- Morning Shower
- Coronavirus Map
- Company Kitchen
- Yorkville Market
- School Bonds
- Humboldt Coal
- Budget Review
- Home Delivery
- Time Change
- Ed Notes
- Yesterday's Catch
- Collective Insanity
- Trump Supporters
- Zombie Joe
- No Clue
- Don't Know
- Great Disrupter
- Drug Costs
- Biden Record
- Suppression Tuesday
- Political Wings
- Rags to Riches
- Ceiling Inheritance
- Bonner Book
- Joe Bitin'
- Diesel Replacement
- Pogo Pres
- Brahman Available
- Found Object
SHOWERS will continue this morning and then taper off during the afternoon. A few showers are possible inland on Sunday and Monday. Drier and warmer conditions are then expected through much of next week. The next chance for widespread rain will be towards the end of next week. (NWS)
CORONA VIRUS INTERACTIVE TRACKING MAP
by Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE)
THE COMPANY KITCHEN, PHILO
MARCH AT THE YORKVILLE MARKET
Spring is almost here, rain is coming (fingers crossed) and here at the Market we are preparing all kinds of delicious foods to share with neighbors and friends.
Friday 3/20 the Market will be hosting our annual St. Patrick's Day Party! Wear your green and bring your favorite limericks to share. We will be serving traditional corn beef and cabbage as well as other fun Irish fare.
Remember, every Friday we will be hosting Happy Hour at the Market. Join your friends for a $5.00 glass of wine, an assortment of freshly prepared items from our deli case, or a lovingly made sandwich from our regular menu. This is a great time to pick up your takeout items for the weekend!
Speaking of takeout- we have tasty pot pies, vegetarian lasagna, vegetable and rice casserole, cheesy beef and noodle bakes and starting next week handmade tamales from Juana's grandmother! These dishes are changing regularly so keep checking in to find out what is available. We would love to hear your ideas on what you would like to pick up too!
Stay tuned for our Easter Brunch on Saturday, April 11th.
Looking forward to seeing you soon!
Lisa Walsh, Yorkville Market
CALMATTERS: SCHOOL BONDS USUALLY ARE A CINCH IN CALIFORNIA — WHAT HAPPENED THIS TIME?
For 20 years, Californians have routinely supported school bonds. This time, up and down the ballot, the early returns aren't looking so positive.
ODD, OLD NEWS: COAL IN HUMBOLDT COUNTY
FORT BRAGG CITY COUNCIL HOSTS PRODUCTIVE MID-YEAR BUDGET WORKSHOP (according to Fort Bragg City Council, anyway)
The Fort Bragg City Council held its Fiscal Year 2019-20 Mid-Year Budget Review on March 5, 2020. An encouraging sign noted by several Councilmembers and the City’s Finance Director, was that there were more members of the public in attendance at this workshop than anyone could remember in recent years. The Mid-year Budget Review addresses the financial activity of the City during the first two quarters of FY 2019-20 and estimates the financial position of the City at fiscal year-end (June 30, 2020). Much of the focus for this Review was the financial status of the City’s General Fund, which is the source of funding for most of the day-to-day operations of the City, including the Police Department, Fire Department, Parks & Facilities, Streets Maintenance, Administration, Finance, Community Organizations (including the Measure AA/AB funding) and Public Works. An updated five-year forecast of the General Fund addresses the longer-term financial health of the City’s finances.
The City’s Finance Department projects an operating shortfall in the General Fund of $78k for the current fiscal year, due primarily to reduced estimates of Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT is also referred to as hotel tax) and sales tax revenues. The revenue increases anticipated by the City’s investment of the Measure AA (See Note 1 below) proceeds in promotional activities and other local attractions fell short of expectations. The expected annual shortfalls continue to grow as expenses, particularly public safety, labor and city pension costs, exceed projected revenue increases. By Fiscal Year 2024-25, that shortfall reaches over $500k a year. On a positive note, the Water and Wastewater Utility Funds continue to be financially sound.
Staff presented the City Council with a number of proposed solutions to the General Fund budget shortfalls. The solutions included placing a sales tax measure on the November 3, 2020 ballot, repurposing the Measure AA funds, and/or reductions to City services and staffing levels.
The City Council directed staff to research a sales tax ballot measure for the November 3, 2020 election and approved funding a Ballot Measure Consultant, who would conduct opinion polls of Fort Bragg residents, to gauge attitudes toward taxation and City services. Based on that baseline data, the consultant would assist the City in developing a strong public education and issue awareness plan.
