a supporter of coastal developments and business projects for the jobs he thought they’d bring, drawing criticism from environmental groups.
However, while a Supervisor Joe drew praise from early environmentalists when he was the only supervisor to oppose the construction of the Dos Rios Dam which would have blocked the Eel River and turned Round Valley into a lake. He also was the only Supervisor to advocate a greater level participation in the creation of Lake Mendocino, saying that maybe Mendo didn’t need the water right then, but they probably would later.
Joe never went to college, but he was a voracious reader. Joe was highly independent and penetrating in his thinking. In private or public conversation, he frequently would take a thoughtful contrarian position to whoever he was talking to, no matter what his own position might have been or what the other person might advocate. He loved dialog and debate. He read almost every newspaper until his eyesight started to fail him late last year. He was a subscriber to and reader of the AVA from the first day Bruce Anderson took it over in 1984. And he made no secret of it, upsetting many of his conservative friends. While he routinely disagreed with what he read in the AVA, he realized that the AVA was the only operation performing the essential function of being a serious public investigator, skeptic and critic, a role Joe himself had taken many times in the past. “It always seems like the AVA has a deeper, more intimate familiarity with what’s going on,” he once said. “Maybe it’s because the articles go into more depth.” In almost every conversation Joe would inevitably ask me who I thought was the strongest and most influential person on the current Board, who was the most respected, who was the person the others turned to? Usually I couldn’t come up with an answer. But if I gave a tentative answer, he’d grill me about why.
Joe Scaramella will be remembered for his openness to all persons no matter what their politics or interests, his insatiable curiosity about the way the public’s business is done, his practicality, his ability to focus on what he believed was best for Mendocino County as opposed to party-line rhetoric or political pressure, as well as his modesty, directness, honesty and integrity.
He was a good, honorable man, and he had a long, interesting and lively life. Of course his death is Mendocino’s loss, his family and friends’ loss… But how much more life can one man live?
CATCH OF THE DAY, AUGUST 14, 2019
BLADEMIR AYALA, Palm Desert/Ukiah. Pot sales/transport, pot for sale, failure to appear, resisting, probation revocation.
JOEL CASTILLO, Ukiah. Misdemeanor hit&run, suspended license (for DUI), probation revocation.
NATHAN DAUGHERTY, Ukiah. Burglary, obstruction of justice.
RYEN DELGADO, Ukiah. Burglary conspiracy, disobeying court order.
CURTIS ELLIOTT, Santa Rosa/Elk. DUI, child endangerment.
ERIC FRANCE, Calpella. Controlled substance for sale, purchase of controlled substance, felon-addict with firearm, armed with firearm in commission of felony, controlled substance while armed, community supervision violation.
MICHAEL FRANCE, Ukiah. Domestic abuse, parole violation, probation revocation.
MATTHEW GIBSON, Fort Bragg. Tear gas possession and use.
RAFAEL GOVEA-LOPEZ, Galt/Ukiah. DUI-alcohol&drugs, no license.
RYAN HACHEY, Willits. Domestic battery, domestic abuse, criminal threats.
FORTUNATA IANNETTA, Ukiah. Controlled substance, probation revocation.
JUSTIN MALUGANI, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
DYLAN PUGH, Upper Lake/Willits. DUI, controlled substance.
TOO DUMB TO FAIL
Is SMART too big to fail? That is what the SMART board wants you to believe. After a recent board meeting on the agency’s financial crisis, The Press Democrat reported that “several board members at the meeting said that now was not the time to walk away from the more than $500 million already invested” (“SMART: Deficits without sales tax,” Thursday).
SMART wants a taxpayer bailout to cover a $9 million annual budget shortfall. SMART needs voters to approve a 20- to 30-year extension of its sales tax so it can borrow more money to bail out the failing transit system. Without the bailout, SMART will cut service and lay off employees.
SMART has offered no other cost-cutting ideas. Based on ridership and revenues, SMART will continue to have deficits with increasing operating costs, embarrassingly low ridership and substandard performance. The proposed bailout is kicking the can down the road.
Who will be hurt by a reduction in service? A handful of SMART riders, SMART employees and the union. Fundamental change only occurs out of economic necessity. A bailout without fundamental change will hurt everyone. SMART is not too big to fail.
