- Hot Weekend
- 317 Cases
- Albion Incident
- Masked Up
- Free Tests
- Packing Heat
- School Waivers
- Teacher Protest
- No Limit
- Pet Radio
- State Hospital
- Apprehending Raybould
- Co-op Hours
- Potter Valley
- Cieciorka Interview
- Yesterday's Catch
- Doomsday Bunker
- Ukiah Structures
- G Strain
- Calpella School
- Water Preservation
- Talmage Store
- Elisha Cook
- Perfect Title
- Trashing Whales
- Found Object
SEASONABLY COOL AND CLOUDY WEATHER will persist along the coast through much of the upcoming week, though with at least a few hours of sunshine are expected during the afternoons for most locations. Interior areas turn more seasonable after the hot weather this weekend. (NWS)
FIVE MORE MENDO COVID CASES SATURDAY, ALL UKIAH VALLEY
THE ALBION INCIDENT: Vehicle Pursuit On Albion Ridge Road, Subject Stopped, Has ‘Long Gun’
After a prolonged standoff that began a little before 2pm Saturday, A still unidentified man was taken into custody Saturday evening. The large police turnout included a mental health worker and the Sheriff's Department's armored vehicle.
Mendocino Sports Plus:
At 1:50 pm they were at “K” Road ...
At 1:58 pm, according to the scanner, they had the subject stopped and he’s armed, they’re trying to negotiate. There’s a rifle in the vehicle. This may be a SWAT situation.
At 2:11 pm, they are asking that the Mendocino Sheriff CRV (armored car) be sent to the location. The subject has locked himself in the vehicle and has issued threats to law enforcement.
At 2:14 pm, a report from the scene said the subject had “armed himself with a gas can.”
At 2:15 pm, the subject “doused himself with gasoline and is in the vehicle.”
The Albion Fire Department will be staging at the firehouse and a ground ambulance was requested to respond and stage.
At 2:20 pm, dispatch was informed the subject just rammed a patrol vehicle.
At 2:34 pm, a report from the scene said they were still negotiating with the subject. He is doused with gas and so is the vehicle. He’s issuing criminal threats “187 PC” (Murder) and is standing just outside the driver side door.
At 2:38 pm, a Fish & Wildlife unit was staged at “I” Road & Albion Ridge Road.
At 2:48 pm, ambulance #9140 passed MSP in Mendocino headed north, no lights or siren on, so they’ve left the scene.
Not much scanner traffic - they may have switched to a scrambled channel. So we may have to wait for the Mendocino Sheriff press release for the conclusion of this incident.
Albion Incident Finally Over
A message went out to residents on Albion Ridge Road just after 9:15pm Saturday night saying, “Police activity on Albion Ridge Road: Suspect is safely in custody. No further cause for concern. Roadway now open.” We now await the Mendocino County Sheriff Press release for the details of the pursuit that started around 1:50 pm Saturday and led to a standoff near Road I off Albion Ridge Road.
CVS PHARMACY in Fort Bragg offering free COVID-19 tests for anyone who wants to be tested.
— Norma Watkins, Coast Listserve
A waiver allows an elementary school to open in-person instruction within a watch-list county. I'm not encouraging or opposing, but rather sharing information. As I understand the state’s elementary school waiver process relative to Mendocino County:
We anticipate the state will release the final waiver language soon.
We are not officially on the watch list yet due to multi-week state data processing delays and therefore we cannot yet ask the state for school waivers. Waivers are for counties officially on the watch list.
Public health is willing to review school plans, so long as the plans are updated to meet state requirements. A small count of draft plans have been received.
The process applies to public and private schools.
We anticipate public health departments assuming a role of providing feedback in regards to specific school plans, but will not be in a position to offer “approval”. In other words, local public health will consult state public health, presenting the plan colligated with local data.
The availability of waivers could depend on case trends. For example, greater than 200 cases per 100K population in trailing 14 days could impede waiver feasibility.
The proposal by Rural Association of Northern California Health Officers (RANCHO), which includes Mendocino County public health, has not yet been approved.
THERE'S NOTHING SO BAD that it can't grow worse. There's no limit to how bad things can be.
— Samuel Beckett
UKIAH SHELTER PET OF THE WEEK
Meet Radio, a Ukiah Shelter staff favorite. Radio is an entertaining and lively dog. This dude was quite amusing during his evaluation, and we had a great time watching him, as he discovered all the toys in the Meet and Greet Room! Radio was delighted to meet fellow guest, Mojo, so a home with a canine buddy might be comforting to Radio. We noticed that Radio appears to be deaf—at first we thought he was just ignoring us—and a home with folks who have experience with deaf dogs would be great. Radio is 2 years old and a handsome 49 pounds.
For more about Radio, click here: http://www.mendoanimalshelter.com/dogblog/radio
To see our canine and feline guests, and for information about our services, programs, events, and updates about the county covid-19 closure and the shelter, visit: mendoanimalshelter.com
We're on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/mendoanimalshelter/ For information about adoptions please call 707-467-6453.
MENDOCINO STATE HOSPITAL, TALMAGE
On 7/31/20 at approximately 0758 hours, UPD officers were dispatched to a report of a physical altercation in the back parking lot of the Ukiah Post Office (671 S. Orchard Ave.).
The first UPD officer to arrive on scene located four post office employees holding a suspect (later identified as Timothy Raybould, 28, of Medford, Oregon) to the ground. The officer exited his patrol vehicle and quickly detained Raybould in handcuffs with the assistance of the post office employees. While performing a pat-search of Raybould the officer located a loaded magazine for a .40 caliber Glock pistol in Raybould’s pants pocket.
Once the altercation had ended the officer learned that one of the post office employees was injured and unable to stand. The officer requested an ambulance respond to his location to provide aid for the injured post office employee. The injured post office employee was ultimately transported by ambulance to the Ukiah Hospital to receive medical treatment.
The officer interviewed the involved post office employees and learned that Raybould was associated with a vehicle that was parked in the back-parking lot of the post office (employee only area). Raybould was observed looking into employee vehicles and acting suspicious. A post office employee contacted Raybould and advised him he needed to leave the property. Raybould attacked the post office employee and the employee attempted to defend himself. Two other post office employees exited the post office and assisted their co-worker who was being attacked. At some point during the altercation all four individuals fell to the ground, causing the injury to the post office employee mentioned above. Raybould was detained and held on the ground until law enforcement arrived.
UPD officers advised Raybould he was under arrest and performed a search of his property. While searching Raybould’s backpack officers located a loaded glock model 22 pistol. Also, while searching Raybould’s vehicle, officers located suspected methamphetamine.
