- Check Delayed
- Co-op Addition
- Coast Covid Updates
- Peter Glusker
- Lee Simpson
- Buddha Wall
- Supes Notes
- Tree Blossoms
- Ed Notes
- Joss House
- Wireless Tower
- Yesterday's Catch
- California Trees
- Frisco Sunset
- Community Hospitals
- Reckless Wrestling
- CTTB Ukiah
- Outside Game
- Sold Out
- Baseball Caps
- Bull Schiff
- Dutiful Dem
- No Easter
- Upton Sinclair
- Petty Parasites
- Plague Talk
- Contagion Probabilities
- KZYX Poetry
- Found Object
GENERALLY WARM AND DRY WEATHER is expected to prevail through the end of the week across the interior with isolated mountain showers may be possible Thursday and Friday. Marine influence will return to the coastal areas beginning today. Precipitation chances will occur at times late this weekend and next week but only minimal amounts of rain are expected for all of Northwest CA. (NWS)
JUST IN: Your stimulus check is probably delayed because the Treasury Department has ordered President Donald Trump's name to be printed on checks the IRS is sending to tens of millions of Americans, a decision that will slow their delivery by several days, according to the Washington Post. The Post said the $1,200 checks to be sent as part of a $2.3 trillion package supposed to cushion the economic blow from the novel coronavirus will 'bear Trump's name in the memo line, below a line that reads, 'Economic Impact Payment.'' The Post said the decision to include Trump's name was announced to the IRS information technology team on Tuesday.
NOTE: The IRS has posted a new "Get My Payment" section on their website: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment
MENDOCINO COAST COVID-19 UPDATE FOR THE WEEK OF APRIL 13, 2020.
By William Miller, MD, MCDH Chief of Staff
The most important news this week is that we remain without any new cases in the County beyond the first four of a couple of weeks ago. We still have not had any COVID patients admitted to any of the three hospitals thus far. The County Health Department has also expanded testing to the most vulnerable populations in our community. They have now tested 29 staff and residents at Sherwood Oaks, our local nursing home, and as of this writing 17 are negative with the remaining 12 still pending. The County also tested 28 people at Plowshares, the homeless shelter in Ukiah, all of whom were negative. Mendocino Coast Clinics has done 7 tests with 6 negative and one pending. Here at our hospital, we have tested 21 patients and 3 staff, all negative as well. While this may not seem like a lot of tests, it is still significant because all of these tests were either in high risk populations and /or people who had symptoms that could have been COVID. These results, along with the fact that we have not seen any sick patients with the disease, suggest a very low prevalence of the infection here on the Coast at this time. This will likely change once Shelter-in-Place restrictions are loosened, however, we are certainly in a better place now to handle cases that may come to us and at this point, I expect that the numbers will be manageable when that happens.
Our hospital remains on track to affiliate with Adventist Health on May 1st. The COVID crisis has already given us several opportunities to build good relationships with our colleagues in Ukiah and Willits. We have been in frequent communication exchanging ideas, information and protocols. We have shared with them some of our COVID sampling kits (used to get the sample, but not run the test) and they have recently sent us a supply of face masks in return. Ukiah and Willits both now have a small supply of COVID test kits (used to actually run the test) and are running same day COVID tests for us to use for admitted patients and symptomatic health care staff. We expect that to increase in the weeks to come following the affiliation and as more test kits become available.
We have been successful in preserving our supply of N-95 respirator face masks, which will be crucially needed if and when we get any appreciable number of COVID patients. We received a shipment from the State of 1,000 masks to add to our exiting supply of 4,000. While that number may seem like a lot, it is just sufficient to get us through a modest influx of COVID patients, which is what we are expecting.
We have been receiving donations of homemade cloth facemasks from the community and this has been very helpful as we are using them in low risk settings and that is helping us preserve our remaining medical and surgical face masks, which are running low. We can use more of those cloth masks and we also know that Sherwood Oaks and MCC would appreciate them as well. If you are going to make them, there are a lot of patterns on the Internet. The best fabric is a higher thread count of 600 or above, and it should be double ply. Try out the fabric by attempting to breathe through it doubled over and see if it is easy to breathe through or not. Also, avoid fabrics that have a lot of lint. Consider making them in different sizes and with some that have ear loops while others have head bands or tie strings. This is helpful in folks finding a mask that fits effectively and comfortably. A pocket in between the two layers is nice so that filter paper (such as a coffee filter) can be inserted for added protection. A wire to help form the mask over the bridge of the nose reduces fogging up of glasses and face shields. Lastly, while wild colors and patterns are fun, please make at least some of them in tamer colors and without patterns for those of us who wish to make a subtler fashion statement. But, hey, thank you so much for whatever you provide!
SMALL BUSINESSES AND COUNTY HEALTH OFFICER’S SHELTER-IN-PLACE ORDER
By Tabatha Miller, Fort Bragg City Manager
On Friday, April 10, Mendocino County’s Public Health Officer Noemi Doohan issued a second revised Shelter-in-Place Order. This new Order is thirteen pages long and replaces the March 24th Order which was six pages long. It can be hard to figure out business you can transact and still comply with the order and what if any special precautions one must take. If you have questions or concerns, I would encourage you to call the COVID-19 Call Center at (707) 234-6052. This is staffed from 8:00am to 8:00pm seven days a week. You can also call City Hall at (707) 961-2823 Monday through Friday from 9:00 to 5:00. We have staff that speak Spanish to assist.
Something new in the County’s April 10th Order is the requirement that all Essential Businesses must prepare and post a “Social Distancing Protocol” no later than 11:59 pm on April 13, 2020. Don’t panic if you haven’t completed this task. Most likely, you are doing the necessary tasks and just need to fill out and post the County’s check list, which was attached to the new order. This is available on the County’s website at https://www.mendocinocounty.org/community/novel-coronavirus. Also remember that while a violation of the Order is a misdemeanor, education is still the focus of any enforcement action. You will get warned first. The proposed fines of up to $500 per individual and $10,000 per business only apply in the unincorporated parts of the County and not the City of Fort Bragg. The City Council decided this action was not necessary within City Limits.
If you are a small business and not operating, take a closer look at the Order. There are a few businesses like bars, nightclubs, hair and other salons, fitness centers, golf courses, hotels operating for any nonessential business, and trying on clothing that are not allowed because they are not essential businesses. But there are some businesses that can still operate, just not in the same way. For example, businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, goods or services directly to residences may operate as long as all COVID-19 precautionary measures are implemented. Goods or services covers most retail businesses. Fitness centers can do virtual classes and hair salons can provide how-to videos and product kits that are delivered.
If you haven’t already, the first step is to make sure the community is aware that you are “open” for business. Westcenter.org has an “Open for Business” page, just for Fort Bragg - and also each of the other communities. There is a form on the left side, just below the “Industry” listing where you can submit your business information. Visit Fort Bragg has the Fort Bragg 2 Go (fortbraggfood.com) website which list all local restaurants that are open. If you are not listed or need to update your information email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Second, get your Facebook page updated or your website in place. West Business Development Center at (707) 964-7571 has webinars on how to do this if YouTube video is not your thing. Get creative and deliver or ship your products to your customers. You are allowed to be in your business to secure inventory, ensure security, process payroll and to provide for delivery of existing inventory or gift cards to residences or businesses. I, for one, am a sucker for bonus dollars with purchase, or the buy a $50 gift card and get an extra $10 gift card for future use.
If you have questions regarding what you can and cannot do call the County or City Hall. You will not get in trouble for asking.
DR. PETER GLUSKER
Peter D. Glusker, M.D., Ph.D., died on Jan. 27, 2020, of complications of lymphoma at Stanford Hospital. He was 83. Born in New York City on Sept 3, 1936, to Anita Brenner, Ph.D. and David Glusker, M.D., Peter spent his childhood years in Mexico City.
Neurology and medicine were Peter's two great vocational passions. He completed his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees at the University of Oklahoma in 1974 and 1975 respectively. He did a rotating internship at the University of California, Irvine, 1974-75, and a neurology residency at the University of California, San Diego, 1975-78.
Peter opened a private neurology practice on the Mendocino coast in 1978. He was a member of active staff at Mendocino Coast District Hospital from 1978 until his 2016 retirement. Peter also served as courtesy consulting staff at Frank R. Howard Memorial Hospital in Willits from 1996 to 2011.
Certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in 1981, and certified by the American Board of Sleep Disorders Medicine in 1996, Peter was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology in December 1984 and a Fellow of the American College of Physicians-American Association of Internal Medicine in January 1999. He was an adjunct clinical assistant professor in the Department of Neurology and Neurological Sciences at Stanford University Medical Center, 2002-11.
Jim Sato, one of MCDH's most gifted past administrators, wrote that Peter's "unwavering commitment to goodness, to fairness, and to compassion were what I remember the most. Peter brought a level of knowledge, competence, quality and safety that many large medical centers still do not have. The Mendocino Coast was fortunate to have had Peter."
Peter will be remembered for his natural gentleness, goodness, kindness, humility and thoughtfulness. He led a life of service to others. In common with all Glusker men, he possessed an innate ability to pun and a delightful sense of humor.
Peter is survived by his life partner, Mara Marie Thomas; his nephew, David Page, and his wife, Elizabeth, and their children; his nephew, Michael Page, and his wife, Paula, and their children; as well as numerous cousins. His younger sister, Susannah Joel Glusker, of Mexico City, predeceased him in 2013.
The family would like to thank the physicians at Stanford Hospital for the superb medical care Peter received: Dr. Michaela Liedtke for the meticulous and thorough way she expedited a complex work-up and for her grace and kindness; Dr. Lauren Maeda for her expertise and thoughtful guidance; Dr. William Fearon for his courteous bedside visit; Dr. Marjana Segers for her authoritative assessment and laser focus on Peter's humanity; and Dr. Mazin Abdelghany for his gentle manner and compassion.
