- Hot Interior
- Farmers' Market
- New Cases
- Upcoming Meeting
- Reopening Madrones
- Lauren's Restaurant
- Plowing Ukiah
- Indian School
- No SNWMF
- Redwood Ivy
- Ed Notes
- Arcata Budget
- Yesterday's Catch
- CHAZ Visit
- Hop Pickers
- Different Strokes
- Yuki Indians
- Planning Cancelled
- Masks Mandatory
- Ukiah Courthouse
- Cottage Sale
- County Jail
- Chair Khanna
- Ukiah Snow
- Eating Out
- Aviator Kerns
- Bouton Biography
- The Blackout
- Saw & Did
- Tuesday Dreams
- MAGA Rally
- Aunt Jemima
- Disrespecting People
- Masks Work
- Found Object
ABOVE NORMAL TEMPERATURES will persist through the weekend for much of the interior, with even hotter weather expected early next week. Marine air and onshore breezes will keep coastal areas seasonably cool. (NWS)
TODAY AT THE BOONVILLE FARMERS' MARKET we welcome back Cinnamon Bear Farm! Their lovely produce will be a great addition to our market. I will have lots of oyster mushrooms tomorrow as well as lion's mane grown by Natural Products of Boonville.Berries are still rockin'- find super sweet strawberries, blueberries and boysenberries. Also find organic meat and eggs, olive oil, and body care. And lastly but not leastly, Between Wind and Water will have cold brew, chai and the best cookies you've ever had - really, to take home (it's hard to eat a cookie with a mask on-please don't try while at market😋). And yes, masks and 6' distance required. Please respect the airspace of your farmer. Disco Ranch from 4-6, See you there!
HEALTH OFFICER ANNOUNCES 6 NEW COVID-19 CASES IN UKIAH AREA
End of School Year Gatherings Major Contributor to Rise in Ukiah Area Cases
Post Date: 06/17/2020 6:02 PM
Today Mendocino County Health Officer Dr. Noemi Doohan confirmed 6 new COVID-19 cases in the Ukiah Valley region. Four of the 6 cases are teenagers. Eight of the new cases have been traced back to two end of school year/graduation related gatherings in Ukiah. The new cases today brings Mendocino County’s case count to 53 (19 isolated, 1 hospitalized in the ICU; 33 recovered). In addition, 4 cases over the past week have been linked to in-person church services in the Ukiah area.
In response to this spike in positive cases, Mendocino County Public Health will be doing outbreak testing at the Public Health Building, 1120 South Dora Street in Ukiah today, Wednesday, June 17, from 4:30pm – 7:00pm and tomorrow, Thursday, June 18, from 7:00am – 10:00am. If you have been notified by Public Health that you have been exposed to COVID-19 or have been to a graduation/end of school year gathering or in-person church service in the Ukiah area in the past 10 days please stop by and get tested.
Mendocino County is experiencing a spike in cases for individuals under the age of 35, which now makes up 43% of cases. In addition, the case that was recently in the ICU was in the 19-35 age group. The end of the school year, graduation and the start of summer is often a time to celebrate and hold large gatherings. All gatherings including those in homes, parks and community spaces are not allowed and are high-risk for the spread of COVID-19. Group activities are limited to members of the same household or a Social Bubble which means a stable group of 12 individuals who form either a Household Support Unit, a Childcare Unit, or a Children’s Extracurricular Activity Unit (Please refer to Mendocino County’s infographic for social bubbles: mendocinocounty.org/home/showdocument?id=35704).
To help our community stay safe, slow the spread of COVID-19 and continue reopening, everyone, including teens and young adults, should avoid the three C’s:
- Confined spaces – especially with poor ventilation. Outdoors in better than indoors.
- Crowds and gatherings – the more people the higher the risk.
- Close contact – staying further apart is safer than being close together.
Every resident can take simple steps to reduce their risk of COVID-19 by washing hands often, wearing a cloth face covering around others, avoid touching your face, avoid sharing food, drinks, toys, sports equipment, keep interactions with others outside of your home or social bubble short and give yourself space from others (6ft).
As a reminder to parents, Mendocino County and the cities of Fort Bragg and Ukiah have Social Host Ordinances which state parents or guardians are responsible for parties at their homes even if the parents/guardians are absent during the event. Parents/guardians are liable for what transpires at the party in their absence.
Public Health recommends individuals who have recently been to a large gatherings, in-person church service or protest to schedule an appointment for surveillance testing at OptumServe in Ukiah. To make an appointment go online to lhi.care/covidtesting or call 888-634-1123. Our local testing location is at the Empire Fairgrounds in Ukiah and is open Tuesday – Saturday from 7am – 7pm. OptumServe is for those without symptoms. If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms please contact your primary care physician at your local clinic or hospital for testing.
For more on COVID-19: www.mendocinocounty.org
Call Center: (707) 234-6052 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The call center is open Monday-Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
The City of Point Arena conducted testing of wastewater effluent the last two weeks of May, using the Bio Bot service. All tests came back negative for the existence of COVID at that time. Thank you City of Point Arena Wastewater Treatment Plant!
WE HAVE A MEETING next Tuesday to approve the proposed Mendocino County budget for 2020-21. I believe public safety is one of the most important functions of local government. At the June 9 meeting, I asked staff why the budget included $0 for Sheriff's overtime and $14k for jail overtime compared to $1.6M and $667k respectively spent in the previous year. As a fiscal conservative, I expect all anticipated expenses be included in the budget. At all stages, the county budget must be balanced, meaning financing uses must not exceed funding sources. Since the meeting, I've been studying the budget for places to cut. No matter where we cut, I expect public consternation. Therefore, I'd like to ask for your input. How would you like me to advocate for balancing the budget on Tuesday?
The proposed budget is available: https://mendocino.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=8582296&GUID=031ED800-0816-4ADD-A561-EC8E80E7A2EF
Would you be willing to submit your thoughts to email@example.com? This will allow the full board to consider in advance of the Tuesday meeting.
MARK SCARAMELLA REPLIES: I doubt there would be much “public consternation” if the combined Supervisors and Executive office of $1 million cut their budgets back to 2008 levels (or less). I doubt there would be much “public consternation” if the top two tiers of County officials (department heads and their immediate subordinates) took cuts back to 2008 levels. PS. We were told that the new courthouse in the County Jail was going to reduce overtime by a large amount.
SUPERVISORS HASCHAK & WILLIAMS PROPOSE LAW ENFORCEMENT OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE
Subject: [MCN-Announce]- Citizens Advisory Committee for Law Enforcement Oversight (June 23, BOS)
Board of Supervisors, June 23, 2020 - Item 6b. Public expression to firstname.lastname@example.org
Discussion and Possible Action Including Direction to County Counsel to Draft Necessary Framework (including Preparation of a Resolution and Ordinance) to Establish Citizens Advisory Committee for Law Enforcement Oversight and Present Said Framework to the Board of Supervisors within 30 Days (Sponsors: Supervisors Haschak and Williams)
Summary of Request:
A citizens Advisory Committee for Law Enforcement Oversight will strengthen the relationship between the Sheriff’s Office and the community it serves through outreach and the promotion of greater transparency of law enforcement operations. Through a mission of facilitating trust and highlighting the outstanding work of public servants, the committee will:
1. Provide objective and independent review of complaints against the Sheriff’s Office
2. Receive citizen complaints against the Sheriff’s Office and forward them to the Sheriff’s Office for review
3. Advise if an investigation appears incomplete and propose further investigation
4. Propose policies, procedures and training recommendations to the Sheriff’s Office
5. Increase transparency of law enforcement operations
6. Conduct outreach to the community
7. Produce a public report about the complaints and recommendations on a summary level.
8. Review law enforcement policies and hiring practices
9. Provide oversight of an objective and independent review of the Sheriff’s Office fiscal operations and budget
Under the Ordinance, the committee will not be authorized to:
1. Change the decisions made by the Sheriff’s Office
2. Decide policies for the Sheriff’s Office
3. Impose discipline on any Sheriff employee for any reason
4. Conduct its own investigations
5. Interfere with the performance of the Sheriff’s Office
6. Compel by subpoena the production of any document or witness related to a Sheriff’s Office investigation.
JIM ROBERTS WRITES:
"We wanted to be open with our community and share how we are approaching a measured reopening of our business at The Madrones and The Brambles.
We have spent the last two months in lodging meetings as well as members of committees to work towards a safe reopening when the state and county allows it. We have had direct collaboration with our Supervisors and meetings with the county PHO. To be perfectly honest, we have been on the conservative side of the spectrum and want to make sure we protect our community, our employees and our guests.
For this first phase we will only be allowing one unique set of visitors per guest quarters weekly. This will allow us 3 days between visits. We will also only be at 75% daily occupancy for the initial phase. Our target is to have all businesses open at The Madrones by the first of July. We will have to go through a self certification process, in fact all businesses need to do this including any vacation rentals. Failure to do this will put you in violation. Please reach out to Brian C. Adkinson or myself if you need any help in finding this information. We would also like to know what other restaurants, wineries and businesses will be self certifying and reopening."