A records check was performed on Raybould. It was determined Raybould was a convicted felon, making it illegal for him to possess a firearm or ammunition. Raybould was found to be on active parole out of Oregon and had an active felony warrant for his arrest for violation of his parole. Raybould displayed objective signs and symptoms of being under the influence of a CNS stimulant.
Raybould was booked at the Mendocino County jail for the above listed offenses. UPD officers contacted a judge and requested a bail enhancement on Raybould, which resulted in Raybould’s bail being set at $85,000.
(Ukiah Police Presser)
THE UKIAH CO-OP IS OPEN REGULAR HOURS, 8am - 7pm. Espresso/Juice Bar hours are 8am - 5pm.
We are limiting the number of shoppers inside the store, so please bring a hat or umbrella if you are shopping in the late afternoon.
POTTER VALLEY BRIDGE, 1910
POTTER VALLEY SIPHON
ART AS WEAPON, ART AS ART
An interview with Frank Cieciorka
Interviewed by Bruce Anderson
Frank Cieciorka is the male half of Alderpoint's only two-artist household and Karen Horn is the female half. Although their journeys to Humboldt County's eastern frontier are as different as the art they make, the couple live harmoniously under one roof and work under two, Karen in her studio, Frank in his.
By their own accounts, each functions helpfully as the other's in-house critic. Both say they've learned from the other and that their art is the better for it.
Born in 1939 in nearby Binghampton, Frank grew up in Johnson City, New York, a town then dominated by a shoe factory.
"My grandfather immigrated from Poland, an area near the Russian border, to escape being drafted into the Russian army, a 25-year hitch under the Czar. My parents were first-generation Americans. 'Cieciorka' is Russianized Polish that was something like Cicherski. To pronounce 'Cieciorka' substitute the letter h for both the i's.”
Mr. Cieciorka worked as a warehouseman, Mrs. Cieciorka labored at home looking after Frank, his brother, and his sister. One income could, if a family stuck to the austerities common to the times, support a five-member family.
As a high school student, Frank thought he wanted to be an electrical engineer but was derailed from a prosaic career path by John Steinbeck's novel, Cannery Row.
"My first hero and role model was Doc Ricketts. That book made me realize I was a bohemian at heart." Frank also had the artistic talent to support his proto-beatnik ambitions which, at the time, were emphatically in the minority.
Accepted as an art student at the Pratt Institute in the big city but unable to attend because tuition was beyond his 18-year-old ability to pay, Frank headed west to San Jose.
AVA: Why San Jose?
Frank: My father was working for IBM in their warehouse at Binghampton, and when IBM opened up their plant in San Jose they wanted experienced workers to staff it so they offered to help with moving expenses for anybody willing to transfer to California. This was early IBM, 1957. My parents jumped at the chance and moved to California. But the move was so expensive they had to pilfer my college savings account. I'd worked all through high school, mostly at the shoe factory where I started when I was 14. I made a dollar an hour, but I paid my parents $5 a week room and board from the time I was 15 until I graduated from high school. It was the way they were raised. My father always told me about how he turned over his whole paycheck to his mother when he was a kid and she'd give him 50¢ back from his paycheck. On his wedding day he turned over his last paycheck to his mother and got his last 50¢ back. My father said his parents had a clothesline in the attic, one for each kid, and every time they spent any amount on the kid, including the cost of his birth at the hospital, they would take a clothespin and hang the receipt up on the clothesline. The last receipt on the clothesline was the one for the lunch bucket they bought for the kids when they went to work. My father said after he was married he had to buy back all the receipts on his clothesline!
AVA: So you’re out in sunny California. Were your parents happier out here?
Frank: They loved it. They thought it was great. In Johnson City we had this ramshackle old house in a junkyard my folks bought. A five-lot junkyard. My father always talked about how he and my mother had spent years cleaning up the junk, getting rid of it, fixing up the house and making it livable, but they were just delighted to come out here and live in a tract house.
AVA: The times were-a-changin', weren't they?
Frank: My parents were pretty much apolitical. They were nominal Democrats but voted for Ike. They wholeheartedly disapproved of my political activities. It got to the point where we were semi-estranged for a while. I was drafted in 1961. I took the physical at the Oakland Induction Center and passed that. The last thing we were supposed to do in the process was sign the loyalty oath after looking over a questionairre prepared by the Attorney General. I looked it over and raised my hand and said, 'You’re asking me about my political beliefs and associations here, which I have a constitutional right to, and which are none of your business. I’m not going to sign this. The sergeant or whatever he was said, 'All right, you go to that group on that bench over there. And then the Army kidnapped me. They took me to a motel and held me there overnight before they let me go. Army counterintelligence investigated me for a year and a half and finally cleared me of whatever it was they were investigating me for. The FBI, on two occasions, went to my father’s workplace and asked the manager if they could talk to him. They would interview him while he was on the job and make him look bad in front of his fellow workers. My father was very unhappy with me. It wasn’t until I went to Mississippi that my parents finally decided that I wasn’t such a bad guy after all.
AVA: The FBI must have put you on the A-list for that one. Were you hanging out with all the wrong people by '61 or so?
Frank: Yes. The Communist Party in San Jose called themselves a club. They had meetings on Sunday mornings so it would look like they were going to church. I worked with a lot of them. I was pretty close to them. I also worked for CORE and Friends of SNCC. So I’m sure when the FBI was investigating me they came across these associations. I considered myself a radical revolutionary communist with a small c. I'd read a lot of Marx and Lenin and all the things you were supposed to read to keep up with the people involved in these groups. In fact, I organized the first W.E.B. Dubois club in San Jose. Terrence Hallinan — K.O. Hallinan —got me to do that. He was the main organizer of young people in the Bay Area for the old CP. He called me one day and said they wanted to get a W.E.B. Dubois club going in San Jose, but they didn’t want a party member to do it; they wanted a fellow traveler, who couldn’t get smeared as a.... And basically that was my role, to be a fellow traveler, and to do things that an actual party member couldn’t do without being smeared. So I did it. I formed the W.E.B. Dubois Club. I applied for membership in the party, and even got an interview with a party member, a printer, a guy I'd worked with a lot. He did the official interview, but towards the end of it he said, 'You know, intellectually you may be a Marxist, but in your heart you're an anarchist. You wouldn’t be happy in the party.' I got a dozen or so people on campus to join, but it collapsed when there was some kind of convention or congress where a resolution was proposed to throw all the Trotskyites out of the club. There was an acrimonious discussion, arguments, fistfights — and 9 of the 12 members from San Jose walked out in disgust, leaving only the three Trotskyites. And that pretty much ended the Dubois Club in San Jose.