The Council delayed any action to repurpose Measure AA funds or reduce staff and service levels but reiterated that its highest budget priority for Fiscal Year 2020-21 is adopting a balanced budget. The materials from the Mid-Year Budget Review may be reviewed on the City’s website. Video from the Review will be available early next week.
Questions regarding this information should be directed to Tabatha Miller, City Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (707) 961-2829.
Note 1: In November 2016, the Fort Bragg voters passed Measure AA which increased the City’s TOT rate from 10% to 12%. The nonbinding companion Measure AB recommended that 50% of the additional revenue be used for promotion and marketing Fort Bragg (aka Visit Fort Bragg), 25% of the additional revenue allocated to maintain the Coastal Trail, 12.5% contributed to the Noyo Center for Marine Science and 12.5% used to improve playing fields in Fort Bragg.
COLOMBI MARKET, FORT BRAGG, LEADS THE WAY
Hello everyone, in order to protect the public from spreading a virus we ask that if you are sick please call in your order and we will take your order and the payment over the phone. Please call 964-5773. We can gather up your items and provide you with curbside service. Call us and let us know when you have arrived and we will bring your order out to your car. Thank you and stay well!
DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME STARTS THIS WEEKEND. Most people just want to stop changing their clocks.
QUAINT HEADLINE Friday above a Press Democrat story: "Police say Petaluma man sold pot to high schoolers." In Mendo, it'd be the other way round.
JEEZ, even AOC says she'll vote for Biden if he's the Plutocrats' nominee. And Warren's making Biden-like noises. The hatred of Trump has the Democrats beside themselves, but Biden's hardly the guy to take him on given his failing abilities, never too impressive to begin with. A BBC newscaster described Biden's daily gaffes as "his many vacant moments." Rhetorically, apart from his vacant moments, Biden's rhetoric is as muddled as Trump’s. Me? I'm sticking with Bernie, who's always on message, and remains the only Democrat who can beat Trump because he's the only Democrat who generates real enthusiasm.
MENDOCINO COUNTY: 24% of registered voters' ballots were counted as of March 4. Bernie Sanders: 42.9% — Joe Biden: 15.4% — Elizabeth Warren: 13.6% — Michael Bloomberg: 11.2%. Lake County seems narrowly for Bernie, as does Humco and SoCo. Marin, a bastion of middle-of-the-road extremists and the home of Jared Huffman, who keeps all his fingers and toes to the political winds, went for Biden.
A WORD in defense of Katrina Bartolomei, Mendo Registrar of Voters: The slow count is beyond her control. Voting has changed so fast and so thoroughly with absentee ballots, shaky electronic systems, thousands of disaffected local voters who vote independent, and so on. She's counted about 13,000 votes so far with about 16,000 remaining. There are a total of 51,968 registered voters in the county.
PLAGUE NOTES: Figures from the World Health Organization and Chinese scientists reveal that 1.7 per cent of women who catch the virus will die compared to 2.8 per cent of men. Men were also disproportionately affected during the Sars and Mers outbreaks, which were also caused by coronaviruses. But some experts have said this could be due to higher numbers of males smoking, drinking and generally living Cheeto lives. The elderly and the infirm have also been found to be more at risk of coronavirus with 10.5 per cent of those who catch it with cardiovascular disease expected to die from it.
A JUDGE denied bail for the elderly and ill Bernie Madoff, declaring the old Ponzi maestro to be "extraordinarily evil." Please. He's small time along side the 2008 Gang who were declared by Obama as "too big too fail," so the Fed printed up a buncha extra money and bailed out a relative handful of crooked bankers who should have gone to jail, and all of them did a lot more damage than Madoff.
WHAT MENDO NEEDS TO DO: (1) Simplify the County's laughably (unless you're on the receiving end) complicated pot licensing rules. Scrap them and adopt HumCo's, which seem to be working as an income generator for our neighbor to the north. (2) Cut wayyyyyyy back on Air BnB's, which are obviously de-housing so many Mendo people. (3) Oppose the new County Courthouse, which keeps inching toward reality despite no one, including the DA, is for it. (4) Authorize Sheriff's deputies to write traffic tickets in areas like the Anderson Valley where the CHP seldom appears and where speeding through-traffic is outta hand. (5) Set up trailers for the unhoused on County-owned property (6) invest a portion of County money in low-cost housing rather than distant money markets.
CATCH OF THE DAY, March 6, 2020
MARTIN BRIGGS, Ukiah. Unlawful display of registration, probation revocation.
