Off the Record (January 1, 2020)

TERRY d’SELKIE of Comptche, posting on her facebook page, December 26:

“DEAD STANDING TREES! Mendocino Redwood Company is still breaking the law! They have not removed the dead standing trees. When you or I break the law, we are either arrested or cited and have to go to court. When MRC breaks the law, they are cajoled into being in "working groups" or "community forums" and such to help them figure out how NOT to break the law. I'm done with law breakers. I filed a complaint with planning and building and now MRC has to answer to that complaint within 30 days. We will see what transpires.”  

(Ms. d’Selkie’s complaint was filed before December 26 when she posted this note on her facebook page. We’re not sure when the 30 day deadline for a response from the County is. But the complaint response is supposed to be on the agenda of the recently formed Measure V ad hoc committee consisting of Supervisors Ted Williams and John Haschak who are also supposed to be discussing the economics of tanoaks — a subject which has been talked to death in the past. MRC stands firm in their position that poisoning thousands of acres of tanoaks to make room for more commercial species is the only (i.e., cheapest) way to handle them. And now that they have poisoned thousands of acres of tanoaks, Supervisor Haschak’s ill-considered and newfound interest in their potential value is irrelevant because the damage has been done and talking about yet again is simply a way for MRC to buy time until the question of what to do with the already poisoned and even more valueless tanoaks is moot.)

IF MENDO WAS SERIOUS about enforcing the will of the voters as Ms. d’Selkie suggests, they’d forgo the endless talk&squirt discussions and demand a plan from MRC outlining what the company plans to do about their tanoaks to comply with the law. If no plan or no satisfactory plan is provided, then, yeah, go to court. All it would cost is some of the County Counsel’s time and might put MRC in a bad enough light that they’d be pressured into at least promising no more poisonings. Why is Mendo so reluctant to go to court, especially when they have a strong letter from their own County Counsel, Christian Curtis, that should lead MRC to make major concessions?  

THE SOCO BOARD of Supervisors has agreed to spend roughly $11 million on hurry-up housing for the "homeless," the catch-all term that includes a tiny minority of what you might call legitimately homeless people who don't earn enough money to live, but in living fact consists mostly of people whose addictions and/or behavior has put them out on the streets. 

SONOMA COUNTY says it will spend $11 million to set up two sanctioned indoor-outdoor camps with "on-site services" and buy or lease homes for up to 80 people. Well, good, but what's missing from the plans to spend huge amounts of money on very difficult people is compulsion, that it will all just sort of work out without compelling the walking wounded to leave their impromptu communities of like persons for conventional shelter and "treatment." 

BEFORE we lost our way in America circa 1967, there was a consensus that people unwilling or unable to care for themselves were placed in state and federal hospitals until they were competent. Or they went to jail. But now, even the mention of words implying mandatory evoke a coordinated howl of opposition from the people paid to "work with" the homeless. ($330 million in San Francisco last year, and look at San Francisco.) If any candidates — local, state or federal — are even talking about hospitalization or incarceration (shooting up dope behind the Ukiah Safeway is illegal, right?) they've escaped our notice. 

HERE in Mendocino County a lot of public money and time has been spent on the homeless, little of it clarifying, none of it resulting in anything other than more of the same — shelter in the winter months, meals here and there, housing for the tiny number of people who qualify for what there is of low-cost indoors — all of it adding up to enabling drug and alcohol addicted men (mostly men but a few women), wandering around Ukiah and Fort Bragg committing petty crimes to get money to get drugs.

EXPAND existing jails to house and treat the addicted, set up FEMA units for the working or trying to work, homeless? 

HERE IN MENDO, the County Jail is being expanded to accommodate the new realities of social collapse, and credit Sheriff Allman again for his far-sightedness. 

LONG TERM housing (for a few people anyway) could be established at the old Point Arena Radar Station, an abandoned little village complete with bowling alley and gym high on the ridge east of downtown PA. It has sat uninhabited for years. How many other abandoned properties, or County-owned properties, are there that could be converted fast to trailer parks and tiny house sites, as per the ignored suggestion by former supervisor, John Pinches? But the wandering population of Thanatoids, drug addicts and mentally ill require sequestration until they can cope, if they aren't so damaged they'll never cope, and there's an ever-larger population of the Nevers. 