It was a great time, though, and I loved college. I liked it so much I spent 7 years getting a four year degree. I took all kinds of courses: literature, film, music, biology, history, philosophy, logic, political science, economics and, of course, the art coureses I needed for my art major. My favorite class was Proessor Richard Tansey's art history course. He gave me a lasting appreciation of the art and culture of Western Civ that's withstood the current political rectitude. I lived in apartments right off campus close to downtown. My roommate during my last year was Luis Valdez, who went on to become a well-known movie director. We shared an apartment above the Jose Theater; three movies for a dollar.
AVA: You went to Mississippi as a freedom rider in 1964. W.E.B. DuBois, battles with the Trots, draft resistance! I must say, Frank, your credentials are impeccable.
Frank: (Laughs) I'd been very active in Friends of SNCC for about a year before Freedom Summer, mostly in fundraising and general support. I knew a lot of the people who were active in SNCC. When they announced Freedom Summer I applied and was accepted, but that was also the summer that the Progressive Labor Party was organizing a trip to Cuba, and I applied for that too, and was accepted for the Cuba trip. Luis had applied for the Cuba trip and he decided to go to Cuba and I decided to go to Mississippi.
To go with SNCC to register voters in Mississippi, we had to first go to Oxford, Ohio for a week of orientation. I was assigned to Holly Springs in the northern part of Mississippi, about 50 miles south of Memphis. It was the largest voter registration project in Mississippi. We covered about five different counties from our headquarters in Holly Springs. In fact, Goodman and Schwerner had gone down to Holly Springs a couple of days before the rest of us, to Philadelphia, Mississippi, to check out a church burning there. And just as we were getting loaded on the chartered buses to go to Mississippi from Ohio, we got the word that Goodman, and Schwerner and Cheney were missing.
I immediately ran to the bathroom with diarrhea. What have I gotten myself into here? But we drove down overnight, arriving at Holly Springs at 3 in the morning.
Holly Springs was a good sized town of 20,000 or so. It had a nice downtown, a courthouse square with old trees, civil war statues ringed by stores. The further away from the center of town you got the more seedy it got. And rundown. And of course we were living in the black part of town which was pretty decrepit.
AVA: They knew right away who you were?
Frank: Whenever we walked downtown to go shopping, we’d get all kinds of dirty looks. We wore chinos and white shirts, the standard uniform for white SNCC people. The blacks all wore bib overalls. The whites looked like college students pretty much. But they knew who we were. You had to register your car within 30 days of arriving in the state and you had to get Mississippi license plates. They had reserved a particular sequence of numbers for civil rights workers. Our cars would be recognized anywhere in the state by our license plate numbers. There was no way we could be anonymous. Younger black people were all for us; they’d cross the street to shake our hand. But the older ones were very wary of us. We'd try to organize a mass meeting by going door to door and people would just nod and agree with us — 'Yeah, I’ll be there. You can count on us.' But only a few older people would show up.
AVA: Was there an active Klan chapter in that area?
Frank: Northern Mississippi was not big Klan territory. There was the White Citizens Council, which was more respectable because its membership was drawn largely from the area's business and professional classes. There was some Klan activity, but the White Citizens Council was the big political force there. The one time I got beat up it was by a couple of beefy young guys. But usually you could walk down the street and feel fairly safe. You’d get insults tossed at you, but you never thought somebody was going to just come out and sucker punch you. At our meetings, that’s when it would get hairy sometimes. There was one meeting at a black church at night out in the woods that I won't forget. As the meeting was breaking up and people were leaving, the Klan showed up. They were in street clothes but somebody recognized them, or at least some of them, as being members of the Klan. As we drove out of the parking area, they drove in. So we drove like hell and got out of there, and were back on the highway before we realized we'd left a guy behind, a black guy named Elwood Berry. I think he was from Cornell. Some of us had to go back. We snuck back through the woods; we could hear the Klan stomping all over the place, looking for anybody left behind. There were at least a dozen of them
AVA: Presumed to be armed?
Frank: That was always the assumption. We found Berry hiding in the woods, and we got him out of there.
Frank: The time I got beat up I had just been put on staff as a field secretary. It was the end of summer and volunteers were going home and going back to school. I said I wanted to stay on so they made me field secretary. $10 a week was the pay.
AVA: And room and board with a host family?
Frank: Yes. An election was coming up, and just across the river in Arkansas a black candidate was running for the Agricultural Board. It was very powerful position because the commissioners assigned cotton allotments; they told farmers how much cotton they could grow. It was important to black sharecroppers to be represented on this board. A black candidate was running and a big a turnout of black voters was needed to elect him. A lot ofsharecroppers lived way out in the boonies and didn't have transportation to the polls. So a whole bunch of SNCC field secretaries from Mississippi were brought in to help out with the logistics of the election. My job was to drive out to certain plantations, fill the car with sharecroppers and anybody else who was eligible to vote, drive them to town, wait until they voted, and drive them home again. And then take another load into town and back — all day. One group I brought in, I dropped off at the polling place to vote, then I parked in the parking lot across the street from the polling place to wait for them to drive them home again when they were finished voting. There were a bunch of people milling around outside. The chief of police was there. I was sitting there in my car, a SNCC car. Two guys came up and opened the doors, both doors, and jumped and squeezed me in the middle and started beatin’ on me inside the car. They couldn’t haul off and slug me because there wasn't enough room to do that in the front seat, so they dragged me out of the car, took my glasses off and proceeded to beat me. I assumed the fetal position on the ground, and they proceeded to kick me and stomp me and were bending over to punch me. But they were frustrated because they couldn’t really get at me, so a couple times they picked me up in the air and lifted me up over their heads and just threw me down, which would break open my fetal position so they could get in a couple good punches before I could curl back up again. For me, it was one of those rare out of body experiences. I felt like I was somehow hovering about six or eight feet above my body watching these two guys beat me up, feeling no emotion. I remember thinking to myself, 'Well, the chief of police is across the street watching this, so they’re not going to kill me.' And I was clearly thinking ahead. 'Let’s see, I’m supposed to be in Gulfport tomorrow morning for a staff meeting. I’m obviously going to be too damaged to drive so I’m going to have to drive with somebody else.' While these guys are just pummeling me! Finally the chief of police walked over and said, 'OK boys, we’ve had enough fun now' and arrested me for failure to yield the right of way. (Laughs)
He took me to jail. A SNCC officer called the SNCC office in Atlanta. Atlanta called Friends of SNCC in San Jose, San Jose SNCC called my congressman, Don Edwards, who is a really good guy. And Edwards called the Sheriff’s Department in Grove, Arkansas. I was in jail for 20 minutes. The chief of police comes in and says to me, 'You must be hot shit. I just got a call from your congressman who said if we don’t take you down to the hospital and get you checked out for injuries he’s going to have a Congressional committee down here tomorrow morning investigating us.' They took me to the hospital and cleaned up my cuts and bruises and checked me for broken bones, and I got bailed out. I was amazed at how quickly they reacted.