A steady stream of fellows, residents, and nurses took excellent care of Peter on F Ground Hematology and on E2 Patient Unit ICU. The family would especially like to thank a number of nurses: Ashley, Jigme, Dustin, Izzy, Mary Elizabeth, Rosella, Marcy, Jeff, Peggy and Hilary.
Two of Peter's friends and colleagues have the family's profound gratitude: Stanford Professor Gregory W. Albers, M.D., who graciously facilitated Peter's swift admission on January 14 and provided moral support and camaraderie; and Jan Kirsch, M.D. of Berkeley, who gave wise counsel and loving kindness.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Peter's memory to the American Friends Service Committee, the American Civil Liberties Union, or Art Explorers. A memorial service will be announced at a later date. The complete obituary will be available as a pamphlet at that time.
LEE CHARLES SIMPSON
Lee Charles Simpson of Indian Wells, CA passed away, surrounded by his wife, son and daughter-in-law, on Friday, March 27, 2020 in the comfort of his home.
He is survived by his wife of 67 years Mary Jean, his son Robert Simpson, daughter in law Jamie Simpson, 8 grandchildren Somer (Aaron), Brian (Melanie), Stuart (Petruta), Jennifer, Adam (Tatianne), Nicole, Alexander and Diana (Jonathan) and 10 great grandchildren (Kendall, Dylan, Owen, Nicholas, Alissa, Allegra, Cruz, Lucas, James and Emily) and by his two brothers Richard and Phillip Simpson. He was preceded in death by his parents Charles James Simpson & Mary Pauline Wheeless, his sons Thomas & Terry Simpson and his brother Clifford Simpson.
Lee Simpson was born in Oakland, CA June 5, 1934. He graduated from Potter Valley, CA High School in 1952. Lee was accepted into the military academy but chose to stay home to begin his career as a "lumberman" at the Potter Valley Sawmill (Ukiah Pine). Lee was an intelligent, dedicated, loyal, caring and hardworking man who always put others first. These qualities caught the attention of his bosses and respect from his peers. Lee went on to become VP-Operations of Louisiana-Pacific Corporation. Lee's early bosses included Coleman Wheeler, Floyd Crenshaw, Archie Hesseman, Frank Crawford and George Schmidbauer.
In 1973, Lee accepted Harry Merlo's offer to serve as Vice-President of Operations for Louisiana-Pacific Corporation (LP). LP was a spin-off from Georgia-Pacific Corporation (GP). Both GP & LP were headquartered in Portland, Oregon. Harry & Lee were a great team. Harry had the vision, passion and sales skills to grow LP's annual revenue into a $3 billion company; Lee was the glue that held the company together. Lee's early Divisional Managers included Sherman Kirchmeier, Lowell Ambrosini, Phil Nell, Tope Knauf, Melf Lorenzen, Tommy Reynolds and Glen Lorenz. Lee retired in 1990 to spend more time with Mary Jean.
In October 1995, Lee returned to Louisiana-Pacific Corporation as Interim CEO. The company was nearly bankrupted by a class action lawsuit concerning LP's exterior siding products. Lee's objective in returning was to stabilize the company while LP's board of directors hired a new CEO. Lee permanently retired in 1996 but continued to serve LP as a Board Member until 2004. Lee's guidance provided employees the confidence to stay the course.
Lee Simpson touched the lives of his family, friends and colleagues. However, nobody meant more to Lee than his wife of 67 years, Mary Jean. Lee & "MJ" were inseparable. They enjoyed Alaska fishing trips, Oregon hunting trips, Hawaii vacations, Mexico cruises, dancing, playing cards and entertaining guests at their homes in Indian Wells, CA and Sunriver, Oregon. Mary Jean's solace comes from the love she receives from family and countless friends.
Lee will be memorialized at the Potter Valley, CA Cemetery. A Celebration of Life will be held at Desert Horizons Country Club in Indian Wells, CA in the fall of 2020….God Willing.
by Mark Scaramella
AFTER AN HOUR AND A HALF of muddled discussion, the Supervisors decided to keep their interim Health Officer, Dr. Noemi Doohan, on full pay until June 1 after which the doctor will start her new job in San Diego but remain on call to Mendo. The Board decided to allow Dr. Doohan to decide where she will perform her duties until then. Dr. Doohan made it clear that she would not stay on as Health Officer past June 1 whichever way things went. Apparently her home in San Diego was damaged by a recent heavy rain which delayed her previously expected Sunday return to Mendo, and if she had returned she’d have to quarantine herself for another 14 days.
Dr. Jim Flaherty, the Assistant Health Officer, said he’d returned from retirement to help Dr. Doohan out, but he didn’t have a public health background and would only be willing to help with the transition to a new health officer which the County is currently trying to recruit.
In a blunt statement to the Board Dr. Flaherty wrote:
“I am going to tell you what I will do and not do, in my role as the Deputy Public Health Officer, to continue to assist the people of our County in addressing the dire, long term situation facing all of us—in our county, our state, and country, and in almost every country on earth.
"We may seem to be less vulnerable than the counties around us at the moment because we are doing so well by the numbers; as you know, the situation changes daily, and our surge will come if we let our guard down. The fact that we are doing so well is extraordinary when we compare ourselves with our neighboring rural counties. That success is due in part to Dr. Doohan’s leadership, to the role of the EOC, and to the fact that most of our citizens have taken her advice to heart.
"I came out of retirement to help her, a friend and colleague, overwhelmed by the work of being our only Public Health Officer, and to help our community. On a practical level, I am well aware every day that I am the oldest person in the EOC, and I don’t have the stamina that I used to have.
"Being a physician does not make me a public health expert, and public health expertise is needed to be a Public Health Officer, especially in a pandemic. Most physicians, myself included, are not public health experts, because it requires a unique education that is different than medical education. I am not a public health expert."
"It seems ironic that Dr. Doohan is both the Public Health Officer for Mendocino County and in the last semester of her two year program in Masters in Public Health, which is a required degree for the position of Public Health Officer. Her required thesis title could be “Pandemic Management, A Trial by Fire.” I have joked with her that she should take all her notes, the minutes of meetings, and the Public Health Orders, Advisories and Alerts she has carefully written, bundle them up, and sent them to her advisor, and say “Here’s my thesis.”
"I don’t envy the position she is in; I see how challenging it is, and I don’t want her job. I did not become the Deputy Health Officer to fill Dr. Doohan’s shoes when she leaves in June for her new job. Hopefully, it will be a person who likes to work in a rural, under-resourced county, who has an extensive knowledge of public health, and the experience to match it. All of these qualities are needed to take over pandemic management when she completes her time here; I have a minute fraction of the knowledge and 4 weeks of experience. Mendocino County should continue to aggressively recruit for the vacant position of Public Health Officer; the County should be advertising in all major Public Health journals and using professional recruiters to find a qualified candidate. I want to review the existing search process with Human Resources.
"Here’s what I can do: I will be the short term bridge for that new hire, assuming I can keep up the pace. I will evaluate and re-evaluate my ability to continue to do so on a weekly basis, as I have for the last four weeks. My operating principle so far has been to “give it another week;” I have slowly understood more and become more efficient at managing that enormous amount of information that goes into understanding the situation and associated decision making.
"In order for me to be the bridge in the future, I will require an expert Public Health consultant to assist me, and my public decision-making will be informed by that expert as well by the our regional County Public Health Officers. It should be realized today that my public health decision-making will be in locked step with county public health colleagues to our South, because they know what they are doing, and I know comparatively little. The value of Sheltering-in-Place, social distancing and restriction of all non-essential activities, and the value of regional Public Health decision-making has been demonstrated in our own County and State. I will not be pressured by anyone without the knowledge, experience or authority to make such decisions.
"If what I have outlined is acceptable, then I need more time to follow and understand the daily discussions and the decision-making that Dr. Doohan is involved in, moment-to-moment and day-to-day. This is not an easy job, and she has been doing her best at it, whether from here or from San Diego.
"If you do not find what I can do as acceptable, then today is my last day of work.
Submitted by James Flaherty, MD”
Sheriff Matt Kendall and DA David Eyster both said that Dr. Doohan was doing a good job. A Coast caller named David Gurney demanded Dr. Doohan’s immediate termination but didn't offer any ideas on who should replace her.
LEFT UNSAID was the reason Dr. Doohan was hired as “interim” Health Officer in the first place: I.e., Mendo had a homegrown public health officer, Dr. Gary Pace, but he quit when CEO Carmel Angelo abruptly fired Public Health Director Barbara Howe. Dr. Pace resigned in solidarity with Howe and saying the firing was uncalled for and he didn’t want to work for Mendo anymore. Dr. Pace, who lives in Mendocino County bu now works in Lake County, could probably do both jobs and save both small counties a nice nickel, but we doubt he’d be willing to come back to work for CEO Angelo under the circumstances. The CEO’s record of abruptly firing people for no announced reason has cost the County a lot, especially now in public health, leaving the County in a difficult situation such as this virus response — which, we will add, has been handled competently by Dr. Doohan.
OVERTIME was a subject of particular interest at Tuesday’s board meeting as well. County Budget official Darcie Antle told the Board that the County is using about 2000 hours a month of overtime related to the virus situation. But she didn’t know what the “weighted” rate for the OT is, so she didn’t estimate that extra cost, but she made it clear the county is paying time and a half for it. Antle said she expects 75% of the OT cost to be reimbursed by FEMA emergency funds. Supervisor Gjerde wanted to know what was being done to reduce it. CEO Angelo said she had “begun reducing” overtime in the Emergency Operations Center “when we are able to” without offering any numbers or categories, adding that she will come back to the Board with some numbers. We guess the hourly loaded rate for the senior people in the EOC to be upwards of $70 an hour or more. 2000 hours at ($70 + $35) would be more than $200k per month of overtime, so that maybe $50k per month that the County will have to cover.
