Light Snow | Vehicle Burglars | College Help | Navarro Cheer | Ed Notes | Arabic Numerals | Migrating Whales | Ocean Views | Christmas Slog | Treasonous Acts | Yesterday's Catch | Morning Leprechaun | Bridge Out | Remove Dam | Santa Strike | NM Photos | Music Tradition | Tutu Said | Wayne Thiebaud | Jackpot Question | Mazel Tough | Holiday Police | Pleasantly Drinking | Roof Repair | Left Bias | Babe Airborne | Desmond Tutu | Water Planet | Cloverdale Housing | Mendo Mill | Existential Risk | Team Trump
LIGHT SNOW SHOWERS will continue today for interior mountains while snow levels quickly come up closer to the coast. Otherwise, cold temperatures will prevail through mid to late week, followed by another potential winter storm late next weekend into early next week. (NWS)
HELP CATCH FORT BRAGG VEHICLE BURGLARS
City of Fort Bragg Police Department
The department would like to ask for the public's assistance in identifying the individuals in this photographs.
They are associated with a vehicle burglary that occurred around 5:00 a.m. on the 26th of December. If you believe you recognize any of the suspects in this photograph please contact the City of Fort Bragg Police Dept at (707) 964-0200. The investigating officer, Officer McHugh, can be contacted directly at (707) 961-2800 ext. 167 or by e-mail at a email@example.com. Anonymous tips may be left on the anonymous Crime Tip Hotline at (707) 961-3049.
END OF YEAR GIVING
Friends, Neighbors and Community Members:
We all have our favorite causes. If deserving college students are your concern, as they are mine, please consider an end of year gift to them through the Mendocino College Foundation. Your gift helps support students' needs for textbooks, tuition assistance, transportation, child care and basic needs. It helps our students who are working hard to better their future for themselves and their children.
Also of interest to many locals is the Coastal Field Station, a 15-acre property overlooking the Pacific Ocean near Pt. Arena. It provides unique opportunities for studying marine life, coastal prairie flora, and abundant geological features. This jewel, with its original Coast Guard structures and awe-inspiring beauty, provides unmatched opportunities for college students throughout Northern California to study and learn in a unique, unspoiled marine environment.
You can use the link below to contribute to these causes, and others, through the Mendocino College Foundation. 100% of your donation goes directly to the cause. Nothing is withheld for overhead or administrative costs. And this year, up to $300 per taxpayer is deductible on top of the federal standard deduction.
Member Board of Directors, Mendocino College Foundation
Member, Friends of Mendocino College Coastal Field Station
Chair, Friends of Mendocino College Coast Center
HEADED WEST in the early evening dank of the Deepend where, rounding the curve at the Navarro Store and Presto! Magico a panorama of Christmas at the Navarro Store.
Proprietor Dave Evans explains, “We weren't going to set up the annual lighting of the Store this year, but the following crew insisted on volunteering their time to do it for the community as it's been a tough year for all of us and they thought it would put a smile on everyone's face driving by the store, and it did!”
Chief Elf: Kim Kice, with Tommi, Ann Lovelady, Carol Bloyd, Lisa Mckenzie, Kevin Bloyd
ANGEL GUZMAN, San Jose. Attempted murder. This plot is already pretty thick but there's room for Mr. Guzman. He is believed to be the third man involved in the 2am shooting of Chris Brown of Albion. It was Guzman's truck found at the top of Brown's driveway. Three would-be assassins ran off into the woods when Brown returned fire. Two — Jose Aguilar and Roberto Chavez-Sousa — were soon found hiding nearby and arrested. Mr. Guzman eluded the deputies at the shooting scene but is now in custody.
THIS EVENT — a near death experience for Mr. Brown who managed to escape serious injury with a grazing wound to the back of his head — went from curious to curiouser when Aguilar and Chavez-Sousa went to court on attempted murder charges, bail having been set at $750,000 each. And walked out of court, the free-est attempted killers in the annals of attempted murder.
DA EYSTER explained that charges were not filed against the two “pending further investigation. We couldn’t determine which guy did what,” Eyster said. “It’s not clear which guy shot the gun.”
SO? If fifty guys had appeared at Brown's house and only one of them fired a shot or two at him, normal procedure is to arrest all of them and charge all of them for conspiracy to commit a major felony.
BUT THE DA said he couldn't hold someone “until you know who did what and why and I can’t charge a lesser crime because they might plead to it and get off on the less serious charge.” Eyster said neither of the men had criminal records, and that a third man might have been involved.