AVA: Certainly the Redwood Empire's lead solon, Mike Thompson, would have acted just as quickly in your behalf, Frank.
Frank: (Laughs.) I'm glad I had the Congressman I had at the time. I forfeited bail. Five bucks for failure to yield right of way. But the worst jail I was in was the one in Holly Springs. It had been condemned, the toilet was plugged up and the place stunk something fierce. Steel bunk, no mattress. I was the only guy in it. They didn’t put me in the main jail. The walls were just covered with graffiti. There was a rag in the sink and I wet it and washed off a spot on the wall and wrote some freedom slogans on it. When I finally got bailed out I was walking down the steps, and the sheriff comes running down and grabs me by the collar and says, 'You son of a bitch! You can’t write that stuff on the walls of my jail! You’re under arrest!' I was charged with defacing the Marshall County jail.
The best jail I was in down there was in Oxford, Mississippi, home of Ol’ Miss and William Faulkner. I was in that jail for five days. It was very clean and the jailer's wife was a great cook! That was some of the best food I had the year I was in Mississippi.
AVA: Did you get hassled by other inmates?
Frank: I didn’t tell them that I was a civil rights worker. I guess the sheriff in the one in Oxford didn’t either. Although by the end of it one guy figured it out. He let me know he knew why I was there. But he was more curious than hostile. He couldn’t understand why someone would risk going to jail for registering black people to vote. He was a young guy, about my age. And there was one old guy of about 60 who was in jail because he had a 13 year old girlfriend. She’d stand out in the parking lot and wave to him, and he’d stand on this bench and look out the window and wave back.
I was in the Oxford jail for the crime of carrying a placard. It was an 8x11 sheet of paper pinned to my shirt that said I was a voter registration worker. This is a funny story itself. We were going to have a big freedom day. Everybody would gather at this church and then the people who were going to attempt to register to vote would march up to the courthouse and try to register to vote. They wanted a SNCC worker to lead the parade, as it were. 'It’s an absolute certain arrest,' they said. 'We need a volunteer to be arrested.' I had just received another draft notice and was supposed to show up in Memphis the next day to be inducted into the Army. So when they said it was a sure arrest, and they wanted a volunteer, I raised my hand. Anything to avoid the Army. So they taped this paper to my chest and I led a group of about 20 or so people down to the courthouse; as soon as I walked into the registrar’s office they arrested me. I did five days on that one. Paul Krassner who bailed me out.
When Friends of SNCC read that I was in jail and my bail was $500, they called Krassner and asked him to make a donation. He had re-produced a poster of my cartoon, One Nation Under God, and had been selling them for $1 each since March of '64, and I was arrested this time in July of '64, only a few months later. Anyway, he sent $500 down, which he said were proceeds from the sale of the poster. I’ll be damned, I said. It had made at least $500 in only two months. Krassner stipulated that when the bail was returned it should be considered a donation to SNCC.
AVA: A year of living dangerously.
Frank: Yes, and even when you tried to get away from it the violence kind of followed you around. One time we had a staff meeting down in Gulfport, then we decided to go to New Orleans for a party. An interracial group of us went on into New Orleans. Just walking down the street we got chased by a bunch of young thugs until we finally got to a crowded street where we could split up and mingle with the crowd. We thought that New Orleans was more sophisticated than that!
And another occassion, Halloween, somebody drove by in the middle of the night and fired a couple of shotgun rounds into our house. A black guy who was going to run for some office in the Holly Springs area was found dead in a field. He'd been run over repeatedly by pickup trucks. There was always something.
A lot of people on our side had guns, too. You could hardly blame them.
AVA: Was there any kind of protective federal police presence like the FBI or US marshals?
Frank: Occasionally there’d be a federal marshal if we had announced an event likely to result in an incident. If we announced a Freedom Day or a mass registration, something like that, then usually a federal marshal or FBI agent would show up to observe. That’s all they would do, is observe. At one attempted registration people were getting beat up on the courthouse steps by the cops using clubs as a couple FBI agents stood there watching. We ran up and said, 'Hey! Look! Our civil rights are being violated! We're being beaten up by the cops for trying to register to vote. Do something! They said, 'We can’t do anything. We’re the Federal Bureau of Investigation, all we can do is investigate. We have no power to make arrests.
AVA: Did Stokely Carmichael make his famous Black Power declaration while you were in Mississippi?
Frank: That was probably the summer of '65, a couple of months after I left Mississippi, but I was still considered to be on staff. A lot of the freedom school teachers were saying that what they needed was some material on black history that was accessible to people with limited reading skills..… My wife at the time and I wrote it and illustrated it. We finished that and felt we’d pretty much done what we could in Holly Springs. We went back to San Francisco and started work on The Movement newspaper, which had begun as a Friends of SNCC newsletter. It was mostly concerned with the Civil Rights Movement.
AVA: You knew Stokely Carmichael?
Frank: Yes. I was his driver on a couple occasions. I was considered one of the better drivers in tight situations because I had gotten people out of scrapes by my recklessness behind the wheel. I was his bodyguard on two occasions when he came to speak in San Francisco. Once was in Oakland at a Black Panther meeting. I had a Colt .45 “Commander.” The short one. I tucked it in my pants in the small of my back.
AVA: Was it his idea that you function as his bodyguard?
Frank: The San Francisco SNCC needed two or three guys to be bodyguards. So I volunteered. We got to the auditorium where Stokely was going to speak and the Panthers are searching everybody as they go in. Putting them down. I got to the door and the guy pats me down, and never touches the small of my back. And after it was over and we were leaving I went over to the guy who frisked me and turned around and flipped up my shirt and showed him the gun and said, 'Next time, pat the small of the back, too.'