CARLOS CASILLAS, Lakepot/Ukiah. Failure to appear.
MARCO DAVILA, Point Arena. Probation revocation.
SABRINA DUNCAN, Covelo. False ID, probation revocation.
DALLAS EZELL, Sacramento/Laytonville. Kidnapping, domestic battery, parole violation.
TEVIN HOAGLEN, Covelo. Protective order violation, probation revocation.
BENJAMIN KIMPTON, Ukiah. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun, resisting, probation revocation.
JESUS MACIEL-SANCHEZ, Cloverdale/Ukiah. DUI-alcohol&drugs.
JOEL MEZA-REYES, Fort Bragg. Domestic abuse, domestic battery.
ASHLEY MICKELSON, Gold Beach, Oregon/Redwood Valley. Controlled substance for sale, false ID.
IVAN MORA-FARIAS, Santa Rosa/Ukiah. Pot for sale.
MIKAYLA THRILKILL, Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
TIFFANY WHITE, Ukiah. Domestic battery, protective order violation, probation revocation.
THE BIG QUESTION for the year 2020 is simple: can America get its mind right? If the answer is no, we may not have much chance of continuing as a peaceful, functioning country. The era of the long emergency, as I call it, is of a piece with Strauss and Howe’s figurative winter in their Fourth Turning view of history playing out in generational cycles analogous to seasons of the year. Whatever you call it, the current disposition of things has had a harsh effect on our collective psychology. It has made an unusually large cohort of Americans functionally insane, believing in demons, hobgoblins, and phantoms, subscribing to theories that, in previous eras, children would laugh at, while contesting obvious realities and provoking grave political hazard.
— Tyler Durden, zerohedge.com
THINGS GET INTERESTING
by James Kunstler
They’re kidding, right? Joe Biden? The former vice-president and US champeen influence grifter came back from the dead this Super Tuesday to save the Democratic Party from Bernie Sanders Venezuelizing what’s left of America (after you subtract our awesome debt loads). Things that come back from the dead, of course, are generally not high-functioning, for instance: zombies. Isn’t that exactly what the party has got now in the person of front-runner Zombie Joe?
They are kidding, for sure — kidding themselves — for which they’ve practiced tirelessly the past three-plus years with RussiaGate, MuellerGate, ImpeachmentGate, and sundry extra delusional hustles, including sanctuary cities, cancel culture, the Green New Deal, free everything, and the transsexual reading hour. So, now they’re pretending that Joe Biden is capable when his every utterance suggests that he is gone in the head. That will work for about a week, I reckon. You know something hilariously idiotic will come out every time he mounts a podium unless his handlers duct-tape his pie-hole. And now that the spotlight is off that distracting crowd of also-rans, the cameras and iPhone recorders will catch his every gaucherie — as, for instance, when he declared in New Hampshire recently to a rally audience of ordinary (non-millionaire) voters, “Guess what, if you elect me, your taxes are gonna be raised, not cut.” It’s on video. Smooth move, there, Joe.
And then, there is that giant anvil hanging over Joe B’s head in the form of an investigation into, and possible prosecution for, his shenanigans with son, Hunter, in Ukraine, including a money-laundering trail featuring millions of dollars from Ukraine routed through obscure banks in Estonia and Cyprus to Hunter’s own bank accounts. The Ukies have opened an inquiry, and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee under Ron Johnson (R-Wisc) is ready to subpoena Biden father-and-son. That is, if Sen. Mitt Romney doesn’t stand in the way of a vote for that, as he threatens to do — and he has an interesting motive to do that since his former foreign policy advisor, ex-CIA agent Joseph Cofer Black, was on the board of the same Ukrainian gas company, Burisma Holdings, that employed Hunter Biden at $83,000-a-month for years.
Of course, if Zombie Joe is so obviously non compos mentis before he’s even been nominated, what are the chances that he’ll be able to serve in office a year from now? Somewhere between zilch and nada, I’d say. So, the latest scheme launched this week in chatter from Progressive Hopesterdom has Zombie Joe picking either Hillary Clinton or Michele Obama as his running mate, and then resigning soon after inauguration day, giving this Republic-of-Firsts its first woman president at long, long last.