SONOMA COUNTY'S emergency allocation of $11 mil will not do anything about the free range drug people because it doesn't come with mandatory, and beyond the public statement that SoCo will allocate the money, plans to house the houseless are vague to non-existent.

THIS ON-LINE COMMENT resonated with me: "Sensible folks eschew weed in favor of being clean and sober! Life is better when you are not loaded all the time. Try it for a couple of years, and you may agree too… I can't smoke modern cannabis, the smallest amount is too damn strong, and I have worked at the hospital, so I have seen the drug-wrecks of Humboldt and Trinity and Mendo Counties, up close, so thanks for your contribution to the North Coast Drug Paradigm... You cured your counties of having available services."

DON'T KNOW about "available services" unless the writer is saying dope-related people have overwhelmed public help for "straight" citizens, but we worked with a guy who smoked the new, improved bazooka, famously commenting, "This new Mendo stuff knocks me out for three or four hours. It's great!" Prob was we had a certain number of necessary daily tasks to complete, and MIA for hours at a time meant more work for everyone else.

BACK IN THE DAY, when a lotta hippies were taking advantage of welfare programs, the hippies got blamed for sucking up too many public services, but that blame invariably came from the professional hippie bashers of the day; they blamed hippies for everything and tended overwhelmingly to be politically hostile to any government programs that helped people needing help. Which isn’t to say there weren’t a few long-haired deadbeats scamming the system, but official Mendo of the time used hippie welfare fraud as an excuse to institute draconian measures that harmed everyone, the legit and the un-legit needy alike. Help these days, scant and austere as it is, is at least available. 

TWAS THE DAY AFTER CHRISTMAS and all through the house not a creature was stirring, except for my spouse. My stockings were flung over there on the floor I was hoping a clean pair was left in the drawer. The children were long gone to live their own lives, one found a husband, the other some wives. I woke to a clatter and heard her yell “OUCH!” Seemed that she slipped and fell onto the couch. The empty beer bottles I left on the floor were no doubt too much for her feet to ignore. When she finally cornered me in the back room, I gave her a present in exchange for the broom. Putting my finger inside of my nose I pulled out a booger and called it a rose. Yes, Christmas is finally over at last, it came on so slowly and ended so fast! — Jim Gibbons

THE RUSSKIES CAN'T FOOL ME! I've read some long magazine pieces describing how the Russians interfered with the 2016 elections, and I still don't get it, although it's obvious the potato-faced tricksters preferred Trump over Hil, probably because they accurately viewed him as more manipulable than Hil, a company gal in her bones certain not to upset traditional ways and means of America's imperial dominance. Trump, as we've seen, has upset the entire spy apparatuses that went after him even before the election results were in, and he's also made his own foreign policy. Jeez, Mr. Boonville Provincial, what do you know? Are you for the Orange Monster? No, I'm not, but I like the way he's upset agencies like the CIA and the FBI and I'm repulsed at how the libs have suddenly elevated these monstrous organizations to the last words in national veracity. Talk about turning historical fact on its head! To repeat, I see Trump as the perfect reflection of our culture at this time, and I see him as hastening the general decay and decline. I see Bernie and maybe Liz as antidotes, but too little too late even if the Money People don't prevent their election. I expect to vote Third Party. Millions of us do.

BUT THE FAKE NEWS the Russians have put out there… Well, is it any more misleading than mass media have always been? Was it Russians who cooked up that Facebook video to make Pelosi look like she was drunk at a press conference? I thought it was funny, but it was also at-a-glance unconvincing because I know that it was so wildly out of character from everything we know about Pelosi that it was obviously false. Still, though, I bet lots of people thought the old girl was on the sauce. But most truth tampering is more subtle than Pelosi-as-drunk but will still fool the easily fooled and won't fool the healthily skeptical. And what else is new?