Another time he was speaking at the Fillmore auditorium. There was going to be a dance, a fundraiser. Hugh Masekela was going to entertain. Stokely was going to speak and I was one of the bodyguards. They had rent-a-cops also for security. We approached the rent-a-cops beforehand and said, 'Look, we three guys are armed. We're Stokely's bodyguards. If anything goes down, know that we're on your side. The rent-a-cops said, OK, but if anything happens, we’re trained professionals. Anyway, later on in the evening I’m out on the dance floor twisting and turning and jumping all over when all of a sudden this .45 comes out of the small of my back and clatters across the floor. The crowd just rolled their eyes. I liked Stokely a lot. At the time I supported his position. I thought that the black nationalist movement at the time was healthy. I still do to some extent. The last time I saw him was around '67 or so. I did a photo shoot with him for the newspaper and that was the last I saw of him.
AVA: 1967! Here come the hippies!
Frank: And the Haight. I thought it was great. Just the sheer energy that they had. I thought, 'God! This is where we should be proselytizing, propagandizing, try to harness this energy and develop some political consciousness. But the left for the most part just held them in disdain.'
AVA: I did. I loathed hippies. They irritated the shit out of me. Still do. I thought it all should have stopped in North Beach with the beatniks, who at least had literary and artistic interests. If there's any creature more appalling than a 30-year-old flower child… Sorry, Frank, didn't mean to go off on you there.
Frank: I also thought it was sort of schizophrenic. Camping, smokin’ pot, droppin’ acid, working on the newspaper, going to demonstrations. In fact, it resulted in a major psychotic break for me in 1969. People’s Park was it. When that was over I cracked completely.
AVA: You had to get out of the city?
Frank: Eventually. I was really nutso for several months. People were taking care of me. In and out of the hospital. Bouncing me around. I’d get so outrageous and so out of control that my friends finally decided they couldn’t handle me and they busted me into Mt. Zion. I spent two weeks there and realized that I had to get my act together or I’d spend a lot longer time there. I got out and more or less kept it together. I decided I’d get back in the movement and back into political activity rather than leave town as a basket case. And I did for another two years. I helped form an organization called People’s Press, a collective of about a dozen people who produced and printed and distributed our own material. We started with a pamphlet on the history of Vietnam. Terry Cannon wrote it. I illustrated it. We printed it. We had our own printing press, our own darkroom. Our group was more than half women, too. Each member apprenticed him or herself to a printer to learn the trade. I apprenticed myself to a guy named Earl Hendra who had a big dark room in the Mission District. I learned all the camera work necessary for printing. Then I bought a camera, a huge camera 16 feet long. I built a darkroom around it and taught everybody else how to use it. Several women apprenticed themselves to printers and learned how to run first the multilith and then the bigger presses and came back and taught everybody else how to run them. That’s how we learned the trade, by teaching each other. It worked very well.
AVA: When did you leave San Francisco for Humboldt County?
Frank: 1972. By then I was pretty much back together. But I realized that I just didn’t have the enthusiasm for the political work that I had before.
AVA: It all looked pretty hopeless at that point.
Frank: The war was still going on. Nixon was re-elected. I had become a backpacking fanatic shortly before that. Part of my therapy in getting back together was some friends took me backpacking and I realized that when I was out in the wilderness, like the Sierras, or the Trinity Alps, I felt totally, absolutely sane. Then we’d be driving back to the city after spending four or five days out in the wild and just that sea of red tail lights heading into the city would make me just feel the panic rising in me. So I went backpacking every chance I could get. Then it occurred to me that I should just move to the country and go backpacking every day if I wanted to. I'd met some people from Alderpoint and they invited me up for a visit; I liked the town and thought, 'Gee, this is as good a place as any if I’m going to move to the country.' I asked if there was any place available I might rent, and they pointed me in the direction of a little three-room cabin for $25 a month. I had about $50 to my name at the time, but I went up and rented it, drove back to the city, and within a month I closed up all my urban business and got in my Volkswagen bus and started a new life in Alderpoint. I purchased this property Karen and I live on now shortly after I got here in '72. I asked the owner in Santa Rosa if he wanted to sell it and he said, 'Yeah. Sure. $1500.' Half an acre with a three-room cabin on it. I borrowed $1500 from my parents and bought it.
I borrowed some more money to get the initial building materials to get started on my studio. I learned enough carpentry working with an architect who was remodeling a ranch house out here to pick up enough work to buy another batch of materials to work on my own place. When the materials and money ran out I’d go hustle some more carpentry work. And I picked up a little freelance commercial art work from the city now and then to supplement that.
All the hippies moved west of 101. Redway and west of there to Whale Gulch and that area. Hardly anybody of the back-to-the-land type came this far east of 101.
AVA: You got popped for pot?
In 1978 a CHP officer busted me for cultivation. I had finished building my house, but I couldn’t afford to live in it so I rented it out to a woman on welfare with three kids. Her rent was just enough for me to make my loan payments that I couldn’t quite afford to make at my income level at the time. I was still living in the old three room cabin down below the house I'd built on my half-acre. I decided that the only way I could pay off this place and live in it was to grow some pot. I planted a bunch of plants in with my tomatoes, and planted a row of sunflowers along the garden edge to act as a screen so it couldn't be seen from the road. This woman who rented my house had a ten year old boy who was riding a motorcycle around Alderpoint one day. The kid was stopped by a CHP cop who brought him home. It was July 3rd, 1978. My sunflower screen had only grown about shoulder high. (Laughs) As the officer was escorting the kid down the path from the parking area to the house he looked over at the tomato patch and saw the pot plants. He went back to his car and radioed the sheriff’s department to come and bust me. They did, and the took me off to jail in Eureka.
The two deputies got here in a hurry. They roared up and said, 'All Right! What’s happening?' The CHP officer says, 'We’ve got these people here and they have some pot plants. The woman and her kid are in the house.' One of the deputies said, 'Why did you call in, officer needs assistance? We thought you were in trouble! I ran somebody off the road trying to get here!' The CHP guy, an old sergeant who everybody around here hated, says, 'Well, you know how tough these feminists can be these days.
I told the deputy, 'Look. I own this property. She’s my tenant. I’m totally responsible for anything that happens here.' She wasn't arrested. I was. I spent the weekend in jail because it was the July 4th weekend. My bail was $2100. I couldn’t afford it. The guy in the next cell asked me, 'What’s your bail? I said, $2100. He said, 'What are you in for?' I said I was in for cultivation. He said, 'Jesus! I’m in here for assault with a deadly weapon and my bail is only $700!' Finally the judge got back to town after the weekend and let me out on my own recognizance.
AVA: Who was the prosecutor then?
Frank: I don’t recall. It took me eight court appearances and the better part of a year before it was finally dismissed as an illegal search and seizure. The CHP officer had no business bringing the kid home. Their own rules in cases involving minors say they are supposed to choose the option that least restricted the freedom of the minor. He'd thrown the kid in his patrol car and driven him home. The judge decided that was illegal search and seizure.
AVA: You met Karen in the early 80s?
Frank: It was '79. Mutual friends had been suggesting we meet each other because we’re both artists. I had seen some of her stained glass work and really liked it. Then somebody needed to get a newspaper article to me and she lived way out in the boonies and she said I’ll just leave it with Karen Horn who lives in Redway and the next time you’re in town you can stop by and pick it up. So I went to her house and she asked me to have a cup of tea. We sat around and talked and I liked her. We went out to dinner and we started seeing each other regularly. We had a long distance relationship for four years. She was in Redway I was in Alderpoint. Every Thursday, my town day, I would go to town, take care of business and she would cook dinner and I’d spend the night. And then on Saturday she and her daughter Zena would come to Alderpoint and I would cook dinner for her and Zena and they’d spend the night and go back to Redway on Sunday. Four years of that. We finally decided that was long enough and we should try living together. In '84 Karen moved in with me. By then I was in the big new house with the big new studio and we thought we’d be able to share the studio because it was 16 x 32 feet. But we soon found we both needed more space than that. So we built the new studio.
I’ve learned a lot from Karen. My strong suit is drawing. I’m only OK in color and not good at composition. My favorite compositional device was a vignette with things just sort of fading out at the edges. I wasn't worried about squares and rectangles and so forth. Karen is very rigorous in her compositions.
At San Jose I kind of coasted on my drawing ability; I probably could have gotten a lot more out of the art department if I'd applied myself more. But I was too much into political activity. That took up most of my time. And I was just overwhelmed by all the possibilities for learning… everything! Here you are at a university that teaches classes in science and literature and history and I wanted it all. So between politics and the liberal education, I’d say I slighted the art more than I should have.
(Frank Cieciorka, who drew the iconic raised fist that became an emblem in the 60s, died of emphysema on November 24, 2008 at his home in Alderpoint.)
CATCH OF THE DAY, August 1, 2020
WILBERT CHI, Fort Bragg. Domestic battery, probation revocation.
JULIO CUEVAS, Albion. DUI, controlled substance.
DENNIS DAY, Fort Bragg. Domestic abuse.
LEE FERRELL, Fort Bragg. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun, probation revocation.
ADAM KESTER, Willits. Brandishing.
DONOVAN PARTRIDGE, Ukiah. DUI, probation revocation.
TIMOTHY RAYBOULD, Medford, Oregon/Ukiah. Battery, controlled substance while armed, under influence with weapon, fugitive from justice, felon with firearm.
JEREMY SKINNER, Ukiah. Ammo possession by prohibited person, disobeying court order, probation revocation.
RYAN TENNISON, Fort Bragg. DUI, suspended license (for DUI).
A READER WRITES:
Weapons rooms, fake windows and a $3m price tag: inside a luxury doomsday bunker—
Why the rich will stay beautiful even post apocalypse. Maybe we can get a Mendo contingent and buy a community bunker. Hardy har har. Unreal. Weapons rooms, fake windows and a $3m price tag: inside a luxury doomsday bunker
UKIAH CITY HALL, 1913
UKIAH COURTHOUSE, 1890
COVID G STRAIN MUTATION
Dr. Shannon Bennett is among the scientists finding that the G strain mutation has made it easier for the virus’ spike proteins to enter human cells and take over their machinery. A mutant strain of the coronavirus that some researchers believe is more infectious is rampaging across the globe and has moved into the Bay Area, but there are conflicting views about how this tiny deviant is impacting people. The mutated virus, known as the G strain, appears in some studies to be more contagious — up to six times more transmissible — than the original strain of the coronavirus that emerged last year from Wuhan, China, and it is now believed to make up 70% of the infections worldwide. It has established itself as the dominant strain in virtually every state, including California, and now makes up the majority of cases in the Bay Area, according to infectious disease specialists.
CALPELLA GRAMMAR SCHOOL, 1925
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
I love salmon too. I store all of my water from the rainy season in water tanks. I have donated tens of thousands of dollars for creek restoration in my watershed. If you’re worried about water and fish, quit eating beef and supporting the wine industry. Those industries are way more harmful to our watersheds than cannabis. All water for cannabis farms should be stored from the rainy months and liquid fertilizer should be banned for the dry months. Those two steps would make cannabis harmless to the watersheds. Snitching should be a last resort, it’s cowardly!
TALMAGE STORE & POST OFFICE
IN PRAISE OF ELISHA COOK
by David Yearsley
This past May 18th marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of the death Elisha Cook, Jr. at the age of 91. In the last two-and-a-half months, I’ve been revisiting some of Cook’s films. Here’s my 1995 obituary as a tribute of renewed admiration for his achievements.
In Praise of Elisha Cook
In the opening scene of Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby of 1968, an old apartment manager named Mr. Niklas shows a young couple through the building which is, unbeknownst to them, home to a coven of witches. As they walk through the foyer, Mr. Niklas discovers that the husband is an actor and asks, “Have I seen you in anything?” It’s a sly bit piece of casting that this line should be uttered by one of the great character actors of moving pictures—Elisha Cook, Jr. As in the unsettling amalgam of manic intensity and slightly askew trustworthiness he delivered in Rosemary’s Baby, Cook gave his characters a ruffled quirkiness that made many of them immortal.
During most of his long career Cook lived alone in the High Sierra where he spent much his time fishing. “When he was wanted in Hollywood,” wrote John Huston, “they sent word up to his cabin by courier. He would come down to do a picture and then withdraw again to his retreat.”
Want him they did. In a career that spanned six decades he appeared in over 100 films.
Huston directed Cook in the 1941 film Maltese Falcon, where he gave his most famous performance— and his own personal favorite —as the gunsel Wilmer, a skittery foil for Humphrey Bogart’s unflappable Sam Spade. Throughout the film Spade taunts Wilmer, impotent in these confrontations even though he is capable of killing. We know it’s just empty talk when Wilmer arches his brow, sticks out his chin and warns Spade, “Keep on ridin’ me, they’re gonna be pickin’ iron out of your liver.” Even facing Wilmer’s pistols, Spade ridicules him and convinces this lethal errand boy’s boss, the Fatman, that his flunky must take the fall. Tears welling in his eyes, Wilmer pleads for permission to kill Spade, but the Fatman must have the falcon: “sorry to lose you, Wilmer, you’re like a son to me.” Spade punches Wilmer and drops him to the floor. Cook had a genius for playing characters who could be bated, manipulated, and done away with.