SUPERVISOR TED WILLIAMS said he didn’t think the Board was sufficiently involved in decision making, adding that budgeting for the new reality needs to begin now and that there is no guarantee of any federal or state bailout. “The public is sensing that we don’t have clear ownership,” said Williams. “Who is managing this public health emergency?”
We gather that Supervisor Williams doesn’t think CEO Angelo’s self-designated title of “incident commander” is leadership enough. Williams also noted that the Board gets daily reports but he wanted to share them with the public. “There’s not enough transparency,” Williams said, adding that for the first few weeks the lack of Board and public involvement may have been necessary, but not so much now. “As time goes by we need to excerise more ownership. What is the overall expense of this? What will the total cost be so we can look at where to cut or where to shift funds?”
Antle replied that the County has filed for over $2 million in claims to FEMA for 90 days of EOC operation. The county, Antle said, is also expecting to be reimbursed for an “Alternate Care Facility” which cost $500k to get up and open, and another one on the coast is up next.
SHERIFF Matt Kendall said his Sheriff’s office is in decent shape financially because the lower population at the jail and the closure of most of the courthouse has meant that he has staff to cover what otherwise might have cost more overtime.
SUPERVISOR JOHN McCOWEN mentioned the following letter from the Ukiah City Council asking that the County do more about the homeless situation in the Ukiah Valley.
“SUBJECT: Request for Engagement on Homeless Issues
The City of Ukiah is committed to collaborative engagement with the County of Mendocino to develop and implement solutions related to homelessness. We look forward to discussions that will form a more comprehensive and unified approach with defined outcomes. To achieve that we seek a joint ad-hoc be established to address the related issues. In the meantime, we desire continuing cooperation with our community's various agencies and partners to tend to the on-going challenges.
In our meeting today [Monday], the City Council appointed members Brown and Scalmanini to serve on a joint ad hoc, inclusive of staff, to collaborate with members of your Board.
For more than a month, the City of Ukiah has sought information on the County’s sheltering plan and risk mitigation strategies to limit COVID-19 spread among the homeless population in Mendocino County. There is a noticeably larger number of unsheltered individuals in the county that has emerged during this public health emergency. This is likely due in part to the modifications to intake/releases in the correction/judicial system, along with modified service delivery of homeless related services by County Health and Human Services and contracted service providers. There is undoubtedly an increased risk to the homeless population from COVID-19, and as such our first responders and heath care resources are at significant risk from a major spread event. A preemptive and coordinated county-wide response is imperative.
We appreciate the County’s work to develop a hotel voucher program for homeless individuals who are elderly or medically vulnerable or otherwise at high risk, and a quarantine/isolation plan for when individuals become sick. While these efforts are important, they fail to address a mitigation plan that must include sheltering, which has been identified as imperative, during this emergency for the greater homeless population and encampments. In fact, the County’s Health Order specifically identifies the importance of providing shelter and/or other proper COVID-19 mitigation measures. It is important to note that all homeless and health/human services, resources, and funding are provided at and through the County. Our rural cities are completely reliant upon the County’s administration, management, and delivery of these services.
Details of the County’s efforts to address sheltering and mitigation for the homeless population have been slow to materialize. There remains a lack of a unified approach among the County Office of Emergency Services, Health and Human Services, the Continuum of Care (CoC), and the County’s contracted services providers; resulting in duplication of services, an inefficient utilization of already-scarce resources, and significant gaps in service. Please understand that we make this point with a constructive emphasis and a desire to see a more effective planning model and response effort related to unsheltered individuals during, as well as beyond, this emergency event. This feedback is currently also being expressed by other stakeholders, providers and local jurisdictions. To that end, the Council requests the County identify a point person with sufficient authority and scope to undertake a unified and coordinated response for this effort, and be appointed and empowered to report directly to the Executive Office and the Board of Supervisors.
We want to further emphasize that this has been and remains a county-wide issue, not just a Ukiah issue, and currently the most apparent impact is in Ukiah on the north end of Runway Safety Area at the Ukiah Municipal Airport [i.e., the Hastings Avenue encampment]. This current issue grew from 15 people to well over 60 people since the onset of the COVID-19 emergency.
This encampment and others throughout the county will continue to grow with the piecemeal delivery of services and efforts. It is unfair to place the burden on local law enforcement when the lack of coordination and oversight of County services is enabling illegal camping/sheltering, including the collection and distribution of tents and expansion of mobile services. Furthermore, business and property owners in our community are experiencing increased levels of vandalism and theft, which can be directly attributed to this issue.
While we disagree with the County’s approach regarding the encampment in the Runway Safety Area and firmly assert a greater effort should be made for a suitable location and sheltering approach, we do appreciate CEO Angelo’s recognition that the County will provide a specific focus on this encampment. The County’s current level of service at this location is inadequate and lacks the proper sanitation, monitoring, security, coordinated support services and other specific points detailed in the County’s Public Health Order. To that end, the Council requests a detailed plan for the appropriate services at the encampment in the Runway Safety Area and for the remaining unsheltered homeless who remain vulnerable to COVID-19 and thus, represent a significant risk of community spread. Within the plan, please provide specific detail for the transition to appropriate sheltering and a specific end date for services in the Runway Safety Area, which is critical to the safe and continued operation of the Ukiah Municipal Airport.
We appreciate your service and thank you for addressing these concerns. We look forward to working with the County on these important issues.
Authorized by: 5-0 vote of Ukiah City Council on 04-13-2020."
McCowen’s response to the Ukiah letter was predictable: Another ad hoc committee on homelessness made up of himself and Supervisor Dan Gjerde who will meet with another ad hoc made up of the people from the Ukiah City Council as well as Fort Bragg. But nothing remotely about the requested “detailed plan.”
Ukiah City manager Sage Sangiacomo told the Board during the meeting that the “current level of service [in Ukiah] is inadequate. There’s not enough sanitation. More mitigation measures are required. And Mendo needs a plan to … “ at which point his three minutes were up and his on-line connection was abruptly terminated. (It's another bit of gratuitious rudeness from the supervisors that speakers are summarily cut off as it's obvious they are concluding their remarks anyway.)
Sangiacomo later said that his police officers respond to well over 3,000 calls per year regarding homelessness. “Lots of well intentioned people trying to do good things,” said Sangiacomo. “But piecemeal approaches are not enough. Without public health oversight, there is a strong possibility of more harm.”
Supervisor Carre Brown responded by suggesting that Ukiah was to blame for the problem, saying she thought Ukiah law enforcement should have done more about the Hastings Avenue encampment earlier before it grew to its present anarchic size, adding that Ukiah needs to somehow control new people at the camp.
McCowen said he had helped organized trash pickups and porta-potties and a handwashing station when that was about all that could be done. But that no other services are being provided. However he added that Ukiah’s letter was somehow “misleading”(aka critical of the County and the well-paid homeless service providers) and volunteered to write a response to it.
However, nobody discussed Ukiah’s request for a “point person,” so the current disorganized collection of ad hocs and continuums and service providers will continue to muddle along with no specific plan and no one responsible to do anything beyond what those random “well intentioned people” Sangiacomo mentioned feel like doing.
McCowen said that the County’s Health and Human Services agency and its contractors are “committed” to provide “some services” to the camp and to help some of them leave the camp, adding that it will become a law enforcement issue with “some people” who will never be removed from street homelessness. At the moment 105 vulnerable adults and a few children have been “hoteled.”
ALSO UNADDRESSED was the necessary transparency upgrade called for by Supervisor Williams and buttressed by Coast Supes watcher Lee Edmundson who wrote to the Board:
The dearth of information regarding COVIN-19 on the county's website is of grave concern to me.
I wrote earlier about the lack of daily updates, particularly regarding the number of tests thus far administered, the number of tests positive/negative, the number of recovered cases, etc.
I'm writing now because I went to the county website today expecting an update, and not only was there not one, the tally aforementioned has been removed! Why? To what end?
Secondly, I'd direct your attention to Sonoma County's Santa Rosa Press-Democrat newspaper, which publishes a daily update of COVIN-19, which enumerates: total cases to date, number of active cases, number recovered, number of negative test results. Today's tally shows that
3,626 tests have been administered thus far in Sonoma County, while Mendocino County's last tally reflected less than 400 tests had been administered. Why is this? Without widespread testing, we're all flying blind.
Why are we so lacking adequate testing? Why are we citizens being denied this information? Can some one, any one, justify/explain this to me?
Additionally, upon viewing last week's BoS teleconference, I was shocked to see that our Public Health Officer was in San Diego(!). HUH? You can achieve a great many things, I guess, through telecommunications, but serving as the Public Health Officer during a pandemic -- it seems to me -- requires a boots-on-the-ground presence. In their (physical) absence, who's in-charge?
What is our Strategic Plan? Is there one? If there is, where is it, or when is it forthcoming?
Finally, I see nothing on the agenda regarding the inevitable shortfall
in tax revenue. We've been in lock-down for almost a month now. Many businesses are shuddered, as well as Inns, hotels, B&Bs and (I trust)
air B&Bs. Our local economies have taken a severe hit already with the loss of TOT and sales tax. At what point are your going to instruct the auditor and/or tax collector's offices to present a revised budget forecast? For a major income shortfall is coming at us as sure as sugar, and the County needs to prepare for it.