You can see our Health and Safety Commitment here: themadrones.com/our-commitment-to-health-safety
AT LAUREN’S RESTAURANT IN BOONVILLE: Spinach, Bacon, Leek & Cheddar Quiche on our Takeout menu tonight. Our takeout food can now be eaten at our socially distanced outside tables, with more outside space coming soon. 895-3869. Curbside pick up available, please request when ordering. Complete dinner menu can be found at laurensgoodfood.com Beer & Wine can also be purchased at retail prices and taken home.
PLOWING STATE STREET, Ukiah, 1911
ELSIE ALLEN REMEMBERS:
I received no education until I was 11 and it was in that year that I was taken away from my family and sent to Covelo in northeast Mendocino County where there was an Indian reservation with an Indian school. A government agent came to see us and talked my mother into letting me go to that place which was about 80 miles away from where we lived. In those days there were no highways or buses and I had to travel through the wilderness of pines and firs most of the way. Six other Indian children from the Hopland-Ukiah area traveled with me. First I went on a wagon to Ukiah and then we were all put on a flatbed railroad car of the Northwestern Pacific Railroad and carried by train to the one in Sherwood Valley where we changed to a stagecoach that carried us north to Laytonville where we stayed overnight. The next day a gravel wagon picked us up to take us to Covelo. I remember being frightened by the big river, the Eel, and the giant trees we rode under which I thought every minute would fall down on me. I was very tempted to jump out of the wagon and run away. At the Covelo Indian school they placed me in a dormitory with other Indian girls. At the time I could not speak English and soon found myself unable to follow simple dressing and eating chores of the daily existence because we children were not supposed to speak Indian, a rule of most government Indian schools at that time. I had learned the middle Pomo dialect to proficiency. At first there was only one girl there I really knew and she was put in a different age group so I did not see her very often. They tried to keep me busy by giving me cards that had holes in them which I was supposed to twist some yarn through. It seemed so useless. Worst of all, the dormitory was burned down one night. The fire was believed to have been started by some older girls who hated the school. I lost nearly all my clothes that my mother had so carefully packed and sent with me.
We moved to a boys dormitory and there I was forced to wear boys clothes. We were given various duties to do but it was hard for me to understand and sometimes I was punished when I did them wrong because of lack of understanding of the language. Finally I was given one dress but I could not read the label on it and it looked so much like the other dresses that when I picked out what I thought was my dress and put it on another girl would often come out very mad and take it away from me. We usually did our work in the morning, then cleaned up at noon and put on school clothes to go in classes where I seemed to learn nothing at all. My stay in Covelo was very frightful because of the language barrier and I often cried at night with homesickness. I left there after two years and went to an Indian school opened on the Hopland Rancheria where we lived. The teacher was kind and patient so I finally learned to read, write and speak English. I went there for three years and then to work.
NO FESTIVAL AGAIN THIS YEAR
Festival Time 2020: A Message From Warren Smith And The Epiphany Artists Family
Dear Sierra Nevada World Music Festival Friends and Family:
Warm Greetings to everybody. We are acutely aware that in a “normal” year, for 25 years, right about now we would be busily and excitedly packing up things for Marysville, Angel’s Camp, and then Boonville. And we know that for ourselves and thousands of others it is a big hole in our Summer and our lives, musical and otherwise, not to be heading there now. Mainly, we miss you! And of course we miss the music. Especially in these challenging, troubled, not to say insane, times, the Festival always served for so many as an oasis of good vibes, great sounds and dancing, tasty food, and of course a big wonderful annual reunion for so many of us. A “conscious party” and a magical weekend, as so many have called it.
Most of you know that the festival has been on hold due to Warren’s health, and now with the coronavirus. We won’t go into details about the ongoing challenges he, Gretchen, and others have faced and continue to deal with. We have tried over the past two years to find a way to present the Festival in some form but just could not make that work - and wouldn’t have been able to in any event in this year of the pandemic. It’s probably safe to say that every one of the festival staff, volunteers, vendors, and everybody involved dearly wish we were gathering this week in Boonville. It is actually a hardship for some not to be able to work at making the event such an enjoyable success. We regret this intensely. But Warren wants everyone to know this:
"It is very difficult not to present the festival, especially during these times. I mourn the inability to gather as a community. Arriving at SNWMF each year has always felt like coming home. Gretchen and I miss all of you. We worry knowing that so many are suffering without work or social outlets.
While our world may seem chaotic and confusing, the rising global voice against injustice is exciting. It’s more important than ever that we continue to spread the music and the message, and embrace our similarities and differences as humans on this earth. I take solace in knowing that each of us have nurtured and can continue to nurture a world family peacefully united in celebration of the universal spirit of music - the foundation upon which the festival is built - even while physical distancing.
SNWMF has stayed the course for a long time now. Our community is strong. I know we all will keep working to make the world more equitable, loving and peaceful. In the words of Bob and Peter: “Get up, stand up, Stand up for your rights. Get up, stand up, Don’t give up the fight.” As always, forward ever, backwards never. Love and respect, Warren.”
If there is any chance, we will see you again with live music playing when the time is right. At this point we still cannot know what the Festival future will bring. But we have always been grateful to everybody involved in helping to make the musical and other magic that has been the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival. We wish you all good health, great music - and peace.
P.O. Box 208
Ryde, CA 95680 - USA
104 in the shade here in Boonville at 2pm Thursday afternoon, as the summer winds pick up and we hope the sun sets and the winds die without that dread spark. The daily deluge of bad news has everyone on edge, un-reassured by our captain that our ship of state can stay afloat. There's a prescient and darkly hilarious scene from Terry Southern's "The Magic Christian" that depicts a lunatic, and even a chimpanzee, at the controls of a luxury liner as it plunges full steam ahead toward Manhattan. Every time Trump lurches to the podium I'm reminded of that book.
LOTS OF DACA youngsters and not-so-youngsters in Mendocino County. Informally known as "Dreamers"' they entered the United States illegally as children. At least 700,000 persons are affected, but that's probably an under-estimate. The Supreme Court upheld lower court rulings that found that Trump's 2017 move to unilaterally rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, created in 2012 by Obama, was unlawful. The ruling was 5-4 with Roberts joined by justices Ginsburg, Kagan, Breyer and Sotomayor. The ruling came two days after the administration tried to declare that gay and transgender people do not have federal civil rights protection from being fired. The DACA ruling doesn't mean the Dreamers are automatic citizens, but it does mean they can process on in like any other person who wants to board our sinking ship.
IN THEORY, I get the arguments of Fiddleheads Cafe owner Chris Castleman, the guy the County is woofing at (to the tune of 10 thou in fines) for not complying with County covid-fighting standards. Castleman told the Press Democrat, “I’m not going to tell my employees to do anything. That’s between them and the county. In general, the stance I have on all this is it’s about personal responsibility and personal choice. It’s not about me being a police officer.”
YEAH, CHRIS, up to a point, but where personal choice not to mask up and socially distance endangers the rest of the herd your druthers are, like, waived — not applicable. Of course the County wouldn't dare crack down on Rite Aid or unmasked, undistanced demonstrators, but what's that old one about hobgoblins and consistency?
OVERALL, though, I sympathize with the guy, owner of a hole-in-the-wall, but highly popular, Mendocino Village cafe, an archetypal small business. This is a dark time for small businesses, especially of the food and beverage type who work on small margins in the best of times. The ten thousand dollar fine the County is threatening this guy with is hugely disproportionate to his offense, especially considering that our health officer is taking off 300 grand for "working" out of her San Diego home.
SPEAKING of the plague, nobody will confirm, but there are five covid cases in the Anderson Valley, all five confined to one family who, presumably, are self-quarantining.
THIS ON-LINE comment nicely sums up the responsible stance:
There are many, many restrictions we live with for the Common Good. It is not legal to drive drunk, it is not legal to go around discharging firearms in public places, it is not legal to start fires just to watch them burn, it is not legal to smoke in most pubic places any longer… All of these restrictions are based on the premise that we need to be concerned and responsible for the Common Good — NOT just for our own individual "freedom." While one could create a lively and interesting debate about exactly where the line should be drawn between these two philosophical positions, the FACT is that our legal tradition has for a LONG time taken the position that our rights do NOT extend to the right to do something that will have a significant risk of physically injuring another, or of subjugating the rights of others. It is not legal to knowingly or recklessly expose someone to HIV for example. So Covid-19 logically should be treated the same way. Reckless disregard for the safety of others will also potentially open up this cafe owner to civil liability to anyone who contracts the disease from visiting his establishment. In that case the $10,000 fine will be the least of his worries. If he wants to change the regulations and rules in effect he should run for office and seek political solutions. In the meantime he must follow the existing regulations or face the legal consequences.
