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Letters (October 2, 2019)

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I figured that Editor Anderson was around my age. I am 78. This was revealed when you wrote about Single Room Occupancys (SROs). I was particularly amused by the account of your girlfriend's response to being asked to your room and her quick refusal and retreat. Probably because she had heard that only prostitutes would agree. You should have informed readers that most SROs had a gatekeeper or self-appointed guardian of the house’s of morality. Most of them forbade women and cohabitation was prohibited. These ladies were usually late middle age and were previously booted out of the Marine Corps for excessive cruelty to female recruits. Some looked like Mother Teresa with acute constipation but all had the soul of Lady Macbeth. This hidden knowledge might have hastened her retreat.

I used to live in SROs when work dried up in the Central Valley and I would head to the city to work off the board for local #580 Brotherhood of Plasterers and Cement Masons to winter out.

The hallways of SROs I still remember with a shudder — the smell of fried meat, urine and spilt wine. Added to this was a perpetual yellow light and the sad silence of melancholy punctuated by coughing from other tenants. The room walls were mostly yellow from tobacco smoke. One bathroom per floor and only one shower. Most tenants pissed in the sink and failed to run water after it.

Like you, I tried to get my then girlfriend to come up with me. Although we had previously had had uninhibited sex before, she recoiled and I could see her on her face: You have got to be kidding! She didn't say so but instead said she had promised friends — etc.. As I walked by the manager’s door I heard the latch close. The monsters encountered in life never sleep.

I must have stayed in three different SROs. The first one was on Fell Street next to the fire station with the siren on the roof 15 feet from my window. The effect at night was heart stopping. One SRO was filled with old men in serioius decay: physical, mental, spiritual. Most were dying of drink, smoke, baldness and loneliness. My last SRO, I think, was on Golden Gate Avenue and the only one where I successfully snuck in a woman. She refused to enter a second time out of fear of the doorkeeper. She suggested that we move in together. We did. And we married. But before I could accomplish that I continued to live there for my first attempt at higher education at San Francisco State.

One evening a neighbor started playing a record of the Banjo Boys and he set it on repeat. I was trying to study for a midterm in a course called "History of Natural Law" and I was trying to read Richard Hooker, the 17th century Anglican bishop’s "Law of Ecclesiastical Politiie — Foundation in Nature." I struggled with the first two pages filled with clauses wandering down like lost sheep searching for a herder and I couldn't take anymore. I beat on the wall to no answer. I stepped out of our apartment and pounded on his door. Nothing but “Play for me Banjo Boy, Play for me Banjo Boy, play.” Caught between a theologian who couldn't state to clear idea, a genetic trait I am sure, and test failure, I surmised my neighbor had gone to work and forgot to turn off the record player. With deep reluctance and trapped between neurological paralysis and academic disaster, I knocked on the door of the manager and explained the situation. She looked like Martha Stewart with wrinkles and possessed all of the ruthless aura of a public hangman.

"We will sort this out," she declared, grabbing her passkey. She reached the door and banged loudly, calling out his name and demanding he open up. Nothing. Just Banjo Boy setting music back 200 years.

She unlocked the door and opened it and there was, Al, naked, empty bottle of Four Roses straight bourbon whiskey on the nightstand, and next to him with the broadest rear end I have every seen since I quit judging draft horses for 4-H — an equally naked woman was passed out, face down and her legs spread.

"Well! This won't do! It's against the rules!” she shouted at Al who weakly raised his arm and beckoned us like Ahab in the movie of Moby Dick when the whale took him under for the last time. We both declined to descend into this sordid mess.

The manager marched over to the record player and pulled the plug so as not to get close. It drawled into silence and we retreated.

"Can you believe it? That bitch isn't even a resident here!" the manager said.

I said I couldn't either and moved out at the end of the month.

I passed of course, continued finishing concrete on the high-rise boom downtown. Going to San Francisco State by night often in my work clothes. I still have Hooker’s book. I still haven't finished it.

Yours sincerely, 

Dave McCain


PS. We got an apartment right over Benedetti's liquor store and Haight and Clayton down the block from Ashbury. $65 a month with our own bathroom. 1962. I thought I was going to live there forever. But I still don't like banjos or doorkeepers.

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Letter to the Editor:

The climate crisis is painfully obvious, with deadly hurricanes, droughts, wildfires, floods, heat waves, and melting glaciers. The scientists have been warning us for decades, despite oil companies’ and politicians’ denials and deception. We face an existential threat to life on this planet. We must act now to avoid irreversible catastrophe. 

Simultaneously, we face a serious threat to our constitutional democracy. Trump has committed dozens of impeachable offenses; has openly incited racial hatred and violence; and has now confirmed asking a foreign government to meddle in our elections. 

The integrity of our democracy, like the health of our planet, should not be partisan nor negotiable. A president who denies the reality of climate change (going full speed to make it worse) and who simultaneously subverts the basic tenets of our Constitution must be impeached and removed from office. 

