POLKABILLY IN THE REDWOODS
Scotia's fourth annual “Rock-a-Billy in the Redwoods Festival” the first weekend of August had a Celto-Slavic theme celebrating the ancient pagan early harvest holiday, Lughnasa — a good way to acknowledge my Celto-Slavic heritage and welcome the autumnal light cycle.
This year's festival headliner was the legendary “Fast Eddie Blanchek and his Polka Billy Club” featuring the “Squeezebox Serenader's” from Beaver City, Nebraska.
To honor the occasion, I took my newly refurbished 1943 vintage Tatra T87 on its maiden voyage. The Tatra T87 was designed and manufactured in the former Czechoslovakia by Hans Ledwinka, an Austrian born engineer. It was a revolutionary design for its time, featuring an innovative tubular chassis and air-cooled rear-mounted engine. Exceptional stiffness was achieved by welding the body to the floor. This monocoque body formed a large steel girder enveloping the interior compartment and all essential units of the car, increasing the safety of passengers and providing a greater resistance to distortion than a conventional design. The body utilized what were then called streamlining principles evolved by Paul Jaray, including rear air scoops, a central tailfin, and three headlights, one centrally located. The aluminum 74hp 3.0 Liter 16 valve V-8 engine with a single carburetor and acres of cooling fans for its individually cast cylinders averaged 20 miles per gallon and could top out at over 100 mph.
The Tatra was specifically designed to traverse the treacherous Tatra mountain roads on the border of Poland and Slovakia.
My kind of jalopy, particularly since I was taking the backroads to Scotia pulling a U-Haul trailer full of Czech homebrew and Slivovitz triple distilled old plum brandy which I got at cost from relatives in Bohemia.
The backcountry detour was necessary to avoid the bumper to bumper caravans of dreadlocked and loaded ganja gangs crawling north on Highway 101 to the “Ka-Ka Rising in the River Festival” at Dimwit Ranch south of Ganjaville.
My route took me through Potter Valley to Lake Pillsbury, then north into the Mendopia National Forest, up Hull Mountain, through Windy Gap, past Monkey Rock, Bald Mountain, Hayden Rock, Buzzard’s Roost, Grizzly Flat, along Etsel Ridge to Eel River Station, then west to Covelo, north on Mina Road, Lake Mountain Road, Xenia Road, Ruth Road, Van Duzen Road to Highway 36, then west to Highway 101 and south past Rio Dell to Scotia.
It was a very spooky trip through outlaw pot country. My time in the Mendopia National Forest was particularly scary since I encountered only a few vehicles, most of which appeared to be custom armored personnel carriers full of cartelian pot tenders. Friends had warned me to stay clear of the forest because it was totally occupied by the drug cartels, but I was prepared to confront the dudes, if necessary, using souvenirs from my vacation in Southeast Asia 40 years ago. But by pulling a U-Haul trailer I was considered to be one of the boys, assuring me of safe passage.
The Scotia mob was already loud and loaded when I arrived with the primo hooch. They were whooping and wailing to the rockabilly stomp led by Fast Eddie and his foxy entourage.
Quite a site! Fast Eddie, a halfbreed Czech/Pawnee native of Wahoo, Nebraska, was togged in sod-buster jungle boots, blue denim overalls and a full Pawnee war bonnet. His pigtail princess squeezebox serenaders wore jackrabbit fur booties, doeskin loincloths, star-spangled halters, and single buzzard feathers in their Czech crochet headbands.
The highlight of the festival was the “blue moon contest” featuring exposed posteriors painted flourescent blue, illuminated by strobe lights. Bend over and take a bow — biggest moon wins. The American way.
Tragically, the mooners who had chugged too much Slivovitz whirled to acknowledge the hoop and holler crowd and threatened to turn the contest into a muff and dangler show. Oh, the horror, the horror.
Winner by acclamation was Big Mama Mia, the flatten’em blonde who won the Mazola oil wrestling contest in 2007 but was disqualified in the greased hula hoop contest last year. Big Mama Mia — the unlean cuisine cellulite queen.
The festival closed on a sour note during the debauched Lughnasa celebration when drunken full mooners attempted to leap over the bonfire and burned their asses.
With an empty trailer, the peppy Tatra literally flew south on Highway 101 to Skunktown (Willits) in record time avoiding the Ka-Ka traffic jam.
I motored west out Sherwood Road for the annual resupply mission, stopping midway for a bout with Trixie Treats, Skunktown’s primo massage therapist.
Trixie's business is booming and she now has over 50 out-call therapists frantically servicing the ever-expanding and demanding pot industry.
