- Dry Weather
- MCDH Update
- Sheltering Homeless
- Restructuring FB
- Potted Plants
- Village Fan
- Good Dinner
- Ed Notes
- Chi Creek
- Spring Prayer
- Chansons Innocentes
- Dark Shepherd
- Parole Denied
- Yesterday's Catch
- My Backpack
- Fanatical Wolf
- Reset Button
- Tiger King
- Bullying Chancer
- Apocalyptic Funhouse
- Shotgun Smoothie
- Dangerous Doctrine
- Surviving Devastation
- Universally Ignorant
- Free Ducks
- Unheard Music
- Found Object
DRY WEATHER is expected to prevail through mid next week as an upper ridge dominates. Temperatures will generally remain above normal in the interior. Marine air and occasional low cloud cover will keep coastal areas cooler. (NWS)
MENDOCINO COAST HOSPITAL COVID-19 UPDATE for the Week of April 6, 2020.
From William Miller, MD, our hospital’s Chief of Staff:
Efforts to slow the spread appear to be working here in Northern California and especially for us here on the Coast. Initial projections were that we would start seeing a surge of COVID patients in mid-April peaking in a potentially overwhelming volume by mid-May. However, this has notably changed thanks to everyone’s efforts to shelter-in-place, social distance and washing hands. Based on an epidemiologic model developed by Stanford University, we are now expecting a more modest rise to begin in June with a manageable peak sometime during the summer. If this behaves like other corona viruses, then the summer months should also see a reduction in transmission, with a picking back up in the fall. At our hospital, we have adopted a multi-phased plan which will allow us to bring into play resources at different times as the volume dictates. We continue to work closely with County and State officials as well as our sister hospitals in Ukiah and Willits.
Initially, following the direction of the CDC and State Health Department, we canceled all elective surgeries. This was primarily to conserve personal protective equipment such as gowns and masks. Now that we are expecting a longer time to when we may experience a peak in COVID cases locally, we are scheduling surgeries that while not an emergency are none-the-less essential or cannot be safely delayed for months on end. If you have a surgical problem that has been postponed due to the COVID crisis, we recommend that you check with your primary care provider and surgeon to determine if your procedure can be further delayed or needs to be done sooner.
We continue to desire to offer testing more broadly to the general public, however, our supply of test sampling kits remains limited with no increase expected in the foreseeable future. Rest assured that we have enough kits to use for testing on sick patients, health care workers and if necessary at local long term care facilities. However, at this time, we are not able to expand testing to people who have only mild symptoms.
We have now completed majority of preparations that we can do at this time. Much of our focus now will be on continuing to procure needed supplies / equipment and to rehearse our practices.
GLEN RICARD BUILDING, DOWNTOWN BOONVILLE
SHELTERING FORT BRAGG'S HOMELESS
From Tabatha Miller, Ft Bragg City Manager:
Homelessness was a challenge for our City, County and State before the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, under this new pressure, it is even more challenging. The Mendocino County’s Revised Shelter-in-Place Order of March 24, 2020 specifically addresses the homeless and strongly urges homeless to obtain shelter and for governmental and other entities to make shelter available as soon as possible. Even the County government has acknowledged this is easier said than done, despite additional resources.
To get homeless Californians safely into shelter and housing, Governor Newsom provided $100 million to Continuums of Care (CoC), larger California cities and counties. CoCs are regional or local planning bodies that coordinate housing and services for homeless families and individuals, designed to promote communitywide commitment to the goal of ending homelessness. Locally, the Mendocino CoC was allocated $152,982 and Mendocino County $140,748. The Governor’s efforts to protect renters from eviction and homeowners from foreclosure is an effort to keep people housed and not homeless during this crisis. Where the CoC’s funding will be used is still being determined.
Balancing Social Distancing in a shelter situation is also difficult. Shelters are set up to house as many people as possible. In fact, earlier efforts including Shelter Crisis Declarations, recently required by local governments seeking other state funding, relaxed building and safety codes so that more homeless could be housed in less space. Now, shelters are strongly encouraged to reduce density to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.
The short term answer, endorsed by the Governor, is using hotels, motels and trailers, particularly for those at a higher risk and those who may need to be isolated or quarantined. This works as a short-term answer while our local hotels are closed to all but those performing essential activities, but it still leaves us with the same issue after the COVID-19 emergency is over.
Here in Fort Bragg, the Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center’s (MCHC) Winter Shelter was extended by the County from its original closing date of March 15 to April 7. During that period of time, MCHC moved its most vulnerable clients from transitional housing, the Hospitality House and the Winter Shelter to local motel rooms for protection from the virus, under the County’s Pandemic COVID motel voucher program. During this same period, the number of overnight guests at the Winter Shelter surged to record levels. In March, the Hospitality House was closed to outside guests to protect the health and safety of residents and staff. Meals prepared at the Senior Center will be delivered to those temporarily housed in motel rooms. Other groups, including the Fort Bragg Food Bank have stepped up to provide additional meals to the homeless.
