NOTE: Changes in our print schedule mean the mail dispatch from Boonville is now on Thursdays, not Wednesdays. Subscribers, stores, and newsstands beyond the Anderson Valley will get their paper-papers a day later than previously.
IT TOOK ME three (count 'em) transferred calls to finally get the Public Defender's voice mail, and his voice mail voice was female, which wasn't his voice unless someone happened to have his nuts in a vice when I called. Mantra time: In a county of 90,000 people and a small legal apparatus one would think it would be possible to reach one of their majesties without a lot of phone menu tag and muzak holds. I was calling for a Yes or a No on the recurrent rumor that Tim Stoen, 83, has returned from his Colorado retirement to work as a public defender.
WELL SHUT MY MOUTH! Got an almost immediate call-back from the PD himself, Mr. Aaron, who told me the Stoen hire, if it is a hire, “is a personnel matter” and therefore not to be revealed until it is, one way or the other.
FIRST CALL-BACK from the PD's office I've received in a quarter century, at least. Under the late Linda Thompson none of them were allowed to talk to anybody associated with the Boonville weekly, your basic self-defeating policy since we're basically sympathetic to the Defendant Community, some of whose cases would be helped by sympathetic coverage.
MY FAMILY has produced two public defenders, one who thinks he's never defended a guilty party, the other who said he got so tired of representing guilty parties he went to work for Kamala Harris in SF as her domestic violence guy, the irony inside our family being that we considered him a victim of domestic violence given the monstrousness of his wife at the time.
FROM THE WSJ: “A sustained effort is under way to deny children access to literature. Under the slogan #DisruptTexts, critical-theory ideologues, schoolteachers and Twitter agitators are purging and propagandizing against classic texts—everything from Homer to F. Scott Fitzgerald to Dr. Seuss. Their ethos holds that children shouldn’t have to read stories written in anything other than the present-day vernacular—especially those “in which racism, sexism, ableism, anti-Semitism, and other forms of hate are the norm,” as young-adult novelist Padma Venkatraman writes in School Library Journal. No author is valuable enough to spare, Ms. Venkatraman instructs: “Absolving Shakespeare of responsibility by mentioning that he lived at a time when hate-ridden sentiments prevailed, risks sending a subliminal message that academic excellence outweighs hateful rhetoric.” The subtle complexities of literature are being reduced to the crude clanking of “intersectional” power struggles. Thus Seattle English teacher Evin Shinn tweeted in 2018 that he’d “rather die” than teach “The Scarlet Letter,” unless Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel is used to “fight against misogyny and slut-shaming.”
IF THE GUY would rather die than misunderstand English lit, can someone please kill him? But seriously, kill him.
ON THE OTHER HAND, torture him first by reading Hawthorne to him on a week-long loop.
NO SURPRISE that the intersectionality nonsense is of major concern to the titans and would-be titans of capitalism because, very generally speaking, the rightwing is hostile to the academic world because it's hostile to them, the intersectionality fascists being especially hostile to them. But really, much ado about nothing as that racist, sexist, homophobic dog-pig Shakespeare said five hundred years ago.
FROM THE LEADERSHIP-ELECT: Biden tottered out last week to read off the wrong teleprompter that the Nashville bombing was “a reminder of the destructive power an individual or a small group can muster and the need for continued vigilance across the board.” Thanks for the heads-up, Joe. I'll be extra-vigilant. Promise.
TED DACE tidies up his little intestine: “As 2020 comes to a close I'm grateful for my health, not just for so far being spared the touch of covid but because the long occupation of my intestines by fungal Candida is at an end. What finally worked was the GAPS diet, which promotes healing of the small intestine so food can be absorbed before the fungus eats it. The last nail in the coffin was something called Oxy Powder, which cleanses the colon of compacted waste, robbing the fungus of its last food source. The final die-off was brutal, and my small intestine still has a ways to go to fully recover, but the alien within is dead. It would have been 28 in January.”
