CORRECTION: Glenn McGourty does not live in Potter Valley. No sir, Glenn in fact lays his fraught noggin each night on his crocheted Farm Bureau pillow — the one with the lambies gamboling beneath the Potter Valley Diversion — on Old River Road between Ukiah and Hopland.
GRAIL DAWSON of Mendocino has died at age 99. A tall, courtly, old school gentleman of liberal perspectives, Grail and his wife Betty Barber, who survives her husband, anchored much of the frenetic oppositional energy characteristic of Mendocino County from the 1970s through the early 2000's.
"TRUMP needs to lose the election, and badly. But it seems like a lot of Dems think that everything was pretty much OK until Trump took office, and if we can just get back to the status quo ante, everything will be all right. Add to that the fact that impeachment is making liberals celebrate spies, prosecutors, and heavily medaled soldiers—people no one on the left should have any warm feelings towards—and you get a serious feeling of derangement." (Doug Henwood, Left Business Observer)
SPEAKING of derangement, it's long been apparent that leftwing fascists of the antifa type are, in their way, as bad, if not worse than fascist-fascists. Antifa is worse because the claim to represent the high ground, the better way. There they were the other night in Berkeley howling for the ghastly Anne Coulter to be shut down. I think you'd have to go back a ways in American history to find rightwing mobs breaking up leftwing speeches, leaving out of course the rightwing terrorism visited upon black people over much of the nation's bloody life. Personal note: My own experience with being shouted down has come from left-fascists of the Mendo and Bay Area sub-species, who always travel in packs of short, slovenly little things that look like a jail break in Munchkinville. I think it was Norman Mailer who noted that beautiful women always seem more attached to the fascisti than they are to the left, such as it is in its time of invisibility in the U.S. except for these antifa creeps. Maybe the attraction is to the rightwing's money. I mean really, I can't imagine Melania running off with Bernie.
ON THE SUBJECT of fascism, Trump's denunciation of Schiff and Pelosi as "human scum" is, ah, setting the insult bar pretty low for "the leader of the free world." Of course Donny Babe gets it round the clock from every corner of the globe, but still the president oughtta keep the rhetoric on a little higher tone than “human scum”.
THE BEHAVIOR HEALTH FORUM in Caspar last week (Monday, November 25th), inspired nothing but frustration, best expressed by Measure B's lead proponent, Sheriff Allman, who remarked that if he had it to do again, he wouldn't have suffered an 11-person committee to get some mental health programs up and running. The B Committee… Well, they don't even manage an agenda well or assign the committee members specific assignments. Allman also pointed out that of the 305 persons confined that morning to the County Jail, 124 of them were mental cases. And we're sure the Sheriff is aware that the County's three emergency rooms devote a large part of each shift dealing with the mentally ill.
FROM the Mendocino County Historical Journal of December 2019: "Ethel and William [Held] moved into the Perkins Street home in July, 1903. The new dwelling now under construction for Attorney W.D. Held on the corner just west of the Presbyterian Church is to be up-to-date in architectural style and will be an ornament to that part of the city."
IMAGINE THAT. In 1903 what buildings looked like mattered to Ukiah. I'd say it mattered right up until World War Two when it seems Americans were struck blind, that we'd forgotten how central it is to public morale that our structures and communities look good.
ATTORNEY HELD went on to become the County's sole Superior Court judge and served three terms as a State Assemblyman who initiated four lasting progressive laws:
1. Capping the legal interest rate 10%;
2. Provided indigents with free legal defenses;
3. Established direct party primaries instead of the party boss system;
4. Gave counties and municipalities the right of initiative, referendum and recall.
AS A BERNER I'm in regular communication with other Berners, and I can tell you that the consensus Bern feeling is this: If he's screwed again by the Obama-Clintonoid wing of the party, most Berners will go third party. Again. Which will mean another four years for Trump because there are millions of us, especially among the young who already understand how screwed they are. Obama himself is quoted in today’s media torrent as saying he will personally intervene to stop Bernie if it comes to it. (Obama has been loyal to his Wall Street funders, give him that. He also said Biden "doesn't have it," although Biden and Obama are political twins.) The Democrat ticket is shaping up as the nightmarish Mayor Pete and Amy Minnesota, which I, for one, simply don't get as beyond my admittedly simpleminded understanding. Who could these ciphers possibly appeal to?
