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Letters (December 30, 2020)

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Dear AVA,

Thanks for the expanded issues and the local news so I can figure out what is going on nearby. I am grateful that you both are well and have the interest to continue to publish America’s Last Newspaper.

Mark Scaramella’s coverage of Supervisor meetings and county government is excellent. The amount of unresolved county business and monetary waste is unsettling. I wonder sometimes about what Humboldt County Supervisors are thinking because decisions are nuts and far from what the citizens are asking for. Putting the County news truthfully in the paper and exposing them for the public to read is essential. 

I am not from Mendocino County so my range of opinions is limited. I do not have devices to search for all Mendo printed matter. Hence the issue of my ignorance on some such things.

Please take care, stay well, may you have a peaceful holiday and healthy unstressful New Year and know you both are appreciated by your readers for giving the service you do that makes them feel they are reading the truth. 


Allyson Provisor


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A trip to the Med: After five or six days eastward from New York, one morning standing on the fore-deck, I saw a hump ahead. It was green. It was an island. Inasmuch as I knew the direction and the time it had to be one of the Azores Islands. I had no idea what we were doing here. We pulled into a little cove. A small dock, a small shed, a couple of men to take the mooring lines, a path leading up a steep hill. Nothing more. Obviously we were expected. As a tourist seaman, when the gangway was lowered I jumped ashore and scrambled up the path which was only a couple of feet wide. At the top of the hill I saw a few stone buildings, a stone church, no people, no vehicles. While I was gone #3 hatch was opened and two pallets emerged with a bunch of mail sacks labeled "US Mail," just delivering the snail mail. We were only in port for about 20 minutes. I don't know the name of the island.

A couple of days later approaching Gibraltar it was my trick at the wheel. I said to the mate, "I can't seem to keep this expletive on course." He said, "Not to worry. Whenever a small opening in the sea occurs, the currents go crazy."

I had been through the Straits of Gibraltar couple of times before but never in the daytime. Now here was my chance to see the Prudential Insurance Company’s Rock of Gibraltar. It’s a rock alright, but slathered in cement, apparently to collect rainwater. If you want to see what The Rock looks like in pictures you have to go around behind it.

A couple of days later we pulled into Tunis. The port for Tunis is out in the country. There is a light rail train to Tunis one way and to Carthage the other. Tunis’s downtown is a beautiful French colonial city looking like Wilshire Boulevard. 

I had read about Carthage, but I didn't know where it was located. So while the Arabs were shuttling corn into gunnysacks in the lower holds, I took the train to see what Carthage looks like after 2000 years. At the Carthage station there was a convenience store. That's all. Carthage was on top of a hill overlooking the sea. Nobody around. Roman columns, etc. A Roman theater was built into the hillside pretty much intact. 

Next port, Tel Aviv. The Captain put up a notice saying: Don't tell the Jews we came from an Arab port or they won't let us discharge cargo. Israel is a pretty dull place if you are not a Jew. Good beer though.

Next, on to Turkey to load pistachio nuts. Then we arrived in Cyprus in the part of the country that Jonathan Franzen wrote about in the New Yorker a few years ago. Evidently there was a military base nearby as we had the contents of an American grocery store to discharge. We were discharging into lighters. They had to keep the Greeks and Turks separated, so the Turks were running the lighters and the Greeks were working the cargo in the hold. We watched them open the grocery boxes to see what they could find to eat. They didn't like the peanut butter, but they ate great handfuls of cornflakes. Once they found a way to open cans of tuna fish, they loved it. 

You find out where you are going to load cargo before you start back. There are a lot of ports in the Mediterranean so it could be anywhere. That's what's good about this run. No two trips are alike. We stopped in Italy, Spain and Portugal on the return.

Ralph Bostrom


PS. Here's a little project for Marquess: Determine what the 74 million gringos who voted for Donald Trump have in common: one, two, three, four, five.

PPS. Here's a little project for the Editor and Publisher: behold a list below of authors I have read. Those with asterisks are the ones I like best. Write down the ten authors you like best. Keep it a secret if you like.

Edward Abbey, James Agee, Nelson Algren, Sherwood Anderson, Henry Adams, Stephen Ambrose, Saul Bellow, Ambrose Bierce, James Boswell, William Burroughs, Bill Bryson*, Taylor Branch, Erskine Caldwell, Truman Capote, Willa Cather, Joseph Conrad*, Malcolm Cowley, Stephen Crane, Robert Caro*, Bernard DeVoto*, Charles Dickens*, John Dos Passos, William O. Douglas, Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Frank, Gabrielle Garcia Marquez*, Doris K. Goodwin, Peter Hessler*, Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Jack Kerouac, T.E. Lawrence, Meriwether Lewis, Oscar Lewis*, Jack London, Thomas Mann, Norman Mailer, John McPhee*, Herman Melville, Henry Miller, V.S. Naipul, George Orwell*, William Prescott, Annie Proulx*, J.D. Salinger, Upton Sinclair, Robert L. Stevenson, Irving Stone, Wallace Stegner, Anthony Trollope, Mark Twain, John Updike, Gore Vidal, E.B. White, Nathaniel West, Thomas Wolfe, Paul Theroux*.

