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Mendocino County Today: Saturday, March 6, 2021

Mainly Dry | 5 New Cases | James Baskin | Navarro Sunlight | Vaccine Week | Economic Terms | Health Disparity | Question Everything | Vaccination Volunteers | Sports Break | AV Villaging | Willits Funeral | Navy Camp | Annoying Phrase | 770 Pounds | Superior Mirage | Ravitch Recall | Early Wheel | Disaster Settlement | Bigger Basket | Streetscape Update | Yesterday's Catch | Nikolai Gogol | Finocchio's 1958 | Butterfly Extinction | Southern Headline | Senseless Kindness | Easter Nightmare | Book Deletion | Painted Gate

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MAINLY DRY WEATHER is expected today with only a few light showers in the north. Tonight a weak weather system will bring light rain and snow in the north. Additional light rain and snow showers will continue through Wednesday before dry weather returns for the second half of the week. (NWS)

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5 NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County this morning.

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James W Baskin, (JW, Butch) 71, of Willits, passed away on January 15th, 2021 peacefully in his home after a long battle with heart problems and cancer.

Jim was born in Freeport, Texas on April 29th, 1949 to Albert and Lois Baskin, they moved to Fort Bragg when Jim was 5 years old where he stayed and graduated High School in 1967. Jim met his wife Pamela (McCaa) in the summer of 1973, they were married in 1975 and had just celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary. Jim worked for 50+ years for the California Western Railroad known as the Skunk Train in various positions including track maintenance, Conductor, and Engineer but his true love of the train was mentoring and training others on the railroad tracks. Jim had a love for slow-pitch softball and enjoyed coaching his children's various extra-curricular activities over the years including sports teams and gymnastics. He had a real passion for music including blues and classic rock and enjoyed playing instruments himself. He enjoyed the outdoors and would go camping whenever he could, sitting around a campfire at night and talking to good friends were some of his fondest memories. 

Jim is survived by his wife Pam, Children Christina & Matthew and his wife Jennifer, Grandchildren Berlin, Jaxson, Liam and Stanley, Sister Teresa Bradley and Niece Shauna Bradley, Niece Alyssa Owens, and Nephew Wesley Owens.

Jim was preceded in death by his father Albert, mother Lois, and sister Susan.

His Family and friends will always hold him close to their heart, and love and remember him.

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Navarro Sunlight

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Doses Of Johnson & Johnson Vaccine reportedly arriving in Mendocino County this week

Large Pfizer vaccine clinic scheduled in Ukiah Friday

by Justine Frederiksen

Doses of the third vaccine to be approved by the Federal Drug Administration, made by Johnson & Johnson, should be arriving in Mendocino County this week, city of Ukiah officials reported.

“(The) Johnson & Johnson vaccine should be arriving this week, though I’m not sure how many doses,” Tami Bartolomei, Emergency Management Coordinator for the city, told the Ukiah City Council Wednesday. However, she also added that “they won’t receive any more shipments of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for a few weeks out” after the first shipment.

“The wonderful thing about Johnson & Johnson is that it’s a one dose, and it does not have to be stored (at ultra cold temperatures) like the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, so it will be easier to move around the county for mobile vaccine clinics,” Bartolomei said. “At this time, the county is working on how Johnson & Johnson will be distributed.”

Overall, Bartolomei said that “more vaccines are getting into the county, and 26 percent of the population has received first doses, with 12 percent having received second doses. And these numbers are really going to change this week, because there are several vaccination clinics going on around the county, so those numbers are going to be much higher at my next report.”

One of those clinics is being hosted by the city of Ukiah Friday at the Ukiah Valley Conference Center, at which Bartolomei said “we plan on administering 600 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which will be mostly first doses,” though there will be some second doses administered then as well.

To make appointments, the city is using the MyTurn website, a system that Bartolomei described as much more efficient than entering all the information on spreadsheets, as was done previously.

“When a person makes an appointment for their first dose, they also make an appointment for their second dose, so it’s really time-saving, and we’re really happy that we’re going to be able to use this system,” she said.

For people who are not able to make an appointment, whether because they don’t have access to a computer or the Internet, Bartolomei said that North Coast Opportunities is now offering people assistance with making appointments.

“A person can call 707-467-3239 and leave their name and number, and someone will get back to them and help them schedule an appointment,” she said. “We feel like this is a really good move, and we’re pretty excited about that.”

Lucy Kramer with North Coast Opportunities said that for those who prefer to text, that method is actually “the best way to be input into our system.” For appointment help through NCO, text “ncovax” to 707-209-7161.

“For a rural county, with limited resources, our county, in my opinion, is doing a phenomenal job in getting the vaccine out to our population,” said Ukiah City Manager Sage Sangiacomo. “And that’s one of the reasons why our schools are going back into session. Our community came together and did the right thing all the way around, and thank you to everybody. I can’t thank our teams, the hospitals, the clinics, Ukiah Valley Fire Authority and other county fire departments and Mendocino County Public Health enough.”

(Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)

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Only 10 months after the health disparity/inequity of Covid impacts became obvious, the Governor is attempting to address it. Of the first 9.6 million covid vaccine shots administered so far, only 1.6 million went to communities ranked in the bottom 25% on the California Healthy Places (CHP) Index. Vaccines went disproportionately to wealthy white communities. The Governor has now decreed that 40% of vaccines will be reserved for the 400 census tracts that rated at the bottom 25% of the CHP Index until an additional 400,000 vaccines have been administered in those communities. Which sounds great except they were shorted 750,000 out of the initial 9.6 million. I guess we'll find out going forward, both locally and statewide, if all the talk about Diversity, Equity and Inclusiveness means anything or if it was just talk. The article provides several regional maps showing affected census tracts. At the very end it references northern California and says communities in and around Ukiah qualify for the extra shots but no map is provided.

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We averaged an injection every 42 seconds at the Little River clinic yesterday. We had 3-4 lanes throughout the day. Out of 600 appointments, we had only ~14 doses at end of day from no-shows, perhaps a record. It was truly a community event with many volunteers participating for the first time. We screened outside, registered inside, vaccinated inside and then monitored for 15-30 minutes out back. The line length grew outside at the top of each 15 minute appointment slot, but often dropped to zero waiting towards the end of each slot. When Jessica Preiss from public health toured the site with me the night before, we were both nervous about the limited parking situation. In practice, people arrived on time and left immediately after. Overall, it was a success. 

I woke up ready to ask staff for another allocation for the coast. I'm looking at possibilities to further streamline the process. Dawn Hofberg-Schlosser joined us yesterday, which was a well needed gift, but we were unable to utilize another vaccinator due to the vetting process. If you're licensed and willing to help, please reach out to me in advance. We do need your help. I'll assist with the process. 

In general, I'll be asking for more volunteers in the near future. Ayla Schlosser helped Spanish speakers at the outside prescreen. For those interested in offering bilingual support, I’ll ask Ayla to share her experience. Karen Bowers recruited many of the volunteers and I need to find a way to recognize them in time. You can be part of ending the pandemic in Mendocino County. Special thanks to my daughter Alice Williams for volunteering at her third event. I’m nudging her to recruit more young adults to serve. 

I’m beginning to organize a clinic for next week in the Caspar area. If you’d like to volunteer, contact me at

PS. I've started to coordinate a vaccine clinic with Supervisor Dan Gjerde for Caspar next Wednesday. We have a tentative supply of 500 doses (not sure whether Moderna or Pfizer quite yet). If you would like to volunteer for the day, about 8-6pm with an hour lunch break, please reach out to me at

Details will be shared as available. No further at this time.

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SPECIAL LIVE WEBINAR on navigating Medicare Health Insurance this Monday and more

For the Medicare event this Monday you must register in advance and the Zoom link will be sent to you by HICAP - the presenting organization.

For the other 2 events, the Volunteer Training and the Book Conversation, you will use our usual Zoom details (posted at the end of the message)... Hope this is clearer :)

AV Village and HICAP Present a Live Medicare Webinar this Monday, March 8th, 4-5 PM

Join the Anderson Valley Village and California Department of Aging’s Medicare Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program (HICAP) for a Free Live Medicare Webinar.

Have questions on Medicare's Advantage Plans, Drug Plans, Savings Programs? Get answers!

Register in advance for this meeting - click link below:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

And these two have the same Zoom details (below)

Anderson Valley Village Volunteer Training, Tuesday March 9th, 10:30 - 11:30 AM

Join us for a short Zoom volunteer training - learn more about the Anderson Valley Village and how you can get involved. Volunteers are welcome to provide all manner of help, from basic chores, transportation and errands to check-in calls and visits to skilled services. It’s up to you how, and how often, to volunteer. Forms are available at the training, Senior Center, Health Center and/or our website:

Please RSVP if you can attend: Cell: 707-684-9829, Email:


AV Village Zoom Book Conversation: “Lessons for the 21st Century” by Yuval Harari, Wednesday March 10th, 3 PM

We will read Part 3. If you are interested please contact Lauren for more details

Join Zoom Meeting:

Meeting ID: 434 337 6734

Passcode: avv

One tap mobile: +16699009128,,4343376734#,,,,*490940# US (San Jose)

Dial by your location: +1 669 900 9128 US (San Jose)

Meeting ID: 434 337 6734

Passcode: 490940

Find your local number:

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Willits Funeral

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There is a “private” campground at Lake Pillsbury called “Navy Camp” — the only story we have heard about it is that it was a place where “shell-shocked” Naval personnel were sent for “rehabilitation,” and rumors have it that some pretty strange things happened there that no one locally will talk about. Also, Clear Lake was designated as a military priority for landing those long-distance seaplanes when SF was fogged in, and it still hosts annual seaplane “fly-ins” that are a popular tourist attraction — or were before almost all events were prohibited by the pandemic. It seems strange that Lake County’s inland destination for air travelers has remained undeveloped all these years.

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TWO MENDOCINO COUNTY MEN suspected of transporting 770 pounds of pot found during Nebraska traffic stop

Two men from Redwood Valley were arrested in Nebraska Wednesday on suspicion of transporting 770 pounds of marijuana, according to the Nebraska State Patrol.