When Cook decided to leave Broadway for Hollywood (or Hollywoodland as it was then known) in the early 1930’s, the playwright, Owen Davis advised him to be careful about fame: “Junior, if you want to be intelligent, play small parts, because then they can never blame you if the movie is bad.” As in many of his films Cook was not even listed in the opening credits of The Maltese Falcon.
Cook was a small man with a boyish face which he molded brilliantly to expressions of disbelief and indignation. When he appeared in The Maltese Falcon he was nearly forty, but played a kid of about twenty. It is often difficult to gauge someone’s size on the movie screen, and many are the cinematic tricks that inflate the stature of little leading men who must be big. In Howard Hawks’ 1946 The Big Sleep, a film in which Cook and Bogie once again met up, the barrier protecting the hero from his real-life stature is breached with brilliance. In the opening scene of the film a young woman in very short shorts informs detective Philip Marlowe (Bogart),”You’re not very tall are you?” He responds, “I tried to be.” Later in the same film a stool pigeon named Harry Jones (Elisha Cook) offers some information to Marlowe. Jones also lets on that he is going to marrying a woman Marlowe has had a run in with earlier. “She a nice girl,” says Jones. “We’re talking of getting married.” Undoubtedly remembering the jibes about his own height, Marlowe taunts the diminutive thug, “She’s a little big for you. She’ll roll on you and smother you.” Cook activates his talented eyebrows and recoils, wounded: “That’s a dirty crack, brother,” and Marlowe admits it. A short while later Jones is forced to drink poison at gunpoint. When Marlowe discovers Jones’s dead body and calls the police, he describes the victim as a “Little guy. Weighs about 115 pounds.” The dialogue (Williams Faulkner co-wrote the script) is sharp, cutting, but we didn’t need to be told again that the dead man was small. Cook was often cocking his head, looking up at those who would later undo him.
Even the screen’s women towered over him. In Stanley Kubrick’s 1956 film The Killing, Cook gave one of his largest and finest performances as the racetrack cashier George Peatty, the inside man in a complex caper masterminded by a laconic ringleader (Sterling Hayden). When Peatty’s wife Sherry (Marie Windsor) suspects that he may be planning a heist, she plays on his insecurities, and gets him to tell her about the robbery. Sherry’s lover and his gang surprise George in his apartment. George has resorted to crime only to do right by his wife and that naïve love is what brings on the destruction of him and his band of crooks. Cook was great at dying. His Peatty goes out still incredulous that his own wife had betrayed him. Only Cook could have made George Peatty one of the most pathetic characters in all of film noir.
In another of his most memorable roles, Cook played the drummer Cliff Millburn in Phantom Lady (1944). A woman (Ella Raines) is trying to clear her fiancé of murder charges by finding the real killer. Pursuing a lead, she puts on a provocative outfit and goes to a seedy basement jazz club where Cliff, a possible witness, performs an orgasmic drum solo while leering at her, the film intercutting between his overheated rhythmic ejaculations and her self-display. Cook’s antic drumming—however unrealistic—makes for fevered and nightmarish evocation of twisted jazz eroticism.
In Shane (1953) Cook was the blustery southerner Stonewall Torrey, a character on the side of righteousness—a rarity among Cook’s roles. The inverse of Wilmer, Torrey is an impotent gunman whose stubbornness gets him killed. Cook recalled a vignette that, at least in my mind, helps the slightest bit to rehabilitate this most sanctimonious of Westerns. Black-hatted Jack Wilson (Jack Palance) goads Torrey into drawing his revolver to defend the honor of his namesake Stonewall Jackson (and Robert E. Lee), whom Wilson has called “trash.” (Author’s note from 2020: Oh, how those Confederate names ring out differently these days!) Torrey barely gets his revolver out of its holster, the barrel angled impotently down in front of him into the mud he’ll soon fall into. Quicker on the draw, Wilson’s gun is pointed right at Torrey, whose height is diminished still further because he’s down in muddy street below the bad guy up on the wooden sidewalk of the Western town. The pair hold their poses for a couple of grueling seconds. Then Wilson guns down the Southerner. As Cook lay in the mud after the scene had been filmed, the director George Stevens ran over to him and yelled “You dumb son of a bitch! See what happens when you stand up for a principle?”
A week ago my wife and I went to a screening of One-Eyed Jacks (1961) starring Marlon Brando, and the only film he ever directed. Near the end of the movie, two men ride into Monterey to rob a bank. When we saw that Elisha Cook was the teller we nudged each other and watched him convert a clichéd scene into a small gem.
Two days later we learned that Elisha Cook had died at the age of 91. The New York Times obituary reported that Cook left no survivors, a statement true only if you think that the family of fabulously dysfunctional characters he created has died with him.
(David Yearsley is a long-time contributor to CounterPunch and the Anderson Valley Advertiser. His latest book is Sex, Death, and Minuets: Anna Magdalena Bach and Her Musical Notebooks. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
THE HUMAN GARBAGE FOUND IN WHALES
by Susanah Cahalan
Just two decades ago, it was rare to see one dead whale along New York’s shores in a single year. But this month alone, two dead humpback whales were spotted on Long Island — bringing the total to seven large whale strandings in the New York area in 2020. In the past three years, 52 carcasses of the large sea mammals have washed up in the waters around New York — averaging around one stranding every 27 days, according to the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society.
The rise in whale deaths — specifically humpbacks, North Atlantic right whales and minke whales — is now considered to be “an unusual mortality event,” a designation under the Marine Mammal Protection Act that describes “a significant die-off” that “demands immediate response.”
The cause of the drastic uptick in deaths is still unknown, but a new book by science journalist Rebecca Giggs argues that one of the most pernicious causes of whale deaths around the world is human garbage that has polluted whale bodies.
In her haunting book, “Fathoms: The World in The Whale” (S&S), out now, Giggs writes of estuarine beluga whales in Canada that “had been discovered to be so noxious that their carcasses were classed as toxic waste for disposal” and killer whales in Washington state whom scientists declared to be “Earth’s most toxified animals.”
In the average life span of a humpback whale, which is about 50 years, our oceans have gone from being nearly plastic-free to riddled with the stuff.
Every year, the plastic dumped into our seas congeals in mile-long garbage patches known as “trash vortexes.”