GINA BEAN, aka Gina Delfiorentino, 41, of Fort Bragg, has been charged after an extensive, months-long investigation for the tragic hit-and-run death of Calum Hunnicutt back in July. Ricky Santos, 35, also of Fort Bragg has been charged with assisting her to hide from investigators after the incident. Coast residents recall that Mr. Santos was himself charged with hit and run last Christmas when he ran over a horse and rider during the Fort Bragg Christmas parade in 2018.
JUST IN: GINA BEAN, the principle suspect in the death of Calum Hunnicutt, was arrested on Monday afternoon. Full details pending.
SUPERVISOR DAN GJERDE WRITES: “Even though we live in a time when people are divided on many things, here’s one thing everyone can agree on: I am one of the most steady and even-keeled chaps you have ever met. An anonymous quote, unfortunately re-published in the November 6, 2019 Off the Record, is *not* describing an incident involving me, if the anonymous quote is indeed referencing a real person at all. Let me be crystal clear: never in my entire life have I ever been pulled over, picked up or dropped off by law enforcement. Anyone who knows me would know this to be true. In the future, please feel free to contact me before re-publishing an anonymous quote that is on its face clearly inaccurate. After all, Mark and Bruce at the AVA both have my public email, my private email and my private cell phone number. I’m readily accessible. Thank you, Dan Gjerde”
APOLOGIES TO DAN GJERDE for passing along a casual libel without checking it.
MR. ROGERS NEIGHBORHOOD. He was big when my children were small, but only my daughter was beguiled by him. When it was time for his show, Daughter would start hopping up and down yelling, "Neighborhood! Neighborhood!" The boys much preferred Sesame Street and Captain Kangaroo. With advertisements for the movie about Fred Rogers unavoidable lately, advertisements convincing me to place the film at the very top of my Don't Watch list, I checked what kind of stuff my grandchildren preferred, and it was, to me, much stranger than the kid's tv of yesteryear, especially in the crude graphics and story lines that bore no relation to what I had assumed was their reality. Say what you will about Mr. Rogers, he brought the small ones a desirable message — be nice. And even I got a charge out of Cap Kangaroo, who could be very funny in ways clearly intended to also amuse adults.
THE ARGUMENTS from the wealthy and their chuckling spokespeople at MSNBC, CNN and Fox against MediCare for all are identical to the arguments the rich made, during The Depression against Social Security and the New Deal generally, while simultaneously denouncing Roosevelt as "a traitor to his class." (FDR was definitely from the plutocracy, but smarter and kinder than most of it.) And that was a time when the malefactors of great wealth were taxed at upwards of 90 percent. The suggestion from Bernie and Liz that the rich be whacked at around 35 percent is denounced by the wealthy and their gofers like Obama as "too far left." Not to be too boring on the subject, but before anybody, especially the anybodys with large audiences, invoke socialism they should also be required to prove they know the diff between all the isms. Bernie, for instance, is barely a socialist, and certainly not the communist the uninstructed and the professional liars denounce him as. Any other place in the world Bern would be a social democrat, a good liberal. In the Russian context of the original Bolsheviks, people like Bernie (and me) were called Mensheviks. The Bolsheviks dispossessed the rich and shot lots of them along with lots of Mensheviks, with Stalin getting totally carried away and murdering lots of poor people he said were kulaks or "rich peasants," meaning families with more than one cow. Free enterprise right down to one chair barber shops were outlawed. Gratifying as it might be to hang a million or so of America's most offensive rich people — beginning with Sean Hannitty and on up through Trump — the Menshevik approach of voluntary socialism via popular votes, is preferable for long-term social stability. Medicare for all would make the lives of millions of Americans a lot easier and, just like the rich opposed Social Security during The Great Depression, the rich are opposed to Medicare For All because, like Social Security, once people got it there was no way people were going to ever give it up.