WHY BERNIE SANDERS IS CORRECT ABOUT THE WASHINGTON POST -- AND CORPORATE MEDIA OVERALL
The fact that cable news pundits, anchors, and reporters rushed to vehemently defend corporate media against Sanders' comments is illustrative of the dynamic. It makes you wonder where career self-interest ends and sincere delusion begins.
by Norman Solomon
Many decades ago, the great media critic George Seldes observed: "The most sacred cow of the press is the press itself." That remains true today.
Bernie Sanders set off the latest round of outraged denial from elite media this week when he talked to a crowd in New Hampshire about the tax avoidance of Amazon (which did not pay any federal income tax last year). Sanders went on to say: "I wonder why the Washington Post—which is owned by Jeff Bezos, who owns Amazon—doesn't write particularly good articles about me. I don't know why. But I guess maybe there's a connection."
Sanders has fought explicitly and effectively to raise the wages of Amazon workers as well as millions of others. Yet the mass-media pretense is that the financial interests of the Post's owner have no effect on the newspaper's coverage of Sanders.
Corporate denial is the name of that media game. Usually, expressed denials aren't necessary. But there's nothing usual about Bernie Sanders, who's been willing to call out the biases and blind spots of corporate media since he entered politics.
For his latest transgression, Sanders earned purportedly authoritative pushback from the likes of the Post's top editor, its media columnist and others with high media visibility. "Contrary to the conspiracy theory the senator seems to favor," Postexecutive editor Martin Baron declared, "Jeff Bezos allows our newsroom to operate with full independence, as our reporters and editors can attest."
The Post's media columnist Margaret Sullivan quickly chimed in with a harmonizing tweet on Tuesday, defending her editor boss along with the owner of the paper: "I've never seen or heard a hint of @jeffbezos interfering in @washingtonpost coverage."
CNN's Chris Cillizza, citing his work at the newspaper for a decade, indignantly wrote: "For the last three of my years at the Post, Bezos owned the company. Not once in all of that time—and I wrote multiple pieces a day about politics and politicians (including Sanders and Trump) over that time—was there ever even a whiff of Bezos' influence in the newsroom."
As George Seldes commented long ago, "The most stupid boast in the history of present-day journalism is that of the writer who says, 'I have never been given orders; I am free to do as I like.'" Seldes noted that reporters routinely "know from contact with the great minds of the press lords or from the simple deduction that the bosses are in big business and the news must be slanted accordingly, or from the general intangible atmosphere which prevails everywhere, what they can do and what they must never do."
All Baron or Sullivan would need to do to disprove their own current claims would be to write a bunch of pieces denouncing the man who owns the Post—and then see what happens due to their breach of required self-censorship.
On television, a CNN anchor joined with a USA Today columnist to claim that Sanders's criticism of the Post's coverage was free of evidence. The fact that corporate-media employees are vehemently defending corporate media is illustrative of the dynamic. It makes you wonder where career self-interest ends and sincere delusion begins.
Baron, Sullivan, Cillizza and countless other employees of corporate media are well-paid while publicly maintaining their denial in the service of corporate power. So, with the virtues of the Washington Post on parade, Emperor Bezos must be decked out in the journalistic finery of his new clothes, even when the self-interest and implications of billionaire leverage over media are stark naked.
What Bernie Sanders is pointing out is not—and he never said it was—a "conspiracy." The problems are much deeper and more pernicious, having to do with the financial structures of media institutions that enable profit-driven magnates and enormous corporations to dominate the flow of news and commentary.
The Post's Baron is ill-positioned to defend his newspaper against charges of anti-Sanders bias. Such bias has been profuse, and it began well before a pivotal moment in the 2016 campaign on the eve of the high-stakes Michigan primary in early March. Then, as FAIR analyst Adam Johnson showed, "the Washington Post ran 16 negative stories on Bernie Sanders in 16 hours."
This year, the Post has strained to throw negative light on Sanders' campaign, whether focusing on Wall Street or Venezuela. Nor is the Post far afield from other powerful media outlets. For instance, the New York Times reportage has taken Sanders to task for alleged sins such as desiring to exercise control over his own campaign and failing to please Democratic critics who are actually corporate lobbyists but not identified as such.