Ed note: Who's Peter Hessler? DeVoto? Your age is showing, Ralph. 

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Enclosed is a small address change stemming from the “whack a mole” system of dealing with covid 19 adopted by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation which has resulted in my eviction from my "happy home" of almost 7 1/2 years.

Even though I have undergone 12 tests for covid 19 and had been found negative each time, I have been placed with three other perennial negatives in a cell with four other individuals would just left the ISO ward that once was our gymnasium.

The protocols for restriction of movement and isolation policies have been modified at least half a dozen times since May. Inmates testing positive are not tested again for 90 days. The rest of us can expect to be swabbed every two weeks -- once it was twice in four days.

I've had less than one hour of "yard time" in the past 15 days. Well this is not summer camp, is it? Never was.

Now to some comments about your paper: 

First, thanks for the break from Philbrick. But why do you let his bro-in-law or whomever "Old and Angry" may be, vent his considerable spleen whenever he likes without signing his "work" with his (or her) real name? It's like the always anonymous "online comment of the week." Unsigned opinion should be round-filed.

Aside to the author of comment number [4] in the December 9 issue: If you think the Israeli "green wall" to exclude and subjugate Palestinian citizens is an example of a policy "that works," then your definition of the work and mine are at odds.

Start calling them "class ads" again!

One of the many reasons I became the "loyal subscriber" that I am (I chose this moniker as a rebuke to all my fellow "insiders" always importuning you for free subs) was that I longed to relocate to your lovely valley which I have visited. (I'm from Vallejo) and I wanted to keep abreast of the availability of the "perfect" (for me) little cottages and cabins for rent once found in the "Class Ads." I see that these are no more and I suppose we have AirBnB to blame. It now appears that I shall have to lower my standards and seek shelter in Lake County where my brother lives should I ever regain my freedom.

By the way: why is the divide between Lake and Mendocino counties called "The Cow"?

It has been a long time since I've written to you and I likely have forgotten half a dozen things I told myself I must write to you about. Maybe I will recall some of them before I'm forced to send you yet another address change because the absolute fact is that I could be told to pack up everything I own and move at a moment’s notice which has always been my least favorite thing about prison.

Two last questions: What's become of the always effervescent Diana Vance?! Have you ever read "The Match," the formerly really anarchistic quarterly out of Tucson, Arizona?


David “Loyal Subscriber” Bullock 


Ed Note: The Match? Yeah, nifty little publication. Always interesting.

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It's a well-known fact among local cognoscenti that before they send in their $50 for another year of the Anderson Valley Advertiser, editor and publisher Bruce Anderson's doctor records, exercise regime, and diet are carefully perused. Once the records are obtained and his wife Ling verifies that his diet is still healthy and the game cams outside Boonville are analyzed to check the Editor’s pace on his daily jaunts in the hills.

When our inside informants (especially one code-named "Scary Mellow") have been consulted, the numbers crunched and medical reports gone through, only then will AVA fans reach into their collective pockets and fork over another $50, assured that the former "Beast of Boonville," now kindly Pussycat Grandpa, will indeed be expected to live another year seemingly endlessly producing what may be the last great leftist weekly in the United States of America

Paul Modic


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It makes no sense to shut down businesses that go overboard to follow instructions and clean everything between customers — this would include outdoor dining — and yet leave everything open, such as markets and department stores, that let people wander around and touch everything without anyone cleaning up after them.

William (Bill) Millard

Santa Rosa

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226,000 A DAY


It looks like we're going to have a Democratic administration for a change. So I'd like to take this opportunity to congratulate all the pro-lifers and anti-abortionists on their victory. They can now look forward to a period of fewer abortions worldwide. Ever since the Reagan administration, the Democrats have reduced the number of abortions while the Republicans have caused then to increase by cutting funding to international women's clinics, leaving families without birth control. The result is more back alley abortions and more unplanned, unwanted and hungry children.

Fortunately, the Democrats will restore funding to international women's clinics which will result not only in fewer abortions but a slight drop in the 226,000 people who are added to the world population every day. That 226,000 number is not a typo, but is calculated after everyone who died last night has been replaced.

So thank you for your victory since overpopulation is the root of almost every environmental problem.

Don Phillips


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Right on with the praise, Pebs!

Challenges with this year’s outdoor crop. It's over-bred for one. The industry has been operating on theoretical THC for some years now. Flowers like Mochi or Fudge are all but unspeakable/unsmokeable with the desired effects slouching off or worse. After so many generations of being up-bred they are getting lost in the translation.