An estimated 11 million metric tons of plastic waste enter the ocean every year. According to a new Pew Charitable Trust study, by 2040 that will likely triple to 29 million metric tons each year — the equivalent of dumping 110 pounds of plastic on every meter of coastline around the world. This staggering increase in ocean plastic comes mainly from a global increase in the use of plastic per person.
Some of it ends up inside the whale intact, which Giggs describes in nauseating detail:
In 2013, an entire greenhouse — including tarps, hoses, ropes, flowerpots and a spray canister — found its way into the belly of a sperm whale in Spain. “There was so much plastic that it finally exploded,” a marine biologist told a newspaper at the time.
Another sperm whale in 2016 in Germany had a car hood in its guts, along with a 43-foot-long net.
In 2017, a Cuvier’s beaked whale in Norway had swallowed shopping bags that once held chicken from Ukraine and ice cream from Denmark, along with a Walker’s potato-chip wrapper from Britain.
A gray whale in Puget Sound in 2010 contained surgical gloves, tracksuit pants, and golf balls.
Events like these have had a devastating effect on the world’s whale population. Just this month, North Atlantic right whales, whose numbers hover around 400, were moved from “endangered” to a “critically endangered species” and are “one step from extinction.”
A gray whale in Puget Sound in 2010 contained surgical gloves, tracksuit pants, and golf balls.
Meanwhile, there is a “slow-moving extinction,” as marine biologists call it, facing at least two other aquatic mammals at this very moment — southern resident killer whales and Maui’s dolphins.
This is a shocking about-face after decades of campaigning to “Save the Whales” back in the 1970s and 1980s. One of the first and most successful eco-campaigns, it featured a catchy slogan, a popular lapel pin and a loveable victim — and as a result, the International Whaling Commission stopped the centuries-old tradition of killing whales for food and goods in (almost) the entire world in 1982.
As a result, populations rebounded. Sperm whales are no longer red-listed as endangered animals. Antarctic-Australian humpbacks thrived, having reached 90 percent of pre-whaling levels. Even Antarctic blue whales, the largest of the sea mammals, which had declined by 99.85 percent, with their ranks dropping from more than 200,000 to 400 individuals, have bounced back to more than 2,000 today.
And yet, these majestic creatures live with a new kind of danger. The reason, Giggs writes, is that: “No whale was ever driven to extinction by whaling, for all its sweeping violence. [But their species has] disappeared from the planet, already, as a result of pollution.”
A 2018 study of ocean garbage sources found that China contributes the most waste, followed by Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam. The US ranks 20th, responsible for around 1 percent of the ocean’s plastic waste, although we also ship enormous amounts of it overseas. In 2016 alone, 700,000 tons of plastic was shipped to China.
In 2017, a Cuvier’s beaked whale in Norway was found to have swallowed bags that once held chicken from Ukraine and ice cream from Denmark, along with a Walker’s chips wrapper from Britain.
The same study found that people living near the coasts with little access to waste management systems were responsible for the majority of the ocean trash, while stray bottles, bags, straws and other packaging that didn’t make it into recycling or landfills made up a smaller, but not insignificant, percentage of the ocean’s garbage.
Every year, the plastic dumped into our seas congeals in mile-long garbage patches called “trash vortexes” or “white pollution” (named after the color of Styrofoam and shopping bags). Eventually, the plastic is broken down into shards by UV radiation and wave friction. These shards, which take hundreds of years to completely disintegrate, undergo physical and molecular changes that allow them to accumulate pollutants that have leached into the seawater. These shards are then ingested by sea animals who easily take them in with their food.
“The body of a whale is a magnifier for these chemicals … making whales more polluted than their environment,” Giggs writes.
In addition, whales are surface breathers, meaning they are subject to the same airborne carcinogens that we are — including cadmium, chromium and nickel, all produced by refineries around the world.
The biggest whales “possess Earth’s most colossal lungs, and draw the planet’s deepest breaths … making them especially prone to being permeated by atmospheric contaminants,” Giggs writes. Whales hold their breath underwater for upwards of two hours, making just one bad breath pervasively damaging. One study showed that some North Atlantic right whales have the same high levels of chromium — a serious environmental pollutant used to make stainless steel and process leather that reduces whale testes’ sperm count — as the levels you’d find in a lifelong metal-dipping factory worker.
Another sperm whale in 2016 in Germany had a car hood in its guts, along with a 43-foot long net.
PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), once used in coolants, concrete, and paint, but banned in the US since 1979, are so toxic that they continue to show up in the bodies of orca whales today. These indestructible pollutants are passed down like a faulty gene, transferring to whale calves through the placenta and through their mothers’ buttery breastmilk, causing still unknown damages along the way.
When we allow our pollution to contaminate whales, we’re messing with our world in general, Giggs argues.
Take whale excrement, for example. It provides the vital carbon required to fertilize plants and organisms in the deep ocean, such as plankton. Without whale feces, there’ll be less plankton.
Whale carcasses are also major incubators for life and sustenance in the sea. Each whalefall — the term for when a whale’s carcass drops to the ocean floor — is a feeding frenzy:
“Rattails, sea scuds, other kinds of polychaete worms, and eelpouts appear,” Giggs writes. “No one knows from where. Opportunistic octopuses bunt between ribs … Life pops. It is as though the whale were a piñata cracked open, flinging bright treasures. More than two hundred different species can occupy the frame of one whole whale carcass.”
A 40-ton whalefall carries two tons of carbon to the bottom of the sea. “That much carbon would otherwise take two thousand years to accrue on the seafloor … Each whale has been calculated to be worth more than a thousand trees in terms of carbon absorption,” Giggs writes. And a contaminated whale carcass affects all of life around it.
So how can we “Save the Whales” today, as the threat pivots from whaling to pollution?
Eliminating the use of unnecessary plastics (say, in packaging and plastic bags) could cut the plastics in the ocean by 47 percent, according to the Pew Charitable study. Using alternatives like paper and compostable materials would also help.
But nothing will move the needle unless trash is properly managed, the study argues. Increasing collection in rural and low-income countries with little to no access to waste collection, where garbage inevitably makes its way to a nearby body of water, is essential.
Meanwhile, change can happen if we pay closer attention to each and every one of our day-to-day decisions, said Robert DiGiovanni, director and chief scientist at the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society.
“It’s about looking around you and seeing what does and doesn’t make it into the recycling bin or garbage. It’s about being aware,” he told The Post.
“The goal is to look at the health of the whole ecosystem. What’s good for the whales is good for us all.”