Enter Mr. Guzman of San Jose.
HMMM. Jose Aguilar and Roberto Chavez-Sousa show up at Chris Brown's house at 2am, shoot and wound him and are found hiding in the nearby woods a few hours later. They are booked into the County Jail on attempted murder charges with bail set at $750,000 but when they appear in court they're released without charges while the episode is “investigated.”
I DON'T GET IT. If two (or three) people show up at two in the morning, shoot and wound a man unknown to them as they wake him from his sleep with at least one gunshot aimed at his head, run off when their target returns fire but leave their vehicle in the victim's driveway, how is it possible that both Aguilar and Chavez Sousa aren't held as suspects to determine which of them fired at Mr. Brown? I thought under state law (and common sense) that whoever is with a shooter during an attempted murder that person is also assumed to be as guilty as the person who did the shooting. Something is very, very off in this one. I'm sure the perps will be available for further questioning, perhaps being kind enough to zoom in from Michoacan to say, “Guzman made us do it.”
CAN’T RESIST a few AVA End-of-the-Year Awards:
MOST WELCOME NEW EDUCATOR: Louise Simson, Anderson Valley superintendent of schools
NEW PUBLIC AGENCY least likely to do anything of public use: Drought/Water Agency; runner-up (perennial) Air Quality Office, Ukiah.
BEST NEW MENDO BAND: Thirty Aut Sicks outta Boonville (Guy Kephart, Maye Dickinson and Art Folz)
LEAST EFFECTIVE PUBLIC AGENCY: Mendocino County Supervisors. Runner-up: City of Ukiah
BEST RUNNING SCAM: Northcoast Railroad Agency, Doug Bosco prop and sponsored by the Democratic Party of the Northcoast
LAWMAN OF THE YEAR: Sheriff Matt Kendall despite being sued and generally disrespected by the Mendo supervisors
WOOF-WOOF: Supervisors' jive threat to hold department heads personally accountable for budget overruns.
BEST PUBLIC EMPLOYEE: Chamise Cubbison for refusing to back off her challenge of DA's travel reimbursements.
JOURNALO ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Matt LaFever of the local crime website, MendoFever.
LENIN’S TOMB AWARD: Bari Bombing Exhibit at the County Museum in Willits (and the entombed cultists who showed up)
CHRIS SKYHAWK: Whales on the way...Just got back from sitting by the ocean near the college in FB the whales are starting to move south in numbers now - saw many, many blows, it never gets old for me.
RAIN ON THE HORIZON AND GREY WHALES SWIMMING BY (photos by Dick Whetstone)
KIRK VODOPALS WRITES: Attempted a Christmas Day mountain bike ride from Navarro to Albion. Saw a pileated woodpecker on Flynn Creek Road. Headed up Tank 4 with the dog. Waterfalls everywhere as the good Lord intended. Trudged up Tank 4 assuming I’d hit the ridge road. Came up short about a quarter mile so threw the bike on my back and slogged up the 70% slope. Stopped just below the ridge to snap a photo and make a quick AVA online post. Cold wind blew hard making my warm sweat turn scarily cold. Headed down the ridge road north. Took the first left west and immediately hit brush. Wasn’t this the trail I rode years ago? Slogged through the brush for half a mile. Even the dog seemed disenchanted. Realized quickly that the westward slog was failing. Shed a soggy layer and headed back to the ridge road. Zipped down Larmer gulch with frozen knuckles. Out Keene summit and headed home as the sun went down. Warm shower, hopped in the van, dark beer, and Christmas cheer with the loved ones in Albion.
“Our Banner in The Sky is a patriotic and allegorical oil painting over paper that was created by Edwin Church. Church was responding to The Battle of Fort Sumter, also known as the bloodless battle. This was the first civil war battle that happened 11th April, 1861 when the Confederates attacked Fort Sumter.”
This was a treasonous act much like the Trump inspired recent attack on our capital and our democracy.
CATCH OF THE DAY, December 27, 2021
JAMES ANDEREGG, Ukiah. Camping on public sidewalk, paraphernalia.
JADE BENNETT, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
JOSHUA BETTS, Willits. DUI.
TALON BRITTON, Willits. Parole violation, resisting.
KYLE COHN, Willits. Failure to appear.