MATTHEW MEYER on Merle Haggard:
Anti-hippies often try to put Hag in their corner, but the effort requires ignoring a lot of the evidence from his life and lyrics. It seems, for example, that the “Okie” single was paired with “Fightin’ Side of Me” on the B side because the record company liked the reactionary image for marketing purposes. Hag’s desire, apparently, was to put “Irma Jackson,” a song about a doomed interracial romance, on the backside. And he later quipped, about weed and Muskogee, “that’s the only place we don’t smoke it.” When the narrators of Hag’s songs mention hippie culture, they take a stand toward it that’s neither dismissive nor especially enthusiastic. In “Big Time Annie’s Square,” for example, the narrator, an old “Checotah boy,” tells about traveling from OK to CA to encounter his friend, who has become a hippie mover-and-shaker:
“I came back to find my Annie’d moved away
To some town in California called ‘San Something’
Somewhere close to East LA
Don’t think finding her was easy
‘Cause something sure had changed my Tulsa girl
But I came here to show my love
And try to understand her crazy world”
It’s a tone more bemused than condemnatory, miles from where appropriators of the “Okie” legacy would place Hag. He’s not about to join the hippies, and may feel judged by some of them (“I’ve even been to Frisco, wearing regular clothes / With them modern hippie folks, starin’ down their nose”), but if you actually listen to his catalog, you can’t really sustain a view of him as a reactionary.
Of course, it’s a mistake to think of his lyrics as strictly autobiographical (Hag was born in Oildale, CA, after all, not Oklahoma), and the guy who pined for Irma Jackson is just as fictional as the Okie is. But you don’t even write that kind of song if you’re a reactionary anti-hippie bigot.
And, it seems that Merle Haggard liked weed, at least in his later years. I know a guy who claims that some of his weed went to Hag back in the day, and the late-career song “Laugh it Off” (which does sound autobiographical), gives this advice: “Get some Humboldt marijuana, guaranteed to make you cough / And laugh it off.” Then he joined his stoner pal Willie Nelson in telling us “It’s all going to pot.”
The cops can have Ted Nugent, but they need to back off the Hag.
ANOTHER SIGN that things are unraveling fast: The Atlanta City Council has proposed a $1.6 million plan to provide a private police force for the affluent suburb of Buckhead days after a seven-year-old girl was shot dead there by a stray bullet. Even the mayor says gun violence “is out of control.” Noting the obvious that it takes the death of a child in a wealthy enclave to get the political class thinking “gated communities” and publicly-funded private police forces.
AS WE SAID GOODBYE to 2020, Dr. Fauci and other realists warn that things are set to get worse before they get better. For the second day running (Wednesday), the US hit a new high for daily corona deaths with 3,740 people passing on. This number comes from pandemic trackers at John Hopkins University, and was recorded on the same day that California identified the nation’s second confirmed case of the new and seemingly faster-spreading variant of the coronavirus, suggesting the plague is more widespread than previously understood. The outlook for the start of the new year is not good—according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention forecast, more than 80,000 Americans could die of COVID-19 over the next three weeks.
HERE'S ONE DOOMER prediction from Kunstler I hope comes true: “Professional sports collapse as business model fails. Impoverished Americans start-up low-cost, local baseball and football leagues.”
YES. Some good things could come from the Great Re-Set. A Northcoast league comprised only of locals would pack 'em in. I think. No pros, or maybe two per team depending on the sport. It would be a kind of back-to-the-future when weekend baseball and high school football were dominant everywhere in the land up through the early 1950s. Fort Bragg's baseball team, circa 1950, wouldn't have embarrassed itself against pro teams, although FB always had a few ringers hired by the mill to primarily play ball on weekends, among them Vince DiMaggio. The whole town used to turn out, at least the sports population of the town, which was then considerable and still is for Friday night high school football. I think in these socially collapsed times, even with all its distractions, a semi-pro football league would draw sports fans as Jerry Philbrick's teams did when they played at the Boonville Fairgrounds not all that long ago.
SOMETHING BIG seems to be brewing in Washington. Trump wants Trumpers to show up on January 6th when an estimated 140 Republicans are planning to vote against Joe Biden's election certification. The Republicans don't have the numbers to re-wind the election result, but Mitch McConnell, who always seems so unflappable, is worried. He told fellow Senate Republicans that his vote to certify Joe Biden's election victory will be the “most consequential” of his political career. And with all those Trumpers massed outside the White House....
SO MENDOCINO COUNTY votes in a measure banning chemical methods of thinning forests, esp MRC forests of non-commercial tree species. And County Counsel clearly and firmly says MRC is not exempt from the nuisance law as they claim. And MRC just keeps on.
SO MENDOCINO COUNTY overwhelmingly votes to get the walking wounded off the streets and into treatment. And the numbers of walking wounded increase while the sales tax increase devoted to their care accumulates. And nothing is done.
SO JACKSON STATE FOREST announces a major timber harvest without the required timber harvest plan. And will proceed apparently without one, meaning the public who owns the forest has no opportunity to review the plan.
STATE SENATOR McGuire “has reintroduced SB 98, which will extend crucial protections to members of the press as they enter and report on events protected by the First Amendment…”
THE HEALDSBURG HUSTLER reintroduced his bill because Newsom vetoed the first try, saying it didn’t have a way to certify people as journalists. Even Newsom recognized that anybody can do it and, unfortunately, anybody does do journalism.
THE LITTLE FELLA'S presser rambles on with the usual pro forma platitudes about how “freedom of the press is foundational to our country, strengthens our democracy by providing transparency, keeps a check on government, and informs our everyday decisions. But this freedom is under assault here in the United States.”
NOT REALLY. A few faux journalists got roughed up by the cops and their fellow demonstrators at riotous events they were also participating in, but in many countries of the world mere reporting on events is a life-threatening business. We're not there yet.
McGUIRE (and Wood and Huffman) issue press releases in lieu of actual actuality, so to speak. McGuire has at least twice rounded up Ukiah pols for photo ops announcing the great redwood trail that will never link the Bay Area with Humboldt Bay. The grinning group of them pose on Ukiah's squalid two-mile stretch of the “trail” (which cost several million tax dollars) on the pretense that that trash-strewn track along Ukiah's industrial backyards will run up and down the old railroad tracks from Marin to Eureka. Those abandoned tracks, incidentally, somehow now belong to the Democratic Party, with former congressman Bosco chief engineer on its ghost trains, duped taxpayers chasing the caboose. “Toot-toot. All aboard.” Well, anyway, this is our State Senator. He is what he is. He might even be serious about protecting journalists, although I wouldn't expect him to go to the wall for the ava, sob sniffle.
THE ONLY interesting thing about McGuire, ever, is the comment he inspires from his dragooned constituents whenever he gets off one of his false flag pressers, and this presser launched a lot of interesting comment on both Kym Kemp's Redheaded Blackbelt site and the Lost Coast Outpost site about contemporary media, with a lot of unhappy comment about how biased and non-objective media are.
IN OTHER COUNTRIES, England for instance, people are more sophisticated about their media, at least the newspaper media. They know which are conservative, which are lib-left, meaning they know who own them and whose perspectives they are presenting.
US AMERICANOS seem surprised that our media don't reflect our views, which is naive in the extreme. The savvy way to get your info is to always know who you are reading or listening to. Surprised that the Press Democrat is uncritical of the wine industry? Shame on you, a grown-up person still this naive. The PD makes literal millions promoting wine and wine-related tourism. The New York Times hates Trump? Of course it does because its readers are the lib-lab establishment of this country, in government and out.
