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Mendocino County Today: October 10, 2012

IT TOOK the better part of three days but a jury is seated for the Billy Norbury murder trial. Opening statements began Tuesday morning. Norbury, 34, faces a murder charge with a special allegation that he used a gun in the killing of Jamal Andrews, 30, on the night of January 24th, 2012. Andrews, a popular reggae musician based on the Northcoast, is black. Norbury, the son of a well-known Redwood Valley contractor, is white. Andrews’ many friends and family remain convinced that his murder was racially motivated. DA David Eyster, however, has said the shooting occurred for “other reasons.” The trial is expected to last three weeks and will include two phases: the first will concern Norbury's guilt, the second Norbury's sanity at the time of the killing. Norbury changed his original not-guilty plea to one of not guilty by reason of insanity.

TUESDAY MORNING, the Norbury trial audience included Dr. Peter Keegan, himself about to be indicted and arrested for the murder of his wife, Susan.

CORRECT ME if I'm wrong, but when's the last time a Mendocino County DA prosecuted a case? Duncan James? Meredith Lintott never did, Vroman never did, and I don't remember Susan Massini taking a case other than that endless Hells Angel affair. Eyster, who's prosecuting Norbury, is in court all the time, and at last Mendocino County has a fully functioning DA.


SECOND PIXIE SIGHTING. Miss Jacqueline Audet, aka Goldilocks, aka Pixie, has also been sighted recently at the Ukiah Wal Mart. She's with two dogs and an anonymous Mr. Grunge. “Travelers,” as the younger mendicants prefer to be called, seem to be traveling only up and down the West Coast between San Francisco and Eureka, with the more adventuresome making it as far north as Ashland and even to Portland.

AND NOTHING AGAINST WAL-MART, but one would think the mammoth Five and Dime would not tolerate shoals of drunks and stoners lying around their parking lot all day panhandling customers, intimidating some of those customers into giving them money. Goldilocks, according to our informant, is aging rapidly and badly. Young people living a degraded lifestyle, existing on booze and drugs, sleeping rough, are basically suicidal. Still, we hope Miss Locks can somehow pull out of her self-destructive nosedive and make a real life for herself. And we still want to hear her side of her story. I know our readers would come forward with offers of all the help she needs to turn her life around. Or, we can just keep checking the booking logs as she ages 5 or 10 years for every calendar year she goes on living, if you can call the way she lives, living.


This world lives out the lies

They cook up in the world to come

But whenever somebody dies

They say it’s lies which they died from

While still believing God is great

And only humans harbor hate.

* * *

Italics are from Isaac Bashevis Singer’s novel, Shadows on the Hudson. A few of his characters in the novel question if God is all that great.

After I read Erich Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front I read three of his other novels, A Night in Lisbon, A Time to Love and a Time to Die, and Shadows in Paradise. They are not as good as All Quiet... and it is Shadows...that was the worst of the three. But I want to compare his to Shadows on the Hudson to Shadows in Paradise because both writers had fled the Holocaust and both novels have the same theme, take place in the same place at about the same time in history.

But in his defense, Shadows in Paradise was published after his death in 1970 by his widow, the actress Paulette Goddard, perhaps Remarque would not have published it at all.

Remarque’s Shadows in Paradise is about wealthy (or once wealthy) Jews and their friends/hangers-on living in New York City just before the end of WWII. They had escaped the holocaust and some were waiting for the war to end so they could return to their native countries. The protagonist is a gentile named Ross who was a friend of the émigrés and had also escaped the Nazis. He was waiting to return to Berlin and get his revenge for the torture he suffered at their hands before he had escaped to America.

I believe Remarque had not published the novel because it was unfinished. The characters were barely sketched out and the protagonist, who was intent on returning to Germany in the beginning of the novel, was simply left hanging. Besides that, Shadows in Paradise could have been seen as a weak derivative to Singer’s Shadows on the Hudson. I doubt his Remarque’s widow Paulette Goddard needed the money, but she might have been talked into publishingShadows in Paradise (1973) and selling the film rights. And who knows if Remarque had called it Shadows in Paradise? There has been several recent action films called Shadows in Paradise that had nothing to do with Remarque’s novel.

Singer’s Shadows on the Hudson was serialized in the publication The Forward in 1957. It is also about wealthy Jews and their community in New York City, set right after WWII not long before the State of Israel was carved from Palestine.

Singer, who died in 1991, won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1987. Shadows on the Hudson was translated from its original Yiddish and published in English in 1997. Singer, whose father was a rabbi in Poland, was not particularly orthodox himself although he studied the Torah and the Talmud but he had a sense of humor about religion. He developed his own view of religion called “private mysticism” with a God endowed with whatever traits one wanted to give Him.

Singer’s characters in Shadows on the Hudson are real people asking real questions and, as is often the case, getting no answers: questions from conservative parents asking why so many of their children turned communist; questions from men who lust for women and do crazy things to get them; questions from women who need a man, and question from those who don’t; businessmen wondering if it’s worth it, doing business, that is; and many questions about faith and the beyond, if there is a beyond. And Singer manages to make it all slightly comical.

Remarque was not Jewish although his grandfather had been accused by the Nazis of changing his name from Kramer to Remark (Kramer spelled backwards) to avoid Jewish persecution. After WWI, Remarque changed his name, Remark to its original spelling.

After the success of All Quiet on the Western Front (made into a movie in 1930), Erich Remarque wrote for the screen, complete with tough guys. The goy observer, Ross, in Shadows in Paradise happened to be a Hollywood-type tough guy. And there were tough guys (though not necessarily the protagonist) in the two other novels of his that I read, A Night in Lisbon and A Time to Live and a Time to Die.

Remarque was a prolific writer and several of his other novels were made into movies including Arch of Triumph, a novel published in 1945 which was made into a film in 1948 with Ingrid Bergman and again in 1985 with Anthony Hopkins. The Deer Hunter, with Robert De Nero, was a 1978 film based on his novel Three Comrades published in 1938. That novel also had had been made into a movie that year starring Robert Taylor. But Singer was no stranger to Hollywood either. His novels and short stories were also made became films including Enemies, A Love Story, with Angelica Huston in 1989, and Yentl with Barbara Streisand in 1983.

My guess is that Remarque wrote Shadows in Paradise about the same time Singer was writing Shadows on the Hudson--mid-fifties. He wouldn’t have read Shadows on the Hudson because it was written in Yiddish but he would have heard about it from his Jewish friends after it was published in the Jewish publication, The Forward, and made into a novel in 1957. It wasn’t translated into English until 1998. