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Letters To The Editor


Greetings, Mr. Anderson;

I am pursuing an inquiry to which I hope your knowledgeable readership may be able to contribute.

We've all seen many California “vanity” license plates, including a few clever ones, but lately I caught a glimpse of one that employed an “Upraised Hand” image. In California one is allowed to compose a vanity plate using the standard Roman alphabet and the usual Arabic numerals, but there are also four “symbols” available: a Plus Sign, a Heart, a Star (five points, point-up) and this weird Upraised Hand. The Heart and Plus Sign are pretty obvious — I mean, they can only stand for one thing — but what's with the Star? And the Hand? Their symbolism is rather more plastic, or obscure. Now, I can understand that these symbols were probably chosen mostly because they're easily recognized by a cop with binoculars, and they don't have tiresome religious or sexual overtones associated with them, and yet…

One explanation might be that they're merely lexical contractions. That is, “H” simply means “star” in the sort of cryptic-crossword-puzzle sense that adding a “t” onto it makes “start,” like putting “f” in front of a numeral 8 will make “fate.” I have seen only one or two Upraised Hands, however, and in their peculiar context I couldn't figure out what the blazes they actually meant: “howdy”?, “craftsmanship”?, “help”?, “create”?, “halt”?, “five”? …

In other words, is it an ideogram? Or a symbol/sign? I have read about one license plate that reads “G [‘hand’] ALF” — “Gandalf,” in other words — the fellow being a big Lord Of The Rings fan. But that's the only one I have heard of using the image as the compound phoneme “hand.”

The thing is, I'm not sure I've ever seen an Upraised Hand symbol like this typically used anywhere, with the possible exception of the Hamsa, the so-called “Hand of Fatima.” Even then it's only employed by the vaguely religious or by side-show palmists and other bogus Gypsy types. So where did the DMV get it? Hands are typically represented gesturing: pointing in some direction, flashing the “peace sign,” the “V-for-victory,” the reassuring “it's OK,” the balled fist, the “up yours” third finger, and so on. What a very curious choice, an open palm, compared to something like “ª” that's such a worn-out cliché you'd think it was the official 27th letter of the American alphabet. Oddly, California doesn't employ any other symbols of playing card suits (¨, u, or «) which would be very easily recognized, though I could understand some folks not liking the violence suggested by “club” or perhaps the racism implicit in “spade.”

Any suggestions?


JB Reynolds





My name is Mary Darling and I am Vice President of Unity Club. For the last year, I have been typing up the old minutes for Unity Club. I have typed up the minutes starting in 1934 until 1972 with a few years that are unavailable. My plan is to type up all of the minutes that are available for a complete history of the Unity Club. Yesterday when I was typing, I came across the enclosed article and thought you would be interested in reading it.

— Mary Darling

The following was a newspaper clipping from Oct. 1971

New Books Arrive For AV Library

A donation of more than 100 books has been received by the Anderson Valley Public Lending Library from the public library at Fort Townsend, Wash. The books had been declared surplus by the Port Townsend Library and could be given to a non-profit organization.

Most of the books are popular fiction but the collection also includes classics such as Tolstoy’s “War and Peace,” a non-fiction travel biography and humor, and some children’s books. Mrs. John Williams, librarian and chairman of the Unity Club library board, has asked for volunteers to help in the processing of these and other new books purchased for the library. Help will also be needed in re-shelving books in the new bookcases.

The library has been notified that for the next two months those entering the library must use one of the side entrances to the Home Arts Building at the Fairgrounds. During that period the front part of the building will be used by seventh and eighth grade students of the Anderson Valley Elementary Schools.

The public library is open every Tuesday afternoon from 2 to 4pm. Any residents of Anderson Valley may obtain a borrower’s card. The County Bookmobile stops at the Philo Post Office and in front of the Boonville Fairgrounds on alternate Tuesday afternoons.

Mrs. Austin Hulbert has been appointed to chair a Unity Club committee which will look into the purchase of new drapes for the Apple Hall dining room. At present an extra charge is made when the club or other groups must have the blackout curtains for a film program.