The recent increase in the transient population is not unique to Fort Bragg. Ukiah and Willits have seen a similar influx of new homeless. This isn’t even a new trend. In the last month, encampment in Ukiah has significantly increased in population. Individuals who are not local or from Mendocino County are not provided motel rooms because of the scarcity of resources. The Mendocino Transit Authority (MTA) cancelled service from Mendocino County to Sonoma County (Santa Rosa) as of April 1 and as of April 7, service to/from Fort Bragg to Willits and Ukiah on Route 65 was cancelled in an effort to keep people from nonessential travel between counties and between cities during this crisis.
Coastal Street Medicine is reaching out to the local homeless community with education, hygiene and screening related to COVID-19, including taking temperatures (over 100.4 F may be an indication of COVID-19). The Team consists of a nurse, nurse practitioner, scribe and case manager. Coastal Street Medicine is also supporting the MCHC by providing PPE, medical and hygiene supplies, and by establishing protocols for screening staff and clients. They have regular hours at the Hospitality Center at 101 N. Franklin every Wednesday from 9:00 to 11:30 a.m. Going forward they hope to provide weekly rounds at the local motels where homeless individuals are housed. They are working closely with Mendocino County Public health team to hopefully implement surveillance testing for COVID-19 here on the Coast for the homeless population. This could identify positive test results within this group from asymptomatic individuals in order to identify and mitigate the risk early.
Although a rudimentary issue, when the City closed all of its public restrooms, we knew we needed to provide our homeless population with access to toilets and hand washing. Rented portable toilets (ADA compliant with hand washing station) are in place in the City Hall parking lot up against the north side and at Town Hall.
A heartfelt thanks all those working with our local homeless population.
Tabatha Miller; Fort Bragg City Manager
DOWNTOWN BOONVILLE HOME
FORT BRAGG STEPS UP
by Rex Gressett
The Fort Bragg City Council met in their (by now) familiar “virtual” incarnation Monday night to spend the evening slapping the City Manager around and ducking responsibility. Maybe they have a point. The council placed heavy bets at the Monday night meeting that the epidemic will continue to miss our blessedly isolated city.
If Fort Bragg continues to have zero cases, the City Council can take a bow that they resisted a nationwide overreaction. If cases spike, and Fort Bragg residents start dying, the modest capability at the hospital is not going to be any help at all and it ain't going to look good.
The phrase “blood on their hands” comes to mind. City manager Tabatha Miller, to whom all serious control over the CCP virus response was suddenly entrusted, spent the evening getting gut-punched, kneecapped and poked in the eye. She took it like a pro and now the ball is in her court. The city council sent her back to her desk to totally restructure the city payroll.
In round one, the City Manager jumped on board with emergency State and County policy to propose that fines be levied on social distancing violators. The plan was to give the cops new power and to back up the cops by bringing in a couple of low-level development department functionaries (kids) with massive personal powers to fine or not to fine violators according to their whim.
It was proposed that the two development department third-tier workers would be empowered to make on-the-street assessments of motive, culpability and character and hand out fines between $500 to nothing at all - to penalize social distancing violators. It was a grant of city hall power right out of Animal Farm.
Businesses that buck the lockdown faced fines of up to $10,000.
Tess Albin-Smith was late for the phone meeting. Ms. Albin-Smith routinely misses meetings altogether when the fit takes her and had no apologies for showing up at the tail end of public comments. She simply explained that she had been busy with other meetings more important than City Council.
When things rolled around to the homeless issue, Bernie Norvell kicked her under the bus like an insignificant rock, removed her responsibility for the homeless issue and assumed that crucial responsibility himself along with Jessica Morsell-Haye. He has been doing the work anyway, and the issue is crucial. The homeless have had access to regular winter sheltering at the churches with meals and the reason is Bernie Norvell. I really, really, hate to say anything good about Mayor Will Lee. But in this case, I can't get out of it. The Mayor actually did a pretty good job. Councilman Lindy Peters made it immediately clear that he was not going for fines - and Mayor Lee trotted along behind him with unambiguous support for respect for the people, of our city and confidence in their good judgment. There will be no fines. Good Job, Will Lee. It was a low bar.
Jessica Morsell-Haye had a strong objection to the spontaneous expansion of third-tier development geeks into police authority with judicial discretion. Only my favorite councilperson, Bernie Norvell, came down on the wrong side of this one. They spent some time fooling around with $25,000 in available city money to support local businesses. As if it mattered. No doubt the city council, in their quest for relevance, hoped you would see them doing their best — but the truth is that support for threatened and burdened small businesses in the city is not going to come from the now insolvent and floundering city council.
The fiddling was only a prelude to the fall of the ax. When the City Manager and Finance Director Victor Damiani solemnly explained how the death of the city as a solvent political entity would be equitably managed without firing anybody at city hall, it was like an autopsy.
Our Finance Director explained how we could use the city's internal funds, squirreled away for years, penny-by-penny to delay — although not to stop — terminal financial hemorrhaging. He noted that our deficit has leapfrogged from a $78,000 deficit to a $650,000 deficit overnight — and observed (in his calm way) that the grim reality only looks grimmer the more you look.
Once again, councilor Lindy Peters and Mayor Will Lee did a good job. They rejected Damiani’s civic autopsy that kept every worker at city hall on the payroll. Relying on internal reserves until we dry up and bite the collective dust was not acceptable.
Good on them again on clearing a slightly higher bar. They commanded the City Manager to stay out of the internal funds and fire who you must. Holy cow — even cut what services you have to. OMG. Tabatha Miller looked like Rocky in the next-to-the-last scene. Bureaucrats have their priorities, certainly it is among Ms. Miller's priorities to do the best that she can for the city. Fort Bragg has watched in admiration and appreciation as Tabatha Miller has turned the city finances around, staved off the very real (although almost totally unreported) impending city financial default left to us by the last City Manager. In short, she juggled the books expertly and set a standard for City hall competency, probity and transparency that we have never had in Fort Bragg.
But firing her own team? It was like asking a general to execute his own staff. Evidently, such extremes had not occurred to the City Manager. Cutting the city hall home team simply was not on her radar. Now it is. The Mayor and Lindy Peters, with mild support from councilor Jessica Morsell-Haye, Tess Albin-Smith and mild objection from Bernie Norvell, sent Ms. Miller back to her desk to rearrange, restructure, refinance — and basically save the City of Fort Bragg.
At the Monday night meeting, the Council, having long ago renounced any proactive governance in favor of pitiful reliance on the machinery of professional bureaucrats, commanded that the Titanic not be allowed to sink by God — and please bring us a report at the next meeting.
The virus may have missed us. I don't think it has, but the council led by the Mayor is betting that it has. That won't matter to the financial condition of the city. We can't see the bottom yet, but we know it is coming at us fast and hard.
At the Monday night meeting, City Manager Tabatha Miller has been given a massive grant of power and asked to make decisions that the City Council does not have either the expertise or the personal courage to make. In the long years of peace and stumbling semi-prosperity, the city council has devolved into a fake organization doing rubber-stamp fakery, ducking the hard decisions and concentrating on dumbing down community participation.
Broad direction to improve infrastructure, or handle the homeless, or balance the budget has worked with this City Manager because of her talent and competence. But decisions as basic as reducing services or dealing with millions in insolvency can not be outsourced to professionals — however competent.
Fort Bragg is going to have to be a real working democracy and we have no practice doing it. Mayor Will Lee has invented himself as the ever-so-cordial spokesperson for a system of local governance dependent on the city manager to do the heavy lifting and give direction to the council. Now that system is over.
The money is gone, the pretense is finished and the city manager is being asked to restructure our local government and make decisions that the city council is not even remotely capable of making.
Now is the moment when we will miss having a REAL council, with real power and a real connection to the people of the city. This is not a case of asking the City Manager to juggle the books, Mayor Will Lee is way out on a limb with no way back.
Monday night he did pretty well out there. It was his finest hour.
AV VILLAGE! A VILLAGE PEOPLE SUCCESS!
Hello all! Taunia Green here from the remote coast of Oregon. Let me exclaim from first hand experience: I have witnessed the AV Village as a miraculous success!
As an avid caregiver myself, I can truly say that I could not have done a better job. Let me explain. Having left the Valley a year ago, my mother (in her 70’s, sorry mom) stayed behind, wisely sticking with sunnier weather. However, this meant I would not be nearby to help while she had her replaced hip fixed. That’s right, replaced hip fixed.
Woe is me. Whatever shall we do?
AV Village to the rescue!
Rescue is right! Having cared for so many (mom thru multiple operations, Bruce Longstreet, etc…) I know the work it would take to set up and manage a 2/3 week care team.
Let me say, Anica is an angel! Competent, resourceful, attentive, communicative, sensitive, open to feedback, quick to respond, great at follow up. Damn AV, check this out!
Yes, it is for 50 and older. Yes, there is a monthly fee of $25 (bulk rates available see: https://www.andersonvalleyvillage.org/pages/10014-membership-details). Yes, you may not feel you need it right now, but they are a gem to keep in your pocket.
The monthly fee goes to operating costs including paying the part time (for now) coordinator, Anica.
