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PROGRESSIVELY COOLER WEATHER is expected through the middle of this week with brisk northwesterly winds each afternoon and some locally frosty nights for some interior valleys. A slight chance of showers will be found mainly for the northern interior mountains Wednesday or Thursday, otherwise mainly dry weather will continue through next weekend. (NWS)
19 NEW COVID CASES (since last Friday) reported in Mendocino County yesterday afternoon.
FORT BRAGG NOTES
by Chris Calder
The Fireman's Ball, Fort Bragg's annual Labor Day Weekend shindig and fundraiser, is on for 2021, after being COVID-cancelled last year. “We're going ahead with it until somebody tells us to stop,” Fort Bragg Fire Chief Steve Orsi said this week. Word is that Paul Bunyan Days is set to return as well.…
Fire at Noyo
A plume of yellow-white smoke rose over Fort Bragg last Tuesday afternoon, May 11, spreading quickly above the houses of the Noyo Indian Community on the northern bluffs of Noyo Bay.
The bluff face behind Noyo Beach was on fire. Overgrown and steep, with a thick brush cover — pampas grass prominent — windswept flames spread quickly across a half acre, not 200 yards from the homes on the blufftop, before firefighters stopped it.
Fort Bragg Fire Chief Steve Orsi said this week that containing the fire went pretty quickly, but getting it totally out in the thick, steep brush took a long time.
The mix of vegetation there, he said, is a real problem, especially the pampas grass, a tall, oily plant that can launch flaming bits long distances on a windy day, as it did last Tuesday.
Orsi said efforts in past years to get rid of the brush there, especially the pampas grass, haven't always worked out well. The last attempt a few years ago ended in a controlled burn that got out of control; the fire department had to put that one out, too.
The bluff face is part of the Noyo Harbor District's domain, bordering the Noyo Indian Community and the Georgia-Pacific millsite/Fort Bragg Coastal Trail to the north, and the North Cliff Hotel to the east. It includes the harbor's dredge spoils site — a giant open pit — and is among the district's many long-term, thorny problems, from adjudicating between obstreperous boat owners to keeping a jetty and a working harbor intact in the age of climate change and covid. Discussions about fire prevention on the bluff are reportedly underway again, as they have been, off and on, for generations.
Lee Rupert, 45, of Fort Bragg, described as a transient, was taken into custody for setting a number of fires that led to the bigger blaze on the Noyo bluffs May 11, after several other homeless people told police he had done it, according to a Fort Bragg Police Department press release.
It was the second time in a little over a month that a local homeless man was accused of arson. On March 26, Robert Fielden, 47, was arrested for allegedly setting fires on the same day on N. Harbor Dr, Perkins St. and N. Harold St.
Fielden was also alleged to possess methamphetamine and the gear for smoking it.
Another apparently addled man was at the scene of a car fire at Ocean's Edge Mobile Estates in Cleone Monday morning. The Fort Bragg Fire Department was alerted that two cars were reporredly burning there in the pre-dawn hours. When firefighters arrived, they found one car that had been on fire, apparently put out by the reporting party. Said reporting party had a hard time explaining exactly what had happened. Firefighters called it a morning and left, followed by grateful Facebook posts from Ocean's Edge residents a few hours later, none of whom, apparently, were awakened by the excitement.
Budget Picture Looking Better
Fort Bragg's City Council looked over a proposed 2021-22 budget at a special meeting Monday.
The city's projected finances look a lot better than they did a year ago, when City Hall couldn't even tell how far revenues were falling during the first months of the COVID lockdown.
Dire estimates for those initial months were accurate: bed tax revenue, Fort Bragg's biggest single local source of funds, “dropped 47% in March 2020, 89% in April 2020 and 84% in May 2020, from the same month in 2019. For the year ending June 30, 2020, TOT revenue was down 21% from the prior year,” says the city's staff report.
But even before the lockdown ended, tourism came roaring back, according to city figures, with record-setting bed tax revenues from July through September last year. The comeback — along with $1.3 million in state-issued COVID relief funds — leaves the city with a projected $90,000 surplus for the coming year.
No staff or program cuts are recommended, and funding for the Noyo Center for Marine Science and tourism promotion, cut last year, is recommended to be restored. City council members will hash out the details over the next couple of weeks.
Financial challenges include keeping the city's water system in the black with severe conservation measures expected later this summer. A water and sewer rate study is underway, with rate hikes possible after it is done.
The C.V. Starr Rec Center is still expected to reopen in July, but at a lower capacity — hiring staff has proved to be a problem, and it's uncertain how quickly people will return to the swimming pools and workout rooms. After a year off, revenues are non-existent, and much maintenance was already deferred there, so the future of the center will be on the table for both the city council and the recreation district in coming months.
WORST EVER? Marshall Newman brings some bad news:
As if Navarro River flow numbers weren't bad before… Today's flow is slightly more than half that of the 1977 69-year minimum! Barring a series of summer storms, this likely will be Anderson Valley's worst water year ever.
FROM JOHN McCOWEN:
Open the link below to access an analysis from Hannah Nelson titled “Mendocino County Cannabis Regulation & CEQA.” It's lengthy but mostly accurate and reasonably comprehensive and balanced. Join the club if you find it challenging to follow every nuance of the discussion!