THE OLD CLICHE is that good speech drives out bad speech, but in the daily deluge who has the time? Why right here in progressive Mendocino County how many forums are genuinely open to back talk? The letters columns of the remaining paper-papers are open to robust dissent except for the Beacon-Advocate, which has always kept out opinion likely to upset what it apparently views as its easily upset readers. KZYX? Like the Advocate-Beacon, free speech Philo has always lived in fear of… You Name It and, besides, has always been a private little audio club heavy on candy-assed political opinion of the NPR type. (My old buddy, Bobby Bushanksy, even has a regular KZYX hour called, "Politics, A Love Story." I ask you!) I listen to NPR every morning when I'm walking because it's so annoying it makes me move faster. Last Saturday morning, for instance, there was a solid twenty minutes of uber nuzzlebum Scott Simon and some other silly willies reading a children's story! I startled an old boy retrieving his morning newspaper when, so repulsed I suddenly yelled, "Christ spare me!" Fortunately, he had to have seen my ear phones and knew I was reacting to something I'd just heard. In San Anselmo — heavy NPR territory — a sudden shout is instantly all over Neighborhood Watch; a second shout brings the cops. Of course AVA people know that the mawk-minded are typically closet fascists, another reason to oppose them and their bi-product at every opp, and you know if Scott Simon and Terry Gross appeared in person In Mendocino County only the outdoor Boonville Fairgrounds could accommodate the crowd.

INSULTING phone message of the week: The recorded announcement begins, "This message is from a debt collector." Then this imperious female voice recites a number and says, “Call before it’s too late.” Who returns a bill collector's call? And the e-mail insults pile up by the hour. Lately they've been heavy on sexual invitations — “Meet Russian Ladies!” Ladies, please! The fires of spring are long extinguished! The great curse long ago lifted!

A READER NOTES: "What rankles me is the highly selective quality of the sensitivity. Perceived verbal slights pertaining to race or gender are on hair trigger, but sponsoring mass murder in other countries, undermining their governments, not taking care of our own people...no problem with any that. I'd like to see more outrage at the bigger transgressions, and less at the piddly stuff. Some perspective, please." 

ED NOTE: Agreed. It's a sensitive time, and a lot of people don't read well, getting all het up about the wrong things. As the wilfully aggrieved multiply, the worst of them seize upon the slightest offense and blow it up to the equivalent of physical murder, of which there is much more than there was before all the linguistic sensitivity. A lot of this hyper-sensitivity is simple bullying by unhappy people who conflate their personal misery with the grander issues of the day, at least that's been my experience.

ON THE OTHER HAND, going from lab to lib, political fascists really are coming in the media windows. Ever hear Don Imus? Or that other idiot, Howard Stern? Both of them were/are painfully unfunny. Ditto for Rush Limbaugh, celebrated by the political right as a great wit. A friend told me that everyone in DC listened to Imus in the morning, meaning the national government thought he was boffo, not that I’m surprised.

ONLY A HOBO

“The present day social disorder continues to wash tragedy upon our shores and a recent one came with the news Jimmy Isenhart, a local beggar who exhausted the term “transient” a long time ago, had been murdered.

I read the news in Bruce McEwen’s front page Anderson Valley Advertiser account which came complete with a photo of the forlorn and dissipated Jimmy alongside that of his killer, Isaiah Bennet. From the photo Bennet appears to be a young and sturdy fellow and is a state prison veteran with a long and violent record. When arrested he told police he felt bad about what happened because he’d have to go back to prison.

Bennett, Isenhart

Jimmy Isenhart, blind and homeless and as sad a man as we routinely encounter, was sitting down when Bennet kicked him in the face and killed him. In court, Bennet told Judge Faulder “I was a little frustrated that day.”

A clear-cut murder case was mysteriously filed by the DA as assault with battery likely to produce great bodily injury. Stacking it up came to eight years in prison.

All things taken together I knew Jimmy fairly well. We talked when we encountered one another and I gave him small amounts of money. in conversation he had an eager, childlike enthusiasm and always painted his life in the rosiest of terms.

One cold frosty morning I spotted him at the Safeway entrance on State Street and asked how he’d fared the night before. “Great!” Jimmy said cheerfully. “I had this extra blanket I got yesterday so when everybody else was freezing I was nice and warm!” Lemonade out of lemons, that was Jimmy.

Just a blind beggar from somewhere else, a life not worth much. About eight years I guess.

Jimmy Isenhart wasn’t Aristotle, but neither was he a dog. One more tragedy tossed on the pile."