WHY WE DON'T NEED A POLICE ADVISORY BOARD IN MENDOCINO COUNTY
We already have oversight in the form of elected supervisors and city councils through which police are funded and, except for the Sheriff, hire and fire police chiefs. We have a grand jury. We have a functioning watchdog print and electronic media. The Sheriff is elected and can be un-elected. The Supervisors fund him and his department.
O well, if you blue meanie hangovers insist, how about combining the Climate Advisory Board with the KZYX Board of Directors, sprinkle lightly with the County School Board and, voila! not only a committee of the infallibly righteous but experts on all things! Of course co-chairs would be Bob Bushansky and Meg Courtney.
ARCATA CITY COUNCIL SLASHES POLICE DEPARTMENT’S BUDGET, DISCUSSES POTENTIAL LAW ENFORCEMENT POLICY REFORM
During its virtual zoom meeting Wednesday night, the Arcata City Council unanimously approved the annual budget plan, which cuts city expenditures by about $1.3 million, reducing police department funding by nearly $750,000.
CATCH OF THE DAY, June 18, 2020
JOSE BARRIGA-PADILLA, Ukiah. Domestic abuse.
GLORIA CONNOLLY, Redwood Valley. Battery, robbery, conspiracy.
JESSE CONNOLLY, Ukiah. Battery, robbery, conspiracy.
JESSE DAVIDSON, Covelo. Domestic battery, probation revocation.
TRAVIS HUMPHREY, Redwood Valley. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)
SHAYLYNN LOCKHART, Potter Valley. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun, domestic abuse, probation revocation.
MARCO NAVARRETE-HIGAREDA, Ukiah. Controlled substance for sale, transportation.
JOHN VANNOTE, Ukiah. Domestic battery, probation revocation.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
I got out and ran an errand yesterday. It was only a few block diversion so I drove by the CHAZ to see what was happening. I stayed in my car and only looked through barricades. I don’t know the immigration policy and I don’t want to wind up in quarantine for two weeks.
Seriously, as I said on my blog I support CHAZ but I won’t go there because I have a civic duty to fight COVID.
They appear to have a thriving economy. The traveling jewelry street-fair booth looked to be doing business and my son has a picture of a bottle of commemorative CHAZ essential oil on his phone. If he sends it to me as I have asked I’ll post it on my blog.
Not enough people are wearing the mask. Outdoors helps to dilute viral exposure but not only is the CHAZ the newest independent nation on the planet, it is also the smallest. The encroaching buildings of the American Empire make it an indoor / outdoor experience IMHO.
At the east barricades are free masks in a box with a cardboard sign which says: "Free Masks, take one!"
For a moment I thought about going in but it would have been a trip without an essential purpose so under my personal rules and what I posted on my own website I had to stay the course.
UKIAH HOP PICKERS
THANKS FOR THE ADVICE.
A word of thanks for the letter of advice to Joe Biden from retired Lance Corporal George Walsh from far away in Lincoln City, Oregon. He asks us to stand up for public institutions and the need for a capable and faithful firetender for America’s melting pot.
Skip a letter and we get words of advice from Jerry Philbrick who says, "Martial Law is the only way to get this country back to normal." Of course, we need to "get rid of the liberals." Oh my, what a wonderful world that would be.
Ashley Jones, Retired Lieutenant, US Naval reserves
THE OTHER BLM
About ten days ago I saw a minivan in San Anselmo with the letters "BLM" spray-painted on the rear window. I wondered why anyone would be enthusiastic about the Bureau of Land Management. Then several hours later I realized the van was advertising Black Lives Matter.
THE PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING CANCELLATION notice for July 2, 2020, is posted on the department website at: mendocinocounty.org/government/planning-building-services/meeting-agendas/planning-commission
UNENFORCEABLE, BUT WHAT THE HEY
On Wednesday, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that everyone in the state will now be required to wear face masks in public.
OLD UKIAH COURTHOUSE
by Paul Modic
Selling My Place In The Country: Real Estate Meets Magical Thinking
There is this concept called magical thinking and what it means is when you think something you then believe it is true, illustrated most abjectly by the current magical-thinker-in-chief in residence in the White House. The people I know who exhibit signs of this delusion are mostly women although a man recently told me his cat doesn't hunt birds. (Really man? Every cat in the world catches birds except yours?)
Now people can think what they want, imagine what they want, believe any illusion or delusion they choose, and I'll call them on it every time, and then move on. But when business is involved or they start insulting me because of some thought they had that doesn't reflect reality then it's time to say basta!
(Just today a friend offered up an example of magical thinking. She told me false information which she believed, next vehemently defended it, and then attacked me for challenging her. Sounds familiar?
“You're not listening to me!” she said.
“I am listening to you,” I answered. “I just don't agree with you.”
With the magical thinker facts, note our magical-thinker-in-chief, don't matter. If you “believe” something is true then it is. This may have started with God and astrology, some of the foundations of “fake news.”)
I had this renter who wanted to buy my house in the country. There were a few leaks and she would call saying, “There's water dripping down onto the stove. I can't live like this!” So I would run out there multiple times, try to get some carpenter to climb out on the roof, and after some weeks two of the main three or four leaks were fixed.
She had lived there on and off for a few years and was interested in buying the place, or some place, as she had recently sold her house east of the Cascades. I didn't want to sell it because I've always considered real estate a good bank account where the value only goes up, especially a pretty little spot with water, privacy, a sliver of ocean view, and a spectacular hour-long hike along the creek to the sea.
I was moaning about all the trips out there and in frustration said I'd like to just get rid of the place. She gave me some lowball offer and I laughed. “For that much I'd donate it to hospice,” I said.
But she was working me and it was working. I was limping around on a bad hip and knew I had bigger priorities than maintaining that cottage on five acres. If it were just bare land I wouldn't have even considered selling.
It would be a big deal to sell because then I'd have to deal with all my stuff out there, a forty-year accumulation of furniture, gardening supplies, tools, kitchenware, and much more. There were three or four filing cabinets full of personal papers and all sorts of memorabilia, from “Pure Schmint” theatre programs to softball league schedules from the eighties. It would be a hassle to sort through and move it all.
I could have sold it during the Greenrush heyday a few years earlier and gotten more money. I probably could have sold it to a Bulgarian weed gang to use as their coastal hideaway from their plantations in Ettersburg.
One day I called her and said I would seriously consider selling it for a discount below my previous firm price. I had decided that after forty years it was time to let go. With a hip replacement probably coming up in the next year it was time to consolidate my energy.
She was a friend with the full cash amount in her hand who insisted that I could always visit the old place any time I wanted. It was an opportunity to offload the cottage on five acres without the hassle of fixing it up, finding a buyer, and dealing with all those myriad complications.
She felt like the place was home, she was getting deeply involved in a local environmental organization, and she had snagged my long-time friend Buzz, “The Accidental Saint,” as her boyfriend.
Since I thought I was giving her a really good deal I requested that she pay all transfer costs, another five to seven thousand dollars. I didn't want to be stressed out by the move so I set these simple non-negotiable conditions: She pays the cash amount and all costs, I have six months to move whatever I want out, and I can leave whatever I don't want.
I wanted plenty of time because the previous year I had left my truck in a bamboo grove in Austin, Texas and needed to go back down there to get it. And if I were in central Texas I may as well head down to Mexico to eat some cabrito and do another writer's retreat at Las Palmas restaurant in Matehuala, San Luis Potosi. I had been scribbling my misadventures at the same table for over forty years and all the waiters knew me, my international claim to fame. Plus I was due for mother duty in Tacoma, Washington later in the summer when my sister and her husband would be out of town at Lark music camp in Mendocino. This meant I would be visiting her in the nursing home for an hour or so twice a day.
She had two issues she wanted checked out before she would buy: a perk test for a septic system and another test for quality of the water. She dawdled and procrastinated all winter but I didn't care because I didn't really want to sell the place anyway.
I started making calls to some engineers to get some consulting about the perk test. One, who had grown up nearby, assured us that most of the land in the area was able to be perked successfully and he would be willing to be involved with the digging of the test holes to prove it. He did a few hours of research and said he was ready at any time convenient to the buyer to come down from Arcata and start the process.
All those official test holes would have trashed out the nicest part of the property and she wasn't ready to replace the “cowboy system” I had installed thirty years earlier anyway. After emails and phone calls with my engineer friend over a period of a few days she felt assured that a legal leach field would be doable. I asked her if she would throw down a hundred bucks to Thorn for his trouble and she refused. I didn't pay him anything either since the deal was no fees for me.
She finally got the water tested and called me late one night in a shocked panic. “There's this many parts per whatever in the water,” she said. “It's polluted!”
“Great!” I said. “I didn't want to sell the place anyway.” But it turned out to be one of her reverse magical thinking false alarms, another emotional exaggeration, and just a mistake. She hadn't read the numbers correctly.