There are many take aways from the article, but here are a few that I believe are 100% true:
1) Mendocino County has lots of company, including the State of California, in struggling to implement a regulatory system for legal cannabis;
2) The current Mendocino County ordinance does not align with State requirements for site specific CEQA;
3) Despite countless hours of effort by the County, the County Cannabis Ad Hoc Committee and the State, there is no timely, proven or cost effective way to resolve the outstanding issues related to State CEQA requirements;
4) Chapter 22.18 [of the Mendocino County Code], the currently proposed land use based permitting system, if adopted, will resolve the site specific CEQA issues but County’s capacity to process applications in a timely way will still be an issue;
5) The ability of current applicants who apply for a land use permit under Chapter 22.18 to cultivate while their permit is being processed is unknown but the alternative is to shut down entirely when and if the State revokes Provisional licenses.
One misleading aspect of the article: the County, meaning all County cannabis staff and every Supervisor but one, understood very clearly over a year ago that the current ordinance was not going to lead to State Annual Licenses for as many as 90% or more of current applicants. It is unfortunate that the one Supervisor who refused to grasp reality was able to abuse his position as Chair to block Chapter 22.18 from coming forward and being adopted in a timely manner.
SMART, PLEASANT young man outta Navarro named Kellen Lim offers:
“Are you seen? Is your product or message getting out there amongst the vastness of the internet? Friendly neighborhood Twin Giants Media brings local video production services, encompassing filmmaking, video editing, and photography to Mendocino County and beyond. It offers cinematic quality content creation and great storytelling instincts with the goal to attract, captivate, and, effectively reach out to audiences, either on or outside social media. With seven years of video experience and an impressive toolbox equipped with DSLR cameras, lights, mics, and an upcoming addition of a drone, Twin Giants Media is committed to help small business grow, stand tall, and support their communities. You can learn more about Twin Giants Media by emailing Kellen Lim at email@example.com or visit the main website, twingiantsmedia.com.”
AN OLD GUY living and working in a serene, safe rural hamlet called Boonville, California, shares his hopefully not too tiresome thoughts on today's headlines, besides which you always have the scroll option.
KIDS TODAY. The same as the kids yesterday, I thought, as I read Kym Kemp's account of fights between high school kids from Fortuna and high school kids from South Fork, middle HumCo and Southern HumCo. The scene was a swimming hole on the Eel near Miranda, in Southern HumCo. One kid suffered a seriously broken jaw. The comment lines are buzzing that Fortuna kids are rougher than South Fork kids and, since Miranda is near South Fork, the Fortuna contingent must have been provocatively trespassing. This one will play out in deluges of mutual recrimination for weeks, but few of us male-types will recall similar events from our testosterone-crazed youths.
IN DALLAS, a berserk black 18-year-old broke into a friend's apartment where he stabbed a white 4-year-old to death, an unspeakable crime certain to raise ethnic tensions everywhere it is reported.
THE ISRAELIS claim they showed Biden the evidence, “the smoking gun,” that the building the Israelis blew up yesterday housing AP and Al Jazeera also housed Hamas terrorists. Showing Biden evidence of anything is like showing a chimpanzee a maintenance manual for your car.
REPUBLICANS are claiming that the Justice Department is blocking an investigation of Arizona voting in the last election. Trump and his dittoheads still say Trump won the election and that Arizona vote fraud is the tip of the voting fraud iceberg in an election pitting the two worst candidates for president ever in this country's long history of improbable, indefensible candidates.
MAJOR AIRLINES are considering proposals to weigh obese passengers, and charging them by the pound.
A BLACK homeowner in Indianapolis got her white friend to host a property appraiser. The appraiser doubled the value of the black woman's home entirely on the assumption that the homeowner was white.
GASOLINE PRICES around the country have risen dramatically over the past month. In Ukiah, the cheapest I saw Monday was $3.84.
KAMALA HARRIS said she is “studying” the causes of mass human migrations. She's Biden's special envoy to our border with Mexico where people from many countries of the world have arrived, fleeing violent hopelessness where they come from. This fact needs studying?
ON THE WEEK, in various areas of the country, men, mostly white, murdered their families, a terrifying and socially demoralizing occurrence more and more common.
TRUMP'S former Secretary of Defense said Trump's pre-election goals were to avoid a major war; elude a military coup; keep the Army from occupying the streets of major cities.
HARRY AND MEGHAN were ubiquitous, Harry commenting that he thinks the 1st Amendment is "bonkers" as Meghan gazed, rapturously, at him. Heve celebrities ever been less interesting, more fatuous?
SOUTH CAROLINA will give the condemned the choice between the electric chair (Ol' Sparky) and a firing squad.
KARMA, an aptly named police dog working the Canadian border, was found to be wrong “one hundred percent of the time” during dope searches of suspect vehicles.
BILL GATES. Who could have guessed that beneath his blandly nerdy facade lurked a priapic sex predator?
4AM 1300 NORTH STATE
On Friday, May 14, 2021 at about 4:00 A.M, a Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputy was on patrol in the 1300 block of North State Street in Ukiah, California.
The Deputy observed a male driving a vehicle in the area and recognized the male from previous law enforcement contacts.
The Deputy contacted the male and positively identified him as Miguel Marin, 26, of Ukiah. A records check on Marin confirmed he was on formal probation out of Mendocino County, and was subject to search.