If you are curious about this amazing, mostly volunteer organization check out the website above and peruse thru the options or call me. That is right! Feel free to give me a call (707.272.2414) if you are interested in hearing the details of my experience working with the AV Village (AVV) whose mother was lucky enough to access this resource. And of course, I have the inside scoop of how the ‘patient’ felt about her experience with
In addition, AV is run on volunteers. You all rock! I want to thank those especially that have helped my mom thru this latest transition. And it wasn’t just AVV. Thank you to all who called her, ran errands, stopped in to do chores, delivered what she needed or wanted, took her thoughtful gifts, kept her in your thoughts and prayers. You all have my undying gratitude. And I also want to thank those of you who cared for the caregivers. This is one of the most important jobs. For without support for caregivers, we would all suffer.
THE BRIGHTEST MOON I can remember seeing shone down on battered Boonville Tuesday night as I stepped outside at 9pm to howl my appreciation for the people whose work doesn't allow them to socially distance. My howl was an hour late because I was engrossed in a PBS documentary on the Roosevelts. As usual a chorus of dogs howled back. It's beyond trite to say that America's present leadership is less than Rooseveltian but probably belligerent enough to satisfy Teddy. I hadn't known much about Eleanor Roosevelt other than she was the daughter of Teddy's dissipated brother, making her and FDR cousins. Very smart and capable, and a kind of tragic figure given the huge losses she suffered over his life, Eleanor became nearly as popular for her good works as her husband. It's striking how much more socially responsible the old patrician class was, a minority of them anyway, than the billionaire savages who comprise today's ruling class. Both Roosevelts stood up to the great malefactors of wealth, today's career officeholders bail them no matter their great crimes against the public interest, and stay in office running errands for them.
BERNIE'S CONSERVATIVE SOCIALISM has now been formally waived by the Democratic Party, which means another four years of Trump, although events are moving so fast that Trump may soon be history anyway when the generals make their move to save capitalism from itself, and if the system does "rebound" it will be socialist programs that save it, as FDR did during the Great Depression.
WILL THE MILLIONS of Berners go for Biden? No, hence another four years of Trump in the context of unprecedented "civic disorder." I love that phrase. It always sounds like a thousand jaywalkers, or a college riot. The looming civic disorder will arrive with $1200 checks, not even a fifth of what even the thriftiest American parent needs a month to get by on.
MEANWHILE, here in ghostly Boonville, lots of people are lamenting the loss of our laundromat, which was destroyed in the big fire of December. And we await only the formal announcements that our annual Wild Flower Show and our annual fair are cancelled. Maybe they haven't been formally cancelled because so many of us can't quite believe what is happening, that the curtain has come down on the whole show as we have known it.
CALL ME POLLYANA, but I thought right from the beginning of the plague that we would mostly be spared the sudden surges of the seriously ill suffered in other parts of the country. California got out in front, and Governor Gavin Newsom should get major credit for what preparation we have had. Mendo will be spared the worst of it because we were naturally dispersed anyway, with only 90,000 of us spread out over a vast area. But even the people clustered in the towns of Willits, Fort Bragg and Ukiah have gotten with the program, faithfully distancing themselves and proceeding cautiously when they leave their bunkers for the markets, drug stores and takeout meals.
THE COUNTY OF MENDO, where entropy goes to die. The homeless discussion among staff and supervisors on Tuesday was like a couple of acts from Waiting For Godot. Even Ukiah's usually invisible government has said it would like to move the homeless to the Ukiah Fairgrounds, a logical site designed to accommodate large numbers of people. The Ukiah-area homeless aren't a large number of people, a fact confirmed by Mr. Marbut, the consultant hired by the county to advise it on how to logically and humanely deal with a couple of hundred drug and alcohol addicted people who prefer to do their things free range, often in clusters with other thanatoids. Marbut, now Trump's homeless czar, said the home grown homeless should be housed and therapized while the professional mooches get a couple of free meals then a boot in the arse outtahere. The homeless who make demonstrable efforts to regain themselves can stay. The county's nicely paid helping professionals talk about the homeless like they're all versions of Mother McCree and her orphaned children when, in living fact, most of the homeless are people who used to be hospitalized or jailed because there was a national consensus that a small percentage of people are always hopelessly screwed up, but you don't allow them to lie around downtown getting loaded all day, let alone subsidize them while they destroy themselves. Mendo's current approach is to talk about the homeless for two straight years while taking money to deal with them but taking the money and not dealing with them. And here we are. And will be. I think the reason the county doesn't move the homeless to the Ukiah Fairgrounds is because the county, with its jive "continuum of care" scamming doesn't want to turn over the homeless grant money to the City of Ukiah while squandering it on their own helping professionals and government donut eaters. When Ukiah-area supervisor John McCowen lamented that the homeless would refuse to stay at the Ukiah Fairgrounds, he was narrowly correct. They'll stay, though, if they're arrested for leaving and refusing all assistance offered there. All the public time and money spent on a small population of incompetent, dependent people is crazy. Time to act.
