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Off the Record 9/9/2009

DURING DA MEREDITH LINTOTT'S appearance last week before the Board of Supervisors, Mrs. Lintott lamented both the increase in crime and her inability, because of funding shortages, to fight it. Looked at statistically, Lintott is correct. There has been an uptick in local arrests, but a lot of those arrests are what the cops call “frequent fliers” — drunks and child-like incompetents either making public nuisances of themselves or smacking each other around and otherwise behaving like bad children in big bodies. And, of course, there are endless drug arrests of otherwise non-criminal individuals. Very few real-deal crooks are swept up in the local catch of the day perhaps because, as the late DA Norm Vroman always said, “We only catch the dumb ones.” And with criminals running the economy of our country there's some ongoing confusion over who's a crook and who isn't. The anonymous swindler who causes your homelessness is different only in degree from the guy who holds a blowtorch to your pills while demanding, “Where's the dope?” Mostly, though, the local law enforcement community, atop which Mrs. Lintott sits, sees the same doomed souls doing the same dumb stuff week after week, year after year. Captain Fathom of Albion, for instance, was just checked back in on Low Gap Road where he will pass the winter months in A-Mod with 50 or so other more or less harmless guys who require full-time baby sitters. Before World War Two, the County of Mendocino operated a County Farm on Low Gap Road in the area of today's high security County Jail where habitual drunks and other local offenders of the petty type were loosely confined to a literal farm where they worked productively for their own maintenance. Ditto for the state hospital at Talmage where a dairy and a vineyard occupied the persons confined there. Talmage also operated a large unit for chronic alcoholics, which was available to local drunks. Today's County Jail does a few things with occupation and rehab in mind, and Sheriff Allman is definitely open to cost-cutting measures and frets constantly that the cops have had to assume Mental Health responsibilities without the funding and professional help to adequately do the job. Huge amounts of public money are spent housing non-criminals in jails designed to hold the truly dangerous. In a County that deludes itself on its “progressive” thinking one would think there would be some attention given to older, less expensive, more humane ways of doing things like the County Farm, ways that worked to spare the afflicted as much as they spared the rest of us from the demoralization that comes with people unable or unwilling to care for themselves destroying public spaces.

SPEAKING NOT EXACTLY of crooks but the big babies in great big bodies who occupy huge amounts of police time, you might tune in allanjustallan on YouTube for a look at Covelo At Play. Allan Barr (sic) owns the Buckhorn Bar in Covelo, an enterprise whose management probably can't be taught in business school, but Barr has somehow made a go of what most of us would assume as capitalism at its most hopeless. The videos of the bar's interior show us what Barr is up against. Fat guys burst through the door, throw off their shirts and stomp belligerently up to other shirtless fat guys as each commences punching the other. One shot of the street taken by Allan's security camera shows Allan's van being stabbed by some lunatic who plunges a dagger into its hood. And so on. To counter-balance these mini-movies of very bad Buckhorn behavior by Covelo's 30-year-old pre-schoolers, Barr has also posted shots of happy, peaceful crowds dancing the night away without fighting or otherwise behaving in an oafish manner. But this guy has somehow endured years of sociopathic hijinks in his place of business without throwing up his hands. Although despairing at times, Barr remains boldly in business in a community where a tiny part of the population feels free to commit mayhem whenever they feel like it. The Buckhorn's previous owner of many years, the legendary Wayne Cox, was said to keep a baseball bat and a gun behind the bar, resorting to the bat in lieu of a police response to bar problems. But Allan Barr has miraculously kept above water, writing late last year: “It's astonishing how fast my business has turned around. Problems have been at an all time low, income has increased significantly this past month while expenses have dropped just as significantly.... June Carter's daughter came into the bar last night, along with some very prominent members of this community, a birthday group.... Please don't get a slanted view of this wonderful community due to the fact that many of my postings relate to dealing with a small minority of malcontents who believe it's their right to commit crimes against other people just because they get the opportunity.” Here's to Allan Barr, hero of free enterprise!