A search of Marin's vehicle was conducted. During the search, two folding knives were located hidden beneath the center console of the vehicle. A term of Marin's probation prohibits him from possessing any weapons.
Marin was arrested for Violation of Probation and transported to the Mendocino County Jail where he was booked, to be held in lieu of $25,000 bail.
LOOKS LIKE OL' LAR
On Friday, May 14, 2021 at about 10:56 P.M, a Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputy was on patrol in the area of Ukiah.
The Deputy saw a vehicle pass by him and recognized the driver as Larry Wolfe Junior, 31, of Ukiah, who the Deputy knew from previous law enforcement contacts. The Deputy also knew Wolfe to be on active CDC Parole.
The Deputy checked the vehicle registration through Sheriff's Office Dispatch and was advised the vehicle's registration was expired.
The Deputy noticed a valid 2021 registration tab affixed to the license plate. The Deputy conducted a traffic enforcement stop on Wolfe's vehicle in the 100 block of North Orchard Avenue.
The Deputy contacted Wolfe regarding the false registration tab was on his vehicle. Sheriff's Office Dispatch advised Wolfe's driving privilege was suspended or revoked.
Based on the totality of the investigation, Wolfe was arrested for driving on a suspended license and displaying false registration. CDC Parole was contacted and placed a hold on Wolfe.
Wolfe was transported to the Mendocino County Jail where he was booked. Wolfe was later released after posting $30,000 bail, to appear in Mendocino County Superior Court at a later date.
MIDNIGHT IN WILLITS, TEENYBOPPER DRIVING, ADULT BOYFRIEND PASSED OUT IN THE BACK SEAT WITH A SAWED OFF RIFLE…
On Saturday, May 15, 2021 at about 12:38 A.M, a Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputy was on patrol in the area of Highway 101 near Willits.
The Deputy noticed a vehicle traveling in front of him had defective lighting. The Deputy conducted an traffic stop on the vehicle on Highway 101 near the North Willits Bypass on-ramp.
The Deputy contacted the driver, a 17 year-old female juvenile, who advised she did not have a valid license or learner's permit.
The Deputy also contacted the male passenger, who was obviously intoxicated and appeared to be sleeping. The male was positively identified as being Thomas Christie Junior, 24, of Fieldbrook, California.
The Deputy observed numerous open containers of alcoholic beverage containers, open marijuana containers and marijuana smoking paraphernalia within arms reach of both individuals. A search for further evidence of unlawful possession and use of intoxicating substances was conducted.
During the search, a short-barreled, .223 caliber assault rifle was located in the vehicle. The Deputy was unable to locate a serial number on the assault rifle. The assault rifle was determined to have a barrel length shorter than the legally required length and did not have any other safety implements required by California law.
Based on the totality of the investigation, Christie was arrested for possession of an unregistered assault rifle and possession of a short-barreled rifle.
Christie was handcuffed and seated in the rear seat of the Deputy's patrol vehicle. While the Deputy was arranging for the juvenile's pick up by her legal guardian, the Deputy heard Christie kicking the doors of the patrol vehicle.
The Deputy opened the patrol vehicle door and saw that Christie had severely damaged the interior door panels of both rear passenger doors. The cost to repair the damaged door panels was estimated to be in excess of $400. Therefore the charge of felony vandalism was added to his list of offenses.
The juvenile was released to the care of Mendocino County Child Protective Services, to facilitate her return to her family.
Christie was transported to the Mendocino County Jail where he was booked, to be released after the jail booking process on zero bail pursuant to COVID-19 bail schedule set forth by the State of California Judicial Council.
1300 NORTH STATE. 'NUFF SAID
On Saturday, May 15, 2021 at about 6:38 P.M., Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies responded to a reported disturbance involving a male brandishing a firearm in 1300 block of North State Street in Ukiah.
Through the course of the investigation, Deputies learned two siblings, a 19 year-old male and his 16 year-old sister were walking through a business parking lot.
A male wearing bulking clothing approached them in a hostile manner, asked if they had a problem and brandished what they identified as a handgun he removed from his pants pocket. The siblings feared for their lives and ran away immediately.
A male, later identified as Jacob Sellmer, 32, of Ukiah, matching the description provided by the siblings was contacted a short distance away. Through surveillance footage review and witness identification, Sellmer was identified as the male who brandished an imitation firearm at the siblings.
A records check revealed Sellmer was on probation for a prior vandalism conviction. Based on the totality of the investigation, Sellmer was arrested for brandishing an imitation firearm and violation of probation.
Sellmer was booked into the Mendocino County Jail, to be released after the jail booking process on zero bail pursuant to COVID-19 bail schedule set forth by the State of California Judicial Council.
On Saturday, May 15, 2021 at about 11:00 P.M., a Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputy was on patrol in the area of Coyote Valley Boulevard in Redwood Valley.
The Deputy observed a vehicle with expired registration and conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle.
The Deputy contacted the driver, identified as Jason Emery, 44 of Covelo. The Deputy conducted a records check on Emery through Sheriff's Office Dispatch who advised Emery had three outstanding warrants for his arrest.
Two warrants were issued out of Ventura County. One warrant was issued out of Inyo County. All three warrants were for theft related offenses.