During the time that the Unity Club has been using the dining room for its meeting place, it has contributed to the purchase of the electric dishwasher and has given the use of its piano to the Fair. Club furniture is also used in the library.

There will be a meeting of LaSoNaMe District of the California Federation of Women’s Clubs at Napa on Tuesday, Nov. 16.



Dear AVA:

What happened? The AVA comes in the mail. It's got one page 1, two page 2s, a page 4, a 5, two 7s and an 8. No Bodds Oskins and the front of Off The Record is absent. What else is missing I don't know about? It's like a bulldog Chronicle from the 1960s.

Darryl Skrabak

San Francisco

PS. But it does have two Sara Fowler ads.




So— having failed to secure 007-style immunity from prosecution for the GIs “serving” in Iraq, Obama has been forced to live up to his long-touted promise to leave there by the end of 2011. Well, thank God for small favors, but considering that we are leaving the largest embassy in the world and scores of thousands of American contract workers and mercenaries hired to protect them, in reality, the war there has not ended and all; it has merely transitioned from a roughly 50% privatized war effort to one that is 100% privatized, affording the unwilling American taxpayer the opportunity to pay empire's hired guns six-figure salaries, rather than in the low fives. Either way, you've got to wonder, as a taxpayer, what is in it for me?

It seems that one of the least desirable things that we have gotten for our three or $4 trillion expenditure (when you add up all the miscellany, like the lifetime of caring for the many thousands of gravely injured returning GIs), has been the return to our country of perhaps a million young men who have been systematically inured to the casual taking of the lives of their fellow human beings. The recent execution-style murder by an Iraq war veteran of his stepson, is only the latest of what seems to have become a fairly common occurrence here in the USA, especially in the more hardscrabble, high unemployment parts of the country, where enlistment is one of very few employment options open to many.

Though it is virtually never brought to our attention in the mainstream media, I guess that in the years since we were conned into the disastrous invasion of Iraq by George Bush and his neocon puppeteers, the rate among the veterans of that conflict seems to have held fairly steady at about 18 suicides per day! I think that it now amounts to more than the number actually killed on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan!

What is it that we are supposedly doing there? Protecting us from the latest great bogeyman, terrorism?! And what evidence do we have that the awful threat of “Islamic extremism” actually exists at all? 9/11! has been the war cry for the last decade, citing the strange occurrences of Sept 11, 2001, which were never investigated in any meaningful way, and the official explanation of which makes little or no sense to those who know anything about the agreed-upon facts of the case.

No, there simply is no such threat to this country, which represents the pinnacle of the pyramid of man's unfortunate tendency, down through history, of arming itself to the teeth with the latest advances in killing technology. How do I know that this threat, so terrible that it supposedly justifies our nation's spending itself into economic ruin, is entirely fictitious? The evidence is clear; in the last ten years there has not been a single significant act of domestic terrorism. Not a car bomb, not a suicide vest, not any of the million other ways in which, where there actually are such people among us, they could do some significant damage and terrorize the all-too-easily terrorized American people. In what is still a fairly free and open society, staging such an attack would be child's play for anyone with even modest resources who was willing to give their life in the attack. Think about it; the only “attempted terrorist attacks” supposedly thwarted by the enormous and completely unnecessary Homeland Security bureaucracy, have been, on closer examination, ones that were ginned up by these same utterly unneeded agencies, desperately trying to find something, anything, to justify their vampire-like bloodletting of the nation’s nearly bankrupt treasury. To those who will argue that the tragic attacks have only been prevented by the hard work and competence of the gigantic military/intelligence juggernaut, all I can say is, pulleeeeze!

Most Americans, of whatever political stripe, are aware of the fact that the wars that we are engaged in today (as well as the looming catastrophe of starting yet another war in Iran, prompted by the same fools who led us into these ones) are absurd scams that have nothing at all to do with our national security, and everything to do with a military-industrial complex gone mad. Having already inverted the constitution's insistence that the military must be ruled over by civilian leadership, the Pentagon now spends billions on “public relations,” aka propaganda, pushing forward its agenda over the timid civilian leadership, from the greenest freshman representative all the way up to the president, almost all cowed by the threat of being tarred, “soft on defense.”