CLEMENTE MAGALLON, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
DEBORAH MCCLOUD, Covelo. DUI with priors, suspended license, controlled substance, no license, offenses while on bail, failure to appear.
MARTIN PANIAGUA-MORENO, Ukiah. Protective order violation, probation revocation.
JUAN REBOLLO-MEDINA, Inglewood/Ukiah. DUI w/BA greater than 0.15
VICTOR SANCHEZ-GOMEZ, Ukiah. DUI, no license.
RAFAEL VENANCIO, Ukiah. DUI.
by Steve Heilig
I once had a roadside chat with a leprechaun in Ireland - even though I don’t really believe in such creatures and was not on any sort of hallucinogenic substance at the time, at least to my knowledge.
It was the 1980s and were bicycling, my friend Eric and I, all the way around the island of Eire. Leaving Paris, I’d ridden all the way down the Seine to the coast, meeting him there and taking the big overnight ferry across, rolling through the massive swells of the English Channel all night, lying in sleeping bags on deck chairs. We embarked on the south coast packed up and saddled up and headed West along the coast. It was summer and the sun was consistently shining, so much so that many fair locals were getting serious sunburns. But perfect climate for us California bicyclists.
Other than a quick touristic stop to see the fabled Blarney Stone - where we were told that drunken locals liked to pee on it late at night in anticipation of unsuspecting tourists then kissing it - I don’t recall much of the south coast. But when we hit the southwestern corner of the island I was strongly struck at how much it resembled western Mendocino, Sonoma, Marin - deep green hills and cliffs and crashing waves, and narrow old crumbling roads between small villages, with very little automobile traffic. It was utterly lovely and superb biking terrain, although likely considerably less inviting for that in the winter. Famed locals like the towering coastal Cliffs of Moher were unforgettable.
We would ride just as far as we felt, stop in a town late in the day, find the most appealing-looking pub that was open, and begin the ritual ordering of the pint. Most places seemed to have but three beers in the 1980s: Guinness, Murphy’s, and Harp, going from dark to light. They were all fine but the prolonged three-part proper drawing of the Guinness pint was the standard order. You wanted your moustache to leave a distinct imprint in the foam on your first sip.
The other appeal of west Ireland was in it's timelessness. We met rural folks who still spoke Gaelic, a largely incomprehensible tongue to us. Each county seemed to have its own loyal identity, and thought they were mostly no bigger than our own north coast ones, you could hear an old man say “Ah yes, County Clare - I was up there 30 years ago....” - whereas we would be there by dinnertime on our bikes. Traditional music was expertly played in seemingly every pub on fiddles, guitars, sometimes and accordion. Many sang along, and most were very good indeed. Regulars at the bar would be cajoled with a shot and/or pint into singing a local tune, and I can still hear a little old fellow concluding his ballad “... and I can't forget my little shack, I lived on Dingle bay...”, with real tears in his eyes. It was music festival time too and there seemed to be one in each county, with artists showing up in the pubs at night - Van Morrison, for example. In that regard we were in heaven.
There was darkness too of course, although we were mostly blissfully unaware of it. Ireland in the 1980s was still almost feudal in some regards, especially with respect to the Catholic church's hold on the culture. Birth control was barely legal and hard to get, with condoms requiring a medical prescription, and frowned upon even then. As was later revealed, the “Magdalene Laundries” maintained by the church were sites of virtual slavery, mass cruelty, and murder of unwanted “fallen” young women and babies. Poverty and malnutrition were common. But one didn't talk about such things much - yet. The movement for women’s rights in Ireland was only belated brewing, and in some ways still is.
What some did talk about was 'the troubles' - the heightened violence and protest against British rule that just a few years before had seen prisoners such as Bobby Sands starve themselves to death in protest. It was a vastly complex and bitter sectarian struggle, killing over 3,500 over decades. When we reached Northern Ireland the contrast with the bucolic west was glaring - barbed wire, police everywhere, heightened tension. In a pub there, once we were accepted as OK, we took a poll of the large crowd inside and learned every single man was unemployed and on the dole. And they were seemingly spending it all on beer - a headline had just trumpeted “PINT BREAKS POUND BARRIER,” probably as good an economic indicator as anything - and who could blame them? And while we were at least smart enough not to raise the issue of the troubles and the IRA, more than once a local would say something like 'Oh yar, we all say we deplore the violence and such, but get a couple of pints in us and it's “Up the IRA!”.