With All Due Respect, the hard times are here upon us, like it or not. Likely to get way worse before getting any better. You might hope you can achieve something by kicking the can down the road, but sooner or later, we're just gonna run out of road.
As a concerned member of the citizenry. I'd like more information forthcoming from your offices.
Regards to You All.
Please Advise. Stay Well. Respectfully,
Lee Edmundson. Mendocino”
A FEW DAYS AGO when looking into the County’s obligation to fully fund school districts under the Teeter Plan, we asked County School Superindent Michelle Hutchins:
“In looking at the County's budget picture in light of reduced property taxes and cancelled penalties and the Teeter Plan requirements, we were wondering if school budgets have been reduced due to the months-long closures which might translate into lower ADA (Average Daily Attendance) and the County not owing as much of the Property taxes under the Teeter plan.”
SUPERINTENDENT HUTCHINS REPLIED: “The State's ending date for calculating average daily attendance calculations for this school year is Feb 29, 2020. School districts are funded based on current year or prior year ADA, whichever is greater. Each district and the County Office of Education reports the taxes we receive and then the State fills in the rest with State aid so that the total amount a district should be funded based on ADA is funded. We anticipate school districts will be held harmless this year, but there is no guarantee as things are still evolving.”
FROST FANS again Tuesday morning, with an egregiously penetrating din coming out of the Cakebread Vineyard at the Philo end of Anderson Valley Way. Cakebread, based in Napa, deploys sleep-depriving fans at its AV Way site but sprinklers at its vineyard on the old Schoenahl Ranch closer to Boonville. But all the fans were on this morning although it didn't seem cold enough to warrant them.
THE DIN emitted by these things is, one would think, unacceptable since the intrusion disrupts the lives of at least a thousand residents of the Anderson Valley while benefitting maybe 50 padrones. A class action suit might be in order, and we would certainly contribute to anybody who wants to get one going. But we've sued before. And lost. Apart from a lot of attaboys, nobody contributed to our attempt to rein in these worst of bad neighbors, and our $11 grand went for naught. In that one, my colleague, The Major, successfully negotiated a private deal with neighbors Kahn and Charles to modify their fans, and Sattui offered to pay for the installation of double-pane, sound-reducing windows in The Major's home as the other modified their fans to somewhat quieter models.
THERE ARE WAYS to modify frost fans, which Kahn and Charles did. Appeal to the Supervisors? At the time, the 5th District was "represented" by Dan Non Compos Hamburg, i.e., no representation. Supervisor Williams has been a giant step forward for the 5th District, and he undoubtedly feels our pain and might even help us organize a group hug, but given the political power of the industrial booze gang in Mendocino County, nevermind the Northcoast, good luck taking them on.
NOTE: At our court appearances, the whole wine mob showed up, not that a local judge — all wine drinkers from the look of them and because you can't be a liberal around here if you don't know the difference between Pinot and Chardonnay, and they are all libs except, maybe, for Mayfield. The wine people, en masse, as they appeared at our hearings before semi-sensate Judge Henderson, resemble in vibe, a lynch mob. All they lack is the rope. Another note: During our rigged process, then-County Counsel Losak — not the wine mob, mind you — demanded that we should pony up a million dollar bond to even gain "standing" to sue!
ANOTHER BIG SURPRISE: Obama has asked the Democrats to unite behind Joe Biden via a 12-minute video released Tuesday morning. You could almost hear the orgasmic sigh of deep relief from the national Democratic Lib-Lab as Obama, lying through his famous pearlies, said that Biden represents "the right kind of leadership guided by knowledge and experience, honesty and humility, empathy and grace." Put a fork in US. We're done.
TRUMP seems ever more delusional and generally out of control, daily proving that he's not in control of himself. (Intervention time, mon generales?) On Monday he launched into a Queeg-like rant about how the media are persecuting him. Which most of them are, of course, but we've got a CRISIS going here, Donny. Suck it up and quit whining about the New York Times and Rachel Maddow. But Trump can't help himself, He is now certifiable. And if you don't think Monday's deranged monologue was evidence enough that the president is nuts, Tuesday he came right back out and accused a bunch of governors of "mutiny" for resisting his "total authority," elaborating incoherently with, "Tell the Democrat Governors that 'Mutiny On The Bounty' was one of my all time favorite movies. A good old fashioned mutiny every now and then is an exciting and invigorating thing to watch, especially when the mutineers need so much from the Captain. Too easy!"
SEVERAL GOVERNORS led by New York's Andrew Cuomo, speaking for what he called the East Coast's “Covid corridor,” said they would decide when to re-open their states. The six Democratic governors revealed they were creating the first multi-state database in order to share information about the virus and help come up with reopening plans based on medical science, not the ravings of the megalomaniac in the White House.
IMMEDIATELY after the push-back from the governors, Trump backed off: "The best way — I’m talking now from a managerial standpoint — is to let individual governors run individual states and come to us if they have difficulty and we will help them,” he said. Asked about when states might be allowed to open, Trump again said it would be up to the governors, but that the federal government would ultimately have the final say.
JUST IN: TRUMP announced Tuesday afternoon that he was freezing all funding to the World Health Organization because, he claimed, the WHO accelerated the pandemic by opposing travel bans from China. "Today I'm instructing my administration to halt funding of the World Health Organization while a review is conducted to assess the World Health Organization's role in severely mismanaging the spread of the coronavirus." Which is ignoring the reality of his mismanagement, but the guilty do tend to place blame for their sins elsewhere.
SAFEWAY, UKIAH, this morning was out of a lot of stuff — tomatoes, toilet paper, macaroni except for those fancy noodles in little boxes from Italy. Most shoppers, and there weren't very many, wore masks. Some wore masks and surgical gloves. I was admonished by my checker to "keep your social distance, please sir." I was about four feet from a large man with a cartload of vodka and a stack of frozen meals. I wondered if all that alcohol gave the guy a kind of built-in disease repellant. The checker was unmasked but wore gloves. A couple of kids outside the store wiped down each cart. A more or less normal-looking guy walked in with a leashed pit bull and was told to leave, which he did, protesting, "This is my comfort animal." A friend of mine told me she avoids Safeway "because there's always something crazy going on there," which is why I prefer it, that and that it's unionized. Friend says she shops at the Co-op and Albertsons.
MANY YEARS AGO, I was chatting with an uncle when I happened to mention that Albertson’s was owned by Mormons. Unc became quite agitated. He jumped to his feet, and fairly shouted, "Goddamit, are you sure about that, Bruce?" I was sure about lots of things at a young age, sure about nothing in my dotage. Unc continued to rage. "I hate those bastards. I've always shopped at Albertson’s. Jesus Christ, I hope you're wrong about them owning that place. I've spent thousands there!" He explained that his first job in Arizona was in a little town controlled by Mormons. "They were always sneaking around spying on me," Unc said. He liked a drink, Unc did, and he was a two-pack-a-day man. The Mormons certainly wouldn't have approved of him.
IT COULD HAPPEN HERE! (And probably is.) A Florida judge had to remind attorneys who appear for hearings via video conferencing to get dressed for remote sessions. "It is remarkable how many attorneys appear inappropriately on camera. We’ve seen many lawyers in casual shirts and blouses, with no concern for ill-grooming, in bedrooms with the master bedroom in the background, etc. One male lawyer appeared shirtless and one female attorney appeared still in bed, still under the covers. Putting on a beach cover-up won’t cover up if you’re poolside in a bathing suit. So, please, if you don't mind, let's treat court hearings as court hearings, whether Zooming or not.” (Broward Circuit Judge Dennis Bailey)
ANOTHER HIGH SPEED TOWER?
Letter to the Editor
How significant are the impacts of this large wireless communication facility for the Willits/Ukiah Communities?
On Thursday, April 16 at 9am the Mendocino County Planning Commission will hold a virtual public hearing to adopt among other issues a Negative Declaration (ND) and grant a Major Use Permit for a 143 ft. AT&T Mobility/Epic Wireless LLC wireless communication facility.
This lattice tower with 12 antennae, various equipment, a generator, and an associated gravel and paved access route will be located within a 1,800 sq. ft. fenced compound 5.1± miles southeast of the City of Willits on the east side of Manzanita Drive (20201 Manzanita Drive) and 0.5± miles east of its intersection with Ridgewood Road (Pine Mountain).
Read the staff report, Major Use Permit, Draft Initial Study, Environmental Checklist, Attachment and Public Comments for U_2019-0011 and send public comments by e-mail before 8am this Thursday to <email@example.com>. You can participate digitally by sending comments to <firstname.lastname@example.org> in lieu of personal attendance. All public comment will be made immediately available to the Commissioners, staff, and the general public as they are received and processed by staff, and can be viewed as attachments to the meeting agenda at https://www.mendocinocounty.org/government/planningbuilding-services/meeting-agendas/planning-commission. The meeting will be live streamed and available for viewing on the Mendocino County YouTube page, at https://www.youtube.com/MendocinoCountyVideo.
Due to the cumulative impacts of many environmental issues, weak conditions of approval and mitigations this project has a significant adverse effect on the physical environment and therefore needs an Environmental Impact Report.
This important, contentious high-interest "public hearing" should be canceled//postponed as true citizen participation is mandated by the California Environmental Quality Act. Few residents have the capability currently to participate at this virtual hearing.
member Stop 5G Mendocino
CATCH OF THE DAY, April 12-13, 2020
DAVID DORMAN, Ukiah. Domestic abuse.
IVAN GAETA, Fort Bragg. Domestic abuse.
STEVE MAROS, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
MARCUS MELOY, Willits. Resisting, probation revocation.
DENA MORRIS, Ukiah. Parole violation. (Frequent flyer.)