The widespread understanding that this fundamentally undemocratic dynamic is one of the main reasons for the disappointment that many of us who voted for Obama now feel toward him, and also why so many young Republicans are enthused by Ron Paul's call for a massive withdrawal from the globe-straddling complex of US military bases, whose only possible use is to maintain and expand a US empire in which we can no longer afford, and which the rest of the world is getting fed up with. Despite the Republican establishment's attempt to marginalize and exclude Dr. Paul, he continues to get big applause at debates and poll better than much better-funded rivals.

It is no wonder that so many people simply tune out politics altogether, when they see that an idea such as bailing out of stupid, pointless, counterproductive wars, no matter how popular among the population, is simply no match for the influence buying power of the permanent war party that has taken over our government. This has become ever more obvious since an evidently insane majority on the Supreme Court came up with that bizarre Citizens United decision a couple of years ago, swinging wide the gates to the hell of unlimited, anonymous, fat-cat and corporate election purchasing.

The only hope that we now have of regaining any kind of real democracy is the Move to push to amend the Constitution to do away with corporate personhood, thus overturning that disastrous Supreme Court ruling.


John Arteaga


PS. Though it's too late to do anything about it now, permit me one last lament for the passing into history of Ukiah's beautiful old Post Office. The other day I dropped by the soulless tin can on Orchard, looking for a small padded envelope. I made my inquiry in the few cramped feet of public space inside the door (next Christmas people will be out in the rain with their packages, but I guess that's not the post office's problem) they didn't have the envelope, so I had to go to the old Post Office, which I mistakenly thought was already closed.

My senses were heightened by the thought that this would be my last visit to what may be Ukiah's most beautiful civic structure. As I waited in line, I was struck by the contrast between the two structures; the generous expanse of public square footage, sufficient for hundreds of people to come in out of the rain if necessary, the exquisite patina of the thick, hard old floor tile, worn to a beautiful smoothness by generations of shoe leather. Looming over it all is the magnificent old WPA art project painting of local productivity.

I know it's pointless, but I've got to say anyway; such a shame, a crying shame, to give up a palace of a public edifice, for what is basically a standard industrial metal warehouse.



To the County of Mendocino, Honorable County Officials, Honorable Board of Supervisors:

I request that the January 11, 2012 County of Mendocino 9.31 Press Release from County Counsel and released by County Executive Office be retracted and alternate language substituted.

Supervisor Chairman McCowen, CEO Angelo & County Counsel Nadel appear, perhaps with no fault of their own individually, to be further polarizing the situation with the feds by issuance of the press release without approval of reasonable terminology from the Board of Supervisors.

McCowen's ending statement in the County of Mendocino 01-11-12 press release provoking a head on collision with the feds is:

“If the Federal government is not going to provide the resources to eradicate all the marijuana that they consider illegal, then they should not interfere with local regulatory efforts to protect public safety and the environment.”

The fallout over the snit with the 99 plant permit cash cow program, could be confrontation with the feds focusing attention on the 25 plant maximum per parcel medical gardens not considered a Public Nuisance by the County.

An informal truce with the feds over the 25 plant maximum per parcel compromise program has been long in effect, possibly brokered by former Supervisor Delbar.

In my opinion, it is reckless for the responsible parties to issue the Press Release to project a sense of sour grapes and confrontation because of a loss of revenue (purported to cover County costs), with inclusion of McCowen's final statement.

The 99 plant registered non-profit business farm cultivation 9.31 program push back, jeopardizes needy county residents from access to maximum 25 plants per property small scale herbal medication plantings.

Twenty five (25) plant policy maximum per county parcel is also part and parcel of the 9.31 program before McCowen seemingly highjacked the program, with Board colleagues to approve revisions of the 99 plant permit spoof at a deceptively public noticed Board of Supervisors meeting in Boonville that included no real-time broadcast of the meeting.