In any event, although I am likely something like 10% Irish at most, within a couple weeks there that “blood” had taken over and I unwittingly had the accent, the loyalties, the tastes in music and beer and literature - I had a beatup copy of Joyce's “Dubliners” in my saddlebag and read some every day, deciding forever that the concluding epic story “The Dead” was immortal. I “passed” as Irish more than once, and was proud of that.
Eric and I split up at times, by default or by choice, for whatever reasons, simply knowing that if we kept on the one coast road clockwise around the island, and hit the right pubs, we'd meetup again. And we did. We found each other at the bars or music halls or even just on the roadside, keeping eyes out for each other's bikes. I don't recall seeing anybody else riding long-distance as we did - the craze for bike touring, and Ireland's overall surge of tourism, was still a bit ahead.
So, on one of those misty mornings were I'd awoken alone in a field, after a bit too much Guinness in the last village the evening before and a wobbly ride in the dark out of town to find a place to bed down, I groggily packed up my light sleeping bag, strapped it to the bide rack on back, and tottered slowly onward. My wrinkled map showed the next town just a few miles up the road, where I could splurge on some pub grub and coffee. Bedeviled by little biting bugs all night, I hadn't slept much and very much looked forward to that.
At one point I was pedaling slowly up a gentle slope, a rickety wooden fence on the right side of the road, and I spotted a lone figure perched on the fence ahead. This was the proverbial middle of nowhere, miles from any building so far as I could tell. As I rolled up, I slowed to at least say a hello to whomever it might be. But when I drew up something made me pull to a full stop, and plant my feet on the road.
The figure there was small, maybe five feet tall, sitting on the old fencepost. His clothes were ragged, in fact, the collar on his shirt had rotted away, leaving just a neck hole, where a frayed tie was wrapped around. He had an equally decayed cap on. But what pulled m up short were his eyes. The Beatles lyric “Kaleidoscope eyes” came to me. His eyes were like mesmerizing searchlights, whatever color they might be, and he was smiling, flashing heavily decayed teeth. It took me maybe a full minute of staring to finally venture to say something.
”Good morning sir” was all I could muster.
”And to you! And how are you today?” he replied, enthusiastically.
I was still literally dumbfounded by his image, but then managed “Well, I am actually still quite sleepy, you know. I slept in a field and the little midges were biting me all night, so I was awake most of the night I think.”
He nodded knowingly. “Ah yes, the midges. Bless them.” A pause. “But, you know, one hour of cosmic sleep is at least as good as ten hours of the regular kind!”
I didn't know what to say to that. He was still staring and smiling. After another pause, I just lamely said, “Well, yes, and, um, thank you, and I'll be rolling on...”. So, with a nod, I mounted up and pedaled slowly away up the slope, marveling at what or who I'd just encountered. But about ten yards up, something made me look back to wave goodbye - and he was gone. I pulled up abruptly, laid my bike down, and walked back, fearing maybe he had fallen off the fence into a ditch or something. But there was no ditch, just flat hard earth, and no nearby tree or bush or anywhere within a kilometer he could have gone in the few seconds I had been turned away. He had simply, truly vanished.
I stood there, looking all round, astonished. I don't believe in this stuff, I thought to myself. But I had no doubt, not one iota, that I'd just seen and talked with somebody or something right then. I called out “hello?” a couple of times; nothing. After a few minutes there was nothing but to walk back up to my bike and ride onward.
In that next pub an hour or less later, the only customer up so early, I ordered up eggs and toast and coffee. “You care for a pint with that?” the affable bartender inquired.
”Er, ugh, thanks but I don’t think so - I’m still recovering from all those last night,” I replied.
”Ah, lad, think of it this way - it’s just a nice glass of cereal, you know?”
I laughed and said, “OK, true, I will if you will join me, deal?”
He agreed without argument and set off to place my food order and pull the pints. As he expertly performed that delicate operation, I gently ventured to tell him of my roadside encounter just an hour before. I didn’t want him to think me a total flake, from California no less, but I couldn’t help but wonder what his take on it might be. As I finished the story, he brought our pints over, all creamy foam on top, and raised his to mine. ”Probably a leprechaun,” he speculated matter-of-factly, as if we were talking about a species of bird or something. “Who knows? But here’s to whoever that was, long may he live,” he said. ”And to you, a lucky traveler who now has a story to last you the rest of your days, and maybe more.”
We drank to that.