Javier Hernandez-Romano, 29, and Gustavo Perez Heuerta, 21, were traveling eastbound on Interstate 80 near Seward in a cargo van, the agency said in a news release, when a trooper observed the driver speeding and failing to signal around 3:50 p.m. Wednesday.

During the traffic stop, the trooper detected a smell of marijuana coming from inside the van and initiated a search of the vehicle, police said. Troopers discovered 770 pounds of marijuana, concealed in the cargo area of the van, police said.

Hernandez-Romano and Perez-Heuerta remained in the Seward County Jail Friday, jail staff confirmed.

You can reach Staff Writer Kaylee Tornay at 707-521-5250 or On Twitter @ka_tornay.

(Santa Rosa Press Democrat)

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A RARE “SUPERIOR MIRAGE” near Falmouth, in Cornwall, UK.

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I just got an unsolicited email asking me to oppose the recall of Sonoma County DA Jill Ravitch because at some point I signed up to receive campaign mailers. The campaign tells a story of dereliction of duty by the millionaire developer behind the recall campaign, stating, “as the Tubbs fire roared over the hills of Fountaingrove, dozens of disabled senior residents of Villa Capri Assisted Living were left to fend for themselves.”

What the pro-Ravitch campaign seems to miss is Ravitch’s dereliction of duty in letting a millionaire developer get off with a fine for leaving “dozens of disabled senior residents of Villa Capri Assisted Living [...] to fend for themselves.” 

While I think a recall is a waste of taxpayer money since Jill is already planning on a well-funded retirement at taxpayer expense, Jill can save taxpayers the unnecessary expense by simply retiring early. (She’s already rumored to be thinking about early retirement so her heir apparent can run as an incumbent in 2022.) The pro-Ravitch camp even goes so far as to allege that the purpose of the recall is to replace Ravitch with a hand-picked replacement. Word at the courthouse is that the replacement is one of her deputies.

From the email:

“District Attorney Jill Ravitch is under attack and nothing short of the independence of the Sonoma County’s DA’s office is at stake. You are receiving this email because of your support for Jill Ravitch in previous campaigns for Sonoma County District Attorney and we need your help to defeat this recall!

The horrifying story of the millionaire developer behind this misleading and dishonest recall petition may be familiar to you. In 2017 as the Tubbs fire roared over the hills of Fountaingrove, dozens of disabled senior residents of Villa Capri Assisted Living were left to fend for themselves. The few staff members there that night were scared and unprepared — having no idea what to do or even the location of the keys to company vehicles that could have taken the residents to safety. If it wasn’t for the heroism of family members and first responders these helpless seniors surely would have perished.

The subsequent investigation of the Villa Capri abandonment, spearheaded by DA Jill Ravitch and the California’s Attorney General’s office, led to findings of California Safety Code violations and an agreed to fine of $500,000 and the impositions of independent oversight of the facilities management.

Now the millionaire developer behind Villa Capri is attempting to recall DA Jill Ravitch for doing the job we elected her to do, even though she already announced she will be retiring at the end of her term next year. The recall would be an unnecessary special election that would cost taxpayers more than $500,000.

This ugly onslaught is not about our District Attorney’s record of service and it is certainly not about the public good. This viciousness is about a wealthy senior care company owner who has already spent more than $300,000 paying signature gatherers $10 per signature, all to exact revenge and challenge the independence of the DA’s office. We need your help to make sure one bully with deep pockets can’t remove our duly elected DA: a competent, proven crime fighter, and replace her with his own hand picked replacement.”

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by Mark Scaramella

The long-awaited discussion of what to do with the nearly $22.7 million that Mendo will get from the PG&E Fire Disaster Settlement Funds appears on next Tuesday’s Supervisors agenda.

Under consideration is a list of projects titled “Prevention, Recovery, Resiliency & Mitigation (PRRM).” Given that the County has had months to plan for the windfall cash, we were expecting some useful specifics; instead, many of “projects” are only vague categories of activity, as are the cost estimates.

For example, one of the “recovery projects” is “Build More Affordable Housing,” which has a “cost estimate” of $30 million, well over the settlement amount, and a “description” which says, “Find and establish transitional housing for those in immediate need.” 

There’s a “project” called “Increase Jobs through Industrial Area Development,” described as “Funding for infrastructure, road, and utilities development for the new industrial park in North Ukiah,” which sounds like a direct gift of public funds to the CEO’s buddy/industrialist Ross Liberty and his fellow investors in the old Masonite site, which has nothing to do with “PRRM.”

We find almost $4 million “per site” for “Public Altert, Warning and Communications.”

Some of the project categories are at least in the ballpark for legitimate consideration, such as “repair damaged public roads,” “remove hazardous trees,” “Safe emergency ingress/egress,” and “hazardous fuel reduction,” But the cost estimates for these “projects” — ranging from just under $1 million to almost $3 million — seem almost like random numbers and in some cases are obviously way too high.

At the end of the PRRM list is a note mistakenly entitled “Options,” which lists three non-“options”: 1. Fund existing Prevention, Recovery, Resilience, Mitigation Projects. (None of which are projects.) 2. Supplement Reserves that have not been funded. 3. Review County Projects and determine priority projects. (Notice the repetitive use of the word “projects,” as if that would somehow make it so.)