The meeting item was on the agenda notice on the next page under County Counsel, not on the previous page under General Government, so not even the news media reported the upcoming meeting discussion item. After first approval, the item was brought back on the posted agenda for final approval in Ukiah, this time properly under General Government (if I recall correctly).

The item passed as the principle discussion had already occurred in Boonville, yet the audio and video from the Boonville meeting had not been posted on the Internet so citizens who had not traveled to Boonville for the deceptively noticed agenda item, could not hear audio recording of the Board discussion before the final vote even though the subsequent meeting was two weeks later, so there couldn't be fully informed public participation.

Keep in mind that McCowen opposes marijuana cultivation, as reported I believe in newspaper articles of January 2012, but only went forward to initiate the 99 plant permit program because cultivation could not be stopped.

Please don't let John McCowen continue a perception of a hypocritical confrontation performance with the feds under a County seal press release, which could precipitate to bring back the helicopters and now low cost high tech drones to saturate the skies and once again remove almost all visible plantings from Mendocino sunshine, not just the National Forest.

I appreciate a prompt resolution of this matter with retraction and re-issuance of Press Release, and other suitable remedies, perhaps without full censorship of Chairman John McCowen, but please keep him on a diplomatic short leash when it comes to 9.31 so he doesn't run amuck to further his personal political agenda to the detriment of the County.


Eric Sunswheat, California Health Security Catalyst

Potter Valley




My copy of vol. 60 No. 2 just arrived, and it's what I would call the new “challenging” edition of the Mighty AVA, the page order being 1, 2, 7, 4, 5, 2, 7, and 8. In that order. I've never regarded our Bruce as a Dadaist, so I'm hoping it must be an inspired printer's error. Is the office deluged with calls, or am I the lucky dip?


JB Reynolds


Ed note: We’d call it “uninspired.” We’ll provide replacements to anyone who needs one.




Re: Flushed and Debunked p.2, 1/11: Bully for MIT. But see:


This demonstration comes from the indigenous museum outside Quito, Ecuador — which by the way is 100 yards away from the official French Equatorial Monument.

b: I am so grateful for this contribution to my toilet/sailing knowledge base. I know, I was sucked in (counterclockwise of course) too. I'm so embarrassed!

Diane Campbell

Coos Bay, Oregon




For every two jobs Walmart creates it destroys three (Institute of Local Self-Reliance). Are yours and mine next? Walmart is so desperate to grab every last piece of retail sales it can that, even as it tries to force a huge expansion of its local store on our community, it is downsizing its new stores into “express size” units to kill off even more downtown merchants in urban areas across the US.

A secret behind Wal-Mart’s rapid expansion in the United States has been its extensive use of public money. This includes more than $1.2 billion in tax breaks, free land, infrastructure assistance, low-cost financing and outright grants from state and local governments around the country. In addition, taxpayers indirectly subsidize the company by paying the healthcare costs of Wal-Mart employees who don’t receive coverage on the job and instead turn to public programs such as Medicaid ( ).

Not only will we lose many jobs and small businesses when Walmart expands its Ukiah store into a gigantic grocery market featuring extremely cheap “organic” produce and meats from China, but even more will be lost as it eventually contracts. Contracts? The Wall Street Journal reports: “Walmart’s US business … has reported declining sales at stores open at least a year for two consecutive years.”

So once Walmart, and the looming Costco store, have killed off their local competition — our supermarkets, our co-op, our family farmers and farmers markets, our downtown family-owned shops — and destroyed our local community networks of economic exchange, it will face its own demise as Peak Oil’s inevitable rising energy costs destroys the big box business model — and the ship loads of containers from China grind to a halt.

What then?

Dave Smith





I just read the letter Jeffrey Blankfort (Ukiah) wrote in the Jan 11th paper. This letter is for him and anyone else who might care.

Jeffrey — your most respectful letter to the Planning Commission would cause me to vote against Walmart’s proposal. However, I am too old to believe that reason and what is right has anything to do with “what is right.”