FREE THE EEL
I have been seeing letters saying some vested groups want to keep the dams on the Eel River and continue to divert water to the Russian River. Would these writers think it is OK if water interests in Southern California diverted water from the Russian River? Do these writers have any concerns for endangered species in the Eel River that are suffering because of an inadequate fish ladder at the Cape Horn Dam and no fish ladder at Scott Dam?
Rep. Jared Huffman’s Two-Basin Solution Partnership, which includes Sonoma and Mendocino county water interests, supports removing Scott Dam. There are reasons PG&E doesn’t want the 100-year-old dams, and this was before their powerhouse failed several months ago.
Now is the time to remove these dams so the Eel can be a complete Wild and Scenic River, from its headwaters to its mouth. No one in the North Bay is shedding tears for removing dams on the Klamath River. Why should it be different for removing dams on the Eel River?
As a cartoon caption in the Dec. 12 edition said, “Damned by the dams … RIP salmon.”
THE RIVER, THE WORKERS & THE WALL: Photographs by David Bacon, Las Cruces, NM 12/22/21
This photoessay introduces the coming photography exhibition at the San Francisco Public Library, More Than a Wall/Mas que un muro. The exhibition will open on February 12, 2022, with a discussion among photographers and artists about art, media and the border.
TOM WAITS: You see, I’m like everybody else in music. I don’t have a formal background. I learned from listening to records, from talking to people, from hanging around record stores, and hanging around musicians and saying, “Hey, how did you do that? Do that again. Let me see how you did that.” And then I kind of incorporated it into what I was doing. Everybody’s still really involved in the folk process of listening to each other. Even if you really try to do exactly what you think someone else did the night before, you can’t, unless you’re some kind of impersonator or impressionist. When you hear breakthroughs in music, it was their attempt to replicate something incorrectly, and that’s what puts a hole in the door and lets the light in. You know, Chuck Berry was trying to play guitar the way Johnnie Johnson, his piano player, played keyboards, with the same kind of stride feeling. When I was a kid picking up a needle and trying to learn how someone did something over and over again … it’s kind of how it gets passed along, and I’m proud to be part of that whole tradition.
(Maher, Paul. Tom Waits on Tom Waits: Interviews and Encounters)
DESMOND TUTU SAID
Either win or lose?
We all win or we all lose.
Get that straight, my friend.
— Jim Luther
WAYNE THIEBAUD, known for his colorful depictions of everyday life, dies at age 101
WHAT ARE YOU DOING NEW YEARS EVE
When the bells all ring and the horns all blow
And the couples we know are fondly kissing
Will I be with you or will I be among the missing?
Maybe it's much too early in the game
Ah, but I thought I'd ask you just the same
What are you doing New Year's, New Year's eve?
Wonder whose arms will hold you good and tight
When it's exactly twelve o'clock that night
Welcoming in the New Year, New Year's Eve?
Maybe I'm crazy to suppose
I'd ever be the one you chose
Out of the thousand invitations you received
Ah, but in case I stand one little chance
Here comes the jackpot question in advance
What are you doing New Year's, New Year's Eve?
Ah, but in case I stand one little chance
Here comes the jackpot question in advance
What are you doing New Year's, New Year's Eve?
Oh, what are you doing New Year's, New Year's Eve?
(written by Frank Loesser, sung by Ella Fitzgerald)
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Until I was about ten, we got to see the police almost every Christmas. I just thought they were part of the deal.
SITTING HERE ON THE BIG GREEN COUCH at The Earth First! Media Center in Garberville, California, sipping Tulsi tea, watching the video of the December 28th aarti at Mayapur, India, with the sound of Little Feat on the apartment sound system, and videographer Andy Caffrey in a recliner pleasantly drinking a local beer and suitably set otherwise, I am ready to move on. The laundry was done yesterday, am essentially packed as always, and awaiting whatever is on the horizon, Identified with ParaBrahman only, the world spectacle continues going around and around and around. Have my reservation for a tour of the spiritual sky with Srimati Radharani and Sri Krishna, with a stop at Vaikuntha planet to high five Lord Shiva, and then on to Goloka Vrindavan. I am contactable if anybody wishes to do anything on the earth plane. Cool? 😊
Craig Louis Stehr, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
To the Editor:
Re: John Arteaga’s article in the AVA, Dec. 18, 2021 theava.com/archives/172394#31
First of all after reading a piece of hate spewed rhetoric I cannot give this guy a break.