Nor is the AT&T-owned CNN far afield from the baseline of cable news giants that supposedly provide a liberal alternative to the odious Fox News. Coverage from MSNBC—owned by Comcast, "the world's largest entertainment company"—has provoked one assessment after another after another documenting the network's anti-Bernie bias.
"The corporate-owned and corporate-advertiser-funded media of this country are the biggest barriers between Bernie Sanders and the Oval Office," I wrote five months ago. "Often functioning as propaganda outlets, the major news media serve as an amplification system for corporate power that has long shielded the Democratic Party from the combined 'threats' of social movements and progressive populist candidates." (I continue to actively support Sanders.)
Journalists who have staked their careers on remaining in the good graces of corporate employers are certainly inclined to say in public that billionaire owners and huge corporations don't constrain their journalistic work. And in their minds, they might be telling the truth. As George Orwell wrote, "Circus dogs jump when the trainer cracks his whip, but the really well-trained dog is the one that turns his somersault when there is no whip."
WOODSTOCK NATION REVISTED: ABBIE HOFFMAN, JOAN BAEZ AND THE CULTURE VULTURES OF CAPITALISM
by Jonah Raskin
The Woodstock music festival, now a legendary event, took place a long time ago and memories have largely faded. Folksinger Joan Baez can’t really be faulted for saying recently that at Woodstock, “Nobody was really thinking about the serious issues.” True, not many, but not nobody, either. Baez also suggested in a recent interview with the New York Times that she was the only one at Woodstock who was concerned about the war, civil rights and social change. Her husband, David Harris — who had been arrested and convicted of draft evasion (a felony)— was serving a 15-month sentence in a federal prison. At Woodstock, Baez sang her heart out. No teenybopper or hippie chick, she was a professional musician. She was also pregnant and she had a driving mission to bring peace and love to the world.
Still, Baez wasn‘t the only person at Woodstock who wanted to transform the world and to transform it as soon as possible. In his own idiosyncratic way, Abbie Hoffman was no less committed to a revolution than Baez, who offered her own definition of revolution to the Times. “A revolution,” she said, “involves taking risks and going to jail and all that stuff that happened in the civil rights movement and the draft resistance.” Abbie went to Mississippi in 1965. He opposed the War in Vietnam for years.
By the summer of 1969, when he almost 33, he had taken big risks in the civil rights and the anti-war movements and paid for them by going to jail. Mid-way through his book, Woodstock Nation: A Talk-Rock Album, which he wrote in a few weeks, he lists ten of his most recent arrests. They include: one on the campus of Columbia University in New York in 1968 during the student strike; another in Chicago during the Democratic National Convention and the “police riot” for having the word “Fuck” on his forehead; and yet another the same year, at the hearings of the House Committee on Un-American Activities in Washington D.C., where he wore an “American flag shirt.”
A battle-scared Hoffman went to Woodstock to politicize it. Specifically, he wanted to alert the crowd to the imprisonment, for the possession of two joints, of John Sinclair, the founder of the White Panther Party.
The Yippie demands for a “Free Society,” which are reproduced in Woodstock Nation, offers eight items. The first is “Free John Sinclair and all other political prisoners.” Item seven, which is addressed to the powers-that-be, states “You will convince the Culture-Vultures who have taken our culture…and turned it into profits to pay $300,000,00 in reparations.”
On the second day of the festival, August 16, 1969, Hoffman leapt to the stage when Pete Townshend and the Who were performing. He grabbed the mic and shouted, “Free John Sin…” That was as far as he got. Townshend clonked him on the head with his electric guitar and shouted, “Get the fuck outta here.” Hoffman replied “You fascist pig.”
Fascism is an undercurrent that runs all the way through Woodstock Nation. Hoffman calls Ronald Reagan “the fascist gun in the West.” He adds that, “We always knew that Hitler was running the State Department, now it seems he has taken over the Justice Department as well.” Hoffman thought that the Woodstock mix of rock ‘n’ roll, marijuana and sex was compatible with an American version of fascism.
In the chapter titled “Power to the Woodstock Nation,” he asked a series of crucial questions about the crowd of 400,000 people. “Were we pilgrims or lemmings? Was this the beginning of a new civilization or the symptoms of a dying one? Were we establishing a liberated zone or entering a detention camp?”