As a matter of fact, “what is right” has nothing to do with decisions made by elected or appointed officials. Decisions are based upon who has the most money to buy the outcome. As an example: Norman Solomon will not win because what’s-his-name has bought the election. I have concluded that anyone who is elected or appointed belongs to the same club (party). The “Old Boy” network pervades every tiny thread of our society. This network cares nothing about the concerns of the affected. It only cares about maintaining its own power.

I am writing as one sent to Vietnam in 1956, to prepare for a war begun in 1964. I shook hands with Martin Luther King in 1966, only to see him gunned down by those who could not allow him to influence the thinking of those willing to die for the Military Industrial Complex.

If this sounds like a diatribe, it is. I cry for people like you who care about what is right, only to have discovered that “might made right.”

I cry for myself for the year I have spent struggling for justice only to find there is none.

The only beacon of light I can see is in this newspaper that allows us to reach each other in our loneliness.

Ashley Jones





I hope that you will this news with your readers that love classical music. On Saturday, Feb. 4, at 7:30pm, at the First Presbyterian Church, the Deep Valley Chamber Music Series will present a unique group of chamber music classics. The program will include the Sonata for Cello and Piano in D Major by Johannes Brahms. It will be followed by a Serenade for String Trio by Erno von Dohnanyi. Rounding out the program will be The Piano Quintet in A Minor by Edward Elgar, England’s great Romantic composer.

Ukiah cellist Joel Cohen and pianist Elena Casanova will be joined violinist Roy Malan, concertmaster for the San Francisco ballet; violinist Philip Santos, concertmaster for the Fremont Symphony and violist Elizabeth Prior, principal violist for the Santa Rosa Symphony.

The First Presbyterian Church is located in Ukiah, at the corners of Dora and Church St. Tickets for the concert are $25 for adults $10 for students. They can be purchased at Mendocino Book Co, at and at the door. Tickets can be reserved by calling 467-1341.

Best regards,

Linda Malone

Deep Valley Chamber Music Board member




Living on the Edge Show a Smashing Success!

The North Coast Artists Guild (NCAG) grand opening reception for the “Living on the Edge” exhibit was held on Friday, January 6, 2012, at the Gualala Arts Center with 137 works of art on view created by 58 local artists.

Fifteen categories of art were represented, and Donna Seager of the Seager Gray Gallery in Mill Valley judged the show.

A special Thank you to CE Brown, the curator, working with a team of volunteers including Barbara Kelley, Ling-yen Jones, Ann Berger, Sharon Nickodem, Doric Jemison-Ball, Jim Grenwelge, and Bruce Jones; with special lighting assistance provided by Scott Chieffo. The Gualala Arts Center (GAC) staff was instrumental in bringing the show to fruition and hosting the opening reception.

Walt Rush, NCAG president, was pleased to present cash prizes to each award winner at the reception. Jackie Gardener was honored with the Best of Show award and a spirited round of applause.

Enthusiastic attendance at the opening was estimated at 200 and was greater than any NCAG show in over ten years. Each guest was treated to a glass of champagne compliments of the Gualala Arts Center, a colorful buffet of edibles, and was serenaded by the terrific barbershop quartet which will be appearing in the upcoming “Music Man” production at the GAC in February.

“Living on the Edge” will be on view until January 29, and is sponsored in part by Rams Head Realty. Open hours are 9am-4pm, Monday through Friday, and during the weekend from Noon until 4 pm. All art works in the exhibit are for sale.

Walt Rush




Dear Editor,

There have been a lot of rumors flying around the community lately surrounding All That Good Stuff and its future in the community. By and large, these rumors have been entirely unsubstantiated and unresearched. Leslie is not being evicted, and there are certainly no plans whatsoever for a wine and cheese shop. These are the facts: Leslie is planning to retire, and sell her business. She requested a ten year lease in a building where most every other tenant is on a month to month lease. This request was politely denied, and from there, the imagination of the Anderson Valley in wintertime took hold.