THE DA'S FOCUS on low-level pot planters really ought to refine its sights to home in on the County's habitual bad boys like the handful of people in Covelo who bully and intimidate that community. And if the

THE SWINE FLU VIRUS has carried off a second Mendocino County woman, this one 44-years-old and also in poor general health. So far there have been 12 confirmed swine flues in the County, two of them in the Anderson Valley.

RIGHT-THINKING Mendo People will immediately write to the United States Board on Geographic Names to prevent King Booze, sometimes known as Jess Jackson, from renaming Black Mountain in Alexander Valley, Alexander Mountain. Jackson wants the name change to market the wine he makes in the Alexander Valley. But Black Mountain has been called Black Mountain since the middle of the 19th century, and why should this character be allowed to reorganize local topography in his financial interests? But Jackson has a history of getting whatever he wants from official Sonoma County, from retroactive building permits for his tasting room “chateau” alongside 101 just north of Santa Rosa, to a re-zone on Highway 128 not far from Calistoga. Unfortunately for the Anderson Valley, often confused with Sonoma County's Alexander Valley where Jackson makes his headquarters. Jackson also owns vineyards here. Letters opposing Jackson's re-name of Black Mountain should be addressed to: Lou Yost, executive secretary; U.S. Board on Geographic Names/Domestic Names Committee; 523 National Center; Reston, VA 20192-0523.

EXPECT TURMOIL at the Mendocino Art Center as the popular Peggy Templer is replaced by an out-of-towner named Karen Ely. Ms. Ely comes to us from Sedona, Arizona, ground zero of American Woo-Woo. Her mission is to cut costs and boost income, same as Peggy Templer who tried her darndest at a very difficult time of an economy in free fall and intense competition for the remaining charitable dollars. Mendocino County seems to have hundreds of non-profits, all of them hurting as former donors no longer have the cash to spread around.

EMBATTLED DA MEREDITH LINTOTT said last week that the Katlyn Long case remains “under review.” Tim Kiely is the DA's lead investigator on the case. Miss Long's highly suspicious death more than a year ago occurred in her Fort Bragg home in the presence of her former boy friend, Garett Matson, 31. Miss Long was 22 when she died. She'd broken up with Matson, the son of Jerry Matson of Matson Building Materials, Fort Bragg. Subsequent toxicology reports found that Miss Long, a non-drug user, had died from methadone poisoning. Police (and everyone else) have characterized her death as “highly suspicious” because Matson has a long legal history of drug-related activity of the wildside type. The many people watching this case fear that Matson won't be charged, that the DA may decide the case against him is not strong enough to hold up in court. The Matson family has hired ace local defense attorney Richard Petersen, meaning that Matson will have the advantage of a strong attorney with unlimited legal resources at his command going up against a not-so-strong prosecutor from the DA's depleted office. But if the DA doesn't bring another case for the next ten years she ought to bring this one because Katlyn Long was murdered.

AS YOU RUN to the frig for another beer during this station break we'll remind you via yet another free ad for Yaz The Relentless that the old girl will be doing her thing next Saturday night, September 12, at The Sign of the Whale, Point Arena. Or, as she puts it, “Selectress Suprema DJ Sister Yasmin spins fresh and funky beats for dancing and enjoying at Point Arena's friendly wateringhole. The Whale has good sound, spacious dance floor, pool table, full bar, nice vibes, groovy bartenders, and excellent clientele. It's where the elite meet!”