This is what it’s come to in our new politics of hustles and scams. Though every person over seven-years-old would see through this dodge, what else have they got? Well, a brokered convention, anyway, if Zombie Joe flops spectacularly in the weeks ahead just by showing up and running his mouth, leaving Bernie the Last Man Standing — and the party appears dead set on thwarting Bernie by any means necessary. It’s not impossible that the Dems could rustle up some dark horse candidate in a back room of the Milwaukee Convention Center. I can’t think of anyone just now from, say, the governors’ mansions across the land. And just imagine if they tapped someone from Congress, such as that lying caitiff Adam Schiff (D-CA), what opportunity for sport he would present. More likely, they’d draft some Hollywood celebrity: George Clooney… Oprah… Morgan Freeman (hasn’t he already been president, or did he just play one on TV?).
There’s not a small chance, at this juncture in the Corona Virus story, that the convention may not even be held. And then what? Gawd knows…. But a disruption so severe implies that a lot of damage would be done to the Potemkin economy that is the centerpiece of President Trump’s reelection quest. That damage is being done in real time as I write, with the S & P futures index down another three percent at the open today, Friday. The trend is not Mr. Trump’s friend. And an awful lot of other things are breaking up in the financialized fiasco that enfronts what’s left of the US economy. The bond market is cracking up, especially at the junk-grade margins. And one can only guess at the havoc being wrought in derivatives by repeated 1000-point swings in the Dow Jones and other symptoms of extreme disequilibrium in indexed things, from securitized car loans to currency swaps.
All of which leaves the Golden Golem of Greatness, Mr. Trump, in not such a bulletproof position for a second term, after all. There’s a possibility that Corona Virus might interfere with the election itself. Viral contagions are known to work in waves. If this is the first wave now, then a second wave would arrive just about in time for election day, November 3. Second wave viral diseases can be more virulent than the first wave, which was the case with the so-called Spanish flu of 1918. And what if a substantial portion of voters don’t dare venture into public places full of their possibly infectious fellow citizens? Would Mr. Trump be forced to postpone the election, fulfilling his enemies’ fantasy that he seeks to become the American Caesar? It’s not a pretty picture from here as things get interesting.
(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting his Patreon Page.)
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Slow Joe’s grift is amateur hour compared to the co-champions Hill and Bill. No matter, even if he was the champeen con-man, Slow Joe is among friends in the Deep State.
And just as they let Comey and McCabe and Hillary off the hook, they’ll go through the motions with Joe and then announce that as a result of an extensive investigation there was no behavior that cleared the bar of illegality.
No idea what the Ukrainians will conclude. But on this side of the pond there’s pretty much no act that doesn’t have a legal escape hatch if you’re one of the anointed.
As far as a financial market crack-up goes, this would be the third opportunity inside of a generation to take the Wall Street bull by the horns. But, just like in 2000 and 2010, they’ll let it run rampant.
Obama had a god-given chance to gut it. Wall Street banks were in dire condition, the crooks that ran that show in no position to dictate terms. But, just like Obama, they’ll opt for papering over the problems with billions and trillions in Fed created funny-money. That and shot-gun marriages between the moribund and the less moribund.
The underlying problem is the intellectual vigor in those quarters. As in there is none. None. There’s no way imaginable in their minds but the way we’re on now.
The situation in Washington is the same as in the French military in the 1930s, run by old men, mired in old thinking, unable to cope with new conditions. The economy doesn’t work, the financial world in dire shape as evidenced by appallingly low monetary blood pressure (interest rates) and the shot-callers have no clue. None.
I AM THE GREAT DISRUPTER
I am the great disrupter.
I am here.
I have given subtle indications all along of my imminence,
Of the inevitability of my coming.
Do not fear me, I have come like a warm embrace.
I am also known as the enticer, the inviter the listener and the law.
Do not think I have not heard you all these years.
You have asked for me before,
In times of great violence and trouble and even complete despair.
In fact the thoughtful ones among you have been
asking for my intervention all along.
I am the Majestic and
I am the Terrible.
Of my many names.
Do not despair.
I am the great disrupter,
I am here.
Do not fear me.
— a poem by Nate Collins
AND STILL MORE ON GENDER and the dilemma of talking about it openly: “Gender in this race, you know, that is the trap question for every woman,” Elizabeth Warren told reporters Thursday. “If you say, ‘Yeah, there was sexism in this race,’ everyone says, ‘Whiner!’ And if you say, ‘No, there was no sexism,’ about a bazillion women think, ‘What planet do you live on?’ I promise you this: I’ll have a lot more to say on that subject later on."