With my polka-billy kinks rubbed out and the U-Haul loaded with Mendo medicine, I headed into Skunktown for a look-see.
The local “Irish” pub has abandoned its Celtic roots and gone to gypsy punk reggae hip-hop rap crap so I had a brew and burger at a pleasant new joint on Main Street called “Busters.” Not bad, and the burgers are local grass-fed beef which has an entirely different meaning in Skunktown, the pot capital of Mendopia, aswarm with itinerant, entitled potsters demanding handouts.
The tidal wave of pot cash has generated some attractive business renovations in town but unfortunately they only cater to the upscale pot gentry.
An ominous new building south of the Willits post office houses a consulting engineering and geology firm getting positioned for the mega-development generated by the looming Highway 101 half-assed bypass.
The recently renovated Skunk Depot on Commercial Street looks great but, unfortunately, it is surrounded by a 7-foot high black chain-link security fence to supposedly deter the notorious Skunktown vandals. Since most of the local vandals are high on crank, a 7-foot fence is an easy scissors high jump. How about topping the fence with concertina wire?
While sauntering back toward downtown I noticed a groovy gathering in the city park hosted by the “Pink Pride Twirly Girls” of Mendopia. They were presenting the annual universal consciousness games including the “Tug of Peace” (nobody pulls) and the “Float of Hope” where portly enviros were floating belly up in an enormous pink doughboy pool with small stuffed polar bears atop their distended bellies symbolizing the breakup of the Arctic ice cap into drifting icebergs stranding soon to be extinct polar bears if global warming isn't reversed.
A local feminist action group called “torpedoes not bombs” gave a graphic demonstration of effective social protest by using their bodies as political tools and exposing their torpedoes. Fersure, fersure. Not exactly torpedoes, more like bodacious ta-tas flapping in the breeze — Mendopia’s own Pandora Peaks.
Time to split!
Heading south down Ridgewood Grade into Tommy Wayne Kramer's beloved, bucolic Ukiah Valley, I hatched a brilliant idea to significantly increase revenues for Mendopia’s dwindling public services: tax dreadlocks — by the inch.
Joe Don Mooney
Dear Mr. Anderson,
Nice to see that the second volume of your Mendocino Papers project is in print. I enclose $25. Please send me a copy of “Mendocino Noir” at your earliest convenience. I look forward to reading it as I do Volume 3. I hope the thieving bastard who swiped your computer develops a conscience and returns it. I also hope you had your files backed up on a separate disk or hard drive.
I’ve really been enjoying the AVA lately. I am particularly fond of Steve Sparks’s “Lives & Times of Valley Folks.” It’s one of the best things you’ve published. As a subscriber from a distant land, it’s nice to “meet” a lot of these people you’ve mentioned in the paper over the past ten or eleven years. (My God, have I really been subscribing for that long?!)
Mr. Cockburn has also been doing excellent work of late. I’ve been largely indifferent to his columns over the previous year for some reason. (I ordinarily think he’s fantastic.) But he has enraged me again over the last month or so. The one national columnist I do miss is Nicholas von Hoffman. I believe you mentioned once that you had a somewhat special arrangement (fee-wise) that enabled you to publish his columns. Did that expire?
My favorite writing in the paper, however, is yours. That’s been top-notch, as always. So thanks.
In closing I want to thank you for the recent tip-off to the Cometbus zine. I had never heard of it but, being kind of a bookstore junkie myself, a history of Berkeley bookstores sounded exciting. I took your advice and ordered it. You were right: terrific writing at an embarrassingly small price. (I did send a few extra bucks though.) Thanks for that recommendation. It was a good one.
I hope this letter finds you and your family well.
Downers Grove, Illinois
To the Editor,
I really got a good laugh out of an article in the Empire News Section of today’s (August 4, 2009) Press Democrat titled “Sheltering Salmon.” I can remember starting back in the late 1960s when the hippie/environmentalist types would scream to high heaven if a logging company would dare to drop trees into a creek or river claiming it would harm the fish. Well, golly gee whiz, now these same groups of people are purposely putting trees into waterways claiming it is for shelter for the fish.
Personally, I see this as more proof positive that the hippie/environmentalist crowd absolutely do not have any idea whatsoever of what they are talking about. And remember, these are the same people who are trying to shove the concept of global warming down our throats.
At first I watered the seed. This at 420. But then I thought, 420 is all day, every day.
I don't know what all the fuss is about. The answer to taxing marijuana is legalize it. Then, no problems.
