- Rain Tomorrow
- Anthropogenic Megadrought
- Small Biz
- Mask Makers
- Boonville Farmers
- Two Fires
- Viola Sempervirens
- Wrathful Tidings
- Full Pews
- FB Test
- Pacific Sunset
- Night Walk
- Satellite Parade
- Ed Notes
- Eel Span
- Social Sacrifice
- Coastal Staircase
- Weed Grant
- Lear Binge
- Dumb & Demented
- Autistic Muppet
- Trumptown Warning
- Delta Water
- Immoral Walls
- Placeholder Joe
- PPP Fail
- Homeless Hotels
- Fed Aristocracy
- Goodbye Mirene
- Found Object
CLOUDS will be stubborn to give way today along the coast, while temperatures will moderate with some sun across the interior. Rain will impact much of our area on Wednesday as a warm front passes by, followed by a return to high pressure that will bring generally dry weather and warming inland temperatures late week into the weekend. (NWS)
A WAITING GAME
by David Severn
I don’t know. Things are so weird and yet the supposed smartest animals on the planet can’t seem to make heads or tails out of much of it. Science tries. But if whatever wondrous insight those brainiacs come up with can’t be turned into dollars or power for a select few there seems to be very little traction for any of it to matter much. Even our ethereal leaders who sit in blissful detachment espousing “Be here now” don’t get that so much of what oozes from the bowels of self-interest human nature demands a consciousness that screams “Be there now!” Being “there” means to consciously be aware of the future being created “now” as we decorate our graves with artificial flowers, wear spandex clothing to play and pray, and drink from plastic bottles following our yoga sessions all the while running around in our co2 creating 100 plus horsepower half plastic machines or flying god knows where on wings of metaphorical co2 while Forbes, that bastion of self-interest capitalism, acknowledges the methane gas emitted for many hundreds of years from chemically decomposing plastics is “80 times more powerful than CO2 for creating climate change”.
Climate Change is humanities future and must be addressed as severely as we do COVID-19. It behooves us to put ourselves in our grandchildren’s shoes.
I don’t know whether to scratch my head or my butt in bewilderment. And what really to do other than mumble about it once in a while.
This rant has been prompted by a new scientific study just published in last Thursday’s Science journal which reveals that for two decades the western United States (That would include us here in Anderson Valley) has been experiencing one of the deepest megadroughts in more than 1,200 years. And while the four previous megadroughts had all come about from natural causes, the one we’re in this time is being pushed by “anthropogenic” caused Climate Change so any recovery is far more dubious. Anthropogenic means us by the way.
And that brings me back to our Navarro River and the fish. I am writing this on Sunday the 19th of April and I am predicting that next Sunday the 26th will find that the Cubic feet per second (cfs) flow rate for the River will set a new historic record low. Currently 2015 is holding that dubious honor. Mind you I’m usually wrong and I hope I am this time but we’ll see. Today the River is at 50.2 cfs with the previous record low set at 31.6 cfs. But just remember that two weeks ago with that little bit of rain the gauge hit 285 cfs for a day, but look how fast it’s dropping and there is no rain in sight.
It’s a waiting game for the newly arrived batch of Steelhead I mentioned last week but there is some good news in that I spotted a school of steelhead fry. A biologist told me that it takes about 2 months from spawn to fry emergence so that would be just about the time the first batch of steelies arrived. A few must have gotten right to work with what water they had before settling down to wait for more. I’ve already seen two ladies working on redds (fish nests), though like before they don’t quite seem able to get one built. A biologist working along the North Fork of the Navarro is seeing some redds but I haven’t. The small Navarro roach is emerging as well which is strange because in all my focused searching these past few months I haven’t seen nary a single roach to lay the eggs but there certainly must have been some.
One of the results of low flow is a rise in temperature which is good for swimming but hard on the steelhead. The nutrient fed algae is coming on quite fast which might be an indication that the schistosome will be back, though. Some of you might remember that following the 2015 low water a condition called swimmer’s itch showed up being brought to us by that little critter that sure can be annoying. A revisit to Wikipedia regarding swimmers itch finds the statement, “….the condition has been regarded as an emerging infectious disease.” But, thank goodness, “There are no permanent effects from this condition.” Climate Change any hope?
By the way: Wearing a mask is not about protecting yourself from COVID-19; it is about protecting others if you, yourself, unknowingly are carrying the virus. Some of us do have the critter and don’t know it. Carriers don’t always have symptoms. Unless you are tested every day you will not know from day to day whether you have the bug or not. Grocery store clerks are reported to have started becoming infected yet there are store clerks that don’t wear masks. Wearing a mask when in any store or place of business either as a customer or a clerk is the socially responsible thing to do.
THE ANDERSON VALLEY MASK MAKERS are a group of local women sewing reusable fabric facemasks they provide absolutely free to local people, especially the vulnerable and the elderly, as the vulnerable and elderly go about their essential business. An order form can be found on Facebook under AV Mask Makers. Or, for those not on Facebook, you can order yours from Laura Baynham at 895-3249.
BOONVILLE FARMERS are back. We will have our first market on Friday May 1st in the parking area of Disco Ranch. Market will be every Friday from 4-6 pm. We will be offering plant starts, fresh veggies, meat and eggs, mushrooms, olive oil and natural body care products. In an effort to keep our community safe, we will not have a children's area or live music and we request that you come wearing a mask and maintain appropriate social distancing.
AV FIRE CHIEF Andres Avila: We responded to Boonville CalFire Station on Saturday for their fire alarm system showing multiple fire detectors being initiated. AVFD and CalFire were currently extinguishing an escaped control burn on Elkhorn Rd in Yorkville when this call came out. When the first in engine from AVFD's Boonville Station arrived at scene there was smoke coming from the gable vents of the kitchen building. Units discovered that the smoke was not a working structure fire but rather a pot that had been left on the stove when firefighters responded to the first call in Yorkville. All units were cancelled and the dining room was aired out.
The property owner on Fish Rock Road, who lives in the bay area, was conducting a legal burn on his property Saturday when it escaped with a very slow rate of spread. In efforts to remove a very invasive and established scotch broom patch along a hillside on his property, he had been hand cutting and burning the slash. Some of the brush was up to six feet tall and the under-story was dead. Once the fire got moving into the under layer, the oily brush started freely burning and putting out a large flame length. Feeling overwhelmed by it, the property owner called in for fire department assistance. The small fire was contained to approximately 1/4 acre on his property.