Gorilla Glue #4 (now 664 for copyright/trademark reasons) is a variety that appeared a couple of years back. I call it the first straight to oil strain. Buds have become only one method of ingestion and one that is being eclipsed left and right by disposable vape oil pens and everything else.

Also, this year's outdoor crop has been compromised by the fires.

There is still much tasty stuff here in San Francisco though: beautiful little chocolates (calamansi!) from a Filipino place on 18th Street in the Castro. The Mezz at Beit Rima on Church is like walking bodily down into a den of dead wild oregano. And that's before you open the lid! The $25 martadella sandwich or $35 pizza at Chez Fico — shaggy romaine dandelion greens from Clement Street farmers markets.

It's difficult to be down amidst all that nosh.

Party on.

Snecky Svenia/Tom ‘Taking Dummy’ Daley

San Francisco

PS. Outgoing FLOTUS Melania Trump is a Slovene, not a Slovak!

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To the Editor:

The Ukiah City Council has developed a terrible addiction and we need to do an intervention! They have a history of dreaming up ways to spend our tax dollars on decisions we pay them to make, for outside advisors to tell them how to spend our hard earned money on useless ways to mess with our downtown!

Remember when they paid someone’s brother-in-law to paint the downtown intersections red? Now they have destroyed State Street for months on end, with no end in sight, to constrict traffic and remove parking places, and put in meters! I won’t shop downtown if I have to feed a meter and worry about it running out.

They paid an expert to tell us what to do about our homeless population. He was soon hired by Trump, a great recommendation.

The only good thing they did was to make the downtown east-west streets one way. That was a major improvement, but the new plan is to make them two-way streets!

Now they want to pay some outside company $10,000 a month of our tax dollars to tell us how wonderful they are! This is truly outrageous.

Carol K. Gottfried


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Introduction: Alicia Bales is program director at KZYX, Philo, a publicly-funded, tax exempt fm radio station. Ms. Bales is leading a slander campaign to defame Liz Evangelatos Barney, a social media public information officer who works in this capacity for the Sheriff’s Department. *

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December 22, 2020

My letter is in response to the slander campaign against Liz Barney by Alicia Bales. Alicia "Little Tree" Bales was the former Mendocino Environmental Center president where I was a board member. She, along with Naomi Wagner, who names herself as the current board president without an actual election, cried "racist" to a then MEC board member after he posted on his personal Facebook page a theory about the Mexican Cartel and the rash of fires going on a few years ago. 

The theory posited by the board member was that the Cartel may have played a role in starting fires to destroy marijuana crops and thus, remove competition. The board member did not emphatically say this was a fact. This person was/is extremely knowledgeable about the Mexican cartel and growing marijuana in our County having been a grower for many years and was expressing an idea on his personal Facebook page.

Bales and Wagner launched a campaign to remove the "racist" person from the MEC board. He eventually removed the FB post and was forced off the board and labeled a "racist."

On December 2, 2020, the AVA ran a story about six Mexicans living in Round Valley who tortured and executed Traci Bland and Kyle McCartney. Traci and Kyle, who were white, were kidnapped, tortured and killed. The six defendants are known as the Covelo Six with the head of the group led by a woman. All six had extensive criminal pasts. One member, Samson Musellini Little Bear Joaquin's criminal past includes being arrested and charged with domestic violence battery after allegedly attempting to choke and hit his pregnant partner. The AVA's article writes: "Perhaps the most troubling detail revealed in the charging document are counts six and seven asserting the Covelo Six ‘willfully, unlawfully, with the intent to cause cruel and extreme pain and suffering for the purpose of revenge, extortion, persuasion and/or for sadistic purpose’ inflicted great bodily injury on both Bland and McCartney.”

Who made Alicia Bales the "racist police" for Mendocino County? Where is her outrage over this serious crime committed on two innocent people? To naively think that the Mexican Drug Cartel isn't active and present in our County is arrogant, ignorant, and stupid.

Ms. Bales: You need to publicly apologize to Liz Barney for your own racism and sexism. BTW, using your old CB handle "Little Tree" doesn't make you a Native American. You insult indigenous people everywhere.

P.S. To the Editor: You might want a reporter to look into KMEC Radio being off the air and the MEC completely shut down. MEC owns the broadcast license for KMEC. Funny how the "board" doesn't see this as a problem. Are you listening Ms. Wagner?

Mary Massey


One Comment

  1. Bee Tee January 2, 2021

    To the editor: Who is Peter Hessler? He is a well known practitioner of “literary non-fiction.” He has been a staff writer for The New Yorker for about twenty years and has published five books, most of them about China. The most recent one, about living in Egypt, titled “The Buried,” was published in 2019. He’s about 50 years old, still very active.

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