A BREAK FROM ROUTINE
Dear Lord Greystoke:
It is not entirely clear whether Ignatio Hephalumpe (July 29) is suggesting that 1. since he feels AVA letter have become repetitious, a letter from me would fit in quite well, or 2. since, etc., a letter from me would be a refreshing change. (Does Mr. H really finger Pres. O. as advance man for WWIII?
Regardless, 1. I hope Ignacio keeps writing to you, and 2. enclosed is a check for a “signed copy with personal inscription” of Mendocino Noir.”
PS. If you and your Lady are ever up here again, and the idea appeals, I’d be delighted to buy each of you a coffee concoction at Free City.
HOW TO DRY FARM
In response to my recent letter encouraging dry farming of grapes, to save our river and its dependent wildlife, I got the notice below of a morning workshop on the advantages of dry farming and how it's done. I hope many Anderson Valley vineyard people will attend and consider switching from harmful irrigation to dry farming.
* * *
Dry Farming: From the past to the present. Reduce capital & operating cost; boost the bottom line. Wed., August 26th, 9-11:30am. Spend the morning learning the history, techniques and tools of dry farming grapes. Join Paul Bernier in his vineyard demonstrating these techniques to produce quality hillside Zin and Petite Sirah. These practices are not the only solution to our current water problems but will give you alternatives to turning on the tap. Location: West Dry Creek Rd., Healdsburg. Directions will be sent with confirmation. Additional speakers include Terry Harrison, who has dryfarmed grapes, apples and pears for 20 years, and Dave Runsten, policy director or CAFF (Community Alliance with Family Farmers).
Sponsored by North Coast Chapter of the Community Alliance with Family Farmers (www.caff.org) and CASWI (www.agwaterstewards.org). Refreshments served. $20 per person/$10 for CAFF members. Space is limited. Please RSVP by August 24th to: firstname.lastname@example.org
With a blanket pulled over her head, Detective Diana Woodduck of Deadtree nests in a hollow log near a woodland lake beside some decapitated trees. Jeez.
I'm not Ripley, believe ID or not. America shall become paved. Wo ho! So ho then. Bad weather Farina bangs her black dish and cries, Washington State license tags say Evergreen.
At loggerheads with logging, the Raven Roost at Fort Bragg High School has become a dirty place — Rubicon asphalt approaches — our terrorist.
Please tree me, I'm bushed. And no parking.
BTWDD and FB Deadtree
MENDO REAL ESTATE TODAY
I get asked a lot what the local real estate market is like here on the Coast and in Anderson Valley. Well, it hasn’t been a year that things have flown off the shelves, that’s for certain. Buyers are cautious because of the overall economy and fears that they might lose jobs or investments, although confidence is coming back, especially with the hot stock market we’ve just seen. However, they are out looking — they are just looking for bargains. We have a few of those, particularly in the Fort Bragg area. Anderson Valley is seeing some of that in the lower end, but not as much in the higher end of the market.
One thing that I personally have noticed is a lack of available properties, especially in the Anderson Valley. I have several buyers who would like to buy there (maybe you’re one of them) and yet there just aren’t that many properties available. There are about 25 residential listings in the Anderson Valley and many of those are in the higher end, not what the current buyer is looking for. So if you have been thinking of listing your home for sale, the time isn’t as bad as you might be thinking.
In our office here on the Coast we are seeing an upswing in people stopping by and asking about listings. It was quiet for a couple of months, so this increased traffic is welcome. The weather has been a bit foggy but we had a couple of absolutely stunning days recently, where the sun was out, the ocean was smooth and you just wanted to hang out at the beach.
Along the lines of local events coming up that you might want to take advantage of, August 29th is the Great Day in Elk. This is a community celebration like no other! It starts at noon with a parade down highway one, followed by lots of food, entertainment, kids games, crafts, vendors and “world famous” margaritas; we also have a local high school band at 7:30pm that evening, followed by the Pollinators, a great dance band. I’m the president of the Greenwood Community Center board this year and we are working hard to make this a fabulous Great Day! I hope you can join us!
Your warm, heartfelt remembrance of Rosalie Reynolds was much appreciated. We were deeply saddened to hear of her passing.
Rosalie and her husband, Jack, were outstanding citizens in Willits where we met them through friends of the Willits Library. They pioneered the successful Friends of the Library Book Sale and were dedicated activists promoting literacy and other social causes.
They were instrumental in getting the ballot measure passed that enabled Willits to build a new library.
Without their heroic efforts the Willits library would still be in the old Carnegie Library building or, as one “citizen” suggested, in a double wide modular in the County Museum parking lot — a stationary bookmobile.