The CEO includes as an “option” the even more vague “Supplement Reserves that have not been funded” — which basically means — Just give me the money and I’ll throw it into some reserve funds and spend it later when I feel like it someday. I might even ask you first, if I feel like it.

Although the Sheriff could use a decent sized chunk of these funds for deputies, disaster response and preparedness, law enforcement isn’t even on the CEO’s list of vague categories.

The “Sponsor” of the Agenda Item is listed as “Executive Office,” not the County’s small Emergency Services office, which may explain why the presentation is so ill-prepared and free of specifics. In fact, given the timing, we might venture to say that the only reason it was thrown together was in response to our mention of the topic in our complaint letter to the Board last month about the many important things the Board has asked for but the CEO has not done in the last year or so.

A better approach would be to put out a call for funding applications from various county departments, local agencies and businesses with general guidelines and criteria and award the money based on application specifics, cost, need, etc. Asking the Supervisors to simply “fund existing prevention, recovery, resilience, and mitigation projects” does nothing to advance the question of what do with the PG&E windfall, and leaves the Board in the same position they were in before this lame presentation was prepared.

For example, Anderson Valley has already prepared a detailed plan to upgrade the local Senior Center into a disaster resources center for the next time local people need a place to evacuate to. That kind of thing should just be funded and done immediately, not put off indefinitely while Ukiah officialdom rambles on about what to do with the money.

Will the Supervisors give the millions to the CEO? Will they send staff back to the drawing board? Or will they gently pat staff on their collective empty heads and say thank you while possibly volunteering to do staff’s work by setting up another Settlement Funds Ad Hoc Committee with no deadline? Tune in next week for the next exciting episode of Clueless In Ukiah.

Whichever “option” they choose, despite another looming drought and fire season during a pandemic and economic downturn facing Mendocino County now, at this rate it’s going to be a long time before anything like “Prevention, Recovery, Resilience, or Mitigation” is funded, much less accomplished.

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Wahlund Construction has completed their underground utility work on State Street, handing it over to City of Ukiah Electric crews to complete the process of converting the electric utility to below ground. 

Because this project is basically a once-in-a-lifetime deal, we’re taking this opportunity to make some additional improvements to some adjacent streets. Starting next week, we’ll see some work occurring on both sides of Clay Street—on the west side, Wahlund Construction will begin replacing the sewer infrastructure. On the east side, the north sidewalks are being demolished to make room for wider sidewalks. (Every noticed how narrow the sidewalk next to Hospice Thrift is? Not for long! Check out the picture below of the old vs. new!) 

Construction Overview 

Wahlund Construction (West Clay Street--new work area!): 

Tuesday-Friday, weather permitting: “Potholing” will occur on West Clay Street between State and Oak Streets. This process can be noisy and a bit messy, as they are drilling holes through the pavement in order to locate the underground utilities. This is a necessary step before replacing the sewer lines. 

Access to driveways in the 100 block of West Clay Street may be blocked during parts of this construction. During those times, employees and visitors to those businesses may park at the Ukiah Civic Center, 300 Seminary Avenue. 

Construction hours: 7am – 5pm 

Ghilotti Construction (Henry – Mill): 

Monday-Friday, weather permitting: Continued work on the east side of State Street between Perkins and Mill Streets, including excavating, forming and pouring new curbs and gutters. Also, the north sidewalks of East Clay Street (next to Hospice Thrift) have been demolished and work will begin on them. 

East Stephensen Street will be closed to through traffic for the next few weeks – Community Care and The Maple will have access to their parking lots from Main Street. 

East Church will be closed intermittently during this phase. 

Construction hours: 7am – 5pm 

North State Street between Perkins and Henry: Weather depending, contractors will be working on North State Street installing the decorative brick band on the outside of the sidewalks, as well as installing liners and filling with planting soil the tree wells and bioswales (triangular-shaped areas at the intersections, designed to be filled with landscaping and to filter storm water). 

Check out the pics below. Have a great weekend, Everyone! 


Shannon Riley, Deputy City Manager, City of Ukiah, w: (707) 467-5793

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CATCH OF THE DAY, March 5, 2021

Alvarado, Carr, Davi, Geurts

JAIRO ALVARADO-CRUZ, Ukiah. Pot possession for sale, mandatory supervision sentencing.

MICHELLE CARR, Ukiah. Failure to appear.

PATRICK DAVI, Guerneville/Ukiah. Probation revocation.

CHRISTOPHER GEURTS, Willits. Probation revocation.

Hernandez, Langley, Nace, Ricetti

ARON HERNANDEZ, Fort Bragg. Failure to appear.

MICHAEL LANGLEY, Ukiah. Probation revocation.

TOMMY NACE, Vehicle theft, county parole violation.

AMBER RICETTI, Ukiah. Resisting, probation revocation.

Simpson, Slatten, Valderra

DAVID SIMPSON, Ukiah. Controlled substance, disobeying court order, failure to appear, probation revocation.

GLORIA SLATTEN, Redwood Valley. Disobeying court order.

MELEAH VALDERRA-BANO, Point Arena. Burglary, disobeying court order, failure to appear.