LAKE COUNTY CHI CREEK
photo by Phil Murphy
A PRAYER IN SPRING
Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.
Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.
And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.
For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfil.
— Robert Frost (1874-1963)
NAME THAT FLOWER
in Just- spring when the world is mud- luscious the little lame balloonman whistles far and wee and eddieandbill come running from marbles and piracies and it's spring when the world is puddle-wonderful the queer old balloonman whistles far and wee and bettyandisbel come dancing from hop-scotch and jump-rope and it's spring and the goat-footed balloonMan whistles far and wee
— ee cummings
JIM JONES WITH REDWOOD VALLEY KIDS
PAROLE BID BY CONVICTED FORT BRAGG MURDERER DENIED
In May 2001, convicted murderer Neri Gamaniel Carbajal, now age 38, was sentenced to 26 years to life for the 1998 strangulation murder of then 71-year old Rosaura Sanchez.
Today, Tuesday, April 7, 2020, inmate Carbajal's application for release on parole from state prison confinement was DENIED for at least another three years.
Using the Mendocino County DA's expanded video teleconferencing capabilities, Deputy DA Jamie Pearl appeared -- from Ukiah -- by two-way audio/video feed at the morning parole hearing that was conducted at the state prison training facility at Soledad. On behalf of DA Eyster and the victim's family, DDA Pearl argued forcefully against a grant of parole.
At the conclusion of the morning-long hearing, the parole commissioners adjourned during the lunch hour for twenty minutes before returning to announce the decision to deny parole.
For additional background on this crime, the following text -- taken from the May 6, 2001 edition of the Ukiah Daily Journal, in an article captioned, “Teen gets 26 to life” -- is provided:
“With nearly 50 of murder victim Rosaura Sanchez’ family and friends looking on, Judge Ron Brown on Friday sentenced her killer, Neri [Gamaniel] Carbajal, 19, to 26 years to life in prison.
It’s the maximum sentence for the charges he pleaded to in March – murder and elder abuse with an enhancement for causing the death of someone over the age of 70.
In return for the plea, charges of raping Sanchez, a Fort Bragg resident, and stealing $2,000 from her home were dropped.
Before the verdict, Sanchez’ sons and daughters, frequently breaking down in tears, described their mother as a saint who is missed by many and asked Brown to hand down the harshest possible sentence to Carbajal.
“I beg you, please give that sub human the maximum sentence, life without parole,” said Angelita Fernandez, one of Sanchez’ daughters.
Her brother-in-law said the family really wanted more.
“We wish you would take his life,” said Bill Goleman.
But, [if] that was not possible, he asked that Carbajal be put away so the family would never have to see him again.
“Put him away forever,” Goleman said.
Sanchez’ son, Marco, at one point had to be calmed by family when he became agitated and began angrily speaking to Carbajal while others made their pleas to the judge.
Carbajal’s famil was present as well, but did not testify.
Only Deputy Public Defender Katherine Elliott spoke in Carbajal’s defense.
She said he has the mentality of a fourth grader and, to date, does not fully understand what he’s done.
“Oh give me a break,” a Sanchez family member exclaimed. Others also commented, leading Judge Brown to caution them to be quiet or they would be removed from the courtroom.
Elliott continued, saying Carbajal was easily convinced by detectives to confess because of his lack of mental capacity.
Likewise, his naivete led him to send a final letter to Judge Brown, denying his guilt and accusing prosecutors of racial bias, she said.
Elliott said he likely was convinced to send such a letter by fellow inmates.
Similarly, court documents indicated Carbajal didn’t realize that confessing to a murder meant he would not be free to go to a dance with his girlfriend that same evening.
Court records document Carbajal’s IQ was 93, about average, but [that] he was deemed to be slow for his age.
The psychological reports made on Carbajal were sealed and not available.
Prosecutor Rick Martin made opposite conclusions about the same incidents Elliott said indicated naivete.
He said the letter denying the crime and asking detectives if he could go to a dance after confessing indicated callousness.
Martin noted Carbajal had never indicated he was remorseful for what he’d done.
Carbajal was 16 years old at the time of the murder.
It took two years for law enforcement to link him to the crime.
They did so when it was learned Carbajal had worked for Sanchez on occasion as a gardener.
Detectives asked for fingerprints, and Carbajal conceded, apparently not realizing it could link him definitively to the crime.
When confronted by a match, he asked investigators how they knew the fingerprints were his.
He ultimately confessed to killing Sanchez, but denied raping her.