MANUEL MUNOZ, Lakeport/Ukiah. Under influence in possessino of weapon, failure to appear.
FUN FACTS ABOUT CALIFORNIA'S TREES…
Taking a step back from our normally information packed eblasts, we thought we would share some interesting facts and figures about California trees that we have learned over the evolution of Why Forests Matter.
These are just a few tree species that have caught our interest. Happy reading!
Coastal Redwoods, some of the world’s tallest and oldest trees, stand over 320 feet tall and can live up to 2,000 years. With the redwood fossils being traced to the Jurassic period, the redwoods are hardy trees with thick protective bark to help persevere wildfires and insect damage. Natural occurring wildfires are essential to the redwood forests as it helps remove the combustible shrubbage on the forest floor and allow the see redwood seedlings spread and take hold.
A fun fact about Coastal Redwoods: They have ability to create their own rain by capturing the fog that rolls in during summer months. The pine needles then create droplets that are either soaked into the needles or drip down to the vegetation growth in the canopies and forest floors.
As a part of the evergreen family, Douglas firs stay green year-round and is most commonly seen in family’s living rooms during the Holiday season. With its ability to grow in acidic and neutral soil that drains well and amongst rocky hillsides, Douglas firs are seen along the Pacific Coast and Rocky Mountains. While being named the state tree of Oregon, Douglas firs are a popular tree through most of the Sierra Nevada range due to the perfect amount of sunlight given in the crevasses in the hills. They are essential to the wildlife as the seeds provide food for the forest’s scavengers.
A fun fact about Douglas firs: Named after David Douglas in 1826, Douglas-firs were quickly found to be a useful source of lumber when it came to the expansion of communities in the West.
Coast Live Oak
The only native oak to California, Coast Live Oaks tend to thrive off of the coastal fog and humidity but can be found all across the central and southern parts of California where the soil is able to drain easily. As the oak tree matures, they tend to spread out through its branches and requires an ample amount of growing space. The biggest threats to the Coastal Live Oaks is the Sudden Oak Death, a fungal disease that they are easily susceptible to. The wood, however, is known to have a high resistance and longevity in furniture and other wood products.
A fun fact about Coast Live Oaks: They have adapted to the nature around them by dropping most of their acorns during the fall season for the scavengers while also saving some for spring to help with reproduction.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
"In small institutions like this, everybody knows who is responsible for what.” – BINGO. Back then, your local community hospital was a COMMUNITY hospital. It’s Board of Directors was made up of the local bank president, local industry leaders, and a few senior doctors. If you were concerned about the care your mom was getting, you could go and speak with on of the Directors. And they’d take care of it. Now, your local hospital is owned by a for-profit chain out of Houston, responsible only it its shareholders. If you are concerned about the care your mom is getting, you get voicemail.
WWE’S RECKLESS APPROACH TO COVID-19
by Dave Zirin
There is something ugly as sin happening in the carnivalesque world of professional wrestling, or more specifically World Wrestling Entertaining, the top dog in the industry. Run by 74-year-old billionaire Friend-of-Trump Vince McMahon, WWE has decided to resume live programming this week in the midst of the coronavirus, instead of doing safer bulk pre-tapings. The reasons for doing so appear to be dicey as hell. The owners say that they are doing it for America. Their actual motives are much more suspect.
ESPN has some sort of murky partnership with WWE, interviewing its sports entertainers on SportsCenter as if it’s a legit sport, and never looking at the dark side of the business. The network uncritically ran WWE’s justification for going back to live programming:
We believe it is now more important than ever to provide people with a diversion from these hard times. We are producing content on a closed set with only essential personnel in attendance following appropriate guidelines while taking additional precautions to ensure the health and wellness of our performers and staff. As a brand that has been woven into the fabric of society, WWE and its Superstars bring families together and deliver a sense of hope, determination and perseverance.
What propagandistic nonsense, or, to use a word from McMahon’s youth, “malarkey.” The actual reason WWE is changing to live programming, as reported by actual-wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer, is to fulfill contractual requirements to the USA and Fox networks to broadcast only three pretaped shows per year. This decision is driven by McMahon’s eternal efforts to keep his stock artificially inflated with smoke and mirrors. According to insiders, he’s concerned that the contracts with USA and Fox could be reopened if he doesn’t deliver the goods.
Even more apropos for this scandal-ridden company is that the decision to go to live-event programing comes after news this weekend that an unnamed on-air personality has tested positive for Covid-19. The company was quick to assert that this employee infected nobody, never had contact with anyone, and everything was completely fine—nothing to see here. But there’s no reason to take anything WWE says at face value. McMahon’s care for his workforce is legendarily abhorrent, with a staggering death toll among its stars over the decades due to drugs, suicide, and one in-ring disaster. If any other sport had WWE’s body count, there would be congressional panels decrying its existence.
In addition, McMahon is taking advantage of Florida’s lax laws concerning Covid-19, enacted by their blithering goon of a governor, Ron DeSantis. WWE will be filming its live shows in the corrupt sinkhole of Orlando, where McMahon has received an “essential business” label from the friendly Florida government. It would be difficult to imagine anywhere more dangerous outside of New York for WWE to set up shop. As Alex Nazaryan of Yahoo News tweeted, “Florida now has twice as many coronavirus cases (20,601) as South Korea (10,537). About 30 million more people live in South Korea than in Florida.”
It’s difficult to imagine a more rancid and more dangerous cross-pollination than that of Trump, DeSantis, and the WWE. Sure enough, the same day that McMahon announced that WWE would be doing live tapings in Florida, former Trump cabinet official Linda McMahon’s (former WWE executive and Vince’s spouse, of course) committed her Trump reelection PAC to spending $18.5 million in Florida in 2020.
When Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, was asked about WWE’s maintaining live tapings, he said, “Originally, they were not deemed an essential business. With some conversation with the governor’s office regarding the governor’s order, they were deemed an essential business.”
Then, late Monday night, it was revealed that last Thursday DeSantis signed an executive order deeming all “employees at a professional sports and media production with a national audience—including…athletes, entertainers, production team, executive team, media team” as essential. This all stinks to high hell. When you strip it all away. a billionaire Trump backer gets an anti-labor sweetheart deal at the behest of a Trump-lickspittle of a governor. It is a microcosm of a corrupt system in a state of profound decay.
Now the matches will continue, without crowds and with the illusion that just the three to seven people in the ring are present, their bodies all over one another like a frat party of germs. The reality is that when one considers the tech crew and medical professionals on-site, it’s more likely to be dozens in attendance and in close quarters at a time when social distancing is the difference between life and death. Even the announce team, which could easily fulfill their duties at a remote location, are being told to fly to Orlando to take care of business. And again, this is all happening after someone in the company tested positive for Covid-19.
This is a scandal, and the powder-puff WWE journalism from mainstream outlets is not nearly sufficient to hold McMahon’s feet to the fire. The one positive to all of this is the possibility that maybe now, at long last, professional wrestlers will see the value in organizing themselves into a union. The matches may be scripted, but there is nothing fake about the real-life injuries, painkiller addictions, and now coronavirus risks that come with being part of Vincent Kennedy McMahon’s traveling circus.
IF BERNIE HAD SPENT THE PAST FOUR YEARS trailblazing a different path, electability may have been possible for him. After all, it only took him two years to flip Vermont from Republican to democratic socialist. If Bernie had spent the past four years showing that both of the corporate parties were his enemy, and that in fact, both were on the same side, he could have effectively built a broad and united coalition that could defeat a divided duopoly. What we need to expose is this unity among the supposedly disparate corporate parties. The left is always accused of dividing up the Democrats. This is only because the left continues to try and build itself within the Democratic Party. If a base is built outside of this party then we would see both corporate parties uniting against this base. Rank and file liberals would defect from their corporate party who misled them into the arms of fascist Republicans and reluctantly join forces with the united outside base. — Nick Pemberton
THE LAST CAP
by Bob Dempel
Everyone probably has a collection of Baseball caps in their House. Years ago, the caps were associated with a sport. Somewhere in the last 50 years or so everyone is wearing a baseball cap and not just associated with baseball or a sport. Company’s put their logo on caps. Just about anything you can think of nowadays you can find printed on a cap. People have gone to collecting caps. When our house burned in 2017, I must have had a box of 100 caps of many styles. In just 2 plus years I have gathered in 15 or so new caps with inscriptions on them from Caterpillar Tractors to Billy Bob’s World Largest Honky Tonk in Fort Worth, Texas.
I have a young friend (Greg) who farms grapes next to me in Healdsburg. By chance he previously purchased his agricultural chemicals from Purity Chemical Products Company. I have written about the unfortunate demise of that company and that years ago I was one of the partners. Greg called me a few weeks ago while we were just starting this disastrous virus inferno. He had a gift for me and he and his wife would come by my house and leave it on the front porch. Several weeks went by and there was nothing on the porch. I had a piece of equipment stored on Greg’s ranch so last week I went to remove all of the chains and binders (trucker talk) off of the equipment. Greg saw me on his property and came down to talk at the prescribed distance. I could see he had something tucked inside of his shirt. Finally, he brought out a cap for me. He happened to be the very last customer of the defunct Purity Chemical as they were closing since being in business from 1924 and they were clearing out any and all items. One Purity cap was left and Greg got it for me. I am one of the three last living partners in my era of Purity. My thanks to Greg fell short of my feelings
I brought the cap home and Shirley is going to flatten it out and put it in a frame. I will hang it in my office and will always remind me of my Partners Charley Sloat and Ed Keegan.