DENIS ROUSE WRITES: Years ago during the Gorby years I motorcycled around Russia, noticed people still weeping at the statue of Pushkin in St. Petersburg, got real curious, bought a copy of Pushkin's masterpiece "Eugene Onegin", read and somewhat enjoyed the immersion into Russian lit, thought the story of a guy being a jerk with a woman not terribly unusual, then back home I dragged some San Francisco friends to the opera based on Onegin by Tchaikovsky, I enjoyed that too for the experience that added a little lustre to my Russian ride, but my friends haven't forgiven me yet. I sat next to a grand old dame from Nob Hill at the opera house, her aura remains with me. You want to take a look at lit scholarship that's over the top check out Nabokov's 400-page commentary and index on Pushkin's Onegin that makes me feel like a dummy. I'm a NYRB subscriber too mainly because it's a bookstore in print and I find something occasionally of interest, but the overwhelming (to use your great term) lib-lab bias and often obnoxious pedantry gives me a pain in the ass. I think appreciation of lit is a highly personal subjective thing, something either gets you in the kishkas or it doesn't, and while the scholarly criticism and analysis might be interesting in part, it's kind of beside the point. I think Hemingway or someone said, if critics could write, they wouldn't be critics, but that requires a quick apology to Wilson. Best, Denis.”
I REMEMBER those Wilson-Nabokov debates in the NYRB when the mag was much more interesting than it is now. The famous exchanges were way beyond my level of scholarship, but I also remember thinking that Nabokov, as a native Russian speaker, probably was correct in his understanding of the disputed texts. I still subscribe to the NYRB but, as you pointed out, Mr. Rouse, I think it's radically inferior to the London Review and even less generally interesting than The New Yorker. I've given up on The Atlantic, which reads like PhD theses, and Harper's, which reads like the most boring smart people you know trying to out-clever each other. I'm down to three mags these days: The two reviews and the dependably infuriating New Yorker.
BUT MOVIES are better than ever! The Missus and I watched ‘The Irishman’ last night, although she had to be talked into it because she prefers to avoid films heavy on violence. But considering the thing is about gangsters, graphic violence was held to a minimum. She watched the whole three and a half hours without me once running for the smelling salts. Since the NetFlix production is about gangsters of the '50's through the 70's, it was certainly not a filmic walk through Mr. Roger's neighborhood, but it's really, really good, especially the performances of DeNiro and Joe Pesci. As it happened, I'd read the book the film is based on, "I Heard You Paint Houses" by Frank 'The Irishman' Sheeran, the man widely believed to have had a gun hand in the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa. To younger viewers who only have a faint idea of who Jimmy Hoffa was, Sheeran's book is a helpful guide to the events depicted in the movie of how Hoffa's Teamster's union became a kind of piggy bank for organized crime. When, after five years in prison, put there by Bobby Kennedy, Hoffa tried to regain the top spot in the Teamsters, and tried to weed out some of the gangsters, but they weeded him out first. Hoffa's remains have never been found. The Irishman is also very good as a period piece, meticulously re-creating the backdrops for the sixties and seventies that big league crooks operated in. My only criticism of another masterpiece by Scorsese, are two: I didn't think Al Pacino was convincing as Hoffa, and I thought some of the dialogue made the gangsters sound a lot dumber than they were, but a lot of it was sharp and very funny.
THIS COMMENT OBJECTING to our piece on the Supe's candidacy of Glen McGourty:
“WHERE are the stories about the Mexican cartels growing cannabis? Or is that the kind of REAL investigative journalism you *don't do*….Who are they? Where do they come from? Why are Berkeley forestry researchers terrified? They find pit traps in the woods from cartel types. You’ve got a lot of real criminals to go after. So muck rake away! Or is that kind of journalism cost prohibitive? Would it hurt your advertising base? If you really cared about water use, you’d go after them. But aren’t you funded by a lot of ads for pro-cannabis attorneys? Is there some possible editorial bias there? Have you read Mark Arax’s book ‘The Dreamt Land’? How about a book review on THOSE powerful Central Valley water barons who are the worst offenders in the water-ag wars?"