IT WAS HOT in the city that Thursday a couple of weeks ago, and I, like San Francisco, am never ready for extreme heat. It was so hot as I trudged past the open doors of the fancy stores on Union Square's north side I'd pause to refresh myself in the full blast of their air conditioning through the open doors onto the street, surprised that the titans of high fashion would give up that kind of random relief to the non-consuming public until it occurred to me that the AC was one more enticement. “Get out of the heat. Come in here where it's cool and buy yourself a $5,000 purse.” I'd thought about walking all the way out to the Richmond, which I often do to baste myself in the urban ambiance, but if I was already a staggering, dehydrated wreck after a couple of blocks I knew I'd have to continue my trip west on the 2 Clement bus. I'd catch it on Sutter, at 500 Sutter where a small but memorable act of random kindness soon occurred, one of those random kindnesses you see advertised on the vehicles of people who, from appearances, don't look very kind, and seen most frequently on the Golden Gate Bridge to and from Marin County, a very, very kind place. I was standing at 500 Sutter with a half-dozen other potential heat stroke victims waiting for Muni's mobile hot box to wheeze into view when a black man in a doorman's uniform suddenly appeared. “Please come in,” he said, beckoning us to the cool interior of the building, “it's a lot nicer in here.” It was, too, and we all thanked him and stood around smiling at each other until the bus came.

LAST SATURDAY, with the news all about the East Bay kidnapper and the terrible account of the 11-year-old boy on his way home from baseball practice who was randomly stabbed by a street nut on the 14 Mission bus, I cautiously climbed aboard the 1 California, the most sedate bus line in the City to travel breakers to bay. The pudgy man opposite me was reading Love and Friendship by Allan Bloom, a surefire guide, I assumed, to remaining loveless and friendless all one's days. The man wore ear rings and hiking shorts and what looked like a tux shirt, an outfit that didn't much incline me to extend the hand of common humanity. “Excuse me, sir. If you allow me to burn that book I will be your friend all the way to the Embarcadero.” He wouldn't understand, so I beat back the impulse and settled for bad-vibing him. Perhaps in retaliation, Love and Friendship held the big hardbound library book up in front of his face so I couldn't help but stare back at the irritating title for the next mile and a half. Mercifully, and just before the title became violently unendurable, L&F got off at Divisadero, but not before he'd stashed the book in a Third World handbag from which he'd simultaneously produced a little bottle of perfume, daubed himself on each cheek and went off into the afternoon searching, I supposed, for Allan Bloom..

I WAS ON MY WAY to the Embarcadero Theater to see a documentary-like movie about the Bader-Meinhof Gang, a small group of left-wing German revolutionaries similar to our Weathermen only more capable, narrowly speaking, both groups lacking, to put it mildly, popular support although the Germans got themselves a 25% approval rating briefly, at least according to this movie. Unlike the Weathermen, rich kids whose parents and connections later got most of them off while prole bomb throwers like the SLA's Joe Remiro are buried in state prisons for life, Bader-Meinhof was competent enough to build bombs without blowing themselves up. There was a large turnout for the matinee, which surprised me because I didn't think there'd be much interest in the subject matter, but maybe the film's good reviews as a film, as art, were responsible for the impressive crowd, but then again maybe there was a big turnout because things are again polarizing in extreme ways, and maybe some people are again thinking about offing the pig, as the pig was promiscuously defined but seldom offed in the late sixties and early seventies. The movie's pretty good. Except for some cartoon Arabs and gratuitous frontal nudity by women way too attractive to pass for 60s radicals (unless the German rads were a lot better looking than their American counterparts, which I doubt), it sticks to the known facts. What surprised me, though, is at the end of the movie, a very long movie, a kidnapped industrialist is gunned down because he is who he is, and about a third of the audience applauded and cheered, an audience containing almost no one under the age of 50. In the film the murdered man had been trundled around by his abductors for a couple of weeks. His killers had gotten to know him, this uncomprehending Aldo Morro-like guy who was depicted as not anywhere near the level of pure evil achieved by, say, Dick Cheney, or any number of sixties people, left and right. This was a guy the German revolutionaries might have spared if they'd had any thought about establishing themselves in the popular mind as the way to a more sensible social organization, if they'd thought of establishing themselves as an example of revolutionary humanity, if they'd thought about anything except their fantasy of scaring capitalism out of existence. Nope. They shot the pig, and the comfortable audience in a comfortable theater in a rich, comfortable, police-protected city clapped and cheered and went out into the comfortable late afternoon sun chuckling over that last visual of the dead fat man.


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