Selling the place without an agent would be interesting. When I bought the cabin exactly forty years earlier the owner and I went down to the county seat with her boyfriend and she had signed a quit-claim form transferring the land to me as I handed over the cash in a brown paper bag at the recorder's office. She had buried the deed but couldn't find it, along with her gold and silver jewelry. (When she vacated the property she left everything behind including her skunk stole and zebra skin. She gave all her money, including proceeds from the land sale, to her LSD cult called Shivalila. They were planning to buy acreage in Missouri but instead they all moved to India until the money ran out.)
I never had the deed but my name was on the land tax form so I guess the place was mine. (I recently found the tax bill from the year after I bought it: $1.48 a year, I kid you not. I did not pay it in two installments.)
I offered my cousin, a real estate agent in Berkeley a bag of buds to help walk us through the deal. He didn't like the part about me not paying any of the transfer expenses and he thought six months to get my stuff out was too long but I would not compromise.
He emailed me many forms, mailed me more, and I worked my way through the stack of disclosures. We spent a few hours on the phone going over every line item with him telling me what to put if it weren't obvious. Many were checked, some were initialed and others were signed. Almost every aspect of the cottage had issues and all were disclosed. It was the classic fixer-upper.
After I had filled out the thirty to fifty pages I sat there with the buyer and we went over every thing Cousin Bob had said to do. It was excessively thorough but we got through it all. I gave her the pile of papers to take home and told her to go through and initial or sign wherever Cousin Bob had marked it. “I've got my plane ticket for Austin May 15th,” I said, “so you better get right on it.”
She brought them all back in a few days, we made a minor change or two, and sent the completed copy down to the land title company at the county seat. Her last minute addendum was that I clear out the rental cabin across the land from the main dwelling before I leave for Texas. This I did with a couple truckloads, abandoning some drying racks and screens as well as furniture. I was letting go! (I also emptied out the filing cabinets into boxes and hauled them into town. Whether the deal went through or not, many fall apart at the last minute, I was getting a head start on moving the memorabilia, a treasure trove of interesting, to me anyway, artifacts of my life for the last forty years.)
On May 15th the buyer, me, and her boyfriend piled into my fancy new Lesbaru and hurtled down the highway. In a stunning plot twist her boyfriend was the same guy who was the boyfriend of the woman I bought the land from forty years earlier. He was coming along for the ride again.
The title company had been alerted to the time crunch and the papers were ready for me to sign. Then the buyer came in and signed them as well.
Business done we all jumped into my spiffy grandma car and drove to Santa Rosa to meet my cousin at the airport. I gave him his bag of weed and we hung out in the restaurant until my bus to the San Francisco airport arrived.
By two in the morning Texas time I was settling into my friends' party barn/guest house on Creekside Farms Road just outside the humming city of Austin. (I had to go to the bathroom but didn't want to disturb my sleeping friends in the main house. I looked for a shovel but found the backyard was all hardpan—I could not dig an inch. I found the Peet's coffee box on a shelf that held my stash that I'd sent on ahead. I emptied it of coffee and weed and used that.)
On May 23rd the check for the land was deposited into my bank account by the title company and the six months began.
I got back to California from Mexico and Texas driving the long way around by way of Oklahoma, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada.
The first sign of trouble was when the buyer, who had also been my cook (we had traded lodging for cooking and light housekeeping) offered up a new deal. She wanted a $2.50 an hour raise, specified that the clock would start as soon as she entered the house, and that she would come in and cook her massive amounts of healthy organic vegetables (horse food we called it) only on Fridays. She said she would only come if I had gotten a truckload each week.
I told her the raise was okay and added a couple requests of my own: If she's late she owes me an hour. If she cancels with less than twenty-four hours notice she owes me an hour and I would like her to come any day except Friday. Friday was Farmers Market day so I already had enough going on. I told her I didn't want to link the cooking to the land deal as that was separate. I didn't like her new hardball attitude and so I had answered in kind. I never heard back.
The next sign of trouble was when she sent me an email alleging that I had been using some Frontier phone services and charging her for it. She had decided that I owed her fifty or seventy dollars, that I was a “devious ripoff,” and she couldn't trust me.
I asked her to tell me what services I was using but I never got a clear account. There were some parts of the phone bill I had been using, like unlisted number for four bucks a month and call forwarding for about seven dollars a month, that she was already aware of.
She accused me of not caring about her by not trying to get a better long distance plan and I reminded her that we had already gone through this already and found that no better plan was available.
“Why do you call me a devious ripoff?” I said. “Do you think I would even bother to try to rip you off for that small change? We've got a big land deal going here. Besides, it would take time and effort to plan to deviously rip you off so why would I bother? Would you please apologize for calling me a devious ripoff or back up your accusations with some facts?”
“Well, the Frontier lady on the phone told me that,” she said.
“The Frontier lady told you I was a devious ripoff?” I asked.
This was the beginning of her onslaught of magical thinking, when she prefaced each of her accusations with, “I believe that...”
I wasn't sure where this was going but I had an idea where it might have come from: Her father had called her stupid. Her husband had called her stupid. Her boyfriends had called her stupid. She was going to believe in herself and no man was ever going to control her again. If she believed something was true it was.
Well, maybe it wasn't her fault that her Monsanto daddy raised her and her sister on the company's experimental food he brought home regularly.
Okay confession: People find me annoying because I'm always right. Or usually. I always call everyone on it if what they say sounds untrue, like bullshit. It's not that I'm really intelligent, it's just that I'm fact-based.
The buyer was like some millennials I've talked with recently: they are constantly bombarded with data on their smart phones and often say, “I just don't know what to believe, what is true or not.”
Sorry, but I know what is true. Why? Okay, admittedly I've been a news junkie for decades, I study this shit. I've developed some instincts and have an acute bullshit-detector that tells me what's real and what's not. Like I've said before: “I see reality for what it is. Others see reality for what they want it to be.”
A magical thinker has no chance with me and will lose every argument because they are never able to answer these simple questions: So where did you get that information and how do you know it's true?
She refused to apologize and I tried to let the thing blow over. On to the move—I still had tons of stuff to get out of there.
Over the summer and into the fall I hauled out truckloads of things I didn't need. A few times I hauled out items I should have just left, and found myself taking it the next day up to the thrift store.
Things were pilling up in town. There were stacks of boxes full of personal items like my Little League trophies and many boxes of Mexican folk art including mirrors, candlestick holders, and kitschy armadillos with their little heads wagging back and forth. I also dragged into town about seven huge redwood slabs I'd gotten in a “divorce settlement” back in the '90's.
I hauled about seven solar ovens as well as filing cabinets holding old journals and all the personal souvenirs from the past. Look, there's the ticket stub from when I went to the “Lord of the Rings” movie in 2001 with my latest obsession, the last time a much younger woman gave me a shot. We made out the whole time and missed the movie.
The magical-thinker-in chief absolves you of your ignorance. If you agree with the president how can you be wrong?
Is it the revolt of the stupid people or the revenge of the stupid people? Once again we see the Trumpian parallels: the misinformed are tired of the smart people telling them what the facts are, i.e., why they're so stupid. Maybe stupid is too strong a word. Maybe misinformed, igno rant, confused, or uneducated would be a fairer judgment.
One thing I'm curious about is do magical thinkers know they're magical thinkers? Do they know they just pulled a non-fact out of their ass, are defending it, and attacking those who disagree?
Halloween came and I still had a couple of truckloads to go. On this trip I was going to get my few valuables which were locked up in my desk upstairs: a sword from Borneo, some silver jewelry and a hand-made plate-setting, and an LP of The Talking Heads designed by the pop artist Robert Rauschenberg.
All that year and for the last few years whenever I came out to the land the renter/buyer opened the gate before I got there. This time the gate was shut. My hip was worse than ever (throw a bone to the buyer, she was the one who insisted I get x-rays and deal with it) and it was an effort to get out of the truck with a moan at every move but I got the gate opened.
I was furious and started yelling at her at the first opportunity. It was very petty of her but it did provide her with the only victory she had during the whole transaction. I had yelled at her so in her eyes she's right and she wins. And in my eyes it was a set-back so I looked at it as a gift to her, something to justify her magical thinking.
The last couple loads in November her boyfriend came out too so we could do double truckloads. That day we went through the kitchen and boxed up a lot of pots, pans, and silverware I didn't really need but was helpless to leave behind. The buyer was bitchy and bossy as we worked through the useless items.
I got my small bow saw from the shed and she said, “Wait a minute, that's mine. I just bought that recently.”
“I really think this is my bow saw,” I said. I pointed out that the label was faded to the point of no legible words left. “Look, there's scratches all over it and the blade is rusty. This is my old saw.”
She continued to insist that it was the new one she had recently purchased, classic magical thinking: Even with the evidence starkly before her eyes she wouldn't accept the fact that I was right. I showed the rusty blade to the boyfriend but he didn't want to get in the middle of it. “Well, I'm going to take it for now,” I said, “because I have a couple branches I need to cut. Maybe you can find your new one.”