FIRST OFF, the Central Valley water barons, connected at the hip to Dianne Feinstein and her wing of California's Democratic Party, are only a larger version of Mendo's water barons in their greed and tenacious defense of what they seem to regard as their God-granted draw on the Eel River Diversion. The Napa Valley has instituted some basic rules re water use. Given the influence of Mendo's wine mafia, Mendo has none, and has even resisted a state suggestion that they write their own water rules!
ADVERTISING BASE? What advertising base? Anyway, if the cops can't get into the cartels, assuming they exist beyond family groups as mafia-like associations, let us know how we might get a Mexican cartel grower to talk to us? It's a big subject, so big that the big media, at least the accounts on the cartel subject I've seen, have been merely vaguely incriminating. Which isn't to say that organized drug operations aren't present in Mendocino County, as evidenced by the readily available but hopefully not prevalent methamphetamine and opioids. Water? To compare the water consumed by widely dispersed marijuana grows to the water consumption of the ever-proliferating vineyards defies logic. How many cartel grows would it take to equal in water (and chemical) consumption a forty acre vineyard? Lots. Anyway, outlaw pot grows in the Emerald Triangle these days seem to be a veritable United Nations of growers, ranging from Bulgarians in east Mendocino County to Cambodians in Trinity County, a whole new ballgame from the long ago days estranged hippies began their evolutionary botanic experiments that brought the world's stoners Mendo Mellow.
WHICH isn't to say organized crime isn't a problem in Mendo. Quick story. In March of 2001, a young man named Jaime Vasquez was shot to death in a vineyard less than a mile from my house. Someone had persuaded him to drive out for an isolated rendezvous on some pretext or other. When he arrived at dusk with his wife and infant, several men jumped from hiding and shot him to death. His wife, carrying the couple's now fatherless child, made her way back to Boonville. The body of Vasquez was never found, but the Sheriff's Department's dogged investigation did result in the arrest of one man eventually convicted of being an illegal in possession of a weapon, a handgun, but, as I recall, not the murder weapon. That man was packed off to the state pen but never revealed who else was involved in the disappearance of Mr. V. We asked around on our own and, no surprise, found out zero. I know from my experience of trying to get information on much less serious matters from the immigrant community that no one in that community, a large one in the Anderson Valley, is going to talk, least of all to a nosy gringo. Philosophically, I think things are out of control in so many ways that wealthy water hogs are just one more contributing factor to the prevailing social-environmental breakdown. PS. In terms of scale, the biggest crime in the history of Mendocino County (apart from environmental atrocities) occurred in 1987 when well-organized gringo criminals burned the heart out of Fort Bragg. And got clean away with it. And the twenty boxes of incriminating evidence "disappeared" from the DA's office. (DA Susan Massini presiding.)
I'D NEVER HEARD of NewsMax — "real news for real people" — until a relative told me about it. As a more or less real people myself, I immediately tuned it in and found an even more frothingly wacky production than Fox has going, with a fat guy threatening civil war if Trump is removed from office. (Better lay off the Cheetos, big boy, if you're going to war.) But then there was actually a sputter-free expose of Tom Steyer, the San Francisco billionaire who has bought his way on to the Demo candidates' stage. Turns out Steyer, a hedge fund parasite, who is selling himself as an environmentalist, is heavily invested in coal-fired energy plants and tar sands pipe lines.
POOR OLD CHARLES HENSLEY is dead. That's what a reader posted this morning, and why would anybody report him dead if he wasn't? We followed the guy through the Catch of the Day for a number of years, ghoulishly wondering how long he could last before his liver gave out completely. Ms. Davin, who checks in below, knew him best, at least among ava people including Bruce McEwen and James Marmon, who also write feelingly of the late Mr. Hensley. We've complained over the years that the Hensleys of Mendocino County are avoided by the helping professionals, at least partly because he, and they, are not "reimburseable." The helping pros don't get paid to help the Hensleys, so… To be fair, the Hensleys are beyond help short of time outs in county jails. The photo accompanying these comments was taken at the County Jail by Ms. Davin, and you can see from it how good he looked sober, and Ms. Davin's interview with him was surprising in that Hensley thought he was doing well and how optimistic he seemed sober for the first time in months. Used to be the Hensleys got longer time to dry out in state hospital programs, long enough to maybe even reconsider the drop-fall drinking life. Anymore, though, they die alone in the cold and rain in the parking lot at Home Depot.