He said the sex was consensual and was instigated by Sanchez. He said she offered to pay him $2,000 for sex.
He said he killed her because she afterward questioned his manhood.
Then he said he took the money because he felt she owed it to him.
During the preliminary hearing, Judge Henry Nelson found that was highly unlikely, given her age and the fact [that] Sanchez went to church nearly every day.
Carbajal told officials he killed Sanchez by suffocating her and strangling her.
Bruising to her skull also was found on autopsy.
Sanchez was found several days after the killing in her Woodland Drive home after friends and neighbors reported they had not seen her for several days.
Her body was on her bed, covered with a pillow and a quilt.”
CATCH OF THE DAY, April 8, 2020
RANDOLF BISSON, Covelo. Attempted murder, assault on police officer, evasion/reckless driving.
MARCOS FERMIN-GARCIA, Ukiah. Recklessly causing a fire to structure of forestland, polluting state waters, probation revocation.
SERAFIN GOMEZ, Fort Bragg. Stalking and threatening bodily injury, assault with deadly weapon not a gun, misdemeanor hit&run.
ROBIN GONSALVES, Lakeport/Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
DOLORES SMITH, Ukiah. Domestic battery.
PATRICIA STONE, Philo. Domestic abuse, protective order violation.
A PLANE has five passengers on board: Donald Trump, the Pope, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Hillary Clinton, and a 10-year-old school girl. The plane is about to crash and there are only 4 parachutes.
Dr. Fauci said, “I need one. I helped develop a cure for the global health crisis that is Covid19!” He strapped on a parachute and jumped.
The Pope said, “I need one. I have to help spiritually guide people through the global health crisis that is Covid19.” He takes one and jumps.
Hillary said, “I need one. I’m the smartest woman in the United States.” She takes one and jumps.
President Trump pauses for a moment and then turns to the 10-year- old. After a deep sigh, he says tenderly, “You can have the last parachute. I’ve lived my life, yours is only starting.”
The child replies, “Don’t worry, there are two parachutes left. The smartest woman in the United States just took my school backpack.”
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
I just read that alcohol sales (to include beer and wine) are up 55% from a year ago. Hard liquor sales are up 75%. Yet, in my home state of PA, our fanatical Gov. Wolf has shut down all of the state liquor stores, as he deems them not “life-sustaining.” To my knowledge PA, is the only state to have done so. Now, a PA resident can no longer even buy liquor in neighboring West Virginia, which still sells it to its residents. I’m not a drinker, except for beer (the large beer warehouses have remained open). I have no idea what alcoholics are doing. Bathtub gin and moon shine, maybe?
At this particular moment, the most-watched show in America is a seven-part documentary series about a gay, polygamous zoo owner in Oklahoma who breeds tigers, commissions and stars in his own country-music videos, presides over what he describes as “my little cult” of drifters and much younger men, and ran for governor of Oklahoma in 2018 on a libertarian platform. He’s also currently serving a 22-year prison sentence for, among other charges, trying to arrange the assassination of his nemesis, an animal-sanctuary owner in Florida. And his business allies include another big-cat breeder—a yoga-loving guru in Myrtle Beach who runs what appears to be a tiger-themed sex sect….
(The Atlantic Magazine)
AS A TABLOID EDITOR, I COVERED TRUMP — AND HIS EGO. He hasn't changed a bit.
As Trump ad libs his way through the crisis, it’s shocking to realize he’s the same vain, bullying chancer we indulged all those years ago
THE PLANS TO BRING SPORTS BACK ARE TRULY DYSTOPIAN
by Dave Zirin
In Stephen King’s The Running Man, the masses in a near-future dystopia are entertained by a hellish live-action death match where alleged “criminals” have to escape a gauntlet of “good guys,” or be killed in the process. It’s the most popular show in a broken world defined by rampant decay.
We have not reached Running Man levels yet in the post-coronavirus sports world, but it seems like various sports commissioners want to give it their best shot. The Trump-encouraged plans to start play would create an apocalyptic funhouse where athletes (workers) risk their lives as diversion for the subjects of a flailing empire. The specific ideas being bandied about are as cruel as they are bizarre, with no concern for either public health or the well-being of those running these virus-infused gauntlets.
Take Ultimate Fighting. UFC’s war chief Dana White has a plan to use an unnamed private island as a site for family-friendly combat. He also, according to The New York Times, has an almost unthinkable planned venue for a fight on April 18—a Native American reservation in California. By staging this match there, White is able to skirt California’s statewide shelter-in-place laws. He said:
“I’m ready to get back. You keep people in their houses for too long without entertainment, people are going to start losing their minds.”
Dana White is a dear friend of Donald Trump, who is also thirsting for the diversion that sports provide. Anything to take the focus from his disastrous handling of this pandemic.