Hoffman didn’t answer the questions with a yes or a no, though he reminded readers that, “When the Jews entered the ovens at Dachau, the Nazis played Wagner music, passed out flowers and handed out free bars of soap.” The flower children might be, he reasoned, sacrificed to the god of war. In fact, as he recognized, young men were sacrificed to the god of war on the battlefields of Vietnam.
By the time he wrote, Woodstock Nation, Hoffman was already an iconic and infamous figure. His account of the music festival, which might have been called “Fear and Loathing at Woodstock,” made him even more iconic and infamous than he had been before Woodstock. Ever since 1969 when Random House published his book, Hoffman has been linked to the Woodstock festival and to the phrase “Woodstock Nation,” which he coined. He borrowed his concept of a nation of hippies from the Black nationalists of the 1960s. Having read Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael and James Foreman, he knew how powerful an idea nationalism could be.
The phrase “Woodstock Nation” has been borrowed and recycled again and again over the past 50 years, and used as the title for dozens of books and articles. It’s part of Hoffman’s enduring legacy, and a key part of his contribution to the cultural revolution of the Sixties. No one, or at least very few people who were alive then and over the age of 20, have forgotten the phrase, though no one seems to have reread Woodstock Nation carefully.
New York Times music critic John Pareles wrote recently that “Woodstock simply identified a big, promising segment of the youth market, ready for the commercial exploitation that would ensue almost immediately.” Pareles added, “Woodstock Nation, despite Abbie Hoffman’s hopes when he coined the term, turned out to be a demographic rather than a political force.”
Sorry Pareles. A close reading of Woodstock Nation shows that Hoffman was well aware of the fact that the “culture vultures,” as he called them, in the corporate world were already exploiting the youth market and making a tidy profit.
Almost everywhere he looked in 1969, Hoffman saw the “rip-off’ of hippie culture and African-American culture, too. That’s why he demanded reparations. He also recognized that capitalism incorporated the very language of the Left. The word “revolution,” which had negative connotations in the U.S. for decades, suddenly was associated with all things good. At the start of his first book, Revolution for the Hell of It, he offered a quote from a TV commercial: “Dash: A Revolution in cleansing powder.” Before long, the mass media would talk about “the Reagan Revolution.”
Woodstock Nation offers valuable insights into Hoffman’s own life. Not surprisingly, the author calls himself a “self-destructive, egotistical, horny, show-off, paranoid-schizophrenic.” And that’s not all. He also describes himself as “white,” “male” and a “schmuck.” No wonder biographers have had a difficult time wrapping their heads around Hoffman and the late 1960s which he describes as “an awkward time of anxieties and doubts.”
There’s warmth in Woodstock Nation, especially in the heart-felt, albeit brief, tributes to Joan Baez and Pete Seeger. There’s also an un-romanticized view of Woodstock as an expression of “functional anarchy” and “primitive tribalism.” Hoffman had a sharp eye. He noticed that Baez was pregnant and that when it rained, Wavy Gravy and the members of the Hog Farm went on feeding people.
One of the pleasures of reading Woodstock Nation today is Hoffman’s experiment in storytelling. He included a letter to John Mitchell in the Department of Justice, a letter that he imagines Che wrote right before his death, and an interview in which he asks the questions and provides the answers. As an “album,” the book goes around and around in circles and not in a linear way.
Woodstock Nation effectively conjures a distant time and place, but it isn’t merely an artifact from another era. Hoffman asks the big questions that ought to be asked now by activists and promoters of new technologies and alternative life styles.
“Is this the beginning of a new civilization or the symptoms of a dying one?” That question is as valid today as it was in 1969. It’s valid even though Hoffman himself could be an obnoxious sexist. In Woodstock Nation, he proclaims, “God, I’d like to fuck Janis Joplin.”
Hoffman also touts John Sinclair as a “mountain of a man” who can “fuck twenty times a day.” His sexism notwithstanding, he paints a complex portrait of the contradictions in the counterculture of the Sixties, and the exploitative role of corporate capitalism. He reveals his own flaws, too, and a sense of self-righteousness, which he shared with Baez. Too bad they didn’t team up. After all, at Woodstock they were political activists in a sea of largely apolitical hippies. A Hoffman-Baez alliance was not meant to be. They were as different from one another as Baez was from Janis Joplin who held up a bottle of alcohol in a paper bag when Baez invited her for tea.