He blatantly speaks about how Trump has done so much bad in his tenure on this earth.
I am not here to defend who or what Trump is but to try leveling the playing field. This country is in a state of lunacy and it is only getting worse.
Where else can people claim chess is racist, right handed people are more privilaged, and we need segregated dorms because people of color do not feel safe at a university. Why are we at this point in our history?
It's due to many people in the news and in the government who perpetuate this mindset.
Okay you did not like Trump but he was elected democratically by the people and I do not like what Biden is doing to our country but he was also elected democratically. This is how it works. Get over it. You want to change it then do it the right way.
Your use of “porn addict sexual harasser” towards one of our Supreme Court Justices is just helping to make the divide bigger. I guess you are referring to Clarence Thomas. And then you jump on Brett Kavanaugh who was completely disgraced by the left over the testimony of one woman who in my opinion was a very poor witness. Her story had so many holes even a mouse would have passed on that piece of cheese. And then your opinion of Amy Cory Barrett is so disgusting from a humanitarian view point. Your view of these justices shows your contempt for democracy.
You probably would do well in socialist type country where only your thoughts would be allowed. So what if she says that a person could carry the baby to term and then adoption. It surely is no worse than what some believe about abortion, being able to abort outside the womb. That is pretty horrific, but you and your side would want the rest of the country to go along with it.
Your use of “A Handmaid’s Tale” in reference to her also helps to spread hate and suspicion on the right.
Where is your outrage over justice when it comes to the left. Looks to me like H. Clinton had a large part in the Russia story that the left dragged on for 3+ years. How about the Gov. of NY who had how many women accuse him but the left protected him, oh and lets not forget Clinton who had four or five women call him out. Biden had accusers who were shoved to the side even with all the video evidence of him “fondling” women on the news.
How about Hunter Biden's ties to foreign countries pulling in huge amounts of money for the family. It was and is like a crime family at play. But the left leaning social media declared it “misinformation” and so hid it from the public and the main stream media refused to report on it. It might have changed the outcome of the last election. I guess that could be counted as “Justice Denied.” This is the MO of the left.
You can't make this stuff up. The thought of turning the very idea of democracy and representing the will of the people over to the gaggle of mental cases in the White House and in the Congress makes my bones chill. Remember this country is 325 million people and roughly half of them do not believe what you believe.
This a democracy and thank god I live in one.
Raymond L. Gates
DESMOND TUTU OPPOSED CAPITALISM, ISRAELI APARTHEID AND US/UK IMPERIALISM, TOO
by David Rovics
This may sound either arrogant or forgetful, but I could not possibly remember the number of times I was in the same room or at the same protest as Desmond Tutu. And the main reason I know he was there is because I was there listening to him speak, often from a distance of not more than two meters or so. I say this not to associate myself with the great man — though I’ll forgive you for thinking I’m a terrible, narcissistic name-dropper — but just to be sure we all know this all really happened, because I saw and heard it.
It seems very important to mention, because of the way this man is already being remembered by the world’s pundits and politicians. As anyone could have predicted, Tutu is being remembered as the great opponent of apartheid in his native South Africa, who was one of the most recognized and most eloquent leaders of the anti-apartheid struggle there, for most of his adult life.
Being a leader in the movement to end apartheid in South Africa was probably the greatest achievement of the man’s life work, and it should come as a surprise to no one that this is the focus of his many obituaries, along with the Nobel he was awarded in 1984. After Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination, he was remembered by the establishment in much the same way, as a leader of the movement against apartheid in the US. The fact that he had become one of the most well-known and well-loved voices of the antiwar movement in the United States and around the world at the time of his death has largely been written out of the history books, a very inconvenient truth.
But as with Martin Luther King, many of the same political leaders commemorating Tutu today would have been unlikely to mention him a day earlier, lest Tutu take the opportunity to speak his mind. This is certainly why he was not invited to commemorate his friend and comrade, Nelson Mandela, at Mandela’s funeral eight years ago.
Like King and so many others, we can be sure that all the praises of Desmond Tutu as the great moral compass of the world will be made safely, after he’s dead. Before then would have been much too dangerous, and he was best ignored until then — at which point his passing can be used as an easy way for liberals and conservatives alike to talk about how they also opposed South African apartheid, eventually.