In Major League Baseball, commissioner Rob Manfred is shepherding a brazenly irresponsible plan to start in early May. The blueprint is to sequester players for four and a half months from friends and family and play all their games in the Spring Training parks of Arizona, which should hit 120 degrees in the shade by July. (I’m sure management will remind them that it’s a dry heat.) As one Mets player said to the New York Post, “It’s the desert. Stuff doesn’t live there, it dies there.”
Their only travel would be to and from the stadiums. The ideas about how to maintain social distancing strain credulity. Meetings on the mound between pitcher and catcher would be forbidden. Players would sit in the stands at a safe distance from one another, instead of the dugout. In addition, umpires would be positioned six feet away from every base, with an electronic strike zone in use to further keep everyone at a good safe space. No word yet if you can tag someone out at a distance of six feet.
MLB is conjuring this plan alongside the union, which must make Marvin Miller do the Triple Lindy in his grave. Rob Manfred and the billionaire bosses also have the go ahead from “federal officials” to execute this, which in the context of Trump must be seen as motivated by impulses both politicized and corrupt. They certainly aren’t inspired by public health, not if they’re backing this.
And Lord knows what the NFL is brewing in its Park Avenue offices to put the players on the field. A league that has shown it cares little for the health of its players won’t hesitate to put them out there with two Advil and a prayer.
The NBA seems to be the only league with its head on straight. One general manager said to ESPN,
“[NBA Commissioner] Adam [Silver] was the first to close, and that resonates. We’re not going to be the first to open and have it be a disaster.”
As Silver himself said,
“The fact is now, sitting here today, I know less than I did then, and I think in some ways, just as I listen to the public health experts and the people advising us, the virus is potentially moving faster than maybe we thought at that point, so maybe it will peak earlier. What that means, in terms of our ability to come back at some point, whether it be in late spring or early summer, is unknown to me.”
What a curious idea: having the virus, not the needs of billionaires and chummy unions, determine the timeline of returning to the field. We don’t need bread and circuses. We don’t need distractions. We don’t need The Running Man. We don’t need Mortal Kombat. What we need is to grow the hell up and wait this out.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY #2
I’m recommending right now to add a tumbler of absinthe to your Screwdriver Smoothie cocktail ... absinthe 140 proof ~ warning: may cause hallucinations — here you have an immune system booster and a germ killing disinfectant. For a twist add a slice of lemon.
Covid 19 showing a remarkable tenacity and proving to be highly contagious — at least that’s the way it seems at this moment. Well, time to step up our game.
We’ll call this new concoctions Shotgun Smoothie, but don’t let the name fool you: anything containing absinthe will kick your ass.
Here you have an elixer where 80 proof Vodka is the little brother, which is saying something.
WITH YOUR PERMISSION, I SHALL GIVE A SHORT SPEECH
by Garrison Keillor
I skipped the news today and clicked on Zoom where my church held Morning Prayer for Holy Week and there we all were in little boxes on the screen, like pastries on the grocery shelf, and we prayed for forgiveness — though in self-isolation, there’s not much lust or anger, just gluttony and sloth, the usual — and I prayed for my friends who are alone, the one who said, “This is a great time for introverts” and the one who told me she’d instructed her doorman that, if she dies, she should be hauled away in a cardboard box and cremated, no ceremony.
Meanwhile, it is spring in New York City. Bright green grass is growing in the planter boxes on our balcony and a loud bird is hanging out there. We are three people isolating ourselves in five rooms, one reading, one Facetiming, one typing these words. We have groceries, running water, WiFi, all the necessities, and we’re on the 12th floor and can open a door and sit outside in the sunshine, the ultimate luxury.
It’s an easy life compared to what many people are going through and skipping the news lets you ignore a president who, as the British writer Nate White points out, “has no class, no charm, no coolness, no credibility, no compassion, no wit, no warmth, no wisdom, no subtlety, no sensitivity, no self-awareness, no humility, no honor and no grace” and now, in a national crisis, shows himself to be an ignorant bumbler and con artist focused on weeding out non-yes-men in the White House.
The Founders never considered this. They provided for impeachment for high crimes and misdemeanors but not for blinkered stupidity. So we must depend on the heroes in our midst, the hospital workers and truck drivers and grocery clerks and crucial employees, the people the Queen thanked in her speech, to get us through the next few weeks or months until, God help us, the rate of infection declines and life can resume.
In the summer of 1942, the year I was born, a terrible storm hit my hometown in Minnesota and our cousin Florence Hunt ran out of her house with a baby in hand as a tornado blew the roof off and blew mother and child into the limbs of a tree. She climbed down, bruised, the baby unhurt, and took shelter next door at her father-in-law Rozel’s whose father had died of TB when Rozel was a boy. My aunt Jo lived nearby on a farm where my father almost broke his neck his team of four horses got spooked and took off at a wild gallop. His cousin Joe Loucks drowned in the Rum River and my father and his brothers formed a human chain but couldn’t save him. My father who, as a boy, looked out the schoolhouse window and saw his family’s house burning down.