(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.)
THIS SATURDAY 8/17/19!! Woodstock 50th
Anniversary Dance Party at Crown Hall
Talkin' 'Bout My Generation……
Tickets Still Available Now for the next great dance party brought to you by the Kelley House Museum! On the heels of our successful Hard Times and Blue Moon dances, this year's event celebrates the Music of 1969.
My Generation: Woodstock 50th Anniversary Dance Party will begin Saturday night, August 17th at 7:30 and rock until 10:30 at our historic dance venue, Crown Hall, 45285 Ukiah Street Mendocino, CA.
Boogie to classic tunes like Judy Blue Eyes, Bad Moon Rising, Somebody to Love, and all the anthems of Our Beloved Past. This evening's spin-mistress will be DJ Christina from Mendo Blendo. Light Show by Ground Loop Events/Adie & Steve Bazor.
Period attire is encouraged! So get on your flowing skirts, bell bottoms and tie-dyes! No host bar. Munchies will be available.
For local historians, we'll project a loop of John Loomis' Super-8 Silent film of a Mendocino Woodlands boogie from the summer of 1978. Digitized in 2006 by Bruce Levene. You'll see local favorites Cat Mother, Colonel Wingnuts (Walt McKeown), Skyhook, The Gonzo Bandits, The Pennebaker Band and a crowd of groovy people dancing in the sunshine.
Please bring Your Memorabilia to share…. photo albums, posters, cool stuff …display tables will be available.
Tickets on sale NOW! at BrownPaperTickets.com. $20 Advance, $25 at the Door. Also available at the Kelley House Museum and Out of This World in Mendocino. In Fort Bragg you can pick them up at Harvest Market.
Sponsored by KOZT, The Coast.
We hope you will come and support this important fund-raiser. It's sure to be a lot of fun!
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
As to Epstein, sometimes things are exactly what they look like, so tell me, what does this look like? Does this look like a rub-out? This was an exceedingly convenient death given the number of wealthy and connected people the deceased partied with.
The American ruling class may let one another off the hook but it showed its debility by conducting a years long sham investigation into sloppily and laughably concocted allegations of Russian collusion and after all that time and money coming up goose-eggs, the target of their malice walking off unharmed.
The American msm did likewise spending who knows how much energy trying to whip up fervor for Trump’s resignation. Didn’t work, didn’t happen, Trump is still stinkin’ up the joint.
Powerful foreign rivals take the measure of the United States peerage, but so do people at home in the lower rungs of American society. This is a social order that wobbles, the American aristocracy showing daily its weakness, its delusion, its incapacity for decision-making.
They tried mightily, or maybe not so mightily. Trump is still there. They may not prosecute the malefactors, those being people like themselves, of the same class. But, in the end, the malefactors failed. That is where it’s at. Trump still rules.
James Maxwell--Mendocino Artist interviewed on his life and career!
Another announcement for those who missed. Please check out our new podcast to catch a great interview with Mendocino artist James Maxwell! SnapSessions! presents Episode 13, featuring an interview with multi-talented visual artist, James Maxwell, as well as a travelogue story: In the Shadow of the Mountain, chronicling a long drive from Cologne, Germany to Teheran, Iran in August 1974. Maxwell talks about growing up as a young artist near Riverside, his time in the Air Force in Germany, and then art school and a productive career as a graphic and television artist in Los Angeles, where he worked as a court sketch artist at trials associated with The Manson Family and Angela Davis. Max’s love affair with and transition to Mendocino leads to a series of epic paintings, and an ongoing succession of creative achievements, still ongoing. Episode 13 is 70:11 minutes long and includes an intro, the story “In the Shadow of the Mountain” (starts :57) and the interview with artist, James Maxwell (starts 15:00). SnapSessions! includes original music by Marshall Brown, production by Marshall Brown and Ken Krauss, voiceovers by Ken Krauss and Doug Nunn, and articles and interviews by Doug Nunn. You can click on our SnapSessions’ website to view some photos of James Maxwell and a few of his paintings: thesnapsessions.com/episode-13-james-maxwell/
THE ACTUAL FACTS BEHIND JEFFREY EPSTEIN'S DEATH ARE WORSE THAN THE CONSPIRACY THEORIES
Even before Jeffrey Epstein was arrested on new sex trafficking charges last month, he had become a symbol of a system that wasn't just broken, but in a state of surreal dysfunction.