The move was completed a couple weeks before the six months were up on November 23rd. I started narrowing down my search and decided on Willits hospital for the hip replacement.
Around the middle of January a mutual friend told me that the buyer was doing her laundry at the Redway laundromat. We had been talking earlier about trading some work organizing and storing boxes from the move in exchange for washing machine use at my house but she hadn't contacted me.
I emailed her and said, “What's the deal? You're doing your laundry at that scuzzy laundromat? Didn't you get your washing machine yet? I got my big brand new one ready to go. What about our trade?”
I emailed her again and said, “Hey, you can just use my washer as a friend with no trade. But you have to tell me what the fuck? That whole thing with the phone bill where you thought I ripped you off. You have to tell me what really was bothering you because I can't believe it was just that fifty buck discrepancy on the phone bill.”
After awhile she emailed me back. “You were making me jump through hoops all summer,” she said. “I believe you were purposely taking a long time moving out just to stand in my way.”
“Hey,” I answered, “I didn't make you jump through any hoops. We had a simple deal for the cabin and land: You pay me the money and I have six months to get my stuff, and I can leave whatever I want. I stuck to that deal. Any hoops you had to jump through were your own, your own goals what you wanted to get done before winter. Why would I try to stand in your way? I did take it slow because I'm lazy, have this bad hip, and was out of town a lot.”
“And then you yelled at me on Halloween. It ruined my day. I didn't even feel like going up to the party after that,” she said.
“Yeah that was a gift to you to get upset,” I said. “Even though it was a mean aggressive act for you to not have the gate open I am perfectly willing to apologize for yelling at you if you will apologize for calling me a 'devious ripoff who can't be trusted' when you pulled that phone accusation out of your ass.”
It takes energy to be devious and I just didn't have that. (Later she tried to defend not opening the gate by saying she was worried some unknown miscreant might come down the road and somehow harm her. But if anyone wanted to mess with her it would be more effective to just creep quietly down. Why couldn't she admit she was just being a mean vindictive bitch?)
She refused to apology. “Why don't we get mediation?” I said. “I'd love to see you broken down in tears saying you're sorry in front of a third party.”
Then she went on an email tirade and said people are glad that I'm gone from the area, and what a terrible person I was leaving truckloads of crap behind. (“Who said what? Did you defend me?” Magical silence.) Well, she had been living there off and on for over five years so she had a good opportunity to see what was there.
It's true I was a slob and probably still am. About twenty-five years ago I decided to gather up and dispose of all the partial bags of Stutzman chicken manure that were lying around the property. They were wet and stinky and when all the bags were emptied and the shit tossed over the side or taken to the dump I had counted sixty-six. For shame!
“Really?” I said. “You're telling me all these vicious lies, insults, half-truths, and exaggerations just so you won't have to apologize for calling me a devious ripoff? Forget the mediation, you're not worth it. Please do not contact me again.”
A month or so later I was talking to her boyfriend and said, “So what was up with her?”
“Oh, she believed that you were calling her machine and secretly getting her messages,” he said.
“Well, I could have. I had the code. I set it up,” I said. “But no, I was not spying on her answering machine.”
COUNTY JAIL, UKIAH, 1948
CALIFORNIA “BERNING” FOR RO KHANNA TO CHAIR THE STATE’S DELEGATION TO DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION
With so much at stake this election year—fairness, logic, and party unity all argue for progressive U.S. congressman to chair the delegation.
by Norman Solomon
The Democratic Party is at a crossroads in California, where Bernie Sanders defeated Joe Biden in the presidential primary three months ago, winning more than half of the state’s delegates to the national convention. In recent days, over 110 Sanders delegates—just elected in “virtual caucuses” across the state—have signed a statement calling for Congressman Ro Khanna to be the chair of California’s delegation to the Democratic National Convention in mid-August.
Fairness, logic and even party unity all argue for Khanna to chair the delegation.
Noting that “Sanders received appreciably more votes in the California primary than any other candidate,” the statement points out that “Khanna has been a national champion on issues supported by California Democrats—health care for all, national budget priorities based on human needs and opposing Trump on huge increases in military spending and endless wars, criminal justice reform, and a path to citizenship for immigrants.”
Released by Our Revolution, Progressive Democrats of America and RootsAction.org (where I’m national director), the statement has been endorsed by the California Nurses Association as well as by Amar Shergill, the chair of the state Democratic Party’s large Progressive Caucus. Four-fifths of the state’s Bernie delegates elected in congressional districts have already signed it.
“Having our state delegation chaired by one of the Bernie 2020 campaign's national co-chairs would send an important message of inclusion to disaffected voters across the country,” the statement says. “As state delegation chair, Congressman Khanna would be well-positioned to serve as a voice for authentic unity behind a ticket headed by Biden for the imperative of defeating Trump.”
But whether the powers that be in the Democratic Party are truly interested in such “authentic unity” will be put to a test at a June 28 statewide delegates meeting, where California’s delegation chair is scheduled to be chosen. (I’ll be part of the meeting as a Bernie delegate.) Rules for that meeting—or even information on who will run it—have not yet been disclosed.
A common steamroller technique at such meetings is for an omnibus package with myriad provisions—including decisions made in advance by those in power—to be presented for a single up-or-down vote. Instead, what’s needed is a truly democratic election, with nominations for delegation chair and a ballot enabling each delegate to cast a vote for one of the candidates. (What a concept.)
Sanders defeated Biden by a margin of 8 percent in the California primary. But hidebound tradition as well as raw political power are arrayed against the Bernie delegates pushing for Khanna to chair the delegation.
Traditionally, the Democratic governor would be the chair of the state’s delegation to the national convention, as was the case four years ago with Gov. Jerry Brown. And the current Democrat in the governor’s office, Gavin Newsom, is unlikely to favor giving up this chance to enhance his national stature and aid his evident presidential ambitions.
For progressives, however, much more is at stake than political prestige.
Every indication is that only a state delegation chair will be allowed to introduce proposals or amendments to the entire convention. Simply having the option of doing so, on issues like Medicare for All and a Green New Deal, could give the state party chair leverage for programs championed by the Bernie 2020 campaign. That’s exactly the kind of leverage that party power brokers want to prevent from falling into the hands of genuine progressives.
(Norman Solomon is co-founder and national coordinator of RootsAction.org. His books include "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death" and "Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State." He is the founder and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy.)
SNOW IN UKIAH, PERKINS @ STATE, 1937
DINNER AL FRESCO
by William Grimes
Thanks for inquiring about my health and state of mind. The former has been surprisingly good based on no coughing, don’t think fever (wouldn’t I know a fever if I had one?) and red Cab and dijon mustard still taste wildly different. My mental health? Must be the same as millions, maybe a billion people worldwide feel: bored with shutdowns and social distancing and the repletion that every day is just today. Can’t and don’t want to think about tomorrow, it’ll be just another today. Not a future entry in my calendar.
But last evening, a break in the routine. Born again. Joy and some hope.
My favorite restaurant in the next town had been open for takeout. Pick up orders at the front door where a week ago I saw the sign on the door Open for Dinner on the Terrace June 2. I had called the day before and spoke to Donna hoping for a table, worried that management would want to fill every chair and I was a one for a table likely set for two. She said she’d get back to me in an hour or two.
And, Sis, when she called to confirm I was in if I could be there at 6pm I felt the surge of life returning. The feeling was like that I had in 4th grade when I, after a few minor crashes, I was finally able to ride my two-wheeler, that Columbia bicycle you may remember. Freedom to leave the gloom of home.
I arrived at the restaurant early, at 5:45, so eager to see what living was like again.
I was delighted to see the smiling faces of the wait staff and the customers. About 15 total tables, ten, twelve feet of separation set on the terrace, overlooking the creek below. Three tables with parents and two or three kids, the chairs separated by maybe 6 feet.
I had taken my first shower in ten days and decided to spruce up like I might have two decades ago. My fanciest summer attire: midnight blue dress shirt with small gold stars and button down collar, white summer slacks I used to wear at the country club circa 1983, and red cloth shoes from Brighton, and the topper, what got so many looks from the look-starved customers, my Tommy Bahama Panama wide-brim hat. Sometimes it’s good not to clear out the clothes closet.
I was greeted with "Hello, Bill" from Donna the owner. I couldn't wait to taste some booze that took skill and care to make: a real live cocktail made by a professional, hoping Mauricio was inside at the bar. Since at home for 80 days with only cheap yellow wine or Kaptain Kettle One on the rocks, I had been thinking all day of something exotic to drink, something to take me out of covid-19.
Mauricio, the bartender pal of mine, was here walking my way. Hooray, I said leaping to my feet to greet him three minutes after being seated.