LETTERS TO THE SUPERVISORS complaining about Shelter in Place Restriction from members of the local religious community:
Letter Number One:
Have you all completely lost your minds? People cannot sing and worship God? Really? Restaurants can still operate with kitchen staff raising their voices across the food prep tables; grocery stores, building supply houses, etc. But you single out places of worship?
Do you really believe that the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors has authority over the Bill of Rights, the United States Constitution, the California Constitution, the FIRST AMENDMENT??? This is not a dictatorship. It’s a democratic republic. You really don’t have the power. The people do. And you’re going to find out what that power can do at the next election.
Let me offer you one promise and one warning. I will be worshiping with other believers in song, music and words of encouragement every Sunday. That’s the promise. Here’s the warning: if I am arrested you will see me in court, where YOU will be the defendant.
Letter Number Two:
To the Boars [sic] of Supervisors;
I am writing you this letter in regards to your recent mandate about worship restrictions you have imposed on christians gathering to sing and worship to Our Lord God. I find it highly questionable that you squash the constitution of these great United States of America. And most of all the 1st amendment granting the citizens the freedom of religion. And their ways of worshiping. I find it outright appalling and stand beside my brothers and sisters in Christ. If they are following the Federal guidelines for social distancing and covid-19 practices. You in way have the right to supersede the US federal government mandates, laws and regulations. Least of all the US Constitution. I think you need to read and understand both the Constitution as well as the Bill of Rights. States do not cancel out the Federal Government in any way shape or form. Please reconsider and rescind you recent orders to mandate how an online worship service can and will be conducted.
Scott M. Morich
Letter Number Three:
Is it any less risky for the preacher to preach in a live-streamed service than for folks to sing? If I didn’t know better, I’d say this regulation has more to do with bias against church music than public health.
ANDERSON VALLEY FOOD BANK
FORT BRAGG GOT ONE TOO, BUT…
On Thursday April 16, 2020 during a conference call, Mendocino County Sheriff Mat Kendall reported the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) released two prisoners from a state correctional facility who might have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus. One prisoner release was in Ukiah, the other release was within the City of Fort Bragg. Mendocino County Health was aware of the person released in Ukiah. We were disappointed to hear of no involvement with County Health in the Fort Bragg correctional release.
Upon research, the person in question was housed in the same module, but in a different building, where a COVID-19 outbreak had taken place. The Fort Bragg person was released in the first week of April and arrived in Fort Bragg the following week. During the release, they were informed of the COVID-19 outbreak and provided with documentation.
Sharon Convery, Mendocino County Director of Clinical Testing was contacted and provided information of our predicament. We informed her we were requesting immediate testing. Within an hour, Convery contacted Lucresia Renteria, Director of Mendocino Coast Clinics, who immediately set up a test. I contacted the person in question and requested their arrival at the Mendocino Coast Clinic for testing. The person agreed and arrived at the appropriate time, as officers stood by to confirm the test had taken place. I commend this individual for cooperating with the Fort Bragg Police Department and volunteering to take the test without hesitation. We were informed it would take between 24 to 48 hours to receive the test results.
On Friday, April 17, 2020, late afternoon we were informed the Fort Bragg person who was tested was NEGATIVE for COVID-19. The person in Ukiah was not so lucky.
I commend the fast action of the staff who participated in protecting the members of our community, who have made tremendous sacrifices during the COVID-19 outbreak.
(Fort Bragg Police Chief John Naulty presser)
by Marco McClean
I went out around 9:30 and had an hour and twenty minutes or so walk all over Cotati and into some of Rohnert Park. Juanita was tired from work and didn't want to go. She persuaded me to bring my scarf in case I had to use it for a sanitary mask to talk to a policeman or rescue someone or, you know, who knows, it couldn't hurt. I tried it on around my face and noticed that it smells like old food. I don't remember ever washing this scarf or any scarf. Why would you wash a scarf? But it looks pretty cool around your face. Like Daredevil, except red and not black, and around the bottom two-thirds of your head instead of the top two-thirds, because he's blind in the conventional sense. When he put his on for the first time in the Marvel teevee series it made me think of the Dread Pirate Roberts from Princess Bride.
The air is still. No people out, very few cars, one at a time and long minutes in between. So quiet, like a Jim Jarmusch movie. Eventually I heard music; it turned out to be coming from a little shotgun Mexican restaurant, closed but with all the lights up bright and one man inside scrubbing and scrubbing at a stove near the front window, really putting his back into it.
In a dark place I almost hit my head on a telephone pole guy wire but sensed it at the last instant and shot my hand up in the way. In another dark place there was suddenly someone right in front of me. I jumped aside, blurted, "Sorry-sorry." Two voices gently said together, "You're all right." It was two men and their little dog, walking the other way.
I smelled someone taking a shower with that flower-perfume shampoo somewhere, and a little later there was a similar soap-sweet smell but with dust mixed in coming from a tall hedge.
When I crossed a wide road in a well-lit crosswalk a car was closer and moving faster than I thought, and I guess they didn't see me or they pretended not to; I had to hurry to get out of the way. Nobody else around. That was close to a gym, all dark inside.
One more person out: a twenty-something man with red hair sitting on a bench under a store's overhang, intent on his bright phone, surrounded with all his bags and boxes and things and a pull-cart. I had a daydream about being wealthy and going over and giving him four hundred dollars and saying, "I'm sorry," and he'd say, "What are you sorry for?" I'd say, "I don't know." (Maybe because now he'd have to wash his hands and where can he do that? Maybe because in the daydream I got my wealth by ruining people's lives and my own son won't speak to me anymore and he's out there somewhere in danger, fighting crime that my worldwide industries also caused...)
A car went by with music playing and all the windows rolled up; there was none of the usual thumping; it sounded like a chorus of machine people languidly singing mlanoym mlanoym."
This all reminded me of when I was a boy and I used to go out in the middle of the night and walk all over, climb through people's yards (!), have an adventure. Similar quiet. But no fence climbing; my fence-climbing-in-the-dark days are far behind me, and no dog to help over the fence either. That was the last dog I ever had, and that was around the last time I ever went skiing or rode a horse. If I'm ever going to break my neck I'll have to do it on purpose now.