— Tommy Wayne Kramer (Tom Hine hands the microphone to Bob Dylan, 1962: ‘His face was all grounded in the cold sidewalk floor / I guess he’d been dead for a whole night or more / He was only a Hobo but one more is gone / Leavin’ nobody to carry him home…’) TWK says Happy New Year

BRUCE McEWEN NOTES: 

Re: Tommy Wayne Kramer’s excerpt on Jimmy Isenhart — Steven Ryan, an older housed white man got 11 years for killing Christopher De’Shaun Davis, a younger homeless black man; not far from where a younger housed black man, Isaiah Bennett, killed Jimmy Isenhart, an older homeless white man. It makes for a curious juxtaposition to set these two cases side-by-side and contemplate the obverse ironies… Over to you, James Marmon: Tell us what it all means. 

ON LINE COMMENTS OF THE WEEK

[1] I am almost 70 years old and have lived in Los Angeles for the past ten years. This place has no soul. My friend and I want to leave here and buy a small house in a nice town with normal people. The only problem is that any of these towns that might exist are filled with depressed people, some slumped over their steering wheels dying of heroin overdoses while their toddler children sit in the back seats of the cars freezing, screaming and starving. Starving for food, warmth and affection. Too old to fight the snow and frozen roads and sidewalks. Wish I had a pretty lake to swim in Spring, Summer and Fall with a nice mild Winter. And the quaint town of my childhood back again. I wish it wasn’t so, but I will probably die here in this hell hole with nothing but my memories of swimming lakes and pretty gardens with bluebirds and robins and cardinals singing. And in my memories I can hear my grandma saying, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” Merry Christmas.

ED NOTE: Well, Willits has the Boy Scout Lake and there are mini-lakes at Brooktrails and Fort Bragg.

[2] I am a feminist and I do not buy into the Trans-insanity. In fact, I find the whole dick in a dress pantomiming ‘Woman’ beyond distressing. Cultural appropriation has nothing on what these faux-women are attempting to make their own and erasing the entire biological female sex while they do it. So relieved to know that the most difficult thing about being a woman is not the threat of rape or access to safe abortions but deciding what to wear! You know that society is circling the bowl when your Gynecologist can’t say ‘Pregnant Woman’ but must say ‘Pregnant Person’ and agree that Trans-women have periods and send out reminders for pap-smears to people who don’t and never will have a cervix! This mass-delusion needs to be knocked back before our legal system and society are damaged beyond the point of no return.

[3] If fast food is driving obesity, why aren’t McDonald’s customers fatter than average? It was a performance artist who came up with that notion, and it is surprising to see it carried throughout the media as if it were hard scientific fact. On second thought, no it is not. The purveyors of the diet that is fueling obesity would just as soon have a major corporation like McDonald’s take the heat, as their customers won’t do any different. In my estimation, it is the low fat diet causing the problem, in large part. Diabetics don’t just have to watch their sugar intake. They also have to watch their carbohydrate levels. Eating fat does not cause a spike in blood sugar levels. In the 1990s, I believe it was, the old “food pyramid” was redesigned, and suddenly a healthy diet included a whopping amount of what we used to call starch. Is it a coincidence that Big Food had a say in the new guidelines? The “healthy” diet that Michelle Obama (who used to work for Big Food)) jumped in to rescue school kids from being overweight with, is in actuality a low fat diet.

[4] There is no logic at work and no trusted institution so I fear your worst fears have already taken root. Neither party has even the slightest credibility and after 8 Obama years of hope with no change (except for the worst) in medical care, housing, and income for most of us, we don’t really believe a rescue plan is shaping up. It IS important that the people who participated in this travesty be indicted but even if indictments are issued it will turn into a political they’re-prosecuting-us-b/c-they’re-against-us-for-trying-to-stop-Trump and will be spun into this narrative across the media. Just look at the number of people who still believe Trump should be prosecuted for “obstruction of justice” of the Mueller report even though it proved to be a false accusation. Another reason people are cynical is even though we’re still paying for the 2008 crash, it doesn’t take much investigation to see that crime does indeed pay — especially crime that was legalized under Clinton, Greenspan, Rubin and Summers. A friend of mine’s son was a hedge fund guy who AIG paid $50 million in “insurance” when the stock market crashed. He created no jobs, built no factories, invented absolutely nothing but is still wheeling and dealing in this market and it’s all perfectly legal. Has even one of the Democratic candidates said a word about re-criminalizing all the janky Wall Street stunts?

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