Great, never before seen picture of Pepper standing in front of Sawyer's News in February of 1978, taken by Bill Unruh of Unruh's Photography Shop which used to be down the street. Thanks Bill!
(Michael Sawyer, “I Remember Santa Rosa When…”)
ASK MR. WIZARD
You wrote that you had that experience at the county fair. This hermaphrodite you examined when you were 12 years old — was it more male or female? How old was it and what was its name? Did it have children? The others who paid to see, were they kids, a mix, or mostly adults? Were there any women? How was it described? What exactly did it look like? Was it worth 25 cents?
ED REPLY: Not to disappoint your prurient interest in this unusual matter, Mr. Dalson, but "the viewing," as this adventure might be described, occurred many years ago and, as I recall, the authorities, such as they were in Montgomery County, Illinois, (Klan country) soon sent the entire carnival packing for its generalized moral turpitude. As a pre-pube unaware that my own apparatus would soon unleash the torrents of spring, so to speak, I should not have been admitted, immediately regretted having been admitted, and was too embarrassed to have conducted the close gyno-penile investigation you're asking for. My memory consists of a bedraggled creature in a dress perched on a kind of dais. She, it, they hiked up her, its, his, their skirts as her his whatever's manager explained, in salacious detail, what the leering crowd of rural oafs was gazing at, directing several lewd comments at me, which further embarrassed me. I think she, he, they had both repro organs, but all I wanted was outta there so I couldn't say with slam dunk certainty. Was the show worth a quarter? Your run of the mill degenerate probably thought it was a bargain, but I wasn't one. Yet. Did she, he, it have children? God, I hope not.
WEED, PINOT CONFLICT
ATTENTION CLEAR LAKE DRUNKS:
Sobriety And Driver’s License Checkpoint
The California Highway Patrol (CHP), Clear Lake Area, will conduct a driving under the influence (DUI) and driver license safety checkpoint on August 16, 2019 somewhere within the unincorporated area of Lake County.
The goal of the CHP is to ensure the safe passage of each and every motorist by targeting roads where there is a high frequency of intoxicated or unlicensed drivers. A sobriety/driver license checkpoint is a proven effective tool for achieving this goal and is designed to augment existing patrol operations.
Vehicles will be checked for drivers who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or driving unlicensed. The objective is to send a clear message to those individuals that consider driving and mixing alcohol or drugs, or driving when unlicensed, that you will be caught and your vehicle will be towed away.
Funding for this program was provided from a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Note: The media may contact CHP, Clear Lake Area, Public Information Officer Joel Skeen, at (707) 279-0103 on August 16, 2019, no earlier than 4:00 p.m. for the exact location.
THE BOOK: Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk — the entire cosmic catastrophe
An astonishing amalgam of murder mystery, dark feminist comedy and paean to William Blake from the Polish winner of the 2018 International Man Booker prize
TODAY'S STOCK MARKET CRASH
Today, U.S. stocks suffered one of the deepest sell-offs of the year, and an inverted yield curve for Treasuries got worse by turning more negative, as mounting signs of a global economic slowdown stoked fears of an economic recession.
The S&P 500 sank almost 3% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 800 points in its worst rout of the year, sparked when the 10-year Treasury rate slid below the two-year for the first time since 2007. The 30-year yield fell to the lowest on record in the history of record-keeping for Treasuries..
Bonds are like the canary in the coal mine. Dropping yields lead the way for stock sell offs. Today, the bond market signaled a recession.
The yield on 10-year Treasuries sank 12 basis points to 1.59%.
The yield on two-year Treasuries declined nine basis points to 1.58%.
The 30-year rate fell to 2.034%.
Germany’s 10-year yield declined four basis points to -0.65%.
So what's Mendocino County to do?
Diversifying Into Local Alternatives
Well, I've been saying it for years. What we should do is clear. Our pension system (MCERA) should be diversifying away from paper assets and into real assets. Right now, we're 100 % invested in paper assets, also known registered securities. And it all comes from Wall Street.