Looking back at Desmond Tutu’s life, searching for various references to protests I recall him speaking at, there’s a headline from the Washington Post on February 16th, 2003 — “thousands protest a war in Iraq,” in New York City the day before. There were at least half a million people at the rally, on one of the coldest winter days anyone could remember. What I recall most vividly is being behind the stage, which was even colder than most anywhere else at the protest, because it was also in the shade. Huddling amid the frozen metal scaffolding were a variety of leftwing luminaries, including Desmond Tutu, Danny Glover, and Susan Serandon, who were getting all the attention from the media, allowing me to hang out with Pete and Toshi Seeger, since no one else wanted to talk to them, or me.
The following year there was a rally in Copley Square in Boston, Massachusetts against Israeli apartheid. It was very windy, and there were hundreds of people filling the area in front of the big church there on Boylston Street. I don’t remember who else spoke, but Tutu was the main speaker, and he spoke at length, after I sang “They’re Building A Wall” and other songs related to the anti-apartheid struggle in Palestine, as it was an event in solidarity with Palestinians. Being such a well-known leader in the struggle against South African apartheid, when he would compare Israeli apartheid to the South African version, this was just the kind of support the movement to boycott Israel needed, and Tutu did his best to provide it, over and over again.
There were three overlapping social movements in the early 2000’s that I was involved with as a musician, all of which Tutu was deeply involved with. I apologize for speaking of these movements in the past tense, but none of them are anywhere near as big or active as they were in the early 2000’s. I’m talking about the global justice movement and the movement to cancel debt in the Global South, the movement against Israeli apartheid, and the movement against the US/UK invasion of Iraq.
At the time I wondered how it was that Desmond Tutu was showing up at so many of the same protests, conferences, and other events I was attending, promoting, or singing at. There was a lot going on, and at the time I didn’t know Tutu was actually living in the United States much of the time in the early 2000’s, as a visiting professor in both Georgia and Massachusetts. There were a lot of other South African radicals at so many of the rallies, especially around the global justice movement, such as representatives of the South African trade unions. The South African poet, the late Dennis Brutus, was everywhere back then as well.
Journalism, they say, is the first draft of history. The journalists, when given the job to cover Desmond Tutu, generally did so when it had something to do with South African apartheid, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which he chaired, etc. The journalists aren’t present elsewhere. Their bosses didn’t send them to cover the protests Tutu was speaking at in Boston or New York, for the most part.
Lots of other drafts of history are then rewritten, for the text books, and for the obituaries, when once again Desmond Tutu’s centrality to the struggle against South African apartheid will be highlighted, with most everything else papered over or ignored entirely. Others will recall Tutu’s service to the global social movements that arose in the decades after apartheid, to which he gave the full weight of his moral standing — whether these movements were covered by the corporate press or not, whether most of us knew these movements existed or not.
Yes, for those of us who were involved with the social movements that were active when Tutu was a spry young man of 70 or so, we will remember him as a fierce critic of capitalism, of Israeli apartheid, and of US and British wars of aggression. And we know why he is being praised now by media outlets and politicians who have had no time or space for him since 1998 or so.
Desmond Tutu failed to remain in his historical place. Had he played his cards differently in the post-South African apartheid period, he could have been a very rich and even more venerated man, winning lots more awards and schmoozing with the world’s power brokers. Instead, before his official retirement from public life at the age of 79, he spent his seventies campaigning around the world as part of social movements for equality, dignity, and peace, and being a thorn in the side of so many of the rich and powerful people praising him today.
Dead people can’t speak out in their own defense, which makes them much less dangerous than when they were alive (especially if they died of natural causes). So it’s up to those of us who are still here to speak, and to remember. Long live Desmond Tutu. Long live Desmond Tutu’s vision of a world free of oppression — a world in which so many of the politicians praising him today would be in front of a truth and reconciliation commission tomorrow, if Tutu were calling the shots. Amandla awethu. Our time will come.
David Rovics is a songwriter, podcaster, and part of Portland Emergency Eviction Response. Go to artistsforrentcontrol.org to sign up to receive text notifications, so you can be part of this effort. Another Portland is possible.
CLOVERDALE RESIDENTS NEAR HOUSING PROJECT CRY FOUL
by Katheen Coates
Residents of 11 homes on an East Cloverdale hilltop say they aren’t NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) people. They just have safety concerns about a 75-unit affordable apartment project proposed down the hill from their enclave of houses with half-acre lots, mostly built in the 1950s.
They believe their neighborhood has been ignored ever since Highway 101 went through in 1989, cutting them off from the rest of the city. They point to the poor maintenance of the roads as proof.
