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Letters (December 23, 2020)

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Dear Mr. Anderson,

I wish I had introduced myself on a recent Tuesday afternoon when you strode into Cafe Glad behind me and my son. It would have given me the opportunity to ask whatever became of the promised book report on “The Shipping News” by Annie Proulx. (After forwarding that copy to you several years back, I was sure I would begin seeing the illustrations of different knots, which provide the lead-in for each chapter, “borrowed” by the AVA.)

With Best Wishes,

Stewart Bowen


Ed reply: I haven’t got to Shipping News yet but, at the urging of another literary correspondent, I’ve read Accordion Dreams and Close Range. She’s very good, but there are only a few fiction writers fictioning these days who make me drop whatever else I’m reading to pick them up — Updike, Roth, Richard Price, Lorrie Moore, Robert Stone. I stay pretty much with history and bios because most of the fiction seems to me very, very bad. A recent edition of The New Yorker was devoted to young American writers; all I can say is that it seems we’ve come to the end of American lit if these people are the future of imaginative prose. They even look effete! There’s so much of this Seminar Land stuff — thousands of sensitive little books with perfect little sensitive sentences about sensitive little people giving their mommies bubble baths and talking about snowflakes falling on their L.L. Beans. What’s wrong with this country, Mr. Bowen? What the hell happened to art? Here we are with more so-called artists, more so-called writers, more so-called poets, more so-called musicians, more so-called intellectuals than ever before in our unintellectual, un-artistic history, and there’s less real art and less clear thinking than there was in 1930! Millions of people oohing and ahhing at stuff we all know is a whole new level of bad. Sorry. I didn’t mean to go off on you like that, but do you think this unending pseudo-artistic pissdrizzle will ever let up? Meretriciousness everywhere! Is it that sloth and stupidity as a way of life have caught up with us? Is the country too rich to produce art? Are these The Last Days, Mr. Bowen? As for your encounter with the boneroo mystery man at Glad’s, elegant is a word seldom applied to me, but I do try to make myself presentable, sartorially speaking and, in a community not noted for its attention to the little things likely to put a bounce in the traveler’s step or a smile on his face, there is a strong likelihood that it was us as the immodest say, multiplying themselves into a team effort. The person you suspected of being either me or one of our easy-over superior court judges certainly wasn’t His Honor, Judge Lechowick, a one-man slum, who, even in a tuxedo, manages to look like the assistant credit manager of Al’s Used Cars, Redding, California. But the last time I doffed my hat in Glad’s Cafe, an older woman in an evening gown and tiara — one of the grand dames of our new gentry — insisted that I also throw my cape over a juicy cud of freshly chewed tobacco resting between her and the door to her SUV, deposited there by the mayor of Boonville, Dennis “Squint” Boardman. Frankly, I can’t afford royalty even if my fellow Boonters seem dazzled by the suburban splendor they find in the hills these days; why even the less monarchically-inclined among them say the invasion of the kulaks is good for local employment when any fool can see that decadence on this scale portends bad things. Grab me next time and I’ll buy you a muffin. 

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Dear Editor;

I listened in on the Mendocino County Fair Board meeting, held by telephone, on the evening of Dec. 14th, and I was astonished to hear most of the Board oppose yet another chance to serve the Anderson Valley Community. I believe, more than ever now, that the only interest of most of the Fair Board is to preserve and protect their own little fiefdom here in Boonville.

The Fair Board is being asked to approve the use of 7 acres of their overflow parking lot for an above ground building for a sewage treatment plant and underground disposal of the resulting nearly drinkable water produced by it. Most of the Board members clearly want nothing to do with this proposal, and the questions that they asked regarding it were loaded with their dislike of and opposition to the proposal.

This is nothing new - despite a lot of tear-jerking comments about “the legacy of the fair” and “community service,” it was more of the same old thing: They do not want this, years ago they did not want a swimming pool, they did not want a bike path that might go through the fairgrounds, and community members cannot walk dogs or ride bikes in this public space. Presented with a proposal to re-locate the Food Bank to the Fairgrounds, in these troubled times, a fee of $1,000 per month was suggested for this “service.”

The Board was apparently unmoved by a tentative offer of $70,000 per acre for the proposed sewage plan. That would be almost a half a million dollars if my math is correct.

I for one am outraged by the idea that the public might have to pay anything at all to use PUBLIC property for a public service such as a sewer plant. I am equally outraged that they would ask the Food Bank to pay them anything to hook up a refrigerator and freezer and use a bit of OUR own space for a few hours every two weeks. Who does this Board suppose pays for that electricity, and those roads, anyway? I submit that the PUBLIC pays for it and that it is OURS.

What is it that they do for the community anyway?

Thanks for listening.

Tom McFadden


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Dear AVA:

Hush! Hush! Hush!

Words are useless in our age.

Cliches, Cartoons, superlatives.

Adverbs, adjectives that mean to sell,

Nouns in ballroom gowns.


We have used up our words

On the trivial. How can you say

I love you with meaning?


We cannot dance together.

Biology prohibits it.


We shout our histories

through masks.


We send each other cartoons 

Of sentimentality.


As Billie Holliday told us:

Hush now! Don't explain!


But here we are.

Cheated upon but needed.