By real assets, I'm suggesting that MCERA invest in local real estate, timber, vineyards, cannabis farms, and distressed mortgages.
MCERA could also participate in tax sales and other auctions, if not in Mendocino County because of conflicts of interest, then perhaps in other counties. It's just an idea..
Here's another idea.
A county bank.
A county bank that acts more like a correspondent bank for taking deposits, acting a custodian, and clearing transactions on behalf of its custimers, and not a consumer bank whose balance sheet is driven by loans.
Capitalizing a small county bank (public bank) with $5-10 million would not just mitigate the risk in the county's $600 million pension portfolio, it would give cannabis farmers a legal way to do their banking. A county bank would earn fees and interest for MCERA.
A county bank could earn additional fee revenue by doing tax receivables management for the Mendocino County Treasurer's Office. Currently, Chandler Asset Management out of San Diego does receivables management for Mendocino County. Receivables management is not rocket science. It is an easily automated function. And it earns fees.
Faced with growing obligations and shrinking returns, many of the largest U.S. public pensions have raised their exposure to alternative investments to record levels this year, despite ongoing criticism of the risks and costs.
The biggest public pension fund managers at places like CalPERS have poured tens of billions of dollars into some really exotic alternative investments, ranging from Polish energy facilities to catastrophe bonds, along with the less exotic venture capital, private equity, and buyout funds, and mezzanine debt.
These alternatives have low liquidity, and can be more difficult to value than stocks or bonds. Alternative investments typically carry higher fees than fixed-income investments or equities and can be used to diversify investment portfolios or to achieve higher rates of return—although often at higher levels of risk.
Also, the alternatives mentioned above for big pension systems are too complex. They are not suitable for MCERA.
Back To Mendocino County
What may be suitable alternative investments for Mendocino County?
Well, everything I mentioned: real estate, timber, vineyards, cannabis farms, distressed mortgages. Also a county bank.
MCERA may also want to invest in the county's own infrastructure. A Public-Private Partnership formed to build and operate a slaughterhouse for organic beef, lamb, pigs, and chicken might be an opportunity.
Investing in a commercial shearing operation for wool sheep might be another option.
In all the above-mentioned ag opportunities, I would recommended that the county consult with the Hopland Research Center.
MCERA already has an unfunded pension liability of more than $200 million. That number will only balloon in the next great recession. MCERA's unrealized losses during the last great recession in 2007-2008 were upwards of 30 %. Will history repeat itself?
Instead, why not allocate 5-10& of MCERA's current assets of $600 million and diversify into local real assets.? Why not invest in our own people?
Can the casinos of Wall Street and President Trump's wacky trade policies be trusted more than vetting local opportunities and investing in our own people/
You can start, by appointing three members to the Retirement Board who believe alternatives may be a good idea, and should be investigated and researched, as fiduciaries are sworn to do as prudent men and women.
During the five years I served on the Retirement Board (2012-2017), I worked tirelessly to diversify our portfolio. Former Supervisor Dan Hamburg agreed with me. Now may be the time to take another look.
A final note: The guiding wisdom is that pension systems are managed over a 30-year time horizon. Well. MCERA may not make it to 30-years. We may not may it to 15-years. Every month, MCERA pays out $1 million more than it makes in dividend and bond interest. In other words, we have negative cash flow. Our burn rate puts us out 15 years, maybe 20 years.
We can't just kick the can down the road. That time is over. It's been over for a long time.
"IN A 2002 New York magazine story, Trump gushed about Epstein. 'I've known Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific guy,' Trump said. 'He's a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.'"
DIVINE ANARCHISTS ONLY
Spiritually Centered Awaiting Opportunity: Ahoy Postmodern America!
I am still at Earth First!er Andy Caffrey's place in Garberville, CA sleeping on the couch, walking daily several miles along the Eel River and being mindful…spiritually centered…awaiting any opportunity…got Humboldt county food stamps yesterday ($192 monthly)…am prepared to leave here and go forth inspired by the Divine Absolute. Please respond if you are divinely anarchistic in these times of political chaos, social confusion, and environmental craziness. I can get to where you are. Before the entire earth plane implodes, let's destroy the demonic and return this world to righteousness. Awaiting all replies…
Craig Louis Stehr