MARILYN DAVIN: If Charlie’s death came up at a public county-government forum, I doubt it would take longer than a minute or two for the blame game to kick off. Law enforcement should have rehabilitated him, social services should have done more when he was an eight-year-old boy, all alone, caring for his dying mother, mental health should have found somewhere for him to live, on and on. This is not that discussion. I only know two things for sure: one of Ukiah’s native sons should not have died in a big-box parking lot on a sub-freezing night over the Thanksgiving weekend while most of the rest of us were chowing down in our warm homes; and every one of us must shoulder some of the blame. We are responsible for one another. Though I don’t know the specifics I suspect that Charlie died alone in that cold parking lot, just as he struggled alone as his dying mother’s caregiver when he was just eight years old.
BRUCE MCEWEN: I hope he’s in a better place — in fact, since it’s hard to imagine anything worse than a Home Depot parking lot, I’m pretty sure he is; at least his temporal problems are over, and they must have been as onerous as his punishment was egregious, the Universe being so fond of balance. I took him a hot meal one wet night when I found him camping in the alcove of the long-abandoned building next to the Forest Club.
JAMES MARMON: Charles Hensley, a true hobo (aka Homeward Bound)
If God had a name what would it be?
And would you call it to his face?
If you were faced with Him in all His glory
What would you ask if you had just one question?
And yeah, yeah, God is great
Yeah, yeah, God is good
And yeah, yeah, yeah-yeah-yeah
What if God was one of us?
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Tryin’ to make his way home?
If God had a face what would it look like?
And would you want to see if, seeing meant
That you would have to believe in things like heaven
And in Jesus and the saints, and all the prophets?
And yeah, yeah, God is great
Yeah, yeah, God is good
And yeah, yeah, yeah-yeah-yeah
What if God was one of us?
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Tryin’ to make his way home?
LIKE LOTS of people around here I've been following the Hunnicutt tragedy, and like a couple of the comments here have also been surprised at the vehemence of the denunciations of both the cops and the alleged perp. Early on, people were saying a cover-up was underway, that because Gina Bean (one of her many aka's) is related to the late murdered deputy, Ricky Delfiorentino, a widely admired Sheriff's deputy and native of Fort Bragg, the CHP would not pursue the case. The police of course have pursued the case, but we won't see their findings until Gina Bean, who's on the run, is arrested and brought to court. Mean time, and it's a very mean time when the keyboard legions of the righteous sit down at their computers to write about this tragedy, and Gina is routinely denounced as "scum." I'm with the guy who says we should wait for the report to be public. Of course Gina should have stopped, turned herself in, faced what is already very sad music. And maybe the kid did come flying down the hill, unlighted on a dark night, blowing through the intersection. Maybe it was just one of those happenstance lethalities. We will see, but for now I think it's fair to wait.
MCN COMMENT 1: I too commute down Little Lake Road and have done so for way more than 40 years. I cannot tell you how many times I have been sitting at the signal waiting my turn for the green light. When the light changes green on many an occasion I can tell you bicyclists and skateboarders pass me and are already in the middle of the intersection before I can even get started. It seems to be a game to those who participate in this dangerous venture. I do not mean to take sides in this discussion as I was not present at the particular incident that started this, but the pattern is there and has been for a long time. I will add however that since this incident there has been a remarkable reduction and awareness at the present time. It is a shame that something like this must occur to point out the obvious.
MCN COMMENT 2: Not to dishonor the profound loss of Calum’s life, I too have had to avoid a skateboarder flying down Little Lake Road at the same traffic light area. That small individual was wearing dark clothes and if it were not for luck, my happen chance to see him (it was a he since I saw him clearly as he whizzed by) and my quick reflexes I too may have been in a situation that could have been tragic. This I am sure will not be the last time for I see skateboarders are still coming down this hill day and night. That is the reality!