Some windows were lit up tonight but the people were all either in another room or sitting below the level of the window because I saw no motion inside anywhere. And the chickens were all gone from near the Walgreens, but they probably go up into one of those little puffy trees at night. When I first went out I heard people happily yammering from inside the house out by the road and over one driveway, where their car alarm has been going off every night or so for ten minutes at about 2am for some reason, which you can hear faintly on both my last radio shows, but you don't hear their leafblower, electric saws, lawnmower, and juggling scrap metal and lumber and yelling at each other and backing up their beeping loader and leaving their diesel pickup truck idling for hours on end because they don't start all that until I'm trying to sleep in the morning. Apparently they have ducks now, too; I couldn't see them but they were chuckling about something when I went past, coming back to Juanita's. Maybe they bought the ducks to scare off whoever's been setting off their car alarm.
NIGHT LIGHT OF THE NORTH COAST: Steal the Night Away
by David Wilson
The big kids in the neighborhood have decided they own the entire block. If you go outside, you’ll have to play what they’re playing. I went out to photograph the Pacific dunes beneath the beautiful night sky, only to find the heavens had been commandeered as I watched satellite after satellite shoot across the sky, each nearly as bright as Venus. Every image had multiple streaks cut through it. As a novelty it was ok, but then I thought of all the people they’re affecting.
Oh, you’re an astronomer? How about a closeup of dozens of satellites flying through your telescopes and pictures? Oh, you’re a radio astronomer — the bullies have noise for you, too! Never fear, their shiny objects have something interfering with nearly every wavelength in the spectrum.
What of the photographer who wants to show the beauty of California’s North Coast under the natural sky — a natural sky that has been the heritage of all humanity since the dawn of time? Would that be ok? Can I arrange a time for that?
What about the wonders of time-lapse astrophotography, such as this time-lapse over the South Fork Eel River Valley showing the Milky Way wheeling by overhead? https://youtu.be/_vH-_IYbD2Y . Shall we fill the skies with streaks, then? How nice that would be.
Next, how about launching advertisements in the form of fake constellations into the heavens? That way, every night a very few people could benefit commercially from all of the people they impact. Think of it: no one could avoid seeing it. How about a Pepsi or Coca Cola logo up there? Or a Nike Swoosh or EXXON — we could all pitch in and be glad to help a few get richer throwing sparkling signs into the heavens. Who wouldn’t be down for contributing to their purses for such a nightly spectacle? The only thing lacking last night was a SpaceX banner being pulled by the last satellite. Maybe I should make one of those for them.
I try to be a good neighbor. I don’t mow the lawn or use the chainsaw too early or too late, because it intrudes unnecessarily on the neighbors. I don’t sit outside the curb thumping music for everyone to hear whether they want to or not. I try not to do things that get into other people’s space. And whatever they’re doing, if it’s not getting on me, I’m fine with it. To me, that’s part of being a good human. It bums me out when someone makes everyone listen to them mowing the lawn at 7 AM, or thumping their BS music. Or driving down the middle of the road. Or throwing their trash out onto the road — or into space — for all to see. How about some respect, you know?
It bums me out when someone or some company feels their business is above the need to respect other people’s space. It shows a galling lack of consideration. Am I to believe that with almost inconceivable technology at their disposal, they cannot keep satellites from being the brightest things in the sky? Really? Maybe they aren’t so smart, then. Or they’re just too cheap, or too lazy, to conquer that problem. No profit in it, maybe? Is that it? If I did nothing if not for profit, I’d be a very poor human.
By all that I’ve read, these were probably SpaceX satellites that had been recently launched. They plan to make a “constellation” of communications satellites. I recognize the benefits. I just wish they were doing it without changing the nature of the heavens for us visually, or electromagnetically for astronomers. Does someone have the right to change the view for an entire world? If so, it must be ok to mow, chainsaw, and blow leaves at any time of the night. Or do they have a responsibility to carry out their mission in an unobtrusive way? I think it’s the latter. I cannot believe they haven’t the means in this day and age.
All of the streaks in these photos from April 17, 2020 are from a continuous procession of satellites my brother and I witnessed filing through the sky. We never saw the end of it, as clouds moved in about 20 minutes after we first saw the satellite train. Every photo from the moment we noticed the satellites has at least several long satellite streaks in it, and some have six or eight individual satellites.
I’m ok with a novelty, and seeing that parade of satellites was a first for me. I took photographs of them from 9:25 until 9:45 PM, when the clouds finally obscured them. For a while, they would pass a spot in the sky and become momentarily extremely bright; I figured that was the point where the sun shone up from beneath the horizon to catch the best reflection off of them and cast it back down at us. That only lasted a few minutes, for as the world turned and the sun’s angle changed, the brightness began to tone down when they passed that area.
As I photographed, we noticed the satellites seemed to be following two specific, parallel paths approximately from Orion’s belt in the SW out through the Big Dipper’s area in the north, where we lost them in the clouds. Though partly cloudy, we could see 4 or five satellites at all times. Many dozens passed by before the clouds settled in.
(To keep abreast of David Wilson’s most current photography or purchase a print, visit or contact him at his website mindscapefx.com or follow him on Instagram at @david_wilson_mfx.)
COUNTY CEO ANGELO asked the Supervisors today to consider diverting some Measure B money to Camille Schrader's psych programs, the CEO cryptically mentioning "somewhat of a disaster" without identifying which disaster she was referring to. Not to be too harsh about it, but we exist these days in a sea of disasters at all levels of government. Measure B was sold to the voters as funding for an in-county psych center, not as a slush fund for existing programs whose effectiveness remains opaque to say the least. The Schraeders already get some $20 million a year to provide psychiatric help to… Well, here's where the math gets fuzzy. How many people are providing what services to how many of the psychologically needy? Why is Measure B money needed?
DR. DOOHAN, the county's health officer, veered off into the deep weeds in a discussion of un-quarantining Mendocino County businesses when she said restaurants would have to be especially careful with their salt shakers, implying whole new hazards in the simple request, "Pass the salt, please."
AS WE ALL KNOW, many small businesses are in danger of disappearing. Many of them could be safely re-opened right now without endangering the great unwashed, i.e., the public by limiting seating and/or the number of persons allowed in at a time. Really, when's the last time you saw a mobbed book store or coffee cafe? While the small businesses remain closed by government fiat, the big stores, despite social distancing guidelines and other mandatory edicts, are teeming with shoppers, many of them unprotected.