The Deputy arrested Emery for his outstanding warrants and transported him to the Mendocino County Jail where he was booked.
Emery was to be held in lieu of $45,000 total bail or until extradited to Ventura or Inyo County.
CATCH OF THE DAY, May 17, 2021
(Unavailable due to booking website error.)
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
It seems that once you get past barter, e.g. I’ll trade you one of my goats for a bushel of your wheat, commerce becomes an abstraction. Beyond this-for-that exchange, has the economy ever really been anything more than a contrived illusion? If I’m correct that money is just a marker for receiving goods or services in the future, we’ve all had to agree about what has value. As long as we all agree that a financial derivative product has value, is this any different that agreeing a bar of gold has intrinsic value? I wonder how our current predicament is any more precarious than in the past.
“One of us always tells the truth; the other always lies. You can ask us each one question. How do you figure out if we’re anti-maskers or vaccinated?”
In 1949, the Federal Communications Commission adopted the fairness doctrine, which encouraged all holders of broadcast licenses to air possibly controversial issues of public interest and to do so in a manner that would present contrasting views.
The FCC discontinued the requirements of the fairness doctrine in 1987 in the belief that with the increase in the number of broadcast stations, including both radio and television, different outlets would offer contrasting points of view so that all sides of an issue were available in the marketplace of ideas to interested parties.
That rationale might very well be true, but no one at the time could foresee the body politic morphing into partisan tribes with no interest in hearing different sides to an issue, or challenging disinformation.
Proposal: News and opinion programming should never be constrained, but the FCC could require a one-hour program to devote the last 10 minutes to a qualified representative from a recognized group representing a different point of view.
If the viewer will not go to the different point of view, let the different point of view go to the viewer. This requirement works in Australia. We can work out the details.
MAIL ORDER BRIDES
by Paul Modic
Is it ever too late to find a mail-order bride?
The men who've pulled that off around here are all older than their Asian wife by at least twenty years. Men like younger women and women, foreign and domestic, often go for older men as they offer security, stability, intelligence, experience, and stimulation to satisfaction we can hope.
(Sometimes the older American man will get together with an American woman much younger than himself and think, “Wow, I have finally found her, this sweet young thing! Now my life is complete and we can ride off into the sunset.” But for the young woman it's usually just a fling, a curiosity, just checking out the old stuff for a bit, and see ya later creepy geezer! The man's heart is broken irreparably and the young woman disappears into new adventures.)
The mail order bride can have varying economic results in her experience here in the states. Here is a brief look into the financial lives of three Asian brides in Humboldt:
One lived in the weed culture for ten years, made a lot of money trimming, and when she broke up with her husband it was nice to know you, there's the door, and have a nice life. His children from a previous marriage are the only heirs in his will.
Another one grew weed with her husband, made some good money, and when he dies she will get a life estate: she can live in the house until she dies but will not own it, cannot sell it, and when she dies her husband's children from a previous marriage inherit it.
A third Asian wife got nearly everything when her rich grower husband died: a real estate empire including multiple houses and land in the states and across the globe as well as thousands if not millions stashed in banks or buried in the ground.
An impartial observer might say that the more attractive the woman the more she gets. It's all about the money: If you're not able and willing to support them then don't even try.
I can see the attraction to Asian woman: American women can be pretty difficult and complicated: bossy bitches, fad diet queens, and very demanding. But I'd still like a nice one, and I don't like to fly.
SAN FRANCISCO: COOL GRAY CITY OF LOVE
by Jonah Raskin
No culture in the Sun?
In France not long ago, a French professor of literature wore a bemused expression when I told him that California was my home, though I was teaching American literature in Belgium for a year. “You have plenty of sunshine don't you in California? Too bad, you can't have culture in the sun.” He was serious. He had never been to California, though he had watched movies set in California and he had drawn his own conclusions about the place that's called “The Golden State.” I've always thought the appellation had more to do with gold and the gold rush, than the hours of sunlight in a day.
At the time, I regarded the French professor as a snob and an idiot. Of course, there's culture in the sun! There is sun and culture in California and in the South of France where Parisians go on vacation and sometimes look down on the locals as provincial, though there's plenty of culture in Provence and Midi-Pyrenees. I have cultured French friends who live outside Toulouse and who publish books at Les Fondeur Brique.
I understand the French academic now that I call my home San Francisco, the place that the bohemian poet, George Sterling, defined as ”the cool gray city of love.” Gary Kamiya borrowed that phrase for his brilliant book about the city that’s titled, “49 Views of San Francisco.” I say “city,” but I think of San Francisco as a town with many different fiefdoms where localism thrives. Its problems, including inequality, are much the same problems as elsewhere in the U.S.
It's gray today at Ocean Beach, also known as the Outer Sunset, where I'm living and where the Pacific is a two-minute walk from the front door — which is painted red — to my one-bedroom apartment that has a small kitchen, a tiny bathroom and medium sized dining room/living room. There's a backyard and places to sit in the sun if there were sun. My brother, who is a private investigator or PI in the tradition of Sam Spade, is upstairs with his Mexican-born wife who came to the U.S. as a girl but didn't become a citizen until 9/11. She decided it was the prudent thing to do and a safeguard against deportation as un-American.