MCN COMMENT 3: You know what. I'm taking a bunch of flack for just offering another point of view other than “she's scum” and I was very clear that I considered it a scenario that was a possibility. You self-righteous people always making negative assumptions make me sick!
MCN COMMENT 4: I would hope that this supposition doesn't get repeated as truth. Wait for the report.
SUNDAY BEGINS with its usual loss. Not a single correct number on my MegaMil picks, and the usual tiresome reminder from a person better not named: "You know the odds are even worse than getting hit by lightning?" I knew a kid once, way back in Borneo, who got hit by lightning twice in one week while playing soccer, the second strike killing him. No, I didn't know him but I read about it. Or heard about it. But equatorial lightning strikes? I know them. God hurls those babies straight down to the ground and sometimes they seem aimed right at you. Later, on tape so I can speed through the commercials, I watch the valiant 49er's lose to Baltimore on a field goal in the last seconds. Then a good short story in The New Yorker by Roddy Doyle called "The Curfew," thinking that if I were his editor I would have talked him out of the ending or tried to. The poem stuck in the middle of Doyle's story is also good, and also a learning experience in that at the bottom it says it's "Translated, from the Portunol" by two persons, each with three names. I wonder if there's anybody at The New Yorker with only two names, or without a hyphenated three-parter. The NPR people all seem have three names, as do lots of libs around here. When did that start? Do they think you'll be unable to tell Joe Blow from Joe Kokomo-Blow? I looked up Portunol to discover that it's an "unsystematic mix of Portuguese and Spanish." I guess there's a systematic mix of the two languages but who could possibly care when the poem's good? Typical New Yorker pretentiousness. Scrolling through the e-mail deluge, a notice begins, " KZYX"… I slumped over my computer. It got me again, that instant, narcoleptic-like blackout my doctor says is probably tangential tedium syndrome (TTS or, informally "tits up"), i.e., immediate loss of consciousness induced by certain capital letters arranged sequentially. There's so many of us we're thinking of forming a therapy group. The bulletin says the radio station is having a board election, a piece of information in interest quotient akin to birds fly.
ON LINE COMMENTS OF THE WEEK
 My 93 year old father can’t work a DVD player, much less a computer. He gets his news from network TV and falls for most of their bullshit. Fortunately, he forgets it all 10 minutes later.
 I can’t seem to shake an overwhelming dread that the people of the USA or perhaps, all humans are obsessed with theatre, accepting fantasies, fairy tales, and illusions at face value as some form of perverse reality. I see everywhere an obsession with the fantasies of politics, television, God, Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, and the Easter bunny with an extra dose of extra-terrestrial aliens, Sasquatch, Nessie, and the Bermuda Triangle; lies and illusions lapped up like mothers’ milk.
Is there anybody out there that would like to venture a guess as to the amount of Internet postings that are generated by computer algorithms? I’m going with 25% minimum.
If these two subject areas seem disparate, then you are probably dreaming about impeachment with visions of sugar plums dancing in your head.
 Nobody wants to talk about declining resources and adjusting our way of life. To do so people would have to admit there are problems to be solved and dangers on our horizon. That is not going to happen.
Denial rules. Monuments of stone in the public square are carved to worship denial and the political system in America is constructed to facilitate the earning of great riches, and not the solution of social ills or a rational system that could endure.
Yet a bigger bigger problem than denial prevents Americans from stepping up to reality.
America is built on exploitation and the worship of inequality. Consequently America is a land without SOLIDARITY which leaves everyone isolated. Justice and a fair shake become impossible in a land of isolation and now with digital enforcement impossible becomes hopeless. Everybody gets picked off one smart phone screen at a time now. Our rulers know their Sun Tzu very well. The American dream is to ‘make it’ and leave everyone else behind. It is a dream without SOLIDARITY which makes all vulnerable.
Any philosophy which expresses a social consciousness is suppressed, and if need be by the deep state violence in America. Socialism in America has the social cache as being publicly outed as a pervert or pedophile.
This will not end well.