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by Matt Taibbi

In memory of N.V. Gogol, who died 169 years ago

I turned fifty-one this week. Terror of age is becoming a key comic subtext of my life. The first line of a novel I tried to write recently read, He looked in the mirror and shrieked. 

There’s a scene in Nikolai Gogol’s The Overcoat where the hero, a dim and nervous clerk named Akaky Akakievich, goes to the tailor to try to patch up his ancient greatcoat. It’s coming apart at the seams, the victim of St. Petersburg’s relentless winters and too many years of service. Akaky asks for one last repair job, but the merciless tailor Petrovich, having laid the coat out on a table, quickly pronounces the patient dead. 

“No, it can’t be repaired, the wretched garment,” he snaps. 

Akaky, in denial, tries to protest: it’s just a bit worn on the shoulders! Petrovich cuts him off. “The stuff is rotten, if you put a needle in it, it would give way.” “Let it give way, but you must patch it,” counters Akaky. “There is nothing to put a patch on,” Petrovich says, and Akaky recoils in horror, grasping the awful truth: we all, eventually, run out of patches.

Gogol, my childhood hero, died 169 years ago today, on March 4, 1852. Fitting for him, it might have been the most preposterously horrific act of self-destruction in literary history. 

Nikolai Gogol

Gogol was a genius, but a peculiar and probably very unpleasant kind. If Mozart came out of the womb hearing symphonies, the baby born in Sorochintsy, Ukraine in 1809 had a different fate. It was as if God whacked him with a shovel, locking his brain in the moment of hearing the funniest joke ever told. That may sound wonderful, but there’s a reason we eventually have to stop laughing — it hurts. The line between hilarity and terror is a thin one, as people who drop acid find out all the time. Gogol was a depressive who cheered himself up by imagining the funniest situations possible, but his gift in that area was so prodigious that he ultimately scared himself to death. 

Take “The Nose,” one of the funniest stories ever written. An arrogant, preening, dowry-chasing bureaucrat named Kovalev goes to the barber for a shave. The next morning, the barber finds a nose in a loaf of his wife’s bread, and Kovalev finds a flat space in the middle of his face. It becomes a detective story as Kovalev, covering himself with a handkerchief, chases a nose in official uniform he’s spotted roaming the streets of Petersburg. In Kazansky cathedral, he confronts the impostor, saying, “You are my own nose.” The nose balks, replying with dignity that he is an independent individual, and moreover, “I can see by the buttons of your uniform that you serve in a different department.” Then he leaves, forcing Kovalev to resort to try to find him again by taking out a classified ad, only to be refused — just the week before, he’s told, another bureaucrat tried to advertise a lost poodle, but the poodle turned out to be a cashier of some department, a libelous error the newspaper was not anxious to repeat.

This nightmare castration fantasy was full of vicious social commentary, depicting Tsarist Russia as a doomscape of corrupt morons, where nothing works and the police are blind — “I mistook him for a gentleman at first, but fortunately I had my spectacles and soon saw he was a nose,” a constable explains. The incompetence of the state was even confirmed in the review of the story by the Tsar’s censor, who missed the obscene insult of the entire plot, instead objecting chiefly to the presence of the nose in church.

Gogol saw with brutal clarity everything that was absurd, ignoble, vain, and ignorant in people, and though his portraits were rendered with extraordinary care and devotion, love even, the results were savage and hilariously unflattering to the society in which he lived — too bad for Gogol, who was desperate to be thought of as a patriot. Raised by a superstitious mother to have a great fear of hell, he also eventually fell under the influence of priests who convinced him his work was degenerate and sinful. This led him to spend something like ten of his last years trying to tell “attractive” stories about “righteous and pious” people, a mission totally alien to his nature that resulted in some of the most amazingly awful writing ever produced. 

Eventually, in what was a flash of either artistic insight or self-loathing, he burned those later manuscripts, then refused all food, beginning a monstrous march to death that played out with all the hyperbolic horror of his art. A hypochondriac his whole life — “Man does not believe in God, but he is sure that if the bridge of his nose itches he will die,” he once wrote — Gogol met the most painful end imaginable, consumed with fever, so covered all over with leeches that they fell from his nose into his mouth, and sick from hunger to the point that he is said to have screamed in agony to the touch.

In his last years, he’d become obsessed with the idea that he might be mistaken for dead during one of his “lethargic” spells and buried alive, even trying to arrange to be buried in a coffin fitted with an airhole and a bell. That didn’t happen, but his actual end — a weeks-long ordeal spent writhing in claustrophobic agony in his bed-chamber on Nikitsky Prospekt — exactly simulated the living death of his nightmares. In earlier years, he would surely have laughed at the irony. He was 42. 

Gogol would not do well in the modern world, which demands that artists be great people in addition to providing clear moral direction in their work. In life, Gogol was a small, neurotic, excuse-making, deeply silly man with a slate of inexplicable views, and his habit of turning even the characters he liked into flatulent buffoons would have rendered any efforts to produce “positive social commentary” disastrous. He’d have been canceled a hundred times over, and died covered in Twitter trolls instead of leeches. 