A Bit of History
I lived in San Francisco for six months in 1974, in the Mission District where the sun shines more frequently than at Ocean Beach. By then the counterculture had seeped into the working classes; carpenters wore ponytails, waitresses wore beads and both wore tie-dyed T-shirts, many of them homemade. Tillie Olsen, the author of Tell Me a Riddleand Yonnondio from the Thirties, regaled me with tales of the 1934 San Francisco General Strike that tied up most of the city. Tillie also lambasted American lefties who used the word “proletarian” and insisted: “there's nothing wrong with the word “workers.” Her favorite word was “solidarity” which she used every time I left her apartment.
In 1974, I was thirty-four and an ex-New Yorker squatting in a ramshackle building with several other ex-New Yorkers. The Sixties were still alive in San Francisco, though they were rapidly coming to a close. I did not own a car or a typewriter, which had been my two most valuable possessions in New York. I took public transportation everywhere in the Bay Area, and, when I left for Mexico City where I worked for a year, all my belongings fit into one small suitcase. Traveling light was the name of the game. Back in California in 1976, I began to accumulate possessions, including cars, typewriters, computers, clothes, shoes, furniture, artwork, carpets and much more, most of which I gave away when I moved from the room I was renting in Sonoma County to my apartment in the city.
When George Sterling, Jack London's pal, called San Francisco “cool” I think he was referring to the temperature, not to its hipness or its bohemians, who were already a vital presence in the city during his lifetime. Bohemians gathered at the Bohemian Club before millionaires and celebrities — no women members allowed — took it over. They turned it into what author, John Van der Zee, describes as The Greatest Men's Party on Earth, an expose of the rituals and the antics that have taken place every year at the Bohemian Grove, two hours or so north of the city.
After Sterling's day, the Beats gave birth to themselves in North Beach, once an Italian enclave, now increasingly Chinese. Then, at the end of the 1950s, came the “Beatniks” — Chronicle columnist Herb Caen coined the word in the aftermath of Sputnik — who were a generation or so younger than Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who published their work soon after he founded City Lights Bookstore in 1953. He made it the first all-paperback bookstore in the U.S. The North Beach he first knew had largely disappeared by the time he died in 2021 at the age of 101. BMWs dotted the steep hillsides.
As for “love,” San Francisco has long had a reputation as a city for lovers, and well before the 1967 “Summer of Love,” which brought droves of young people to the Haight-Ashbury, a neighborhood with old Victorians and inexpensive rents where the hippies were born. They soon degenerated from utopian love and peace to heroin and teenage homelessness. The Diggers held a funeral for the hippies, complete with a coffin which they carried through the streets. “I left my heart in San Francisco,” crooner Tony Bennett sang a zillion times and endeared himself to the city's loyal citizens and its PR industry that promotes SF as superior to LA and New York.
Journalist and historian David Talbot called his book about San Francisco, from the 1960s to the 1980s, Season of the Witch. Talbot recounts the assassinations of Mayor George Moscone and supervisor and gay activist, Harvey Milk who were shot and killed by Dan White, a cop and a supervisor who didn't like the gay men who poured into his city and made the Castro District their playground until HIV/AIDS struck, the bathhouses closed and the party fizzled.
In her first book about San Francisco, the prodigiously creative author, Rebecca Solnit, calls it a “hollow” city and the place where, she suggests, astute social observers could see the outlines of the emerging future of monopoly capitalism that took on a much darker shade than gray. In her second book, Infinite City, also about San Francisco, Solnit changed her mind. It was, she decided, a progressive place of protests against banks, bombs and corporations like Google and Amazon and the straightjacket imposed by technology.
San Francisco invites paradox and contradiction. One day it can seem hollow and the next never day infinite. San Francisco and its citizens tend to regard themselves as superior to inhabitants in the rest of the nation, and as the place where innovation occurs and then moves East. In part that’s true, but American innovation is born in New York, Alabama, New Mexico and elsewhere. No town or city has a monopoly on innovation. Organic farming might be said to have started with Rodale in Pennsylvania. The modern civil rights movement began in Montgomery with a bus boycott. In the age of the Internet it’s hard to pinpoint the rise of all kinds of movements, causes and products.
All in the Family & Beyond
I have moved to San Francisco from sunnier, warmer Sonoma County, a land of vineyards, farms, ranches and suburbs, not because it's a cool gray city, or because of its cultural and literary history, but rather because most of my family lives here and works here. Or did work here for decades. Some family members have retired. Others are too young to work. They're just now in pre-school. I suppose you could say that I'm here for love, though not the hippie variety and certainly not for any repeat of the season of the witch. Home is the place where they have to take you in, Robert Frost said. It’s true for me. Family means as much to me as anything else and my family happens to be in SF and South of the city.
Later this year, the main branch of the San Francisco Public Library will host an exhibit of photos by my friend and collaborator, Jeanne Hansen who documented the punk scene in the 1980s, a decade that was awash in live music, performance art at clubs like Attitude, protests against landlords and nearly everything about the era of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher who seemed like they were made for one another. Four decades after Hansen took her photos, I interviewed the women and men she had known. Their words will be part of the exhibit, along with black-and-white pictures of them in the streets, and on stage performing, often wearing black leather and spiked hair.