My people were no strangers to disaster. I grew up knowing strong farm women who had driven tractors and handled guns and slaughtered chickens and dealt with troubled men and as a child I could sense their capability. They set high standards but practiced forgiveness. Florence was a cheerful woman and once she’d been blown into a tree, she was fearless. My mother was a worrier and every time she left the house she imagined she’d left the iron on and the house would burn down. The tornado did Florence some good.
My school, Anoka High School, adopted that storm of 1942 as a symbol and our teams became the Anoka Tornadoes. Other teams were named for zoo animals, bears or lions, but we intended to cause devastation. My university, Minnesota, was named for a burrowing rodent, but never mind that. These are brands, and they mean less than nothing. Washington is full of men who think in terms of branding and study opinion polls to gauge their own credibility. Churchill didn’t do that in 1940 as Britain stood on the brink. We don’t need it either. Our country is in trouble and it lacks coherent leadership and this obligates us to extend ourselves to each other. Love your neighbor. Gather your family close. Prepare for hard times ahead. Pledge allegiance to each other. This country is so much better than it appears these days. Now is the time to come to its aid, before it sinks.
When I was a child my family would travel
Down to Western Kentucky where my parents were born
And there's a backwards old town that's often remembered
So many times that my memories are worn
And daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County
Down by the Green River where Paradise lay
Well, I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in asking
Mister Peabody's coal train has hauled it away
Well, sometimes we'd travel right down the Green River
To the abandoned old prison down by Airdrie Hill
Where the air smelled like snakes and we'd shoot with our pistols
But empty pop bottles was all we would kill
Then the coal company came with the world's largest shovel
And they tortured the timber and stripped all the land
Well, they dug for their coal till the land was forsaken
Then they wrote it all down as the progress of man
When I die let my ashes float down the Green River
Let my soul roll on up to the Rochester dam
I'll be halfway to Heaven with Paradise waitin'
Just five miles away from wherever I am
— John Prine
POET WILLIAM STAFFORD AND COVID-19
During this COVID-19 pandemic, I have been wondering: "What is the role of poets and writers during an epidemic? The role of artists? And sculptors? The role of musicians, singers, dancers, performance artists, and filmmakers?"
I am a poet and writer.
We, as creative people, each individually commit to living a life dedicated to the creative arts on any given day. We put in the work. We're professionals. We take our craft seriously. This is our path.
But isn't it different for us during a crisis, like an epidemic, famine, war? (And let's not forget, we're facing a looming global warming catastrophe.)
Mustn't we, as creative people, find our collective voices during times of crisis?
Specifically, mustn't I, as part of a community of poets and writers, further the work of language to lead us?
People are like elephants holding each other's tails. We lead one another.
Like elephants, we walk along the dim paths of ancestral memory. We walk through the long dry season to ancient watering holes.
Like elephants, we walk along tracings on the surface of mystery.
But something leads the leader. What leads the leader? What is that "something"?
Poet William Stafford suggests an answer.
During times of crisis, the people of the world need words that serve as beacons for navigating across the unknown — words that expand the boundaries of the world, words that may give us direction, words that illuminate the darkness, words that may impart meaning to crisis and suffering, and words that draw us into a reflective frame of mind.
The right words find a portal.
Living speech will, of necessity, also be a language of the heart. Words such as "compassion", "service", "forthrightness", "vulnerability", "humility", "generosity", "gratitude", "silence", "affection", "obedience", "grace", and "reciprocity" will take on a new currency.
During times of crisis, the words we choose must be our own, of course, but they also come from a higher source. In a crisis, we choose the words that we choose because we have discovered, and are learning to live by, the unheard universal music behind the words.
The unheard universal music -- it's the same thing that the lead elephant hears as it leads the herd out of drought to water.
The sound of right words lead us home. Or the sound of the right words may lead us to a new and better world.
On the other hand, the wrong words sound wrong.
They sound empty. Or they sound flat.
They sound like noise. Or they sound like nonsense.
They may even sound like lies.
The wrong words betray the trust that people of the world have always put in their poets and storytellers. Always! Throughout all of human history.
The worst case scenario is that the wrong words could lead to our extinction. William Stafford writes, "following the wrong god home, we may miss our star."
In his poem, "A Ritual to Read to Each Other", William Stafford concludes :
And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider—
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.
For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give — yes or no, or maybe —
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.
(from The Way It Is: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 1998 by William Stafford. Graywolf Press.)
— John Sakowicz