Reading Gogol is a gluttonous, frenzied, disgusting experience: you laugh until you hurt yourself, then keep going. Incidentally, for a thin man, Gogol wrote about food in shocking quantities. When his characters sat for meals, all pretense of story or narrative would end, and his descriptions of dinners would devolve into maniacal, paragraph-length lists of pastries and meat pies and buckwheat kasha and mushrooms and vodka and other Russian tablestuffs that droned on until you could smell it all.

As one of his characters explained, there’s no such thing as being full. A stomach is like a village church that only seems packed: if the Mayor shows up, a place is quickly found. For the good things in life, there’s always room for the Mayor.


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Finocchio's, San Francisco, 1958

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BUTTERFLY NUMBERS PLUMMETING in US west as climate crisis takes toll

There has been a 1.6% reduction in the total number of butterflies observed west of the Rocky Mountain range each year since 1977, researchers calculated, which amounts to a staggering loss of butterflies over the timespan of the study period...The declines are winnowing away much-loved species such as the monarch butterfly, which is known for is spectacular mass migrations to California each year but has lost 99% of its population compared with 40 years ago. “With the monarch it seems we are on the verge of losing the migration, if not the species itself,” Forister said.

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MY FAITH HAS BEEN TEMPERED in Hell. My faith has emerged from the flames of the crematoria, from the concrete of the gas chamber. I have seen that it is not man who is impotent in the struggle against evil, but the power of evil that is impotent in the struggle against man. The powerlessness of kindness, of senseless kindness, is the secret of its immortality. It can never be conquered. The more stupid, the more senseless, the more helpless it may seem, the vaster it is. Evil is impotent before it. The prophets, religious teachers, reformers, social and political leaders are impotent before it. This dumb, blind love is man’s meaning. (Vasily Grossman, Life and Fate)

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Cancel culture. Banning. It’s not just what you can’t say or what books won’t be promoted in classrooms or libraries. It’s disappearing “wrongthink” down the memory hole forever.

Bezos. Owns the most Woke newspaper in the U.S., the Washington Post. Also owns this kinda prominent business called Amazon. You can buy most any book from Amazon. But you don’t own them, at least not in any sense we understand the term.

You buy a book from the bookstore, read it, and set it on your book shelf to reread whenever you want. You die, and in your will you bequeath your library to your son. (I was an early beneficiary of my older brother’s huge library of books when he died in 1971. A terrible event, obviously, but also a fortuitous one for me, as those books, still with me, changed my life at 15.) Books well-built will last for centuries, and of course are reprinted in many editions when the old ones moulder.

Not so, from Amazon. They have the power, and most importantly under their terms — which you agree to as part of the TOS — the right to delete any and all books they see fit to from your Kindle. When (not if) this banning madness increases to levels which make the Dr Seuss issue seem mild, good luck preserving anything you value from electronic storage. And they’ll eventually not even stock anything “controversial” in the first place.

The book burning is, of course, the parallel issue, but a huge part of the average reader’s experience now happens through Kindle and other electronic reader devices.

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Painted Gate in Fort Bragg (photo by Annie Kalantarian)


  1. Eric Sunswheat March 6, 2021

    “There seems to be two levels of deception. One is the hardcore scams by fly-by-night companies and the other is the hollowing out of traditional Medicare by something called Medicare Advantage, which I call Medicare Disadvantage.”
    Ralph Nader

    D Lenz says:
    December 1, 2020 at 4:10 pm
    Medicare Advantage, advertising, and consequence of later switching back to Supplemental Plans:

    First the BIGGEST issue and risk of consequence, (not sure I heard this mentioned, Ralph)… Switching back to a Supplemental Plan later when you might need serious coverage will likely cost higher premiums – you will be at the mercy of the insurance company and rate formulas.

    “Advantage” nomenclature is Medicare’s fault for allowing this biased naming as part of their institutional glossary.
    And the advertising is relentless and insidious… (backed by interests who want to abandon traditional Medicare?)

    Tangent Zee says:
    December 12, 2020 at 7:31 am
    The biggest thing I noticed in my research that no Medicare Advantage Plan available to me (including the ones marketed by AARP) do not transfer title of Durable Medical Equipment to the patient, ever. THIS IS NOT EASILY TO FIND! Durable Medical Equipment including wheelchairs, walker, rollators, hospital bed for the home, etc.

    Tradition Medicare will pay rent for 13 months (increased from 11) and then is yours but you never own these things in a Medicare Advantage scam – you pay rent until you die. I have found that AARP is mostly a marketing service to exploit elders does not represent the elderly but industry.

    • Harvey Reading March 6, 2021

      That’s what AARP always has been. I tore up my life membership card after they caved on Bush’s (and the fascist rethuglican party’s) “donut hole” Medicare prescription drug plan. They promised to get it “fixed”, but never did. Like the democrapic party, they lie, then bow to the wealthy.

      This sad country is marching, happily and proudly, and “patriotically”, toward full police-state fascism.

      • George Hollister March 6, 2021

        Those who can’t, or won’t take responsibility for themselves are always vulnerable to the transgressions of those in power. There are no angels in positions of power, or at least not for long.

        • Harvey Reading March 6, 2021

          And, George, your point is?

          • George Hollister March 6, 2021

            You don’t see it, and that is expected, and OK.