The DNC is nothing if not predictable. The crumbs to the working poor that would be a Sander’s presidency was more than they could abide as the machinations of the last few days illustrated. The centrists of the pending collapse worked the phones, solidifying the status quo. They succeeded in suppressing votes in areas that would tend towards Sanders—one Texas man at a university polling spot required 7 hours to get his vote entered. A midweek Tuesday primary that requires hours of waiting—well that does nothing but enhance the affluent “I have nothing better to do” vote. How many voters had to leave the lines because they would get fired from their low wage, no time off jobs if they didn’t get back quickly? How many had to get home to relieve the babysitter? The young of this country are working multiple jobs, being treated as commodities to plunder. They don’t have the ability to clear these hurdles, and that is by design. It’s something of a modern-day poll tax. These suppression numbers are impossible to calculate, making the fraud of the DNC apparatus so slick and unclear to those of means and minimal intellectual curiosity.
RAGS & RICHES
by David Yearsley
A parallel survey of the historical soundtrack and stock market crashes reveals that musicians are not deaf to the beat of the financial markets, the euphoric crescendo and inevitable diminuendo of boom and bust, the ecstatic coloratura of good times and the gloomy introits to bad. Financial indices can reflect, even if in inverse proportion, the universal demand for healing song when things go bad.
How else to explain the fact that the resounding collapse of 1929 led seamlessly into one of the great years of American popular song: 1930 yielded Hoagy Carmichael’s "Georgia on Mind," Johnny Green’s “Body and Soul,” George Gershwin’s “Embraceable You,” and Cole Porter’s “Love for Sale,” to name just a few. There’s also Harold’s Arlen’s “Get Happy.” Composed in 1929 and published the following year, the song might be heard to respond, if indirectly, to economic depression. Coupled with Ted Koehler’s bouncy lyric, the music is almost ridiculously optimistic, though it is not the Secretary of the Treasury (then the tax-evading tycoon Andrew Mellon), but rather the Holy Ghost who provides the necessary stimulus package:
Forget your troubles c’mon get happy,
you better chase all your cares away.
Shout hallelujah c’mon get happy
get ready for the judgment day.
Good humor mixes with apocalyptic menace to produce a much-needed palliative for those newly dark times: the music and lyrics are all about diverting the listener from the cruel realities of the present.
Music has buoyed markets for as long as they have existed. The greatest musician of the Dutch Golden Age, Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck had already been dead fifteen years by the time the tulip craze imploded in 1637, but his music remained popular at the time of the crash. Sweelinck had made himself famous in part by playing organ concerts featuring variations on secular dance tunes in the Old Church in Amsterdam as traders strolled below, making deals which included rampant speculation on tulips. That’s why I’ve always heard in the insouciant charm of his variations something of the effervescent thrill of high-risk stock trading. In the Calvinist Reformed Church, religious buildings became sacred only when The Word was present-a convenient theological principle that allowed the enterprising Dutch to make multi-purpose use of ecclesiastical edifices.
The Old Church was then, as now, in the heart of Amsterdam’s red-light district, so that these schemes were forged with sex for sale just outside the unconsecrated walls. That the secular songs treated by Sweelinck often had lascivious texts confirms that his performances were energized by the same magnetic field that binds sex and money. Stock-jobbing and prostitution offer kindred, and sometimes conjoined, forms of arousal, as that one-time Sheriff of Wall Street, Eliot Spitzer, clearly knew but didn’t let on about until the spectacular tumble of his own share price a dozen years ago just before the last financial crisis.
Before the advent of the Euro, Sweelinck’s proud portrait graced the ten guilder note on what was then Europe’s most colorful currency. This was an apt commemoration for the Orpheus of Amsterdam’s vital contribution to culture and commerce—inextricably linked domains, not just for the entrepreneurial Dutch.
Similarly, I like to think that Handel penned the music for the South Bubble Sea, which burst in August of 1720, puncturing a host of similarly corrupt stock schemes across Europe.
The bubble was born with The Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, a curiously far-reaching document that concluded the European-wide War of the Spanish Succession. One of the terms of the agreement granted the British South Sea Company exclusive control of the Atlantic slave trade from West Africa to the Spanish colonies in the Americas. The scheme was set up by the Lord Treasurer, Robert Harley, to help service the massive deficits run up during the war; holders of short-term government debt were convinced to take shares in the new company.
Having only come to live in London two years earlier, Handel was called upon to produce the necessary commemorative music for the religious service to mark the end of the war and the signing of the treaty; his so-called Utrecht Te Deum was duly performed in St. Paul’s Cathedral in July of 1713 in all its triumphal splendor. But the work’s sublime pronouncements of righteousness and chaste welcome of manifest destiny masked the dark secret that a brutal enterprise carried out “beyond the seas” propped up the military-commercial complex at home.