Leslie and All That Good Stuff has indeed been a local institution for years, and we hope that it will remain so for years to come. However, its long-term future will in all likelihood not be at the Farrer Building. When Leslie retires, Claudia Jimenez plans to take over the business, and run it with the same spirit and dedication that Leslie did for all those years. We are happy to give them plenty of time to find another location and get a fresh start with its new proprietor. All That Good Stuff can still remain an integral part of this community, just in another location in town. Just as Leslie feels that it is time for a change, and time to retire, so too do we feel that it is time for a change at the Farrer Building, which has seen its fair share of changes over the last 20 years.

If you're upset with our decision, that is your right, and it is a testament to your sense of community that you came out so strongly in support of Leslie and All That Good Stuff. We wish all the best for Leslie and Claudia.


The Farrer Building

PS. Steve, next time you want to research an article, try talking to the people involved.




I read the The Farrer Building's clever and self-aggrandizing letter, trying to explain their current self-induced situation, with interest. I found it to be somewhat patronizing to the community and the AVA readership. Nevertheless, yet again I went over my article from last week, looking for anything that is either inappropriate or unfair, and my conclusion is that I do not wish to change anything. Having said that, it has clearly upset one or two people, and The Farrer Building too, and that was certainly not my intention. In fact, the AVA's editor, Bruce Anderson, commented that the article was 'a fair and balanced' piece. He even wrote to Johnny Schmitt of “The Farrer Building,” prior to last week's publication, and said he thought Johnny would “be pleased with it.”

I originally prepared a detailed reply to the letter above but, in the end, I do not wish to further “fan the flames” and will let the actions of The Farrer Building speak for themselves over time. We shall get to see what happens to “All that Good Stuff” and no doubt we all wish Leslie and/or Claudia every success. If and when they are “asked to leave” (“eviction” is a word not to be used apparently), hopefully they will not have to simply close up shop and walk away with nothing, and, if they have not done so already at that point, they will be able to re-locate somewhere else in town, somewhat comparable to the current excellent location, although I think we all know that may be very difficult and it is likely that the business will be adversely affected wherever they go. However, from a business sense, none of this is the responsibility of The Farrer Building.

Since the newspaper came out, many Valley people have contacted me and expressed their opinion that the article was a fair reflection of their view - which is simply that the loss of the store would be very disappointing to the vast majority of people who live here and shop locally, using Leslie's store for the wide range of goods and services that it uniquely provides. Such comments continued throughout the weekend and at the Crab Feed benefiting the AV Senior Center on Saturday night, a wonderful Valley-centric event, a wide range of folks from the community were in attendance, many of whom spoke to me expressing similar sentiments.

The article reported that which I had been told by Leslie and Claudia, and others close to the situation on both “sides.” I did try to contact Johnny and went to the Hotel one afternoon but an employee assured me he was not around. I went later and was told that he was in Ukiah. I wanted to get his thoughts out of courtesy rather than any belief that his response would not have affected the gist of the article — that being the indisputable fact that the vast majority of people would be upset at the loss of the store. I regret not seeing him but only because I could have actually written that I had done so, not because the article would have changed in any significant way. I was writing about the possible loss of this landmark store and, without needing to talk to Johnny, already knew very well that the possibility of losing it, to be replaced by something entirely different (which is still by far the most likely outcome), had led to a pervading sense of disappointment and concern amongst the community about the reality of what was being done. There was always going to be a negative response towards The Farrer Building and/or Johnny Schmitt for pursuing that idea, whether this year or at some point in the future, although they are fully within their rights to do so, as I clearly stated in the article, and no doubt from a business point of view it makes sense to them.

The Farrer Building wants what is best for itself and its partners and that is understandable of course. It is obviously not responsible for Leslie's retirement funds, nor Claudia's dreams. The story was written because it soon became last week's “Valley Buzz” everywhere I went. I don't see “The Farrer Building” at the many Valley social events I attend around the Valley and it soon became very apparent that being viewed in an unfavorable light from the viewpoint of most local folks was surprising and upsetting to The Farrer Building, who quite possibly were the only ones to think their plans would be perceived in any other way. Meanwhile, the community reacted virtually as one and the word was spread quickly in defense of the current store being left alone. Ultimately, however, The Farrer Building can turn itself into whatever it likes, and I imagine it probably will.


Steve Sparks


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