GOVERNOR NEWSOM said today that the rate of California infection is beginning to flatten but has not yet peaked. 1200 people have died from the virus, 3200 are hospitalized and of those, one third are in ICU. “Deaths continue to rise, hospitalization numbers modestly continuing to rise and ICU numbers beginning to flatten,” Newsom said. “But we’re not seeing that downward trend we need to see in order to provide more clarity on that roadmap to recovery which we rolled out last week.”
HERE at the ava's command bunker, we get a lot of Facebook referrals, as in, "Go to Facebook. It's there somewhere." The prob I have with Facebook, apart from the grand ones involving its well known sinister aspects, is that I invariably get sidetracked watching the funny stuff, like young guys pranking people. (I've always been easily amused.) My fave is a kid walking up to groups of unsuspecting young men and saying, "I just want you to know you don't intimidate me. I'm not afraid of you." Most are simply puzzled and say, "Huh?" Or, "That's good," and keep on walking, usually laughing about it. But occasionally, the kid approaches some rough-looking gangsta types who say stuff like, "You better be intimidated, mofo," and I keep on watching to see if the prankster's going to be attacked. These vignettes are very seductive, and when I look up to get back on task, twenty minutes are gone.
EEL RIVER BRIDGE CONSTRUCTION
When Sonoma County’s public health officer talks about ICU bed needs and death count peaks, her words don’t square with reality. With only a handful of COVID-19 cases being added to her daily tally and only two deaths reported across the county, the word peak doesn’t come to mind. Dr. Sundari Mase has no mountain to scale.
She needs to give residents a little bit of credit. Our social distancing efforts flattened the curve. But they did so at the expense of our freedoms. My family missed anniversary celebrations, birthday parties, church services during the season of Lent and Easter, egg hunts with our Mendocino-based grandchildren, a family cruise and a delayed trip to Norfolk, Virginia, intended to help our daughter, a military wife, with two young children.
Together, we’ve succeeded in slowing the virus, but we’ve also failed to live our lives. After we lost our Santa Rosa home in the Tubbs fire, we rebuilt elsewhere with the intent of making new memories. We’ve been unable to do that during March and April. Why isn’t that sacrifice enough for our public health leaders?
Please let us visit family again and make new memories.
COAST BOTANICAL GARDENS
MENDOCINO COUNTY AWARDED $2.2 MILLION IN CANNABIS EQUITY GRANT FUNDING
Mendocino County is proud to announce that the California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) has awarded $2,242,704 in Cannabis Equity Grant Funding towards the development and implementation of a Local Equity Program for Mendocino County. Funding for the program will begin in Fiscal Year 2020-2021, and no more than 10% may go towards administration of the program. This leaves more than $2 million for loans, grants, technical assistance, training, waivers and fee reductions for eligible individuals. The Mendocino County Planning and Building Services is working with the Go-Biz to enter into an agreement by the end of June for the awarded equity funding. Planning and Building will announce further details regarding the program implementation and participation this summer.
This grant comes as the result of an unprecedented, extremely intensive, and time-sensitive collaboration in February between local government, and both academic and cannabis industry partners. Mendocino County would like to acknowledge and express appreciation for the considerable efforts made by several individuals and organizations to pull together the resources and information necessary to complete the application. In effort to gather historical information that was necessary to qualify for the funding, Supervisor John McCowen, who has a long and detailed history developing cannabis specific regulations and programs, was instrumental in providing information regarding the County’s prior cannabis programs and ordinance history. “Our staff and consultants have done great work! Our legacy cannabis businesses were already struggling with the high cost and complexity of entering the legal market, so these equity funds are needed now more than ever,” said Second District Supervisor John McCowen. Supervisor Williams spearheaded the effort for a tremendous and effective government, academic institution, and industry partnership. The Executive Office and Planning and Building Services worked collaboratively to coordinate the equity assessment and grant application.
The County worked closely and rapidly with academic partners at the California Center for Rural Policy (CCRP) at Humboldt State University, the Humboldt Institute for Interdisciplinary Marijuana Research (HIIMR), as well as cannabis industry partners including the Mendocino Cannabis Alliance (MCA), Origins Council (OC), and cannabis attorney Hannah Nelson to produce a Mendocino County Equity Assessment which established that Mendocino has been disproportionately impacted by the prohibition of cannabis and the war on drugs. It also concluded that a targeted, data-driven and well-funded Local Equity Program can help certain populations and neighborhoods, particularly small growers and those impacted by past policies that may be left behind, participate in a legal and sustainable economic future.
Program eligibility will be determined based on a set of criteria including, but not limited to: prior arrests for nonviolent cannabis-related offenses, asset forfeiture arising from a cannabis-related event, homelessness resulting from cannabis enforcement, exploitation or violence while participating in the cannabis industry, members of minority populations, cannabis businesses located in areas with a more than 20% poverty rate, and those engaged in small-scale cultivation.
Services to be provided by the program may include: tiered or waived fees, application assistance, assistance for small business development, deferral of application fees for Administrative Permits and Use Permits, technical assistance related to Road Maintenance Associations and cannabis cooperative associations, loans and grants for purposes of assuring regulatory compliance and mitigation of environmental effects of cannabis cultivation and employment training. As the Equity Program is developed, more information will be released on eligibility and services.
The County looks forward to continued collaboration with its academic and industry partners to finalize and implement the Mendocino County Equity Program.
For more information, please contact Brent Schultz, Mendocino County Planning and Building Services Director at (707) 234-6650.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Maybe I’m just naive, but I have a hard time imagining the DNC being dumb enough to shoehorn Hillary in at the convention (which will likely be a virtual convention on the Internets), nincompoops though they are. More likely it would be somebody like New York Governor Mario Cuomo or California Governor Gavin Newsom. Those are the names that are being bandied about, anyway. If it’s going to be the second scenario, the likely “VP-in-charge” will probably be Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, or maybe even Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. That said, it really is flabbergasting to observe how far gone Joe Biden is in his dementia (he makes Trump seem semi-coherent in comparison) and how the Democratic Party faithful on social media think they can cover it up by chanting “Russian asset! Russian asset! Russian asset!” at anybody who dares point out that the emperor is buck nekkid in the middle of Main Street!