          • Harvey Reading March 6, 2021

            I don’t see it because there is nothing to see, Just meaningless jabber.

  2. Judy March 6, 2021

    The funeral photo is the funeral of Boomer Jack. Jack was buried at the Willits train yard in 1926. Boomer Jack was the unofficial NWP mascot. He rode the rails and followed railroad employee’s home staying for hours or days before hitching a ride on another train.
    A Dog’s Life: the Story of Boomer Jack by Lincoln Kilian.

  3. Harvey Reading March 6, 2021


    When will dopers and peddlers ever learn? Ya don’t don’t take I-80 unless you wanna get busted.

    • Lazarus March 6, 2021

      Come on Harv, do you really think these two mules were to only guys running dope that day on your I-80 road?
      The cops got lucky likely because the mules got sloppy…straight up.
      As always,

      • Harvey Reading March 6, 2021

        They bust ’em pretty regularly out on I-80, here, and in the rest of the midwest. That’s more than luck.

        Anyone with half a brain would map out decent state highways, where the state cops aren’t around much. Hell, there are roads as good as 80 around here, where I do over 100 with no likelihood of even seeing a cop.

        When I made my trips out here in the last half of the 90s, I took US 50 most of the way to Denver, at speeds over 100 and never even saw another car, let alone a cop. There were other highways where conditions were similar. I also carefully observed local limits when passing through small towns, where the local clowns almost always have radar. Except for the DUI back in ’89, I haven’t had a traffic ticket since I was 19. If I was hauling contraband, I wouldn’t go near an interstate, no drive or behave in any way that looked suspicious.

        • Lazarus March 6, 2021

          Interesting, I was hoping for more information. Those that need to know should be in the know…
          Be well,

          • Harvey Reading March 6, 2021

            I’d just suggest observing the traffic laws, which is hard, I’m sure, with a Mercedes… Any more, I try to keep it under the speed limit most of the time, and all of the time in my old pickup.

            There is one stretch of road that will probably end up killing me, though. It’s the route through the Wind River Canyon. It reminds me so much of certain stretches of Highway 4 between Angels Camp and Murphys that I just cannot resist its well-done curves and short straight stretches, complete with several places where you can see if there is oncoming traffic for a mile ahead.

            Every time, I start out on that short (10 miles) stretch of road, I tell myself to behave, and, once in a while I do. Mostly I weaken and take off. It’s weird, but it’s sort of a heaven on earth for me.

            My first time through the canyon was sort of like a dream. I had no idea such a road existed in Wyoming. I was heading south from Thermopolis (and earlier from Sheridan). It was midafternoon on a clear winter day, with the roads clear. I started overtaking and passing cars with drivers who seemed not to appreciate the road. The funny thing was, as soon as I got around them, to a car passed, they sped up! I thought that odd. Once I popped up out of the canyon onto flat terrain beside Boysen Reservoir, it hit me. They sped up when they saw the CA plates and were doing their best (which wasn’t enough) to catch and overtake the uppity CA liberal.

          • Harvey Reading March 7, 2021

            Should be “…between Angels Camp and Avery…”

    • George Hollister March 6, 2021

      The driver was speeding, and didn’t signal when turning, at least that is what the cop said. How dum is that, if it’s true? As Norm Vroman said, “We only catch the stupid ones.”

      • Harvey Reading March 6, 2021

        “Didn’t signal when turning,” or making a lane change, is a common, and long-used “violation” that cops use, mostly for busting out-of-staters. I got pulled over in ’65, in Oklahoma in just such a situation. I, in fact, had signaled, and the guy was lying. I explained that in CA, too, it’s the law, and that I had signaled. I think he felt stupid for pulling over a kid on a learner permit and let me go. If I’d been older, he would have ticketed me, even though I did not break any law. In court, the judge would have sided with the cop.

  4. Lew Chichester March 6, 2021

    Re: PG&E Disaster Settlement Funds- It was certainly disappointing and sadly completely expected that the county officials have not reached out to local groups who are directly connected to the needs for community preparedness. Here in Round Valley we have a disaster preparedness study group which has met extensively the last few years and has a detailed list of community needs and existing resources so we would be more adequately prepared in an emergency event. Did the county, in preparing the list of “projects” ever consult the Round Valley Area Municipal Advisory Council? Nope, seems like whoever made up the recommendations just made stuff up, and we assume the money will be spent on salaries for people in Ukiah. Nothing for actual physical improvements to existing infrastructure which with some actual capital investment would provide substantial resiliency in a local disaster. I hate Ukiah, the office people there use the data and metrics for county wide needs and then spend most of the money on themselves, applying for more grants, going to meetings, preparing reports. We have a town here with no fire hydrants, a community center with potential facilities for disaster preparedness with no backup generator, and a need for brush clearing along county and private roads. These are real, quantifiable, justifiable needs of our community. A cost analysis could be produced in an afternoon. County, just ask us what we need. We can tell you.