We could say that Rosalie Reynolds was a class act, but it wasn't an act. She was a genuinely classy lady.
Don & Meryl Morris
I want to let your readers know about a crisis in public education that is currently taking place here in Mendocino County. At last Monday evening’s board of education meeting (in Mendocino on the Coast), one of the items discussed was the closure of the Elk (Greenwood) school. The gist of the board’s reasoning in considering such a move is that budgetary pressures require it, given declining enrollment. But when I asked the board if they had any method of assessing or even measuring the impact of a decision to close one of our smaller schools, they replied that they had neither method nor criteria for developing any such method.
Is this the way we want to see such decisions made? What is the impact on a community when its school is closed? What might be the impact of such a move on our common future across the county? Can administrators consider that fiscal savings in the current budget crisis adequately offset impacts that they obviously have not even taken into consideration in any responsible way?
Public education is in trouble here as elsewhere owing to numerous factors that the current economic woes we all face only exacerbate. It seems to me that this is a moment when we should all voice our concerns and state our interests on the matter. The board essentially told those of us assembled in Mendocino Monday night that if the numbers don’t add up by Friday, i.e., if enrollment doesn’t bring the per-child cost of continuing the Elk school in its current form into closer conformity with schools in other communities (Albion, Mendocino, Comptche, etc.) then the school in Elk will be closed or reorganized.
Again, the folks making this decision have no idea what the impact of implementing it might be. Tightening our belts is one thing. Throwing away our clothing is another, and if we are about to take such an action, hadn’t we better at least stop to think about how cold it might get later?
FIVE BIG MYTHS
As we face the Measure A Monster Mall initiaive this fall, it is important to know what the real facts are on how Big Box retail affects our communities. Opinions are a dime a dozen, and they will be thrown around ad nauseum. At The Institute for Local Self-Reliance website you can find documented detailed facts on The Five Myths about Big Box Retail.
MYTH: Big Box Stores Create Jobs. FACT: Studies by independent economists show that big-box stores eliminate more retail jobs than they create.
MYTH: Big-Box Stores Boost Tax Revenue. FACT: The tax benefits of big-box stores are negated by the cost of providing public services to these developments and declining tax revenue from existing commercial districts.
MYTH: Big-Box Stores Grow the Economy. FACT: Trading independent retailers for big-box chains shrinks the volume of activity in the local economy.
MYTH: Big-Box Stores Bring Competition and Consumer Choice. FACT: Big-box stores often displace numerous small and mid-sized stores, leaving fewer shopping options and less competition.
MYTH: Big-Box Stores are the Only Option. FACT: More cities and towns are saying no to additional big-box development and nding better ways to grow by creating and expanding local businesses.
Thank you for voting No on Measure A to save our local, small town values and economies.
THE LAST PLAN
The Board of Supervisors is supposed to take final action on the General Plan Update on Monday, August 17. We have looked over the final draft and are fairly pleased with what we see. Of course it is not perfect. But when one considers what the plan looked like last year at this time it is easy to see that thanks to the effort of so many members of our community, the trend has been toward a much better plan. Some of the language is a bit vague, and the details on the implementation of some important policies will be worked out in the coming months and years. But there are many good policies that will guide land use planning in a positive direction over the next couple of decades.
Based on past experience, we think it quite possible, however, that a last minute push to seriously weaken key provisions could be made on August 17. So we are asking again for you to contact the Supervisors and urge them to adopt the plan as it is currently written. It’s time to consolidate our gains and not let them slip away.
On request we will send a sample letter addressing a few particular policies that we have all worked so hard for. (For a copy of the sample letter email Ms. Herr at email@example.com.) We want to make sure they stay in the plan as they are, without elimination or dilution.
Once the plan is adopted, we will let you know what to expect over the next several months. We will also provide a brief recap highlighting some of the important changes that were made in both the Anderson Valley Local Plan and the overall General Plan Update thanks to citizen participation in the process.
Letters and e-mails to the Supervisors are best sent so they are received by Thursday, August 13 if at all possible and by Friday, August 14 at latest. The meeting agenda has not been posted so the start time is not yet known. Check the County website for updates.
It would be a big help for the Board to see some fresh faces. Only a couple of board members participated in the Planning Commission hearings so they really need a reminder that this effort was broad-based, with wide community support.
Again, thanks for all your efforts and the many kind words of encouragement.
Gene Herr, Barbara Goodell,
Kathy Bailey, Kathy Borst
NOT TO ROGERS
While in Boonville I picked up your paper. The Kenny Rogers article was great. Hilarious reporting! Please sign me up.