WE ALL LIVE IN JONESTOWN NOW
by Larry Livermore
When I was living in San Francisco in the mid-1970s, we’d get leaflets stuck under our front door inviting us to attend services at something called the Peoples Temple. It was, they claimed, a new kind of religion, egalitarian, anti-racist, multicultural, politically and socially progressive.
Nobody in my semi-communal household was looking for any kind of religion, new or otherwise, so we’d only glance casually at the leaflets before tossing them. At the same time, we had no reason to think anything negative about the Peoples Temple. It was just one more element in the crazy-quilt tapestry that made San Francisco – at least in our estimation – such a charming and colorful place.
Besides, the Peoples Temple, led by a charismatic speed freak named Jim Jones, had wormed its way deep into San Francisco’s civic and cultural establishment. They were tight with the mayor, with liberal darling Harvey Milk, with California power broker and future mayor Willie Brown. They had a mole in the District Attorney’s office, and the DA himself was sympathetic to their cause. They had allies outside the political mainstream, too: Black Panther leaders Angela Davis and Huey Newton were supporters, not to mention members of the Symbionese Liberation Army (Patty Hearst’s kidnappers).
Once in a while dark secrets would leak out from the Peoples Temple, but local media tended not to cover anything too negative because the potential consequences, both legal and extra-legal, were too severe. Eventually, though, the rumors became too numerous and too serious to ignore, and Jim Jones, along with more than a thousand of his followers, beat it out of town and set up shop in the South American jungle.
His colony became known as Jonestown, and almost everyone has heard at least something of what happened there. The mass suicide he forced on his congregation gave rise to the phrase “drinking the Kool-Aid,” which remains in widespread use today.
In the days leading up to Jonestown’s gory demise, some California politicians were finally recognizing that the Peoples Temple was not the benign, progressive organization it had managed to portray itself as. When US Congressman Leo Ryan flew down to South American to investigate, many of us breathed a sigh of relief. Surely now that the US government was involved, anybody who was being abused or held captive would be safe.
Instead, Jones’s henchmen ambushed the Congressman and his entourage, killing him and several journalists. The mass Kool-Aid carnage unfolded later that day.
For those of us in San Francisco it was a vicious wakeup call, followed only nine days later by the assassination of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. For much of the decade, San Francisco had been dwelling in a sort of la-la land, maintaining at least the pretense of being progressive and tolerant. What became painfully obvious in 1978’s orgy of bloodletting was that beneath the woo-woo platitudes and magical thinking that had enveloped San Francisco since the heyday of the hippies, some dark forces had been running amok.
Images that emerged from Jonestown, with hundreds upon hundreds of corpses festering in the sun, left us reeling. How could such a thing happen in a supposedly civilized world? What must it have been like, I wondered, to be trapped in the jungle with a madman, becoming aware that he might be preparing to kill me, and not knowing what, if anything, I could do to stop it?
Today I no longer have to imagine. I live in Donald Trump’s America.
Every reasonably intelligent person knew it would be a bad idea to let Trump become president. He was completely unqualified, and had compiled a lengthy history of brazen criminality and breathtaking dishonesty. Some people – just enough to tilt the election his way – were willing to give him a chance anyway. Perhaps they hated Hillary Clinton – or women in general. Perhaps they relished the nihilistic humor of installing an ignoramus in the White House.
Then there were the radicals – I’m sad to say I have friends and acquaintances among them – who maintained there was “no difference” between Trump and Clinton, or who actively cheered for a disastrous Trump presidency because it would hasten the revolution.
So here we are: in the depths of the worst presidency in American history, with both the economy and the public health collapsing, and the only revolution in sight is that of an armed fascist rabble actively encouraged by the president himself. Even those of us who anticipated the worst have seen our expectations massively exceeded.
Still, likening the president to a mass-murdering megalomaniacal cult leader? Isn’t that a bit over the top? Until recently, maybe. But not any longer.
One thing I’ve never figured out about Jim Jones is why, when he realized the jig was up and suicide his only way out, he felt it necessary to take his entire congregation with him. Did he expect them to join him in some sort of afterlife? Was he motivated by a twisted sort of compassion, thinking that his followers wouldn’t be able to survive without him? Or was he, reluctant as we may be to believe such a thing, just plain evil, compelled by some dark force to do as much harm as he could to as many as people as possible?
Sadly, terrifyingly, we’re now at a point where the same questions have to be asked about Donald Trump.
It’s been obvious since he took office that Trump was a staggeringly corrupt president, primarily concerned with bailing out his own precarious financial empire by looting the national treasury, and protecting his ability to continue doing so by doling out political favors and a share of the spoils to those whose support he needed to stay in power. Assuming – and it’s an optimistic assumption – that the American republic survives his presidency, it will take decades to repair the financial, environmental, and moral destruction he has unleashed.
Nonetheless, by means of unprecedented deficit spending and fiscal sleights of hand, the economy remained on a sufficiently even keel to lull even his most determined opponents into a hopeful complacency. Only one more year until the election: surely we could muddle through until then?
Apparently not. America, throughout its history, has been a remarkably lucky country (not so lucky, of course, for the natives and neighbors who got in the way of its ambitions). Most of our wars have been fought on foreign soil, we had enough land and natural resources to bury or relocate our mistakes, and none of the earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, and droughts were substantial enough to do permanent damage.
Now our luck may have run out. This happens eventually to even the best-run empires, but when you combine a natural disaster like an epidemic with the manmade disaster of a failed, barely functioning government, the fall from grace can be far more precipitous than the rise to glory, and, to a population accustomed to things generally working out for the best, far more devastating.
The United States is facing its most existential threat since at least the Civil War (there’s no guarantee we won’t be facing another one of those, either; the Confederate flag, along with the hatred and ignorance it embodies, is a favorite banner of the emerging Trumpist paramilitaries). But this time, there’s no Abraham Lincoln to inspire and guide us.
Instead we have a shabby grifter almost constitutionally incapable of telling the truth, even when it would be in his interests. A man who stripped the country of its capacity to deal with disease or natural disaster because he thought the money required to maintain it would be better placed in his own pockets or those of his cronies. A man who, given a full two months notice of the advancing epidemic, used that time to do insider stock deals and set up self-serving investments in companies that would profit from it, yet did nothing at all to prepare to care for the hundreds of thousands who would become ill.