  5. Betsy Cawn March 6, 2021

    A couple of years ago, FEMA published the fourth edition of the “National Response Framework,” calling for a focus of effort on “community lifelines” for concentration of evacuation support efforts where hyper-local assistance teams are able to process, distribute, and sustain transitory periods of individual and family dislocations during disaster emergencies. []

    Lake County’s Office of Emergency Services hosted a meeting of officials from the local Department of Social Services, CalOES, Animal Control, Lake Transit, and the “liaison” from the NorCal Regional (American) Red Cross headquarters in Santa Rosa, on February 7, 2019. ARC had been tasked, several years before that, with identifying sites of all kinds that might be deployed during a true mass evacuation — such as we experienced in 2018 — because the number of care and shelter facilities that “qualify” for operation by ARC staff are extremely limited (heretofore using the campuses and structures of school districts).

    The meeting was intended to launch a county-wide survey of potential locations, but for some reason that task simply did not get done (a perfect example of the Lake County “shrug” — gee, well, that just didn’t work out, huh!). In the meantime the imposition of pandemic health crisis practices added extra precautions to every effort, and in 2020 our Social Services Department — in active cooperation with ARC — came up with a work-around called a “Temporary Evacuation Point” to accommodate the evacuees from the southern part of our county, due to the massive fires in Solano and Napa Counties (LNU “Lightning” Fires, FEMA DR 4558, August 22).

    Very fortunately, only a few households in the southernmost remote Jerusalem Valley area were harmed, but the entire gated subdivision called Hidden Valley Lake was ordered to evacuate their homes and head north; some chose to seek assistance from our county’s disaster response assistance team (Social Services, NCO, ARC, City of Clearlake, Kelseyville Unified School District), but most apparently took care of themselves.

    A few disabled adults were assisted by the organization that serves them throughout the year, People Services, and evacuated smoothly (at least, we’ve heard zero complaints from that contingent), but there were some out-of-county “migrant farm workers” (employed by commercial cannabis operations — some of them completely “legal”) who lacked personal capacities for evacuation or any idea of where to go. Thankfully, a local volunteer aware of these operations took the trouble to travel into the backwoods areas of eastern Lower Lake and Sycamore Valley to pick up stranded and bewildered evacuees traveling on foot to escape the encroaching wildfire threat (few even owned cell phones with the ability to receive official “alerts” — if even they had the presence of mind to sign up for them).

    Senior centers are actually required by statutory code to “cooperate” with the local Office of Emergency Services to assist their disabled enrollees,* although our Sheriff’s Office has been singularly unwilling to even visit them or work with their organizational directors to gear up for the eventuality of providing additional assistance to persons with “Access & Functional Needs” for the purpose of leaving their homes and surviving in short-term accommodations under law enforcement orders.

    [*In addition, any agency that receives federal funding for provision of Older Americans Act services, such as the “Elder Nutrition Program” (congregate lunchroom and home-delivered daily meals), is required to have an Emergency Action Plan to protect their constituents as well as their own assets; the Lake & Mendocino Counties’ Area Agency on Aging is the entity that oversees compliance with federally-funded, state-administered programs for “participants” aged 60 and over.]

    A general consensus has formed in the past couple of years, reflective of the actual impacts of the 2018 River and Ranch wildfires, that individuals and families need to plan FIRST for safe evacuation from their homes (planning escape routes, packing appropriate “go bags,” identifying possible destinations and communication networks among family, friends, and institutions), SECOND to provide maximum access by first responder agencies, THIRD (but a year-round task, everyone should be up on this by now) “home hardening” — or at the very least removal of flammable materials around the home to a minimum of 30 feet distance from the building’s perimeter. Standing vegetation should be appropriately trimmed to allow fast-moving grass fires to rush through the unimpeded distance between properly pruned and trimmed landscape features and leave nothing more than temporarily scorched front yards.

    But we still do not have a handle on the brand new vision of alternative safety measures, involving the creation of community-based, local evacuation centers to “shelter in place” out of harm’s way, where “community lifelines” are sustainable with multi-jurisdictional, multi-disciplinary external support, rather than erecting mass shelter facilities to house everyone in a large-scale operation. Picture the scene at the Napa County Fairgrounds in Calistoga on Saturday, September 12, 2015, when over 17,000 persons fled the onslaught of the Valley Fire (FEMA DR 4240) and were directed to that site which successfully accommodated a few thousand sudden inhabitants (and their domestic animals, vehicles, special equipment used by disabled persons) with very short notice to the local chapter of the American Red Cross.

    We are not surprised to learn that the Anderson Valley senior center has created a practical plan for upgrading “the local Senior Center into a disaster resources center for the next time local people need a place to evacuate to.” The Mendocino Community Foundation a few months ago convened a virtual meeting with managers of a number of senior service organizations to offer grant funding for these always-struggling non-profit organizations serving older adults in their communities — an amazing variety of them in your rugged landscapes — to create a “senior safety net” operation. We’re a long way from establishing the appropriate functional niche for senior centers here, but there is no doubt that the potential capacity they have to offer is vital to our survival and long-term “resilience” in what can now be considered year-round wildfire conditions.

  6. Marmon March 6, 2021

    A year ago this was our last normal week and nobody knew it.


  7. Marmon March 6, 2021

    Just remember, during moral panics the Salem Witch Trials, McCarthyism, the current Wokeness, the accusers think they’re the heroes. Then the panic passes, and they’re villains forever. That will happen this time too.


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