All of the punks that Hansen photographed are still alive, and they're still mostly true to their younger selves, though after the 1980s they went on to find employment and became upstanding citizens who paid their taxes and voted on Election Day. Most of them are not native to San Francisco, but came here from Florida, New York, Michigan and elsewhere because they thought that they could be themselves in a city with a history of bohemians, Beats and hippies. To that list they added punk and gave it a distinctive California flavor. For the past 60 or so years, San Francisco has been created by outsiders and outliers like Ferlinghetti and like most of the Beats.
It still has the allure as a locus of freedom and innovation. This morning a demonstration with a jazz band took place right outside my front door. The protesters wanted to close down, permanently, the Great Highway, a major artery on the edge of the city and make it a park for the people who have used it all through the pandemic. That’s okay with me. Less noise, less traffic, and more safe places for cyclists and pedestrians.
Five blocks from my apartment, Other Avenues, a worker-owned co-op sells organic vegetables and organic fruits such as papaya, plantain and guava. The Java Beach Cafe sits half-a-block away. The N-Judah Streetcar stops on the corner and takes passengers downtown and all the way to the stadium along San Francisco Bay, where the Giants play baseball. Just five minutes away, Golden Gate Park waits.
It's hard to get away from something that's “golden” in the cool gray city of love, whether it's Golden Gate Transit or Chinese restaurants like “Golden Coast.”
The Chinese have as much right to the word as anyone else and maybe more so. In the nineteenth-century they called California “Gold Mountain,” and, while they hoped to strike it rich, they mostly didn't and were physically assaulted, a fairly common occurrence that Mark Twain described in print as a young journalist who was outraged by the behavior of white mobs. Anti Asian attacks still take place in the Bay Area. A badge of shame. My two nephews who live in these parts married Asian women and have children with Asian names and who look Asian. Not surprisingly, they’re worried.
On a Sunday, at about two p.m. Pacific time, the clouds lifted, the sky turned blue and the sun shone brightly. I walked to the beach and watched the waves come in and go out. Pelicans flew in formation, barefoot joggers jogged, kites vied for a space above and kids played in the sand. Ocean Beach felt like a place I could love. What was especially striking to me as a fugitive from Sonoma County was the presence of African-Americans. The city wasn't all white, though real estate prices favored whites. By four p.m. the wind had blown the clouds to the East. The sun and the blue vanished and the white caps broke on the shore. It was another perfect San Francisco summer day. The French academic who felt sorry for me when I said I made California my home would surely feel sorry for me all over again.
ALMOST CUT MY HAIR
I almost cut my hair
It happened just the other day
It was gettin' kinda long
I could-a said, it was in my way
But I didn't and I wonder why
I feel like letting my freak flag fly
And I feel like I owe it to someone
Must be because I had the flu for Christmas
And I'm not feelin' up to par
It increases my paranoia
Like lookin' at my mirror and seein' a police car
But I'm not givin' in an inch to fear
Cause I promised myself this year
I feel like I owe it to someone
When I finally get myself together
I'm gonna get down in that sunny southern weather
And I find a place inside to laugh
Separate the wheat from the chaff
I feel like I owe it to someone
— David Crosby
NPR AT 50: STRAYING FROM ITS CIVIC MISSION
by Ralph Nader
This month is the 50th anniversary of National Public Radio (NPR). Knowing about my work back then with other advocates, to persuade Congress to pass legislation creating NPR and PBS, (which was opposed by most of the commercial radio/TV industry), a friend asked what I think of NPR now.
A few observations, drawn from listening to NPR largely over the WAMC station in Albany, New York during a Covid-19 year, are in order.
1. I find the features and the collaboration with other investigative groups, such as Pro Publica, very enlightening. One piece about Amazon’s warehouses was especially memorable. Moreover, Scott Simon and David Brancaccio are so capable as to be considered under-challenged.
2. NPR’s top-of-the-hour news amounts to little more than three minutes. It is repetitious and basically a minor headline service. This mimicking of commercial network radio news is not what we envisioned 50 years ago. The prolonged 6:15 pm evening weather forecasts on WAMC are often longer than the evening news briefs at 6:00 pm.
3. There is just too much weather forecasting throughout the day. On WAMC, around mid-day, they’ll tell you about the weather in California and the mountain states before you hear the forecast for the local listening region. They even promote the weather forecasts. So obsessed are they that they repeat the forecast over the four adjoining regions they service preceded by an overall forecast. Think of the additional local news that could be reported instead.
4. The public radio/TV legislation from Congress did not envision advertisements. Public funding, audience, and foundation donations were seen as the way to reduce commercial pressure over this public institution, inspired in part by the more extensive BBC and CBC in the UK and Canada.
5. What started as a “just a little bit of commercial sponsorship,” when Congress got tight some years ago, has now gone wild. Do we really need to be reminded that “support for this station (or for NPR) comes from x, y, z contributors,” about thirty times an hour? Mind-numbing, hour after hour! NPR makes sure to identify corporate sponsorship such as Facebook or Amazon when they are doing reports affecting these companies. But top NPR management defiantly refuses to monitor the corporate character or respect for the law of these and other companies before they give them NPR’s credibility.
The Corporate Crime Reporter provided NPR management with a list of law violations, such as those by Raymond James, an NPR “sponsor” pursuant to asking about any of NPR’s Ad monitoring. NPR boss, the usually incommunicado John Lansing, essentially blew off the inquiry, saying there is no need for a filter to protect the audience.