The city responds that only a few modifications are allowed to plans for the proposed three-story, one- to-three-bedroom Alexander Family Apartments along Asti Road at Lake Street. They attribute the restrictions to state law requiring municipalities to build more low-cost housing.
“The project has been zoned for this use since 2009,” said Kevin Thompson, Cloverdale’s assistant city manager. “There are a bunch of new laws at the state level designed to make it easier to develop affordable housing, and one is they are entitled to concessions. I understand where they are coming from, and I don’t necessarily disagree. But the state law supersedes our local laws.”
The developer, Pacific West Companies, based in Eagle, Idaho, has been given tax incentives to build the high-density project. Construction is expected to start some time next year, Thompson said.
Residents say they’re worried about the families who will be living in the new complex where tractor trailers, backhoes and other fast-moving vehicles rumble past to a nearby lumberyard and lumber mill.
They also worry about the lack of sidewalks, although sidewalks will be put in from the apartments to First Street, to allow school children access to nearby Washington Middle School.
“This is a disaster waiting to happen,” said Kevin Kostoff, who is leading the group of residents who object to the project. “They’re saying ‘Let’s put a three-story apartment complex with 75 families and it will be fine’ next to a freeway and a lumber mill.”
Because of state laws like Senate Bill 35, which streamlines approval, the complex only needs an OK from the Cloverdale Planning Commission, and will not go to the City Council for consideration unless an appeal is filed.
The Planning Commission is only allowed to make objective design changes to things such as height limits, density and setback requirements, rather than subjective changes such as whether the project conforms with the neighborhood or has certain building materials, according to the city’s law firm, Meyers Nave. Cloverdale’s growth control ordinance is suspended for affordable projects.
“The theory is this (project) is zoned correctly and we’re just looking at design,” Thompson said.
Resident Joy Gross said the group of residents call themselves “The Lake Street Gang” after the main street that runs up the hill past homes with other smaller connecting streets named Live Oak Drive and Evergreen Lane.
“We just want it to be done thoughtfully,” said Gross, who has lived there with her husband, Gary, for 23 years. “We feel like this is being forced down the city’s throat. I understand that we need to take care of people, but the whole thing needs to be better thought out.”
Another concern is the number of parking spaces provided for the complex — 119. Architect and resident Richard St. Angelo has lived on Live Oak Drive for 48 years, his house is located 250 feet from the proposed site. St. Angelo said that number of spaces isn’t enough.
He suggested reducing the project to two stories and 50 units. But St. Angelo acknowledged that “the city of Cloverdale really can’t do very much; the state governs this. They’re allowed to put a certain density dictated by the state.”
Resident Denise Keller said “I think some of us are a little frustrated by people sitting up in Sacramento and dictating what’s going to be built here.”
A 17-year resident, she said “It feels kinda like we’re being invaded. I don’t understand why they should choose that site. It just doesn’t make sense to us. The big grocery stores and the bus line and our little shuttle are all in the south of town.”
Part of the reason for the project’s location is that it’s near the future SMART train stop. The developer expects residents will use the train to commute and will encourage them to do so, according to plans submitted to the city.
The apartments are meant to house farm laborers and other employees of the wine industry and other low-income workers, Thompson said. Hillside residents say they don’t think those workers, who have varied schedules and odd hours, will be able to use the SMART system once it’s built.
Cloverdale Unified Superintendent Betha MacClain said at the last Planning Commission hearing that she had told the developer the district doesn’t have the capacity to serve the children that would live in the apartments. She urged the commission to make its support conditional on the developer mitigating some of the impacts of the new housing.
The project will be up for review at the next Planning Commission meeting on Jan. 11 at 6:30 p.m. at Cloverdale City Hall, 124 N Cloverdale Blvd.
(Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
DON’T LOOK UP IS ABOUT MUCH MORE THAN CLIMATE CHANGE
Streaming just in time for Christmas, Adam McKay’s decidedly uncheery Netflix comedy, Don’t Look Up, finds Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio playing a pair of intrepid astronomers as they try (and mostly fail) to warn the world about a planet-killing comet that’s hurtling toward Earth. From the beginning, the scientists’ efforts are marked by futility, encapsulated in an early scene in which Kate Dibiasky (Lawrence) and Randall Mindy (DiCaprio) are brought to the White House to debrief President Janie Orlean (Meryl Streep) on the impending extinction-level event.