All this while, he flamboyantly lied to the public, assuring them that there was no danger, that the coronavirus was a Chinese or European problem that wouldn’t dare intrude on American soil. His followers believed him and took no precautions. Tens of thousands have already died as a result of Trump’s lies and profiteering. Tens of thousands more will almost certainly die in the weeks to come, and that’s in a best-case scenario. Last month Trump promised we would soon be “down to zero” cases of the virus. Now he claims it will be a great success if fewer than a hundred thousand die.
Those inclined to give President Trump the benefit of the doubt might suggest he’s simply out of his depth, that he saw the Presidency as a nice little hustle and never dreamed he might have to do some actual governing, let alone face a national crisis. But the trail of death and destruction left in his wake is too great, his lies contradicting the evidence of our own eyes and ears too flagrant. As he prepares to risk the entire nation’s health by ending social distancing and fomenting civil disorder, it’s plain that sheer incompetence is no longer a sufficient explanation.
I don’t have the power to see into Donald Trump’s mind. I have no way of knowing why – if there even is a why – he’s pursuing this course. The most plausible explanation is that he’s terrified of losing power, not merely because it would be a blow to his ego, but because it would leave him, his family, and his co-conspirators open to investigation and prosecution. In that sense, he is very much like Jim Jones: there’s no way he’d be able to fade gracefully from the scene and quietly savor his loot.
But also like Jim Jones, he seems to have decided that if he’s going down, we’re going with him. He’s already made it obvious that he’s willing to unleash enough chaos on the nation to make it difficult or impossible to hold free and fair elections this November. He may well succeed. Four years ago, some of us warned that should Trump be elected, we might never get a chance to un-elect him. Most people sneered, or called us paranoid. Things like that didn’t happen in America, they assured us. Congress and the Supreme Court would never allow a president to acquire dictatorial powers.
Now Trump owns half the Congress and 5/9 of the Supreme Court. If he manages to hold onto his office and replace even one more Supreme Court justice, any remaining checks and balances will vanish. If you think he’s not willing to burn down the entire country in pursuit of that end, or, in the spirit of Jim Jones, just for the hell of it, you haven’t been paying attention.
When I started this article, I was writing on a completely different topic. I was reaching out to my friends, family, loved ones, and acquaintances who I knew had been left feeling angry, frustrated, and depressed by Bernie Sanders’s withdrawal from the presidential race. I wanted to encourage them not to give up, to recognize that even if, as one young friend put it, “the best presidential candidate of my lifetime” was no longer going to be leading the charge, we couldn’t afford to give into cynicism and defeatism. Enough – not so many, but enough – of us did that in 2016 to make Donald Trump president. It’s a mistake we can’t afford to repeat.
“Easy for you to say,” I can hear some protest. “You never really supported Bernie anyway.”
Not quite true. I had my reservations, but if the nomination were still in question I would have voted for him or Elizabeth Warren. I’m still hoping that Biden, who I was never a big fan of, will choose Warren as his VP.
I’ve lived long enough to experience some serious dream-crushing. Not just at the ballot box, where I saw candidates like Gene McCarthy and George McGovern cast mercilessly aside, but even more cruelly, at the behest of an assassin’s bullet. John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy, Anwar Sadat, Yitzhak Rabin, among many others, imbued us with hope, only to leave us drowning instead in grief and despair.
But we endure. At the risk of cribbing from the Rolling Stones, we do sometimes get what we need, even if it doesn’t look anything at all like what we want. I could list a dozen people I’d prefer over Joe Biden as president, but it would be pointless, because none of them are on the menu this time. Come this November, either Biden or another mainstream Democrat will unseat Donald Trump, or our long national nightmare will just be beginning.
Since I’m not fully enthusiastic about Biden myself (but would vote for him every day and twice on Sunday if it were permitted), I can’t urge you to be, either. But I can express the fervent hope that at the very least, you won’t fall victim to Trumpist propaganda schemes – or worse, enable them – by circulating anti-Biden memes. If you want a more progressive – or even radical – president, your (our) day may come. But not if we don’t take care of job one first: getting the hell out of Trumptown before he kills us all.
“You don’t go to war with the weapons and army that you want,” the old saying goes, “you go to war with the weapons and army that you have.” If you think we can afford to wait another four years for a more inspiring presidential candidate, or that the forces who currently hold power would let us have those four years, you’re as deluded as the Trump cultists who think a MAGA hat renders them invulnerable to the virus.
Our chance of getting though this, let alone going on to build a more just and equitable society, may be less than average, but at least – for now – we still have a chance. Let’s not blow it. It may not come again.
ON LINE COMMENTS OF THE WEEK
 In small institutions like this, everybody knows who is responsible for what.” – BINGO. Back then, your local community hospital was a COMMUNITY hospital. Its 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 one 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.
 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.
 People who are secure will reject universal basic income, people living hand to mouth will take anything at this point. Privilege will show in the comments, as they can afford the time to debate and present the what-ifs. Either way you’re held captive by a capitalist class of psychopaths.
 Truck drivers have become more important than neurosurgeons. Farmers are more important than Trump and Pelosi and anyone else who draws a government wage. The person keeping the coffee going at a Pilot truck stop, if it is open, is more important than the CEO of any corporation. And yet… Growing food whether on a large farm or in your backyard isn’t simple. The farm to market to dinner table system is complex and brittle. The same is true for the insulin that millions must have. We are accustomed to relatively instant gratification. That is also gone. The “center isn’t holding”.
 Just finished re-reading the Grapes of Wrath, and one of the scenes that struck me was when the big producers were slaughtering hogs and burying them, so they wouldn’t go to market and depress the price of meat. And Steinbeck wrote of the anger that was growing among the migrants who were starving and watching their children fall dead. They saw these pits being guarded by men with guns so they couldn’t get the food. And now we see reports over the last 2 weeks of immense amounts of milk being dumped down the drain, and chickens being slaughtered and buried, and vegetables dumped into pits, because the original buyers have defaulted on the orders, and no one has the brains to re-route the food to the food banks.
You can’t take all that milk and re-purpose it to cheese? You can’t sell it at a discount to the 1000 cars lined up at a food bank? The milk boards and government don’t want to see the milk price collapse? People aren’t going to forget what the gov’t really thinks of them.