Dave McCain

San Francisco

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I bought a December 1998 issue of Playboy magazine at an antique/collectibles shop in downtown Petaluma. There was this interesting tidbit in the "raw data" section: "In 1968 percentage of college freshmen who said the purpose of higher education is to form a meaningful philosophy of life: 83. Percentage of freshman in 1997 who felt this way: 41. In 1968 percentage of freshmen who said that a college education would enable them to have financial security: 41. Percentage of freshman in 1997 who said the point of college is to be 'financially well off': 75."

My interpretation: Looks like the values of the 60s counterculture did not have a long lasting impact on American society.

Keitih Bramstedt

San Anselmo

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Letter to the Editor:

Let's show that we care —not.

On the evening news we were told that the Marin School District brain-trust/seated board membership put out new revelations/blasts of ignorance: "We are considering putting the new Sir Francis Drake high school name change up for public vote" — "perhaps."

Yeah, right. You didn't put it up for vote to remove it. Why?

What? Just what if a public vote was allowed and the vast majority of voters (former graduates) wanted Sir Francis Drake High School back in harness. My, my! That would surely "throw a cat in the pigeon coop."

Knowing the goings-on of big business and government as it exists today, we the people will never know the truth (outcome) of actual vote results. Sad state of reality! It's hard to imagine what flimflam excuse the utopian braindead could muster up.

Boy oh boy, if that doesn't take the rag off the bush. What a bunch of unadulterated crap!

In any event I'm hanging on to Manila folders.

One must wonder if these mentally bankrupt people had considered a time and place for book and document burnings. Will gas accelerant be allowed with my grade school sweater?

Can this travesty be accomplished without a public vote?

The fuhrer would be proud. How did that nasty book burning workout for that brain trust? Parallelism? You bet! Just take another look at our current direction. Pissed off? I cannot express the level at your "excusation" that's burning inside along with hundreds of others Sir Francis Drake disgruntled grads. I overflow with anguish and helplessness that just will not go away. Get over it? I think not!

Gram says, "Those poor children who are pushing the Drake High name change must have been dropped on their heads after falling off the turnip truck. I will make up a special batch of peanut butter cookies for those mentally challenged board members. Perhaps with a jag Pa's special cold medicine. May not solve their problem, but they won't give a damn! Not that they do."

Feed the hogs Gran. Change Gramps's diaper. I sense a need for change and that ain't Sir Francis Drake high school's name. I'll roll that new batch.

Love you Gran!

God bless our American president, special peanut butter cookies, Jerry Philbrick.

Old and Exceedingly Angry


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To the Editor:

To the Ukiah City Council:

The recent election results mean that a partial term is open on the council and the council must decide whether to appoint someone or hold a special election to fill the seat. In tough economic times, the $30,000 cost to hold a special election may be viewed as prohibitive. If that is the case, then what direction should the city council take?

In the wake of the election, Juan Orozco has become the city’s first Latino mayor and the election of Josefina Duenas is similarly historic; the city of Ukiah has become more representative of its community than it has been in years. Any consideration of making an appointment to the open seat should honor and further the historic nature of this election.

To that end, the one direction the city council should avoid in considering how to move forward is to simply appoint the third place finisher, Jenny Kimbler, to the council. The third place finisher believes that Breonna Taylor deserved to die because her boyfriend was a “piece of shit.” When writing about people protesting police violence, Kimbler said “light them up. Shoot them, run them down I don’t give a damn anymore.” If Kimbler is appointed, will this be the new policing standard handed down to Chief Wyatt?

Kimbler’s comments make clear that she either doesn’t understand our Constitution and workings of our criminal justice system, or more likely, that she explicitly supports different standards for different people. Such beliefs go beyond left and right; they are utterly disqualifying for government leadership. Appointing Kimbler would undermine the will of the community as expressed in the recent vote.

It still may make the most sense to appoint someone for the remaining two years of Ms. Mulheren’s term. In that case, I recommend appointing Cameron Ramos, by far our youngest candidate, to the seat. Mr. Ramos’ appointment would diversify the representation of our community in a variety of ways. Two years on council would give Mr. Ramos valuable experience and connect the city to the future of our community.

Ed Donovan

Boonville Road Wines

ED NOTE: We'd like to get Ms. Kimbler's side of these accusations against her. If anyone out there knows how to reach her, please tell her we'll give her a fair shot at defending herself.

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It’s barely a month since our last election, when we got to vote to tax ourselves yet again. Already our elected representatives are working on our next round of tax increases.

They tell us these are unusual and unprecedented times. There’s nothing unusual about their solutions. More taxes. It seems the answer to every problem is more taxes. How many more times are they going to sell us the same bill of goods?

Save our schools, solve the homeless problem, fix the roads, save the police and fire departments, clean up the air, save the bay, on and on. Remember when the lottery was going to save our schools?

The point is, giving them more tax money is like giving drugs to an addict. It will never be enough.

We also need to learn that when we agree to a 20-year-long tax that it will need to be renewed and extended in a few years, and they will tell us that it isn’t a new tax. I think for a lot of people, and especially small businesses, the Golden State is losing a lot of its luster.

Bill Munselle


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All public servants take an oath of office at the beginning of their term, “solemnly swear(ing) to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic …” I am dumbfounded and disappointed in the leaders of the Republican Party who appear to have allegiance only to Donald Trump and to have forgotten what they vowed to do. Trump’s failure to accept the election results and his spewing of false claims about fraud is nothing less than sedition. The spineless GOP leaders have shown their true colors and failed as representatives of the people. Redemption in my eyes will not come anytime soon.

Noel J. O’Neill


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