BERNIE SANDERS THOUGHT BY BEING DUTIFUL to the Democratic establishment, such as supporting Clinton in 2016, that the establishment would come to support him in 2020. But the mass media’s blitz against him for issues such as electability and the policies at the heart of his campaign gave the Democratic establishment fodder to cast him off as a presidential candidate in 2020. His policies such as Medicare for all (Especially important as Black and Latino people are dying at higher rates than some white New Yorkers from Covid-19: “A tale of two New Yorks: pandemic lays bare a city’s shooting inequities,” Guardian, April 10, 2020), free college tuition, student debt cancellation, along with breaking the hold of income inequality and its effects on people, met with the jaundiced eye of the establishment in the Democratic Party. Sanders may have broken the hold of neoliberalism in the party in very small ways, but he would have never gotten away with a foreign policy that backed diplomacy over military force. He voted against the war in Iraq in 2003, but supported military funding authorization bills for a time. I think he would have began the slow walk toward relying on diplomacy in foreign affairs, but the track record of the Democrats, especially Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden vis-à-vis war, is abysmal. They both said that the Iraq war was a mistake, but only after lots of blood was spilled. — Howard Lisnoff
UPTON SINCLAIR: FROM THE JUNGLE (1906) TO HIS 1934 RUN FOR GOVERNOR
by Jonah Raskin
Last January, before all hell broke loose, Seven Stories Press republished Upton Sinclair’s 891-page anthology, The Cry for Justice, subtitled An Anthology of Social Protest with the original introduction by Jack London and a new introduction by Chris Hedges. The book says as much if not more about Sinclair than it does about social protest movements and prompts a couple of questions: Who reads Upton Sinclair’s books, and who even recognizes his name? If nothing else Sinclair’s life and work show how challenging it has been to be an American lefty with integrity.
Not many people are familiar with the name Sinclair, especially those under the age of say, 40, though “U.S.,” to borrow his iconic initials, created a commotion with his muckraking novels and enjoyed a long-running career as one of the most popular American writers in the United States and around the world for much of the twentieth-century. In his own lifetime, his novels seemed to be timely, though that is no longer as obvious as it once was. Sinclair didn’t write dystopian fiction, or novels about plagues and pandemics. His views of the future were often way off base. In The Industrial Republic published in 1906 he predicted that William Randolph Hearst would defeat Teddy Roosevelt in the 1912 election and usher in a socialist society.
The viruses Sinclair explored were those based on greed and materialism. For the most part he refrained from denouncing capitalism pre se, and, while he called himself a socialist he didn’t spell out what he meant by socialism. Life was a metaphorical jungle, he believed, and human beings needed to be kinder and gentler to one another, and join together with their working class comrades, and if possible some of their middle class allies as well. His pen was his weapon of choice. He probably never handled a gun and didn’t see anything redeeming about revolutionary violence.
Born in 1878 in Baltimore, and a descendant of southern aristocrats and military men, Sinclair died in 1968 in New Jersey, where, decades earlier, he created Helicon Hall, a cooperative community for white Christian folk only. No Jews or African-Americans allowed. That might be enough for some lefties to dismiss him, but remember, too, that he denounced D. W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation as “class lying” and “an incitement to race hatred.”
A quirky moral crusader, Upton Sinclair thought of books as weapons in the class struggle, though he never wanted to cause deliberate injury to anyone, rich or poor. Biographers and cultural historians have not been kind to him. V.L. Parrington noted ages ago that he “started as a novelist, but his art was submerged by propaganda.” Still, some radicals today, including Norman Solomon, speak well of him and his dissection of “the media jungle.”
Nearly 150 years after Sinclair’s birth—with most of his works only available as eBooks—the question might be, not who reads him, but rather why read him? Sinclair endured wars, revolutions and depressions, but climate change, Donald Trump, drones, and state terrorism could be a bit too rich for his own blood that was stepped in the nineteenth-century.
Competing with Harry Potter won’t be easy. Still, Sinclair’s books might appeal to curious boys: preteens, teens and twenty some-things. After all, his novels are adventure stories with happy endings. Boy meets girl and sometimes boy becomes a socialist. Those who knew Sinclair often said he was “boyish.” Indeed, he seemed part Peter Pan and part Pied Piper, though unlike the character in Robert Browning’s narrative poem he wasn’t motivated by revenge.
Lanny Budd serves as the protagonist in eleven novels published between 1940 and 1953 and make up the “Lanny Budd Series.” Budd does what the older Sinclair would have liked to do and never did: works for President F. D. Roosevelt. Theodore Dreiser, the author of An American Tragedy and a committed socialist, aptly described the first book in the Budd series, World’s End, as “novelized history.” World War II signaled to Sinclair the end of everything he knew and loved. But he braced himself and went on writing through the 1950s. “I always think of stories,” he said. Playwright and Fabian Socialist, George Bernard Shaw, explained that, when asked to describe what happened in his own lifetime, he recommended the Lanny Budd books.
Sinclair won the Pulitzer Prize in 1943 for Dragon’s Teeth, the third novel in the series, which describes the Nazi takeover in Germany. Dragon’s Teeth arrived in bookstores just as the U.S. entered World War II. Sinclair’s timing couldn't have been better. The Pulitzer was the only major literary prize he ever won. The Nobel Prize selection committee thought he was too hot headed to qualify for its prestigious award
My father, who was a lawyer and a member of the Communist Party, U.S.A. from 1938 to 1948, introduced me to Sinclair’s novels when I was a boy. His favorite Sinclair book was Boston (1928), which is based on the real story of the two Italian immigrants and anarchists, Sacco and Vanzetti, who were likely framed as armed robbers and killers. Sinclair called their execution in the electric chair in 1927 "the most shocking crime that has been committed in American history since the assassination of Abraham Lincoln."
Effective at absorbing and compressing vast amounts of information, quickly, and transforming facts into fictions about class and class differences, Sinclair was a master at publicity and nifty when it came to quotations suitable for the mass media. Decade after decade, he read the zeitgeist, and learned how to blow-up a story so it grabbed headlines and kept him in the public eye.
The trial of Sacco Vanzetti awakened my father from his Jazz Age reverie as a bootlegger, pushed him to the Left and persuaded him that art should be propaganda. He loved Boston because it turned the two Italian immigrants into martyrs, and alerted readers to the cause of justice, which Sinclair embraced wholeheartedly. Like my father, I revered Sacco and Vanzetti, but Boston intimidated me. At 755-pages, it looked insurmountable. When it was first published, critics savaged it and Sinclair, too. He defended the book and himself. “Having portrayed the aristocrats as they were, I had to do the same thing for the anarchists,” he wrote.
He tended to admire aristocrats and millionaires more than anarchists and workers. His protagonist, Lanny Budd, the son of an American arms manufacturer and his gorgeous mistress, grows up in affluent pre-World War I Europe and becomes a sophisticated socialite. Bunny—the protagonist in another Sinclair novel, Oil (1926), which is set in Southern California—is cut from the same cloth as Lanny. In Oil, American presidents, Wilson, Harding and Coolidge, come and go. Bunny dates a movie star named Miss Viola Tracy, falls in love, marries a “little socialist,” and defends the Soviet Union as a “new civilization” and “a model for the future.” The author was not as rosy about communism again. In fact, he became an anti-communist.
The Jungle (1906), which was published two decades before Boston, and which is dedicated “to the Working men of America,” has simple declarative sentences, a vocabulary suitable for teens, plus characters and scenes that translate into a kind of comic book that plays up the grotesque. It has often been called the best American proletarian novel ever written, but in a country like the U.S. that has produced relatively little proletarian literature, that’s not saying a great deal. I’ve had two friends who crafted fiction about the working class: Tillie Olsen, the author of Yonnondio: From the Thirties (1974), who wrote poetically, but produced very little work; and Alexander Saxon the author of Grand Crossing (1943), who was better at history than the novel. A proletarian novel isn’t as easy to write as one might think.
Sinclair wanted The Jungle to awaken citizens to the harsh realities of industrial civilization. Instead, it roused consumers to the horrors of industrially produced food and led to the passage of the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act. "I aimed at the public's heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach,” Sinclair explained. Even before The Jungle was published serially in Appeal to Reason, the author was hailed as “a genius.” That praise seemed to go to his head.
The Marxist literary critic, Michael Folsom, noted in an essay titled “Upton Sinclair’s Escape from The Jungle” that, “The Anglo Saxon Protestant petit bourgeois intellectual triumphed over realism, Socialism, the alien working class, and serious literature.” The Jungle literally turned my stomach. After I read it, I couldn’t look at a frankfurter without seeing rats and rat shit. I avoided Nathan’s Hot Dogs like the plague. At the novel’s conclusion, which feels tacked on, the hero, Juris Rudkus, a Lithuanian immigrant in Chicago, experiences a near-religious conversion to socialism.
For years, I forget about Sinclair. Briefly, I even confused him with Sinclair Lewis. Others must have done the same. At the top of Upton Sinclair’s Wikipedia page, readers are advised, “Not to be confused with his contemporary, Sinclair Lewis, another American novelist.” For much of the twentieth-century it would have been nearly impossible for a reader to confuse the author of muckraking works of fiction like The Jungle, and King Coal (1917) — a love story set against the backdrop of the Colorado mining industry — with the novels by the Minnesota-born author of Main Street, Babbitt and Arrowsmith who was the first American to win the Nobel Prize for literature.
I didn’t think about Upton Sinclair again until 2000 when I turned my attention to Jack London. While I didn’t ignore London’s jingoism, racism and anti-Semitism, I found him much more fascinating than Sinclair. London was a mess, but he was a loveable mess. Indeed, he tasted real poverty and knew existential loneliness, too, and, unlike Sinclair, he grew up on the edge of what felt like “the abyss.” London could also be in deep denial about his birth out of wedlock and his early years in the Oakland African-American community. “I’m afraid I always was an extremist,” he wrote in John Barleycorn, a memoir about his bouts with alcohol.