FEINSTEIN URGES NEWSOM TO NEGOTIATE WITH TRUMP OVER INCREASING WATER EXPORTS FOR AGRIBUSINESS
by Dan Bacher
On April 15, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein and Representatives Jim Costa, TJ Cox, John Garamendi, and Josh Harder sent a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom imploring him to reach an agreement with federal agencies through negotiation, rather than judicial action, on increasing water deliveries from the Delta to San Joaquin Valley corporate agribusiness interests.
A coalition of fishing groups, Tribes, environmental organizations, family farmers and elected officials opposing the reaching of this agreement between the state’s flawed incidental take permit and the federal government’s even more flawed federal biological opinion because maximized water deliveries to agribusiness will drive imperiled salmon, Delta smelt and other species even closer to extinction.
In the letter to Governor Newsom, the members wrote: “We believe the most plausible path forward is through continued negotiation and the voluntary agreement process. We understand that an agreement between the necessary parties was close but has not yet been reached. Early implementation of such a voluntary agreement when fully negotiated could provide a framework to allow the State to settle its lawsuit with the federal government and resolve the differences between the federal biological opinions and the State’s incidental take permit for the long-term operation of the State Water Project.” Read the full letter here.
In a separate letter to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, a former lobbyist for the Westlands Water District and the oil industry, the members wrote: “Continued coordinated operation is threatened by the conflict between the federal biological opinions and the state’s recently issued incidental take permit for the long-term operation of the State Water Project. Given the seriousness of this challenge, we urge you to take advantage of what is likely the last opportunity to work with the state and seek a solution to this impasse.” Read the full letter here.
Daniel Errotabere, Westlands Water District Board President, lauded Senator Feinstein and Representatives Costa, Cox, Garamendi, and Harder for sending the letter to Governor Newsom.
“The letter sent today to Governor Newsom by Senator Feinstein and her colleagues in the House of Representatives strikes exactly the right note. Continued conflict and litigation between the State of California and the federal government related to the efficacy of the recently issued biological opinions will harm not only water supplies for farms, rural communities, and urban areas in every region of the State, but will also delay meaningful actions to restore at-risk native fish species,” said Errotabere. “Senator Feinstein and her House colleagues are correct, without negotiated agreements to resolve the lawsuit by the State against the federal government, the longstanding coordinated operations of the CVP and SWP are threatened.”
“This will not only reduce water deliveries throughout California, just as drought may be returning, but will also block the successful negotiation of voluntary agreements. Westlands Water District thanks Senator Feinstein and her House colleagues, along with Members of Congress who sent a similar letter to Governor Newsom last week, for their continuing efforts to promote sound water policies,” stated Errotabere.
In response to Feinstein’s letter to Newsom, Regina Chichizola, co-director of Save California Salmon, noted that the Trump administration’s water plan for the federal Central Valley Project will take much more water from California’s rivers at a time when our salmon are facing extinction.
“The plan will harm water quality in the watersheds that feed the state’s water supply, and decimate the coastal fishing industry at a time when coastal economies sourly need the jobs,” said Chichizola. “The Trump administration had many chances to work out a compromise with California on Central Valley Water Project diversions, but chose corporate agriculture over the people of California, who are saving water to protect the environment.”
“It is imperative that California not only stand up to the Trump administration to protect our water supply, but also restore our rivers and protect our drinking water quality with regulations that are guided by science, not politic,” said Chichizola. “We are disappointed that some democratic representatives, such as Dianne Feinstein, have again chosen corporate almond farmers and water brokers over the interests of Californians. However, we are not surprised, as Feinstein has consistently sided with corporations over Californians.”
Restore the Delta also commented on Feinstein’s letter in a tweet: “Sadly SenFeinstein‘s call for #CAWater to work with Interior is the equivalent of collaboration with the enemy. Favoring the Trump rollbacks is falling in with the demand for the Delta to surrender.”
Feinstein and the Representatives sent their letter as the Delta smelt, once the most abundant species on the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, continues its steep slide towards extinction. For the second year in a row, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in its annual fall midwater trawl survey in 2019 found zero Delta smelt during the months of September, October, November and December.
Found only in the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary, the smelt is an indicator species that shows the health of the ecosystem. Decades of water exports and environmental degradation under the state and federal governments have brought the smelt to the edge of extinction.
(Dan Bacher is an environmental journalist in Sacramento. He can be reached at: Dan Bacher email@example.com.)
by James Kunstler
These are strange days, indeed. But in what alternative universe can anyone imagine Joe Biden actually making it through a presidential election campaign? The party he supposedly leads stuffed him into a broom closet last week after he gibbered through a session with CNN’s leading light Anderson Cooper. They can’t just hide the poor fellow there until November 3.
Asked about reopening everyday life in America, Mr. Biden said, “You know, there’s a… uh, during World War II, uh… you know, where Roosevelt came up with… a thing, uh, that, uh… you know, was totally different than a… than the… the, it’s called… he called it the… you know, the World War II… he had the war… the War Production Board….”
Everybody knows he’s dimmer than a night-lite, and everybody’s pretending it’s okay. There’s no analog in history for any faction putting up such an empty vessel for high office. Granted, the Democratic Party has trafficked in unreality for years, from Crossfire Hurricane through UkraineGate — with side-trips like trannies in women’s sports — but those capers were just old-fashioned scams. Joe Biden for President is Emperor’s-New-Clothes caliber deceit, requiring a rank-and-file so marinated in falsehood they couldn’t tell you the difference between a red light and a green light.
So, you have to ask: what is their game? In the weeks that led up to the blossoming of Covid 19, the game was apparently to bump off Bernie Sanders to satisfy the party’s corporate sponsors, who were not so eager to back someone that promised to confiscate their wealth. Ironically, Covid 19 only fortified Bernie’s case that the nation’s obscenely crooked health care system demands drastic reform. Now, you could easily construct a scenario in which ol’ Bernie would have glided to victory in November on the basis of that, combined with unemployment figures that make the Great Depression look like a job fair.