I said "Mauricio, my man, I am so fucking happy to see you". We fist-bumped. He was wearing a black face mask and white rubber gloves but feeling flesh, or almost flesh through his glove, sent a 5G signal, hand to my brain and back. This was as much living as legally permitted.
"Mauricio, I want something to drink I've never had before, please. A fancy cocktail with vodka at the base. You are already in my bartender Hall of Fame but this will cement your legacy with Senor Grimez."
Five minutes later the waitress, Sexy Susie, arrived with a Cucina (restaurant name) Cosmos--straight up like my peacock posture at the table. The drink was the color of the devil's tail and tasted like God guided Mauricio in its creation. Oh may the moment last.
I sipped while watching two ducks swim in what water remained in the creek below. The sun was behind the hills and I fancied myself in an outdoor Rick's Cafe where a few years ago I watched the movie in Casablanca in an exotic restaurant with the same name.
People around me smiled either forlornly, feeling sorry for such an old man by himself, or a look of poorly-disguised envy--that lucky coot not having to listen to what I have to hear for the 81st consecutive dinner from this loved one sitting across from me.
SS was back asking me what I want for dinner. I said no dinner yet. I want to consume the atmosphere and work hard but slowly on a carafe of Pinot G.
It'd been so long since I felt free, youthful, in the game again.
I began after glass one to sing Doo Wop songs in my head, "Oh, What a Nite" by the Dells, "Earth Angel" by the Penguins, and "Why Do Fools Fall in Love" by Frankie Lymon and his Teenagers from the Bronx.
I changed stations and heard the words of Rachel Cusk, a highly acclaimed contemporary novelist, in book three, Kudos, of her trilogy, " ...it started to feel my whole life as an adult had been a dream. I almost felt myself disappearing though that place could simply take me back into myself."
Now, Sis, see what you've done. Got me to write again. Thank you.
Stay safe and lots of love
UKIAH’S FIRST PILOT
REMEMBERING ‘BALL FOUR,” so we can forget you-know-who.
by Robert Lipsyte
In 1964, an 18-year-old New York Military Academy first baseman named Don Trump slammed a game-winning home run against Cornwall High School that perked the interest of scouts for the Philadelphia Phillies and the Boston Red Sox. No question about it — the big kid was a professional prospect!
That same year, a 25-year-old New York Yankees pitcher named Jim Bouton, an All-Star the previous season, won two World Series games against the St. Louis Cardinals. Hall of Fame, here we come!
Neither of those hotshots fulfilled their baseball promise. Unpacking why not might just help us survive another day without baseball at a time when — thanks to that now grownup first-baseman — we really need the diversion. And it may remind us of what we’re missing.
As you may already have guessed, Don Trump was never really a pro prospect. That home run, in fact, would prove just a foretaste of his talent for hyping himself. It never happened. He made it up. In fact, his team didn’t even play Cornwall that year. Trump, who actually was his school’s team captain, has long claimed that he was the best athlete there, a boast rarely challenged because coaches and classmates tended to praise him once it became in their best interests to do so.
And what about that Yankee phenom, nicknamed “Bulldog” by his teammates (including legendary superstar Mickey Mantle) for his ferocious tenacity on the mound? Only six years after his World Series heroics, sportswriters would be furiously writing him off as a “journeyman” ballplayer, a “social leper” who had betrayed the game to produce a “tell-all” book written for him by a lefty journalist.
This year, Jim Bouton, who died in 2019 at age 80, will get more of the acclaim owed him as a revolutionary sports figure thanks to the publication of an excellent new biography and a forthcoming 50th anniversary Kindle edition of his memoir, ‘Ball Four,’ arguably the best sports book of all time. In 1999, ‘Ball Four’ was, in fact, selected by the New York Public Library as one of the “Books of the Century.”
Parts of ‘Ball Four’ may now seem quaint. (Who would be shocked today to discover that ballplayers of that era actually cursed, popped amphetamines, or tried to peek at women through hotel windows?) In 1970, however, that book turned the national pastime on its head. Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn tried to have it banned or at least force Bouton to declare it “fiction.” Players who didn’t bother to read it nonetheless felt violated by it or were convinced that they should feel that way. Traditional sportswriters, whose status depended on the idea that they were the only conduit fans had to the true life of the locker-room, were infuriated. They had been exposed as faux insiders.
As former Wall Street Journal reporter (and sportswriter) Stefan Fatsis said, in retrospect, “I think you can argue that ‘Ball Four’ completely reshaped journalism.”
No one who’s written about Bouton’s book, however, has caught its deeper spirit better than his widow, the psychologist Paula Kurman, in an introduction to that 50th anniversary edition. “Ball Four,” she wrote, “was an extraordinary study of a strange, isolated tribe — from inside the tribe — which any anthropologist would be proud to have authored. It was a universal fable, in which our hero sets out to seek his fortune, or the Holy Grail, and must do battle with those who try to stop him. It was a man from a macho world — openly talking about his feelings and insecurities. It was a kid calling out that the Emperor had no clothes on.”
For starters, it reshaped the perceptions that many sports fans then had of their heroes. It humanized them. Not surprisingly, the book spent months on the bestseller list, less for its mildly bawdy anecdotes than for the way it reinforced the passion of baseball fans for their game. Rigorously edited (but not written) by Leonard Shecter, a progressive, uncompromising veteran of the pre-Murdoch-era New York Post, ‘Ball Four’ was a strange and unexpected valentine to what was still the national pastime then. (Today, it’s undoubtedly football, a tribute to American brutality.)
Bouton’s book proved to be the sweet revelation of a True Believer’s longing to get a tighter hold on a game that had entranced him as a young man, a hold as tight as the game had on him. Even now, it feels like a warm hug and helps explain why baseball is still America’s best game, a contest without a time limit or strategic violence, a sport that adds up to a true guild of disparate talents only capable of succeeding by working collectively (no matter the mix of workingmen, thugs, and poets on the field). Think of it as a sort of dream version of America.
As it happened, however, it was a glimpse into Mickey Mantle’s alcoholism that especially upset the establishment. As Bouton told Neal Conan of NPR’s Talk of the Nation in 2012, Mantle showed up so hung over one day that the Yankee manager excused him from the game, telling him to sleep it off in the trainer’s room.
“Anyway, the game goes extra innings,” recalled Bouton. “We need a pinch-hitter in the 10th. Somebody went to wake up the Mick. He comes out, put a bat in his hands. He walks up to home plate, takes one practice swing and hits the first pitch into the left field bleachers, a tremendous blast.
“Guys are going nuts. He comes over, crosses home plate. Actually, he missed home plate. We have to send him back for that. He comes over to the dugout, and he looks up in the stands, and he says, those people don’t know how tough that really was. Then after the game, the sportswriter said, ‘Mick, how did you do that?’… And he said, ‘Well, it was very simple. I hit the middle ball’.”
For Bouton, that anecdote was his almost fanboy way of showcasing the greatness of Mantle. But for the sports establishment, media and otherwise, it represented a loss of control, a peek into the deeper reality of the game and of the human beings that made it what it was. They were particularly upset at how Bouton exposed their greed, at how many now knew how little the owners paid all but a few of their players compared to their profits. The largest salary Bouton ever earned from the Yankees was $30,000 in 1965, the year after his World Series wins, and he had to refuse to sign his contract and hold out to get it. All of this would, of course, seem far less shocking in the world of 2020 with the billionaire first-baseman who specialized in bankruptcies in the White House and a country that, in the midst of a pandemic and the equivalent of the second Great Depression, managed to make its collective crew of billionaires $565 billion richer.
Most important, Bouton’s book laid bare the unfairness of baseball’s reserve clause, which bound players to their owners in something like perpetuity. As Kevin Baxter pointed out in the Los Angeles Times, “Ball Four, fortuitously for the players union, came out the same year that St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Curt Flood challenged the reserve clause by refusing to accept a trade to the Philadelphia Phillies, setting off a legal battle that eventually led to free agency. Bouton played a part in that, too, when he was called to read passages from his book in front of arbitrator Peter Seitz, who eventually ruled in the player’s favor.”
He would also prove to be a rare sports activist outside the game. He marched for civil rights at a time when most athletes kept their political heads down. He participated in anti-apartheid demonstrations against South Africa’s white regime when most ballplayers didn’t know what the word meant. He was even a George McGovern delegate from New Jersey, his home state, at the 1972 Democratic convention.
As a player, Bouton was an unusually friendly and accessible locker-room interviewee, even for sportswriters whose hostility to him was guaranteed to find its way into print. The most affronted and belligerent of these was the controversial, right-wing New York Daily News columnist Dick Young, who claimed that Bouton had violated the sanctity of the locker room (a transgression for which he gave only himself a pass). He was the one who described Bouton as a “social leper.” When the pitcher greeted him amiably afterward, Young blurted out, “I’m glad you didn’t take it personally” (though it couldn’t have been more personally meant). That became the title of Bouton’s sequel to ‘Ball Four.’