Thus Handel launched the South Sea Bubble with his trademark trumpet blasts and racing strings that never stopped accompanying the work of Empire, from his own time and into the twentieth century. The sincere expressions of individual thanks delivered by the soloists, and the collective rapture of mighty choruses borne aloft on wings of magisterial counterpoint up towards St. Paul’s famous dome—these were the eternal sounds of peace and prosperity for a chosen people. And these sublime reverberations only confirmed for the numerous South Sea speculators attending the service that God, too, was a shareholder.
In its all-consuming reach, the South Sea craze resembled the heady days of the winter of 1636-7 when tulip futures were available in virtually every Dutch tavern in the land, and the early fall of 1929 when taxi drivers and maids watched the ticker tape as eagerly as company presidents.
It would have been surprising if Handel hadn’t gotten into the act, too. He invested relatively early in South Sea stock, around 1716, and fortuitously sold in 1718, well ahead of the crash of August 1720, though also before the ten-fold increase that inflated the bubble over the first half of that year, when the frenzy swept across the entire nation and all its classes.
While Handel escaped the financial carnage, his patron during the 1710s, James Brydges, Marquess of Carnarvon and later Duke of Chandos, did not. Brydges had accumulated his vast wealth as paymaster-general in the War of the Spanish Succession, and then became a significant investor in the South Sea Company. Confidently treading the well-worn insiders’ path that leads from a killing in war to an even bigger killing in peace, Brydges now turned to exploiting the very war debt he had helped balloon.
It was at Cannons, Brydge’s princely house in Edgware, then on the outskirts of London, that Handel’s lovely pastoral entertainment Acis and Galatea was performed in 1718 at the height of good times. The music smiles with much that is tranquil and pleasant, but trouble soon strides into the story in the form of a monocular giant, who, spurned by Galatea, kills her lover, the shepherd Acis. I like to hear in this evocation of death lurking in arcadia a portent of the crash to come: the mascot of shattered share prices should not be the brute bear, but the one-eyed, two-legged, skull-smashing phallus, Polyphemus bellowing Handel’s “I rage, I melt, I burn.”
When the South Sea bubble burst Brydges was ruined, hanging tenuously on to his house and status by marrying into a dowry of 40,000 pounds sterling. But Brydge’s heir inherited only debt, and soon after the Duke’s death in 1744 from smallpox, the magnificent Cannons was demolished.
It is fitting that the Harvard Business School is houses the most important South Sea Bubble archive. The riot of engravings and hilarious songs spawned by the crisis can be trawled through on-line at great length. The home-page greets visitors with the words “Sunk in Lucre’s Sordid Charms”—a motto which could just as well apply to the up-and-coming schemers of Harvard Business School as to the South Sea speculators of yore.
At the time of the 1720 crash the great lords of England were organizing another stock company: the Royal Academy of Music, which was to bring Italian opera back to London after a short hiatus. In spite of the financial difficulties faced by many of its aristocratic shareholders, the enterprise went ahead, with Handel at its artistic helm. Opera was expensive, star singers most of all. Yet the Italian greats were imported at vast cost, and the aftermath of the bubble proved to be opera’s greatest period in London. The retrenchments pursued by the Metropolitan Opera House after the 1929 crash, when outraged singers were asked to take a ten percent pay cut, were never inflicted on Handel’s post-bubble casts.
Opera was a kind of madness, too. The great leading man Senesino, the castrato who premiered the title role of Handel’s Giulio Cesare, among many other important parts, returned to Italy after his long London sojourn and built a lavish mansion with his takings. Over the doorway he had inscribed: “this house was built on the folly of the English.”
Though the movie musical fed a mass market far different than that of Italian opera in early eighteenth-century London, the appeal of opulent entertainment even, or perhaps especially, during economic downturns unites Handel and Busby Berkeley, whose career was born with the Great Depression and flourished over its course.
While the relationship between music and markets is a complicated one, the correspondences between them are far from random. It is not only the fortuitous eruption of the zeitgeist that accounts, for example, for the appearance of John Philip Sousa’s most famous march “Stars and Stripes Forever” in the same year as the Panic of 1896, which brought with it an acute Depression. On the same day that William Jennings Bryan delivered his Cross of Gold speech at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in July of 1896, a spontaneous display of flag-waving broke out in the New York stock exchange. The long-time broker, H. R. Halsted, who later died of food poisoning, procured what the New York Times account called “a large American flag.” As Halsted began marching around the boardroom, “instantly cheers for the flag arose, and fully 150 brokers fell into line behind the standard bearer and marched around the room three times. Mingled with frequent cheering there were cries of ‘Give us sound money!’ ‘Down with populism!’ “The American flag against the red!’ Down with the Anarchists!’ &c.” How different is the present-day attitude seen when, as in recent days, interest rates are cut and soft money comes sluicing into buoy markets.