Picking Joe Biden as the instrument to block Bernie seemed especially dumb just weeks after the Democrats’ impeachment gambit blew up in their faces by shining a fiercely revealing light on Joe and Hunter’s adventures in international grift. One can easily discern Mr. Biden’s motive for remaining in the race after that because sheltering in candidacy seemed to inoculate him from any criminal investigation. But, did the whole party want to go all-in on that?
Maybe so, because the doings in Ukraine circa 2014 included a large cast of characters in Barack Obama’s state department – not least, Secretary of State John Kerry – plus the entire George Soros network of international backstage finaglers, with tendrils to Jeffrey Epstein’s nefarious operations – in short, a can of worms so slithery and disgusting they make the Democratic Party look like a primordial sink of species dumped into Mother Nature’s discontinued merchandise bin. Note: none of that has been adjudicated yet and don’t assume they’ll get off scot-free.
Then there is the sexual molestation charge against Mr. Biden by ex-staffer Tara Reade, who claims the then-Senator violated her manually in 1993. The New York Times editors sang la-la-la-la-la-la-kittens-and-puppies for two weeks before they even acknowledged the accusation, only to dismiss it because, well, it was like… you know, where Roosevelt came up with… a thing, uh, that, uh… you know, was totally different than a….
There really are only two plausible game plans for the Dems with Joe Biden. One is that he’s a mere placeholder until the convention – assuming it can even be held — where party bigwigs are forced to undo their Biden blunder by some legerdemain of rules-fudging, and cram in a last-minute replacement. The putative savior would be none other than She-Whose-Turn-Was-Thwarted in 2016, on the grounds that she at least knows how to run for president, even if she isn’t very good at it. They might as well hand every delegate a dixie-cup of cyanide-enhanced kool-aid as they cast that fateful vote.
The other pretty obvious scheme, seemingly underway now, is to fix up Mr. Biden with a running-mate who can take over his duties twenty-three minutes after the inauguration ceremony. Stacey Abrams, the self-proclaimed “real governor of Georgia” who, in fact, lost that election but has made out nicely hustling her delusions, is campaigning arduously for the VP appointment. Wouldn’t that make a heck of an appealing ticket?
Apparently, that’s one more memo the Democratic Party did not get: America no longer has time for identity politics. There are more important things to attend to, like whether large numbers of people go to bed hungry, get cast out of their homes, live or die. Things like that. For the moment, the USA doesn’t have an economy. Nor does much of the rest of the world. Believe me, that’s a problem. And unlike Mr. Biden’s dementia, there’s no pretense about not noticing it.
(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting his Patreon Page.)
PPP IS LETTING SMALL BUSINESSES DIE
NEWSOM: CITIES BLOCKING HOTELS FOR HOMELESS WILL BE ‘JUDGED’ BY HISTORY
Governor accuses some municipalities of succumbing to NIMBY politics, announces partnership with Motel 6 that may open 5,000 additional rooms across the state for homeless residents.
THE MIRENE'S LAST RIDE (1975)
by David Gurney
I first saw her early one morning looking down from the Noyo Bridge in Fort Bragg, California. I was on my way to town and it stopped me in my tracks. I’d never seen such a large vessel in that tiny little harbor. Her “house” looked to be three stories high, and she was at least 60 feet in length. She was tied up at Grader’s fish dock. My first reaction was to head straight down there to see what was going on.
You might say I was an adventure seeker. In those days it was not uncommon for a guy seeking work to pound the docks and ask prospective boat captains if they needed a deckhand or crew. For salmon boats, this entry level position was called a “puller” because that’s what you did – you pulled in the bait, lines and fish for a percentage of the catch. Payment was in cash, received on the dock for the trip you’d just been on, anywhere between six and twelve percent, depending on skill and experience, and perhaps your relationship to the captain.
I walked down to the docks and was surprised to see the dilapidated condition of the deck and rails. It didn’t make sense for such a stately vessel to be in such sad shape, like a beautiful but disheveled woman down on her luck.
There was a nice looking blond lady wandering out on deck from one of the doorways of the massive cabin of the boat. I caught her attention and we started chatting. I asked what they were doing, where they were going, and whatever else I could think of before getting around to whether they needed a crewmember. It turned out they were headed to San Francisco, and in those carefree days of impromptu wandering, a trip to the City by sea sounded like an adventure not to be missed.
Mary was her name. She invited me aboard to come speak with the captain, her husband Bear. He was a big, loud Viking of a man, long-haired, blond and burly. After briefly interviewing me regarding my experience on the ocean, he immediately agreed to let me make the run, with the understanding that my minimal duties would cover only the expenses of the trip, since they were on a very tight budget. I got a brief tour of the vessel and was told we were leaving that day. I was ready, and so met the only other crewmember, Jackie, a mechanic from Comptche, whose function was to keep things running for the 130 mile voyage. We untied and headed out the channel into a beautiful blue Pacific on a gorgeous sunny day.
Bear and Mary were friendly and talkative, and gave me free reign of the ship to explore, including hanging out in the wheelhouse where I began to learn the real story of their circumstances. It turned out they were just a half-step ahead of the law. The Sheriff had just missed trying to serve a lien on the vessel in order to re-possess it. Although I never learned all the details, Bear apparently owed some money to the previous owners, and they’d just had another close get-away at their last stop up in Oregon.
When lunchtime rolled around, I found out just how dire things really were. Mary apologetically explained that the only food on board was some bread and mayonnaise, so lunch consisted of mayonnaise sandwiches. But the ocean was so beautiful and the coastal journey so exhilarating, hunger was not a worry, especially since we’d be in the City in a matter of hours.
The Mirene wasn’t the fastest boat on the Pacific, so it was well into the night before we approached the Golden Gate. By this time, Jackie was extremely drunk. I remember sitting below deck while he pounded out boogie-woogie blues riffs on his guitar, a couple of which he patiently tried to teach me.
It took a long time of hard steaming to make it through the Potato Patch and under the Gate, finally tying up in Sausalito. Before he disappeared into the night, Jackie dramatically told me how close we’d come to not making it. “We were going against the tide because Bear was in such a goddam hurry to get in, no matter what,” he told me, “the fuckin' drive box was gettin’ red-hot, about to blow. You don’t know how close we came.”
I spent the rest of the night on the Mirene and took off the next morning, bidding friendly farewells to Bear and Mary.
That was the Mirene's last ride. A few years later she was bought for $8,000 and resurrected by Stewart Brand, Ryan Phelan and company.