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman recently described Bernie Sanders as a European-style social democrat and not a real socialist. He’d probably say much the same about Upton Sinclair. After all, Sinclair was closer to Christ than to Marx and more akin to the English romantic poets than to the Bolsheviks. Jack London studied Das Kapital, along with the history of the socialist movement in Europe in the nineteenth-century. He supported the Russian Revolution of 1905 and called upon his fellow Americans to employ revolutionary violence to overthrow capitalism.
In The Iron Heel, his 1907 dystopian novel, he predicted the coming of fascism, and in The Scarlet Plague he chronicled the arrival of a pandemic that kills millions of people. At Beauty Ranch in rural Sonoma County, he raised pigs and horses, smoked hashish and got stoned, guzzled cocktails and entertained lavishly. Long before Kerouac went on the road, London went on the road. He died at the age of 40 in 1916, burned up and burned out. Sinclair assumed that London committed suicide and said so publicly which didn’t endear him to his widow and her circle.
In 1905, the two men met at Peck’s Restaurant on Fulton Street in New York, and founded The Intercollegiate Socialist Society (ISS) with London as president and Sinclair as vice president. What they had in common in addition to socialism was whiteness, antipathy to Jews and African-Americans, and an inability to create complex women characters. When they were together, London smoked cigarettes, consumed alcohol and regaled Sinclair with tales of “incredible debauches.” Sinclair disapproved, though he liked Jack well enough to dedicate his 1908 novel, The Moneychangers, to him. Not surprisingly, Sinclair called himself a “mollycoddle” and London a “red-blood.”
Before they met face-to-face, Sinclair wrote “The Author” when asked to autograph copies of his books. London explained that he was supposed to write, with a flourish, “Upton Sinclair.” London looked the proverbial picture of health. Sinclair seemed sickly. But beneath his he-man physique, London was a sick man. Sinclair moved to California and willed himself to live an active life, playing tennis year for decades and adhering to a strict diet that often included only vegetables. He plugged his notions about eating and not eating in The Fasting Cure (1911).
When London died in 1916, The New York Times reported that his death was sudden and unexpected. The paper emphasized his creativity as a writer and listed twenty-nine of his 50 or so books. When Sinclair died in 1968 at the age of 90, The New York Times played up President Teddy Roosevelt’s role regulating the foods and drugs, though the obit also credited Sinclair and The Jungle for alerting the public to the horrors of the meat packing industry.
Read Upton Sinclair now? I often prefer to read about him than sit down and tackle his novels, though the novels are the most valuable source of information available about “U.S.” as a thinker, political animal and social reformer. With 100 books to his name, on a wide variety of subjects, Sinclair couldn't help but rely on formats, formulas, cliches and stereotypes. The point wasn't to create great works of art, but to engage with readers, and inspire them to send telegrams to the White House, picket in front of the offices of Standard Oil, vote Socialist and buy his books. During his lifetime, right-wingers accused him of exploiting his political activities to make money.
Sinclair was too influential a writer and too much of a no holds barred, rabble-rouser to ignore. Too big to forget, he was also too quirky an historical figure to omit from an overview of American public life in the twentieth-century. For decades, he served as everyone’s favorite punching bag. Mocking him was easy. Sinclair Lewis refers to him in his novel, It Can’t Happen Here (1935). Upton also appears in T. C. Boyle’s novel The Road to
Wellness Wellville (1993) and in Joyce Carol Oates’s The Accursed (2013). Chris Bachelder features him in U.S.!, a satirical novel in which Sinclair’s career is emblematic of the failures of the American left.
During his heyday, it was impossible not to comment on his dramatic comings and goings, from New York skyscrapers to Colorado mines and to sunny southern California. His friend, H. L. Mencken—the intrepid journalist, caustic cultural critic, opponent of organized religion, populism and representative democracy—noted sarcastically that U.S. delighted him “constantly.” Mencken read Sinclair’s major works, which were translated from English into dozens of languages and sold in bookstores in Chicago, New York, Paris, Moscow and Los Angeles, where he lived for half-a-century.
After V. I. Lenin’s widow, Krupskaya, read Sinclair’s novel, Jimmie Higgins (1919), she wrote to Louise Bryant— John Reed’s lover and comrade— and asked, “Is he a Communist?,” and “Has he written other books?” It’s not difficult to understand why Sinclair’s novel piqued Krupskaya’s interest. Jimmie Higgins traces the life of an American Everyman who, like his creator, considers himself a pacifist.
Against his will, he joins the U.S. army and goes to Europe, where he bravely battles German soldiers, and then refuses to fight the Reds. Sinclair himself supported U.S. entry into World War I on the side of the British and the French and insisted that it was essential to destroy German militarism, which he saw as the major threat to the cause of world peace. He felt the same way about German fascism.
Unlike the muckraking reporter, Lincoln Steffens, Sinclair never visited the Soviet Union, and, unlike Steffens, he never said anything as truly glowing as Steffens did about the fledgling experiment in communism. Steffens noted famously, “I have seen the future and it works.” Still, in the aftermath of the Bolshevik’s victory over its political rivals, and Lenin’s rise to power,
Sinclair gave his support to the Russian Revolution. Even after he learned about and was shocked by the conditions that Russian political prisoners faced, he insisted that the “most important task in the world is the preservation of Soviet Russia.” Before long he changed his tune, not surprisingly, since he wasn’t in the same league as Steffens or John Reed, the bohemian turned Red—the author of Insurgent Mexico and Ten Days that Shook the World— who died in the Soviet Union in 1920 at the age of 32 and was buried in the Kremlin. “To you, Upton, there is only one tiger in the forest,” Reed wrote. “To me there is a whole flock of tigers. These tigers are fighting and whichever side wins, I get eaten just the same.”
In her letter to Louise Bryant, Krupskaya wrote, “I would like to know about Sinclair.” American readers felt the same way. There was a lot to know, though Sinclair often guarded his privacy and didn’t like it when the mass media pounced on him. Thin-skinned and unsuitable, temperamentally, for the vicissitudes of public life, he found himself repeatedly in the public eye.
If Americans knew anything about US, they knew that he rubbed shoulders with Charlie Chaplin, that his books were turned into movies, that he ran for Congress as a Socialist in 1920 and again in 1922, and for Governor of California in 1934 as a Democrat. That year, the Socialist Party expelled him and his supporters as defectors and soon afterwards it lost much of its influence in California.
Sinclair called his 1934 campaign for governor, “End Poverty in California,” or EPIC. He received nearly 900,000 votes, but incurred the wrath of Hollywood studios, the ire of agribusiness, the scorn of the pulpit and the hatred of newspaper editors. The popular Pentecostal evangelist, Aimee Semple McPherson, aka “Sister Aimee” denounced him.
Sinclair lost by more than 200,000 votes to his bland Republican rival Frank Merriam. That he won the support of hundreds of thousands of California was due to his fame, as well as to the strength of the EPIC and the dedication of its individual members. His strength at the polls also reflected the fact that, as never before, Californians were unemployed, hungry, homeless and sometimes hopeless. EPIC gave them a cause and a future in which they could believe.
Sinclair wanted to cut retail taxes and distribute land to hungry people so they could grow their own food and sustain themselves. He aimed to finance his ambitious program by selling bonds and taxing the wealthy. He also suggested that the state of California own and operate factories, though he didn’t spell out exactly how that would work. Sinclair appealed mostly to the poor and the unemployed, though he also insisted that, “the owning classes will benefit under EPIC, not merely spiritually, but materially.”
He didn’t urge California proletarians to arm themselves and head for the barricades, but he encouraged the formation of the “End Poverty League,” which boasted 100,000 members who sold on street corners copies of the paper EPIC News.
Centered in and also around Los Angeles, EPIC gave birth to 800 individual clubs. It took the bee as its symbol, issued “Sinclair Dollars,” staged a play written by the candidate himself titled “Depression Island” and adopted an official campaign song, “End Poverty in All America” with the subtitle, “And Upton Sinclair will Show the Way.” Sinclair’s running mate, Sheridan Downey, a lawyer, a member of the Democratic Party and a loyal supporter of FDR. Together Sinclair and Downey were known as “Uppie and Downie.” EPIC could be too cute for its own good, but it attracted loyal supporters and famous people. Sinclair sought and failed to get FDR’s endorsement.
In Esquire magazine novelist, Theodore Dreiser, called EPIC, “the most impressive political movement that America has yet produced.” Historian Greg Mitchell describes Sinclair’s 1934 run for governor as “The Campaign of the Century” in his 1992, 665-page tome. Sinclair put himself at the heart of the campaign, which worked both for him and against. He certainly had name recognition as a novelist and a crusader for social justice.
But he made the mistake of turning the election into a kind of referendum about himself as much as the cause to end poverty. In many ways, he was afflicted by a sense of grandiosity as well as naivete. Calling the campaign “EPIC” didn’t make it so. “The only real problem,” Sinclair noted in 1934, was “getting power.” John Reed could have told him that in 1917.
During the campaign, a cult of personality developed around Sinclair—he had an ego and encouraged a kind of hero worship— and he was all too easily demonized, as was EPIC itself. Earl Warren, who became Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court known for his liberal stance, called Sinclair’s 1934 campaign “a crusade of Americans and Californians against Radicalism and Socialism.” In Warren’s eyes, Sinclair was the quintessential radical socialist and a menace. Newspaper editors portrayed Sinclair as a Bolshevik, who, if elected would turn California into an outpost of the Soviet Union, with private property abolished and individual freedoms curtailed.