6. A key reason for Congress creating NPR was to have its affiliates fill local news gaps, largely neglected by the commercial stations. WAMC has spent good money hiring local reporters in upstate eastern New York, western Massachusetts, and Vermont who know and stay on the beat. But national NPR has spent far too much time on entertainment subjects and interviews and not enough time on civic events, reports, and movements, aside from issues of race, gender, and police violence being covered by the mainstream media. Even NPR’s daily birthday announcement almost always features entertainment or professional sports figures. National civic, labor or educational leaders are scarcely noted.
7. More civic news suffers not for lack of time. NPR and affiliates offer plenty of hours for music. Forget about Saturday and Sunday evenings. At some NPR affiliates, 6:00 pm on weekends is sign-off time in favor of entertainment time.
8. NPR often describes the personal plight of people in poverty or suffering from other deprivations, but rarely probes the structural causes or the role of concentrated corporate power in creating the problems. Increasingly, corporate power is shaping an evermore dominant corporate state that allows mercantile values to seriously weaken the social fabric and moral norms of our society.
Not many NPR reporters use words like “corporate crime,” “corporate welfare,” or cover the corporate capturing of agencies, the vast unaudited military budget, or many other realms of American life controlled by “corporatism.” But then what can one expect when they ignore credible civic groups, who have timely evidence of such domination, and keep on interviewing one another inserting four-second sound bites to academics and consulting firms?
NPR’s practice during election periods of having the anchors interview its reporters, who are often youngish, inexperienced, and bland, instead of skilled, fact-reliable outsiders is disappointing. NPR’s election postmortems too often are superficial and lack rigor.
Just recently, an NPR report on the most recent ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline continued its repeated omission of how victims of hackers actually pay in ransom or why such payments can’t be traced. And NPR’s reporting on why our secretive government seems helpless in protecting towns, cities, hospitals, and others who have been hit by ransomware attacks is anemic.
9. Last month to the dismay of some NPR journalists, there was no national obituary on Ramsey Clark, former Attorney General and early civil rights and human rights leader. NPR did devote five minutes remembering a Rockstar.
10. NPR’s blunders are well-known to local affiliates. WAMC, a mid-size station, pays NPR a million dollars a year. But on January 6, 2021, NPR Washington was AWOL – over an hour late in feeding its affiliates reports on the insurrection, which started getting reported by CNN around 2:00 pm. WAMC reporters were furious, and I was told this wasn’t the first time NPR messed up.
There is an omnipresent air of smugness about NPR, such as their constant display of confident ignorance on Congress’ constitutional authority, and Presidential/Executive Branch lawlessness. This shortcoming was especially troubling during Trump’s impeachments. Where are you, Supreme Court reporter Nina Totenberg, to give tutorials to your younger colleagues who need to be more sensitive to these issues and to their in-house ageism over the years?
11. Then there are the daily irritations. The interlude music is often inappropriate and too long. Marketplace at night with hyper-Jumping Jack, Kai Ryssdal has music as noisy background while he is giving the brief stock market numbers.
Unlike its commercial competition, NPR and PBS’s News Hour start their news programs with ads, something commercial NBC, CBS, and ABC do not do. NPR has puzzles during prime-time evening news time, this itself is a puzzling fillip.
NPR has long had a Public Editor on staff. They almost always respond to listeners’ substantive complaints by saying these are not matters within their jurisdiction. The new Public Editor is Kelly McBride. She insisted on not being on staff but instead on contract from St. Petersburg, Florida. This is the link for the public editor to protect her independence. After a few tries, she actually returned my calls and reassured me that she is looking out for the listener’s best interest. We’ll see.
It would be good if listener feedback to NPR was made easier and more regularly structured. WAMC has lots of listener feedback on issues chosen daily by its Roundtable and other interview shows. But as one might expect some questions, as about top management salaries and bad advertisers lunching off WAMC’s credibility, seem out of bounds.
I have started a Reporter’s Alert suggesting many kinds of stories that are not covered or only nibbled at by the media. You can see them aggregate at https://reportersalert.org/ and of course, this resource is available for perusal by NPR’s editors and reporters.
There is so much more to learn about NPR. Since NPR gives plenty of time to conservative politicians, an educational bipartisan Congressional hearing and report would be a good way to celebrate the 50th anniversary. It’s just not productive to give NPR a pass simply by comparing it to the rancid competition spoiling our public airwaves for free.
THE FALSE GOD
by James Kunstler
Beneath all the psychotic babble that sore besets the collective national hive-mind over a pandemic that comes and goes in waves, and phantoms of contrived identity animus, looms an economy that would collapse without gigantic IV infusions of “money” from the false god that our government has become. The collapse is working its way out in strange ways as we create ever stranger work-arounds for avoiding it — such as the unanswered “help wanted” signs while legions of unemployed adults cash government support checks.
Of course, a lot of those unanswered signs are for what used to be called shit-jobs, flipping burgers, bagging groceries, and such. For a lot of Americans, those are the only jobs. We can argue about whether the government ushered better-paying low-skill factory jobs offshore or whether other nations would have developed industries in the natural course of things (or a combo of both). But the end result is a country full of people who can barely support themselves, let alone a family, and the consequent loss of all the psychological infrastructure for a society that can respect itself.