HOW ABOUT the AVA? We are objectively un-objective, fully recognizing our many biases, but we don't shut out opinions we disagree with, and we always welcome dissenting feedback, revel in it in fact. All-in-all, the Northcoast offers an array of opinion, much of it now expressed electronically, but there's more now than ever, and in no danger at all of it going away as per State Senator McGuire's faked alarm over reporter safety.
THIS COMMENT wafted in out of the cyber-ethers the other day had me agreeing. “So it was when it was easy for common people to keep land in America, w/o subversion of laws made to give the most people a chance to own some and over-regulation to charge fees and fines to take it from common people for those who already have more than they need. Three Laws were made in California so many could own land. All were perverted. Now it’s in the fewest hands. California should pass a land reform law for the People to take it back and limit acreage owned to 160 acres as it was, that makes communities healthy and prosperous for the many.”
LAND DISTRIBUTION in Mendocino County is skewed to larger holdings, first because in the last quarter of the 19th century large outside timber moguls, often deploying thugs to get it done, combined small holdings into a few large ones, the Mendocino Redwood Company being the largest remaining. It's owned by a billionaire San Francisco family named Fisher who made their fortune from Asian sweatshops and now do nothing much at all, and why the lives and resources of Mendocino County should depend on a private family is, well, capitalism. But wouldn't it make more sense to have timberlands owned in common by the people who work them, kinda on the same sensible basis that the town of Green Bay owns the Green Bay Packers?
HOW MANY MENDOS know that the Chinese billionaire, Jack Ma, owns damn near everything from east of 101 at South Laytonville to Dos Rios?
LOTS OF PEOPLE laughed at Andrew Yang, the Democrat who ran for president, when he suggested UBI (Universal Basic Income) but think about it. Imagine yourself as president faced with the situation Old Doddering Joe is facing, a situation with millions of people out of work and just as many facing eviction. A UBI set at about 5 thou a month looks not only desirable but necessary to keep this sucker from going all the way under.
A SELF-DESCRIBED “anti-racist” educator named Lorena Germán tweeted about how many classics written before the 1950s needed to be “switched up” — rewritten or excised — to bring them up to her standard of gender and ethnic appropriateness. Professor Germán cited ‘The Scarlet Letter’ as an example of a book needing revision.
A WRITER named Jessica Cluess rightly responded by calling Germán an “idiot” and defending Nathaniel Hawthorne, who wrote ‘The Scarlet Letter.’ “If you think Hawthorne was on the side of the judgmental Puritans… then you… should not have the title of educator in your bio,” Ms. Cluess wrote.
A DAY LATER, Ms. Cluess unfortunately apologized and called her words “misguided, wrong, and deeply hurtful.”
BUT IT WAS TOO LATE. Ms. Cluess, a successful author of children's books, had already been dropped by her spine-free agent, Brooks Sherman, due to the tweet, which he labeled as “racist.” Prof Germán is black, meaning, it seems, at least to Brooks Sherman, the professor is exempt from criticism.
EVERY YEAR we lose people. I mean “we” here at the AVA lose people who suddenly are gone from the comment line or otherwise drop from sight. Here are a few of the disappeared: Susie de Castro; Louis Bedrock; Rex Gressett; Jonathan Middlebrook, and Flynn Washburne, the last writing that he had fallen in love in Eureka as if that happy fact accounted for his subsequent absence from the pages where he was truly loved. So to speak. And Eureka wouldn't seem to be the best place for Flynn given that town's temptations, and love ordinarily doesn't bring the rest of life to a halt, but I'm afraid I angered Flynn when I suggested he write about what he knows best — the demi monde, although that simple suggestion wouldn't seem to count as an insult.