An alliance of monied Democrats and Republicans still familiar to us formed quickly on the floor of the exchange during that 1896 spontaneous demonstration of wealth and power: “Members of the Bankers and Brokers’ Republican Campaign Club had a large supply of McKinley buttons, and they found plenty of Democratic brokers willing to wear them.” Even trading was halted for the enactment of this outpouring of fiscal responsibility and patriotic sentiment.
Is not Sousa’s celebrated march the proper music for these nineteenth-century brokers in lock-step, just as it could well have been for the draping of the huge stars-and-stripes across the Exchange after September 11th, the brightly colored, super-thin, anti-terror prophylactic that still sheathes the erect columns of the building’s neo-classical facade? Composed in a year of financial disaster, Sousa’s greatest hit is the patriotic hymn of American capitalism. Whether urged on by macho trombones or cheery piccolos, this Grand Army of the Republic strides towards a brighter future, if not brighter for everyone, then certainly for the captains of industry and their faithful lieutenants.
In contrast to musicologists and festival organizers, who habitually capitalize on anniversaries, market watchers steer a wide course around such possible historical observances, since these inevitably direct thoughts towards the cyclic nature of capitalism and the unavoidable crash that always comes. Thus the Panic of 1907, when stock prices dropped by 50 per cent, received hardly a nod during its turbulent hundredth anniversary year. It was left to the cyclic boom and bust of the market to supply the inevitable sub-prime commemoration.
But there is a bright orange musical pylon marking that 1907 pothole in America’s golden pavements. Composed in the wake of the Panic, Scott Joplin’s “Wall Street Rag” appeared in 1909 when confidence in the markets had been largely restore. The unbridled, if not unblinkered, gung-ho of Sousa gives way to a good deal of doubt. But Joplin was also adept at playing the patriotic card; the cover of his “Nonpareil Rag” of 1907 shows Uncle Sam unfurling an American flag. But “Wall Street” registers a much wider range of emotion, even fears, though it, too, ultimately seeks to assure, not to unsettle.
The epigrammatic opening of Joplin’s “Wall Street” is cast, according to the composer’s tempo directives, in “Very Slow March Time” rather than the “Slow March Time” of so many of the composer’s other two-steps and rags. The poised confidence of these other pieces has been transformed into a dirge; indeed the cover of “Wall Street” looks down towards Trinity Church, and the dark-suited mob assembled in front of the Stock Exchange looks as if it has gathered for a funeral. (The brisk tempo of the allegedly original Joplin piano roll, recorded on a modern instrument and released in 2007 by Editions Milan Music, must be wrong; as he did on many of his printed scores, Joplin enjoined the buyers of his music in the starkest terms not to rush: “Do not play this piece fast. It is never right to play Ragtime fast!”)
The rag’s opening section, “Panic in Wall Street” depicts the “Brokers feeling melancholy.” Nowadays, no one would think to ascribe such an introspective, contemplative state to momentarily impoverished Wall Streeters forlornly nursing their small-batch martinis and patting their suit pocket to check for the reserves of THC vape-pen and/or packet of cocaine. But it is precisely Joplin’s elegant handling of this rarefied sentiment that sends a classy strain of tubercular European salon music wafting over the manic, money hungry stone and asphalt caverns of New York’s financial district. There is a subtlety here that Sousa had no time or talent for.
The next section of the rag moves from these shapely Chopinesque chromatic inflections and gracefully sliding parallel figures to the rollicking right-hand chords and thundering bass octaves of “Good times coming.” I’ll bet Joplin had Sousa in his ears for this. And soon enough “Good times have come,” and Joplin focuses his musical material in the middle-range of the piano, where the breathless repetitions gather a locomotive’s momentum, the market gathering unstoppable force—at least until the next derailment.
The rag closes with financial worries chased away. Now even the greedy have time for entertainment. Re-enriched, Wall Street can let itself have fun again: “Listening to the strains of genuine negro ragtime, brokers forget their cares.” The left hand romps along as the right hand ascends to the top of the piano’s compass, like the surging Dow. The carefree and poor, as if unaffected by the cycles of the market, and never burdened by the heavy responsibilities of steering the economy, offer up their gratis song for the celebration of the financiers. Thus Joplin feeds the myth: what’s good for Wall Street is good for America.