With the spring zephyrs blowing, the great expectation rises for a return to “normal,” which seems to mainly consist of bustling restaurants, brisk car sales, and the construction of suburban houses. It’s not that these are the only things we can do in life, but they’re what the dynamics of the moment allow. Those dynamics include incentives, laws, regulations, habits, and customs.
The zoning laws and building codes allow only certain types of habitations, generally ones too expensive for people seeking to establish households, not to mention the social costs of building even more unsustainable suburbia based on the selling of ever more unaffordable cars. The work-around for that is official manipulation of the debt markets, artificially-low interest rates, and discarding the framework of creditworthiness. The unintended consequences include the inflation of house prices and exposure of house-buyers to greater fragility (risk) in foreclosure. Ultimately, backstopping the banks that hold the mortgages and their derivative securities keeps the whole dishonest shootin’ match going… until it stops.
One thing that will stop all of that will be the slow death of money, inflation, which is just now transforming from a distant specter on the horizon to a condition in the here-and-now. You will have plenty of money and that money will become increasingly worthless. The authorities probably think that’s better politically than the people having no money at all, but it’s really the same thing dragged out over time to fool everybody. Governments like it because it reduces the nominal cost of debt — except now the government debt-load is so supernaturally gigantic, really nothing will avail to fix that, and meanwhile they’re very busy making the debt situation worse by giving away as much newly borrowed money as the situation requires to maintain the illusion of a functioning economy.
Anyway, as the time-frame for inflation compresses, the people notice that their money won’t buy what they need, and they get restless, perhaps dangerously so. In the process, the government begins to look incompetent, on top of the usual perception that it is corrupt, and before you know it, legitimacy slips through the widening cracks of the floor. Until now, the authorities have been successful in pitting citizens against each other, and the ill-will unleashed has been spectacular. But the memes of “white supremacy” are so obviously dishonest that they’ve only succeeded in hugely pissing off the substantial demographic of white people who struggle desperately to remain employed, housed, mobile, and capable of raising children who are not being driven crazy.
The coronavirus situation is not so reassuring. We are one more serious up-wave of illness from tanking whatever remains of this vaporific economy. An emerging pattern suggests that higher vaccination rates might generate new-and-improved iterations of the disease more efficiently — just as the government tries more aggressively to sell vaccination to the public. The public is also noticing the alarming statistics, and many remain unconvinced that the vaccines are even vaccines in the usual sense, but rather insufficiently tested exotic experiments desperately employed against something that looks more and more like a bio-weapon that the government itself was complicit in creating.
My state of New York is supposedly “reopening” today. Who’s not longing to get back to “normal?” But who’s not a little anxious that mixing normally with other people won’t start the whole cycle all over again? And, anyway, who doesn’t wonder whether normal is really a thing of the past now, disappearing in the rear-view mirror? Just as the hopeful meme floats over the Internet that the storm is over, we fail to see that there’s a larger storm of history whirling around us that we’re only in the eye of.
(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting his Patreon Page.)
ROOT & REBOUND is hosting a FREE virtual legal clinic, June 14-17th, for people with arrest or conviction records who reside in San Joaquin, Sacramento, Mendocino, Lake, Del Norte, and Humboldt counties.
At these telephone clinics, we will be providing legal information about navigating barriers to reentry related to employment, housing, public benefits, family & children, immigration, parole & probation, and more.
An appointment is required for these clinics. Call (510) 279-4662 or use the link below to schedule an appointment now!
WHEN: Monday, June 14th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m to Thursday, June 17th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
WHO: San Joaquin, Sacramento, Mendocino, Lake, Del Norte, and Humboldt county residents with a California arrest or conviction record.
RSVP:Online at bit.ly/june-clinic or by calling (510) 279-4662.
If possible, please have a “RAP sheet”, or a copy of your criminal record, on hand. For information on how to get your RAP sheet, please visit bit.ly/RAPSHEETCA. If you have any documents pertaining to your legal issue, we ask that you have those with you.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (510) 279-4662 if you have any questions.
Root & Rebound's mission is to restore power and resources to the families and communities most harmed by mass incarceration through legal advocacy, public education, policy reform, and litigation— a model rooted in the needs and expertise of people who are directly impacted.
NOTICE OF A PUBLIC HEARING
NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that on May 25, 2021 at 6:00 p.m., or as soon thereafter as possible, via teleconference the Point Arena City Council will hold a public hearing to consider changes to the City’s Master Fee Schedule.
The Master Fee Schedule Resolution establishes fees for City services, including administrative, planning, wastewater and pier fees. A copy of the proposed Fee Schedule is available for review at City Hall during normal business hours and on the City’s website at: https://cityofpointarena.us14.list-manage.com/track/click?u=c164a8c82a2a5af8db4de85b1&id=834a52cfab&e=d0e3cdc057
Residents of Point Arena are encouraged to attend the hearing where they will be given the opportunity to provide input on the Master Fee Schedule.
All interested parties may appear and be heard at the public hearings described above or provide written correspondence to email@example.com or PO Box 67, Point Arena, CA 95468.
In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, individuals needing special accommodations (including auxiliary communicative aids and services) during this hearing should notify the City Manager/City Clerk at (707) 882-2122 at least 24 hours prior to the hearing.
Dated: May 11, 2021