Overused by the Yankees, he would injure his arm in his fourth season and never regain the dominance of his early Bulldog days. In a major league career that lasted 10 seasons, he would play for three more teams, trying to develop and perfect a knuckleball, a difficult pitch to deliver, without notable success. He would then go on to a successful career as a TV sportscaster and then an entrepreneur and motivational speaker. He would jokingly describe himself as a “medium celebrity,” at about the time in the 1980s when Donald Trump first made it onto the B list of anyone who was anybody in New York City. It was a wonder they never met. His wife would later tell me that he “loathed Trump from the get-go,” but by the time he was angry enough to go on the attack, his verbal and literary skills had been dimmed by cerebral amyloid angiopathy, a brain disease.
As for me, while working at the New York Times and elsewhere, I interviewed and covered Trump for more than 35 years and Bouton for almost 60 — we eventually became friends — and I can’t tell you how creepy it seems to me to put both of them in the same sentence, no less compare them. Yet they did have something in common. They were both creatures, if not creations, of the media, highly accessible and always eminently quotable. They were both suffered by journalists who didn’t like them because they were guaranteed to draw attention and provide instant colorful copy (as the president still does daily). And both were misinterpreted early.
Trump’s ponderous, dour personal style made him seem serious, almost thoughtful, when being interviewed. While it was clear enough that he had no ideology beyond making money and making his own will prevail, he was regularly characterized as a cunning man and so it was easy enough to assume that he had a master plan of some sort. In those years (as now), he schemed endlessly to attract attention, going so far then as to pretend to be a publicist, peddling his employer, one Donald Trump, while on the phone with reporters.
Bouton, on the other hand, rarely fished for publicity. He did, however, have a bubbly personality and a willingness to talk to anyone about anything, a manner that obscured the very thing he had and Donald Trump lacked: a methodical, rational mind with a highly developed sense of justice. Looking back, Paula Kurman thinks that a media tendency to characterize him as a classic tilter at windmills was a way of diminishing the passionate pragmatism of his activism. His last major quest was an attempt to save an old ballpark in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, which he saw as a way to preserve history, be a gift to a city — he lived near neighboring Great Barrington — and make money. Perhaps not surprisingly, given the American world of inequality and greed we now inhabit, he struck out.
As he revealed in ‘Ball Four,’ Bouton was an acute social observer (even if he also had a certain sense of elitism), mocking the dress of various ballplayers, their sloppy chewing-tobacco habits, even the way some feigned brave limps. That he could be seen as a flake was the clearest proof of how conservative, insular, and blinkered most ballplayers and reporters who covered them were, and how hidebound baseball still is.
Otherwise occupied, Trump has been quiet on baseball since he called for the opening of the new season in mid-April at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic as part of his drive to restart the economy at any human cost. Even though he once played the sport, it may be too intricate, humane, slow moving, and collective for a man with as little patience as he has. It’s unlikely he’s up to speed either on the current strained negotiations between the sport’s Trumpian owners and the players for some kind of a truncated version of a 2020 season.
Whether baseball has a season or not this year, chalk up a victory for The Donald in this time of death, destruction, and protest, one that would have amused the former Yankees pitcher. The last time I checked, a signed Jim Bouton baseball cost $64.99, while one with Trump’s signature was going for $5,565.79 — only slightly less than the price for a document signed by the captain of the Titanic.
(This piece first appeared on TomDispatch. Courtesy, CounterPunch.org.)
by Manuel Vicent (translated by Louis S. Bedrock)
Science and technology are capable of sending a device beyond Pluto, beyond the Solar System; but art and literature have not managed to ascend one step since the times of Homer, Sophocles, Socrates, Sappho, Virgil, and Horace, whose refinement has not been surpassed. In fact, we are still living on the inheritance of their conquests of the spirit expressed in poems, works of the theater, and in thought.
Throughout history, esthetics have been compatible with the most abominable cruelty and thus it is possible to imagine Virgil and Horace conversing as they pass along the Apian Way to the metric cadence of hexameter without minding that along the way there were crucified slaves at the mercy of the scavenger birds; and Dante Alighieri stringing together golden tercets in the middle of the plague in Florence. It's true that the wars and disasters of humanity have driven the development of science and technology, but no great tragedy has been useful for refining the human sensibility that is the servant of art. Sociologists wonder if we're going to emerge from the pandemic as better people. If you bear in mind that in the evolution of the spirit the human being is still a half baked monkey, perhaps we'll come out of the corona virus more technically advanced, but just as selfish, stupid, generous, clumsy, perplexed, cruel, and kindhearted. Undoubtedly, in the wake of this planetary blackout, digital technology will have expended a lot of energy on the analog world and human life will definitely begin to function as a virtual adventure. But if one day, as the result of a diabolical attack, there is a definitive collapse of the network, science and technology will be annihilated and it's possible that amidst the darkness, a blindman will raise his voice, reciting: —Sing, goddess, of the wrath of Achilles... And will start the story of Homer all over again.
MARCO ON Petition For No Renaming Of Fort Bragg (And) My Dreams From Tuesday.
“Javabird” wrote (Coast Listserve):
Here is a link to the Petition for those not in favor of a name change…
Marco McClean wrote:
Jay, it's so good that you've found something fun to do. Petitions are great. In my high school in 1974 or '75 the administration took away a 15-minute mid-morning break between classes; I started a petition to put it back and went against my shy nature to get several hundred signatures, and I gave it to one of the office ladies. And in the middle 1980s I got sixty local business owners to sign a petition to the schmucks who were keeping the public access teevee channel in Fort Bragg from being used for anything but a time-date-temperature-and-wind-direction indicator to let me use it for the Radio *Free Earth Variety Show, and the board people, not *quite* all of them old-Fort-Bragg-family people, were fricking *furious*. But they had to do it. Good luck with your project.
In the present, when there's zero chance Fort Bragg will officially be changed to anything else no matter what anybody does or says, and you'll be pleased about that, I and my flat-black-unitard-hooded henchperson and our genetically engineered superintelligent Corgi dog will be calling Fort Bragg whatever occurs to us at the moment to be sufficiently goofy or on-the-nose or sarcastic or cute or merely poetic or relevant. For example:
Lindy Petersville, of course. It will have an Upper Gressett district, TBD, or maybe a Gressett Park. Gressett Park could be the hole in the water where the San Juan went down.
Affinitoburg. Cummingsbund. Jewett. Bunyani (for Paulissima Bunyani, the giant Italian opera singer who famously swallowed up the whole salt Pacific Ocean and belched it back out even saltier).
Polka Town! (with the bang mark! in the spelling) (!). Elk Eagle Bear Beaver (said all together as one word). Comfort Station (for the many historical workingmen's whorehouses here and in Caspar, which would also be renamed for whoredom). Rainbow Bridge. Shiny Dump Beach (and rename streets for things found at the town's namesake dump: Spark Plug Street. Pretty Pebble Court, Dead (or old) Crab Street, etc.). The Palms (and then plant a row of palm trees down Main Street, or rather Palm Street now (I'm thinking of a psychedelic palm-tree-theme tattoo shop and palm reader parlor on Palm Street, The Palms, CA); Palm would be the only north-south street in town named for a kind of tree, and that would be the first interesting fact in the brochure in the Chamber of Commerce). Dioxin (or PCB) Park. The Piedmont. Pussy Comitatus (for the old anti-hippie armed guard). (They were like a local KKK but against harmless hippies. You remember, they had not-so-secret meetings and waved guns around and did things like sneak out and unmoor what's-his-name's river houseboat because it was un-payedly tied to GP land and let it drift out to sea. Just dangerous stupid cowardly armed pranks in defense of the mill bosses and the so-called *old Fort Bragg families'* supremacy and sensibilities.)
Porno, for the indigenous Porno tribe, and for keming awareness. The North Coast can be first in keming awareness; this is a perfect opportunity. Keming has been a crucial issue since the advent of movable type. See Bi Sheng, 11th century: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bi_Sheng
IN OTHER NEWS. My dreams from Tuesday, 2020-06-16 (House of dogshit sausage and related low-rent horrors):
First dream. There's an old unpainted gray-dry-redwood four-floor Victorian office house about where the old hospital (Gray Whale Inn) is in Lindy Petersville (or The Palms, or Polka Town, see above). I go out in the night on the south side. A somehow simutaneously stringy and fat forty-something drug addict woman and her two little children (the famous Depression Woman photo people, but distorted and bad) have a car all unfolded outward on its street side: doors pulled open, bench-seats pulled out sideways like drawers; they're plundering it. I'm inclined to mind my own business, but realize that's my car (my car in the dream only; like a 1940s Dodge station wagon). I run to make them stop, but now the woman is lying in bed, in blankets, inside another similar car across the street, level with the car windows, and the windows are all down (or broken out). I say something to her about my things, my suitcase of papers, box of computer cables and mic wires, how it's all only valuable to me and could I have it back, please... She says, *You don't wanta wake that up* or *You don't wanta poke that lion.*
A thin strong-because-crazy-angry man gets out of the woman's bed naked and out of the other side of the car. She's right, I don't want to fight that guy. I'm in the middle of the street. I can't run, because my pants are suddenly down and tangled around my knees; I can't pull them up or down. Other people are on the street now, spectating, expecting the guy to kill me, probably looking forward to it. He comes around the car, starts toward me. I jump slightly backward up into the air. I'm about twenty feet high but only slowly wafting higher. If anyone has a gun they'll just shoot me; no-one does, so I'm okay. Relax. Except my things are still stolen.