Still, Sinclair thought he would win. In 1934 he published a work of fiction titled I, Governor of California, and How I Ended Poverty. After his defeat, he followed up that book with I, Candidate for Governor and How I Got Licked in which he noted, “I am pretty good at fighting with my pen, but I dislike personal controversies.” Sinclair blamed his defeat on “All the little incipient Hitlers—the Californianazis.”
He never realized that, behind the scenes, two dyed-in-the-wool Republicans, Clem Whitaker and his wife, Leone Baxter—the founders of Campaigns, Inc.— pulled strings, doctored photos and told lies both big and small. Harvard Professor, Jill Lapore calls Campaigns Inc. “the first political-consulting firm in the history of the world.” She gives it all the attention it rightly deserves and then some in These Truth: A History of the United States. Apropos Upton Sinclair, Clem Whitaker said, “we had one objective: to keep him from becoming Governor.”
For some 1930s progressives, EPIC was a sign of successful popular movements yet to come. They insisted that under Sinclair’s leadership, the power of the Republican Party was broken, that the Democrats established a beachhead in the state, and that right-wing California was gone forever. EPIC members were elected to the legislature, but not long afterward came the Hollywood 10, and then the rise of Nixon, Reagan and later, Schwarzenegger.
Sinclair noted astutely in a 1951 letter to Norman Thomas, who ran for president six times as a socialist, that “The American people will take Socialism, but they won’t take the label.” Sinclair added, “We simply have to recognize the fact that our enemies have succeeded in spreading the Big Lie.”
He urged his liberal friends, allies and supporters not to launch a “frontal attack” on conservatives and their ilk, but rather to “out-flank them.” Years earlier, when he took on the meat packing industry, the coal industry and John D. Rockefeller, confrontation was the name of his game. As he aged, he became increasingly conservative.
In 1982, Theodore White, who followed elections religiously from 1960 to 1980, noted that Whitaker and Baxter at Campaigns Inc. were dead, “but that their kind of politics—professional image-making— has not only persisted but thrived.” Professor Lauren Coodley ignores Campaigns, Inc. entirely in her 2004 anthology The Land of Orange Groves and Jails: Upton Sinclair’s California, and insists that Sinclair “has perhaps never been as relevant as he is right now.” Professor Chris Bachelder, the author of a stunning novel about Sinclair, titled U.S!, is far less sanguine than Coodley about Sinclair’s relevance.
In an email to me, from the University of Cincinnati where he teaches, Bachelder suggested that if “American fiction and poetry are becoming more engaged, more directly political and something of a movement, Sinclair might once again be regarded as an important figure.” When he wrote U.S.!, Bachelder explained that he felt Sinclair “was interested in Sinclair’s “desperate zeal, crusading spirit, American pluck, notion of the artist’s responsibility and in a very broad sense his ardent anti-capitalism.” He added, “I guess I still find him admirable and absurd.” As we approach the 2020 elections, I’d like to think of Sinclair as a socialist who warned Americans about the “Big Lie.”
I’d also like to recommend the new edition of The Cry for Justice, with the new fiery introduction by Chris Hedges who points to a Golden Age of American radicalism before 1914, and who calls for a revival of “revolutionary religious fever.” Not surprisingly, Hedges does not praise Sinclair. Indeed, he points out that the author of The Jungle “was tone deaf to white supremacy and institutional racism,” and that he ignored the writings of Frederick Douglass, John Brown and Harriet Tubman. But Hedges does like the work of many of the contributors, including Peter Kropotkin and Alexander Berkman who tried and failed to assassinate millionaire Henry Frick, went to prison and wrote his memoirs.
“The ideas celebrated in this book were driven from the mainstream,” Hedges says of The Cry for Justice. He adds, “We never recovered.” The Cry for Justice is an odd anthology. It includes Rudyard Kipling and John D. Rockefeller as well as Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Abigail Adams, who told her husband in 1774 that she and her sisters “are determined to foment a rebellion.” It has more selections from Sinclair’s work than from another other writer, such as Karl Marx and William Blake. It has a substantial section on Jesus and another on Children but no section titled sex, race or ethnicity. Despite its flaws, Hedges would like us to read the anthology and recover the lost heritage of real radicalism. To him, I would say that over the last one hundred years, we have lost ground and gained ground and that men and women and children here and all around the world still cry out for justice loudly and clearly. Perhaps Upton Sinclair hears their voices.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
If someone comes along to steal your pot, they are unlikely to want to kill you. They take the pot and leave. They want the pot. You can take preventative actions like checking people you hire and simply keeping a low profile to minimize the problem.
When someone chooses to shoot at police, they are not looking to steal things. They are looking to hurt or kill. The police have little defense such a hiding out or being careful who they contact. They go into bad places in uniform as that is their job. The only defense against criminals who are hateful towards police is the surety that the police create of a heavy response.
The outrage that criminals feel about getting burnt for their behavior is always funny. Criminals, as part and parcel of their defective thinking, seem to see themselves as heroes because they don’t restrain their self indulgence and it always irritates them when they are treated as the petty parasites they are instead if the freedom fighters they see themselves as.
IF YOU GROW QUIET AND LISTEN, you’ll hear soft voices in all the plague talk that say—reluctantly, almost with embarrassment—that this is a much longer prospect than the happy talkers envision. A doctor who had been through this before, said a different infection, but similar in nature, bounced around for three or four years before it moved off of stage center, and even after seven years it popped up alarmingly, here and there.
I’m not an arithmetician or a mathematician. Numbers and me are not natural buddies. My mind’s workings tend to be more circular than straight, but there’s some little character in there that makes estimates without my directing it to. That little numbers person is watchful and calculates, roughly, how things are likely to proceed. That little numbers person is more attentive to the measuring and quantifying of things than I consciously am, and the little numbers person takes in the everyday-new numbers concerning coronavirus19 and how we’ll all “get through it,” and, before you know it, things will open back up like flowers and be back to normal again, and it says, “Uh-uh. Nope.”
This strange situation will stop seeming strange. The “new normal” will be normal in no sense. I don’t yet have a clue as to how things will be, but they’ll be a far cry from now (or a month ago).
I write this to push back against the state of denial that enshrouds the daily news. We’re flattening curves, we’re being good little boys and girls about masking, washing and social distancing (odd phrase). We’re eating our Wheaties. If we had any virgins and cenotes around, we’d throw in a couple of them—see, we’re making sacrifices, and soon the covfefe god will relent.
Nope. It won’t be Labor Day or election day or Christmas or Hannukah. The only sacrifices that will work will be the sacrifices of mice, rats, monkeys et al in the course of making a safe and effective vaccine, in laboratories everywhere. Once that’s done, we can take off our masks and gloves.
What will we gain from all this? A trace of humility maybe? Us big-shot humans being led around by ugly little things we can’t see, like bulls with rings in our nose? The rich landowner every bit as vulnerable as his servant? Will we feel more brotherhood, sisterhood—humanhood? Did I read of cooperation between Israelite and Palestinian to slow contamination, or did I just dream that? Will the pigs and shitheads among us see their powers wane, as disease makes their facades transparent?
I went out a while ago for coffee and cat food. The mood in the store and outside in the bright April sunshine was solemn, thoughtful, courteous and curious. What the hell is this? What’s it becoming? We’re bloody well going to be different. On balance, will it be different-better or different-worse?
There are hopeful signs. Capitalism is the American faith. It’s given us control of the world. Crazies like me have been inveighing against capitalism since forever, but now we’re getting a practical exercise in “alternatives.” Dog and I went walking in the dark, last night. Venus was so bright she made shadows! I nearly turned my eyes away, needing night vision to keep my spindly old legs out of water-filled potholes. All the favorite constellations were constellating like mad. Dazzling! And this is a place with very little junk in the air in normal times, but the overall reduction in planetary air pollution is apparent even in these lucky precincts. Will we derive anything from it?
I don’t remember when I first read the phrase “a sadder and a wiser man,” but I’ve always found it oddly heartwarming.
This is going to take a long time. The whole southern half of the planet is just getting on board the covid train, and it will be sending the bug back to us. Long time. Bounce, bounce, bounce. You think “Westworld’s” weird, you ain’t seen nuthin yet. Kids will take this in stride as kids do, but for non-kids, the post-plague world is going to be, um, different.
Will we be any wiser? Humanity has put itself in desperate need of wisdom in a time when folly has caught up with us. Will we be wiser?
MARCO MCCLEAN ON KZYX: It took me literal years to learn to think that way about KZYX. And I still lapse every once in awhile and before I can stop my hand I press the button for it, immediately every time only to hear something so goddamn smugly cheerfully genially stoned-sounding dumb (followed by begging for money to do more of it) it makes me cringe and switch away and then fizz for fifteen minutes and write a thousand words of the same valid complaints against their board and management as before but in slightly different order, an exercise, like one of those forms of poetry constrained to meter and rhyme scheme, send it off, and then get back to doing my thing, slightly relieved of the angst about their paranoid insular corporation pissing away $600,000 every year, much of it tax-derived money, half of it into the personal purses of the handful of people in the office, not to mention thirty years-and-counting of their use of the priceless government grant of a high-power broadcast license to monopolize the limited natural resource of three fat chunks of the FM band, for such a pathetic, cookie-cutter-radio product, doing the absolute minimum of public service they promised to do to get the license in the first place, and never even paying a cent to the local airpeople for showing up and doing their shows all year long all put together, doing the work that brings in the money, and even regularly giving up their airtime to beg for ever more money that the people in the office use to pay themselves with. And no-one in management at KZYX has ever nor will ever consider turning any airtime there over to anyone who even notices that, much less gets up on his hind legs and bleats about it in public or in private. Stopping now. See? Watch me stop now about this. (250 words. In another ten years I'll have it down to 50.)