Meanwhile, the window for addressing the climate emergency is extremely short. We must begin a Green New Deal immediately. Then, in 2020, let’s elect a President and Congress who will be true leaders for a healthy future. 


Madge Strong


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To the Editor:

How dare the City Council consider this silly copycat project to make Ukiah like Cloverdale by narrowing State Street, an important artery to commerce in Ukiah. It is like Santa Rosa, city of strange traffic planning, who closed off Santa Rosa/Mendocino Avenue for a park and created chaos for us drivers trying to get uptown. Ukiah has a mandate and responsibility to follow through on the tax burden they put on shoppers in their town to improve roads. When it was imposed we thought, “Great, they’ll fix the roads!” No, the City Council comes up with a hair brain idea. Road projects stalled.

Frankly, I think that we citizens should sue the city for falsely setting up the extra sales tax and not doing what they said they would do. Maybe the Attorney General should act. Fix the darn roads! It is so overdue, it is absurd.

Instead, they want to put utilities underground on Gobbi. Should we wait until they do that? No way, fix the roads. Other cities have done innovative things like put the utilities under removable sidewalks, so they can be readily serviced when upgrades or failures occur, without tearing up the road and creating lots of traffic issues. Put a signal on South Main and Gobbi. Bush Street has become an important cross town road and yet it slowly devolves into pot holes and bumps. Maybe it is memory loss? Let me assist, it is clear folks, it is time to fix the roads. Do your job, follow through, fix the roads.

Greg Krouse


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Worst murder of the day.

Worst traffic accident of the day, preferably with car chase.

Celebrity malfeasance, preferably with murder and perversion.

Pervert of the Week. 

Health advice that has no affect on the general population.

Self-help, feel-good, advice that also has no lasting effect on human misery.

Political experts whose qualification or expertise is to shout over the commentary of their opponents.

International news is the Bad Man of the Day on a world scale. Commentary is by unemployed generals and out of work ambassadors.

Economic news is always bad for everyone except the rich. Business scandals usually, and declining economics for most of us.

The Washington report is the parade of politicians lying, posturing, preening and offering more "bread and circus." Simple solutions and buzzwords for complex problems. They are all too busy campaigning for national office to actually be expected to legislate and govern.

The news isn't new. It's the same old horrific human lunacy that happens to new people every day. The news never changes, only the victims of the news.

Dave McCain


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It is appalling that the Sonoma Winegrowers are being allowed to use the term “sustainable” to describe their agricultural practices (“Sustainable growth plan,” Sept. 13).

It is also disturbing that the article failed to investigate any controversy surrounding the term due to third party organizations — largely made up of wine growers — overseeing this certification. Green washing and the use of pesticides were barely mentioned.

In 2017, these “sustainable” wineries used 74,000 pounds of glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup, which has been found to be a probable human carcinogen, on their soil. Glyphosate is just one of the many synthetic pesticides, fungicides, insecticides and herbicides that “sustainable” agribusiness use repeatedly on their vineyards, which surround many of our schools and homes.

As a county whose cancer rates are going up, we should be very worried about this. Sustainability denotes concern about ecosystems, community health, pollutants and climate longevity. However, these agribusinesses use substances that disrupt ecosystems, pollute water sources and soil, kill insects, birds and animals and threaten our health.

How is it OK that a green Sustainable Sonoma sign hangs feet from a red Stop — Commercial Vineyard Agricultural Chemicals In Use sign across from my child’s school?

Jennifer Jaffe


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They don't call it California's death row anymore. They call it the Trump Penthouse Row. They don't call it the Golden State anymore either. They call it the shitty state because of what's going on in LA and San Francisco and Santa Rosa and Ukiah and moving steadily into Mendocino; it's already in Fort Bragg, for sure. The whole state will be covered with homeless people, people who don't want to work, illegal immigrants squatting, getting welfare and medical and all that stuff thanks to Newsom. 

The mayors of San Francisco and Oakland and Los Angeles say that President Trump is trying to get even with them. Newsom says that, too. They don't believe there is a mess in those cities because they don't walk the streets and don't know what's going on. They have their limos they drive around in, maybe even toll roads so citizens cannot get at them, they are hated so much. 

Take Adam Schiff for example, the rep from LA who is leading the charge to get the president impeached. These people are only after Mr. Trump to hide how bad Biden and his son did in the Ukraine. They are trying to impeach President Trump to throw the spotlight off of Biden. It's sick and getting sicker. 

If the Democrats try to impeach President Trump they will start a civil war because most of the American people disapprove of what they are doing. If they are successful God only help you Democrats because two thirds of the United States will come down on you people and you will be running for your lives. I'm sure of it, just like I was sure that President Trump would be elected. You Democrats will be run out of the country. 

God bless Donald Trump for four more years

Jerry Philbrick


One Comment

  1. Shitbird October 6, 2019

    State Street streetscaping:
    Y’all who love speeding thru my south state st hood can take 101 and exit at the point closest to your destination.

    That avenue needs major league calming b/c the level of immaturity on the road has gone thru the roof.

    Speaking of calming: do you guys print Jerry’s letters for comedic value?

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