I float around in the dim upper air for awhile and eventually sink down and down to lie on my side on the steps of the north side of the same old building in the morning. A postman walks up and leaves mail with someone waiting at the door. A postcard falls; it's for the Mendocino Commentary newspaper. I'll take this up to them.
Next dream. Same building. In the Mendocino Commentary office, halfway up, south side, I talk with Harry Blythe (R.I.P.) and a woman who's like a young secretary version of Marilyn Scott-Brandon. Harry says something cryptic about a theater play he's working on. I say, "About the American Caliban?" (Shakespeare's Caliban monster character set in a 1920s big-city musical drama.) (This foreshadows the next dream.) He turns back to his newspaper work and sets his jaw; he's stung by my impossibly good guess.
At the east wall of the same floor of the building I talk with someone in another office from where I'm lying bent around on a landing of the tight small back-and-forth stairwell that you practically have to crawl through. Tiny dollhouse windows look out to the clouds and sea and wind in L.A.-like palm trees at night.
I take a shower in the only room here not made of dead dry wood. It's a regular bathroom and a regular shiny shower and, unusual for a dream, my clothes come off easily, the water works, there's soap, I have a normal shower, dry off with a towel and put my jeans and t-shirt and socks and shoes back on again. (It's really rare for that to happen in a dream. Something always is skipped, or interrupts, or something otherwise interferes with simply taking a shower.)
There's a vague time of other things happening in the building. I'm climbing up from the basement. I stop and go back down for my suitcase of papers, which is now more of a little leather toaster, or maybe a boxy leather football helmet. The stairs down here and the underground corridors are made of dingy dull white-painted clay. The suitcase is not where I left it. A full-size but marionette-like man made of white-painted wood with long deep scars painted black inside on his bald head peeks around a corner from the bottom of the next-lower stairs, puts the suitcase down on the floor and moves aside as if going away. I'm like, *Ah, no, you can't trick me that easily.* I turn to start up without the suitcase. But I want it. I turn again, go down. It's gone. I go to the bottom of the stairs, aside along the corridor. Here are more stairs down, and at the bottom there's the marionette man peeking around the corner up at me, and there's the suitcase again on the floor.
I know that I'll never get it this way, and that even if I do get it, by that time I'll be so far underground that I'll never get back out-- except I remember times when something like this happened and I persevered and got whatever I was after, or completed my mission, and just powered my way through, or upward and out, or crashed through a ceiling or a dome or walls and flew away, or whatever. I just don't have the courage this time, and I'm already far enough down that the way up and out will have multiplied to some insane point. I panic and begin fleeing up the stairs, blubbering in frantic dread, afraid to look back in case the man is right behind me, ready to fight if he grabs me. This is terrible and funny at the same time but mostly terrible, and it goes on for a long time...
Juanita woke me up and saved me. I said sorry for having woken her up (by shaking and whimpering, probably; that's the usual thing). I'm like, *I'm sorry. Thank you. Sorry.* She's like, *Snork*, asleep again already.
Next dream. I'm walking along a giant old wooden antique subway movie/stage set for a musical about a 1920s American Caliban/Frankenstein's-monster sales-force-manager Elmer Gantry character. Everything's made of dry gray old redwood: the wooden subway train cars with their platform-facing sides open. One has a wooden antique record player, that's the dance car. All the prop pieces, furniture, every part of the production is made of old dust-dry gray redwood.
After the stage set I come to an open place in the center of the building (same Victorian office house of the previous dreams) where the floor has been chopped away carelessly so a floor-joist is missing and the open hallway on the other side of the big hole has a walkway remaining of frayed flooring with nothing holding it up. I go around the damage to tell the people working in the rooms on that side not to step there, but they know all about it.
It's night. A bored British college-or-bank boy has his office on the ground floor, south side of the building, but there's no road out there now, just fresh long wet grass and tree-shaped trees under a single glaring security light. We go out, around to the front and go back in; to do this we have to walk in the grass, which has been hiding that the ground under it is almost entirely covered with dogshit from the boy's boss' (or professor's) big stupid dog; the dogshit is all reddish fat-speckled linguica sausage cut into one-inch cylinders and replaced in its natural curves. I suggest constructing an electronic dog-repellant device. (Not to kill dogs, but the owner would soon learn that the dog will not go near the building, not care why, and leave it home.) The boy is like, *What's the use.*
Top floor offices are infested with repulsive centipede/silverfish things the color and texture of linguica. I suggest (and work through the process as I'm describing it) genetically combining a microscopic virulent string-worm thing with one of these centipedes to make them even bigger and more aggressive, like a potato-bug/scorpion/centipede, so they all eventually become like that and destroy each other. It's just a proposal, but the process finishes too fast and the resulting creature flops out of the microscope/waldo box onto the floor and twists and darts about. I'm not about to get down and catch it or smash it with my hand. I'm too uncoordinated to dance to step on it. And it occurs to me too late to get my shoe off to club it to death; it gets away inside the crack at the base of the outside wall. Oh, well. It'll either work or it won't. The British boy (who I just realized is Withnail from the film *Withnail and I*) doesn't care. He is in Hell here, finished with caring about things.
THE RADIO SAYS because of George Floyd, Pepsico is taking Aunt Jemima off the pancake-mix box.
I understand. I approve, but it's a pity, y'ass me. As a kid, I thought pancakes were the food of the gods, and AUNT JEMIMA BROUGHT IT! With her do-rag and wide smile, she was just as good as the flapjacks & syrup. I loved her; I loved her pancakes. Side of crisp bacon--M-m-m! Heaven!
The relation between Black and White has not been purely toxic. Far from it. In the Baltimore of my youth, having Black "domestics" in homes was commonplace. It was a totally different consciousness. "Colored maids" were exploited, for sure, rising before the sun in the ghetto, commuting to the white neighborhood, walking the last blocks to a long, underpaid workday... It was a shitty system, but, back then, only academics and intellectuals realized it. It was the Way Things Were.
There were exceptions, but for the most part, at home, as on the giant silver screen, "Mammy" was a center of care, affection, direction, warmth, consolation, attention, protection, understanding, sound philosophy. "Tamarra's another day, Miss Scarlett." Dry your tears. Get over it. Always was a no-count, that Mr. Gable. You be fine. Bigger fish than that one.
I move on from that, but not without regret. Listen: Eastern beliefs assign hosts of problems to the Ego, the "I" we strive to satisfy, ever since we got so forcefully individuated, especially here in this New World, where any white body can be president (until Obama trimmed off the "white" requirement). The ego is a tyrant, the Enlightened Ones tell us, a thing you must oppose with yoga, meditation and union with the Infinite. Shrink that ego! Get rid of it!
But Aunt Jemima didn't have that problem. Jay Howell's Rena didn't. The Clogg family's Carrie Daniels didn't. Born without temporal status--outside their own homes, anyway--they had no ego to struggle with in the white world. That's a mixed blessing, to be sure, but it was a blessing.
There were powerful exceptions. There would have been no Jackie Robinson in baseball, if Mr. Robinson hadn't got hired to play for Brooklyn, when I was eight, if he'd accepted a diminished status and settled for the Negro League.
But Jackie Robinson wasn't any more "typical" than Pearl Bailey, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, dancing with little Shirley Temple, or the other few but mighty Black people who thrust themselves into the big White world and carved off big chunks for themselves. They were great and wonderful, but far more typical was the comparatively ego-less Black person, and she or he was way more free of the complex, insatiable demands of the ego than their White "superiors" and were living examples of cheeriness, hard work and humility--of Aunt Jemima, in short. I learned as much from Carrie Daniels about patience, tolerance and industry as I learned from any white person, Sunday School, book or bible. I saw in the streets and streetcars of Baltimore examples of how to live in humility that I sensed would be sacrificed as "equality" neared.
These changes are good, but there are some very valuable (as well as many bad) things to take away from the Aunt-Jemima era. To unleash a dark, dark reference, it wasn't all Strange Fruit.
IT DOESN’T LOOK LIKE THE PROTESTS ARE CAUSING A COVID-19 SPIKE
The absence of surges in the cities with massive demonstrations but few other large gatherings has taken many officials and health analysts by surprise. However, as they’ve examined the data and the video footage, one thing has clarified matters, to an extent: A large percentage of the protesters wore masks.