ON LINE COMMENTS OF THE WEEK
 And bring on the post-holiday dark winter of gray skies, lonely winds and endless cold. I love all three of those things in principle, but I can feel there’s going to be a downturn in the general American psyche this year. A collective seasonal depression begins for the nation. The things to look forward to have passed, and we’re left with…blah. Soon, even the enthusiastic and empowered Biden voter bloc (or especially them?) will come to be disaffected by the choice they were given and the lack of something good to be found there. More businesses down, more freedoms willingly given away, the likely shocking number of vaccination side effect horror stories that will seep out and then be softly quashed by the msm…spring may feel good for a few days as the air smells refreshingly hopeful, but people will not feel fulfilled and rejuvenated as they once did. Or…hell, maybe it’s that I lost the fantasy football championship yesterday and I’m feeling a bit pessimistic this morning. Either way, get some sun (where you can find it), exercise (where you can do so without getting hypothermia), and take your vitamins. Gonna be a strange winter.
 Donald Trump was/is a modern version of the old ink-blot test. What image do you see in all that muddled ink splat? Savior? Devil? Business tycoon? Huckster? Preserver of America? Destroyer of America? That boss you always hated? Fulfiller of prophecy? Bankruptcy king?
What he was/is remains the same of what he always is: A ceaseless self-promoter who seems HIMSELF in all things and does everyone with the goal in mind of helping himself or a member of cherished set of family members and insiders and enablers and lackeys.
Drain the Swamp? Lock her up? All those big promises along the way? All of that playing up to the cheering, adoring crowds of fans and worshipers? His real score card: A great big flop. Just like Obama was to his same kind of crowd of sad worshipers and lackeys.
As for President Trump, “has ever a president been lonelier at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave?” Maybe not, but he has only himself to blame. When you spend four years insulting everyone and everything around you then it’s no surprise when no one is there to come to your aid when you need help. Instead, it’s “Payback Time!” And all of these many targets of Trump’s ire are now relishing their chance to stick it to him in every way possible.
There is something to this thing… working together. Compromise, the good kind. Treating people with respect (even if they don’t “deserve” it). Acting the leader. Leading by example.
Did Mr. Trump do any of these things? No, not when there’s all those people to attack on social media platforms endlessly all day. And who suffers most? Sure, Trump does. But his supporters suffer worse. They believe/believed in this man. They took four years of abuse from friends and family for this man. They placed their faith in this man. And he left them down. Oh sure, supporters may blame the Evil Dems and Gutless Reps who did not work with Trump. And they do get their big share of the blame. But bottom line, you reap what you sow. Trump sowed chaos and anger and smirking and working angles to bring benefit to his insiders for four years and now it’s harvest time of a tarnished legacy and millions of heartbroken and disillusioned supporters who still wear red caps and want to believe… because they have nothing else left to believe in.
 There will be no uprising from the heavily-armed, Punisher-decal, tactical flashlight owning chuds who FB post about the stolen election. No, they’ll continue to fart into their Barcaloungers whilst staying fat, stupid and entertained. They’ve been cosplaying as Timmy Toughnuts Gadsen flag wavers for years and they’ll continue the posturing ad infinitum.
 Evangelical, fundamentalist, Baptist FAKE Christians put Trump in power believing his drain the swamp build the wall ad nauseam lies. The majority kicked him out of office for being a self-serving, golfing, “don’t need to read even a single page intelligent briefing” incessant liar. That’s what happened to America in 2020. Try telling the 346,000 folks who lost family to Covid “symptoms” the stats were overblown. BTW that’s 2.6 times as many per/capita deaths as any other G7 country.
 Here’s a prediction for you: Collapse of the Internet Culture. The internet was a great thing when it first came along. Now, it’s turned into a sewer and shaming prison and grand person erasure device. Beyond that, it is The Internet which allows people to not go into school or the office or the store or to meet up with other people. Without the Net, we’d all have to do those real-people-oriented things again. In other words, we would become human again. The internet is sucking the life out of humanity. It will either continue to do so until nothing of us remains, or the damn thing will be shoved back into its cage for bad behavior and be taught how to serve us humanely.