In spite of the sheen of cheer, ambiguity hovers over this final section. The rag does not embrace the system without some qualms. “Genuine negro ragtime” invokes a notion of authenticity—of noble savagery—that the high-collared brokers can never attain: music’s pleasure yield the only dividences that are untaxable.
Joplin wanted to make a buck, too. In 1899 he had negotiated a royalty of a cent per copy of “Maple Leaf Rag,” a deal that brought him some $360 a year for the rest of his life. His publisher made a lot more money, but Joplin did all right himself. The outburst of negro joy after a black period in the markets wants to make us believe that way down at the bottom of the economic heap someone will always be singing and dancing.
“Wall Street” does what Wall Street wants: it consoles in bad times and rejoices in good. In spite of the superficial attempt to convey social unity across class and race, however, the surreal concluding tableau of Joplin’s rag, with its wealthy whites dancing in front of the stock exchange to joyful black music, cannot fully divert our ears and eyes from the more fundamental, and still operative, truth conveyed by this final image: the negroes have the rags, the brokers the riches.
(David Yearsley is a long-time contributor to CounterPunch and the Anderson Valley Advertiser. His latest book is Sex, Death, and Minuets: Anna Magdalena Bach and Her Musical Notebooks. He can be reached at email@example.com.)
CHARLES BONNER's new book:
My book, Tip Of The Arrow, The Selma Student Nonviolent Movement, A Study In Leadership, will be in book stores soon.
I will NOW mail a copy via U.S. Mail to all who send me $40. That includes my shipping costs. The price of the book is $38.95.
Please send Payment to:
Law Offices of Charles Bonner
Bonner & Bonner
475 Gate Five Road, Suite 211
Sausalito, CA 94965
PayPal payment are also good.
I am excited to share our World Changing Story to the World.
Hope you are smiling and happy..
Charles A. Bonner
Available through Charles Bonner directly or Amazon. Encourage your local branch library, school libraries, and bookstores to obtain copies.
PROGRAM GRANT FUNDS AVAILABLE for Agricultural Diesel Engine Replacement
(Mendocino County Air Quality Management District Public Notice)
The Mendocino County Air Quality Management District has grant funding available and is currently accepting applications for diesel powered vehicles and equipment engaged in agricultural operations including; on-road heavy-duty vehicles, off-road mobile farm equipment and agricultural irrigation pumps.
FARMER Program application forms are available online at: capcoa.org/farmer-program/
Carl Moyer Program application forms are available online at: mendoair.org/carl-moyer.html , or at the District office located at: 306 E. Gobbi St. in Ukiah (707-463-4354) Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Applicants may apply for both programs for the same project. However the project, if approved and funded, can only receive funding from one grant source.
Completed, original, signed applications including all proposed project quotes and a current 2018 IRS Form W-9 must be received at the District office no later than 5:00 P.M., Tuesday, March 24, 2020.
Everything Previous Has Been Exhausted!
Warmest spiritual greetings,
The peak tourist season in Hawaii is now ending, which means that I'll have less work and am currently available to do otherwise. It's been a really enjoyable time here going to all of the Oahu hot spots, and eating very well on the local cuisine, particularly island fruits and vegetables, plus the sea food. I doubt that it is possible to be higher up on the food chain, or more organic than this, living on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Meanwhile, I've been following all of the horrendous news, particularly about negative, paranoiac Washington, D.C., the Democratic Party's primary season, whether the socially necessary candidate Senator Bernie Sanders will actually appear on the ballot this time around, and the possibility that the environmentally deranged current administration will continue for another four years. That, in addition to all of the other scary problems that this chaotic civilization is faced with.
Sitting at the huge Ala Moana Shopping Center enjoying a large Caribbean Passion Fruit drink, watching the mind think. And think. And think. Seriously, who cares? I am the witness of these thoughts. I am the Brahman of the Indian Vedas. And so are you. I can leave Hawaii at any time, and am available for frontline peace & justice and radical environmental direct action. Don't even bother to ask where am I going to live, how am I going to eat, what about money, etcetera. I feel like throwing furniture when I hear the insane thing, after all these 7 decades. I mean, if not now, then when? If not us, then who? Those are the questions which need to be answered. Identify as that which is permanent, and stop identifying with the impermanent body and mind, and the entire wheel of samsara stops turning.
Craig Louis Stehr
March 5, 2020
Snail mail: P.O. Box 235670, Honolulu, HI 96823-3511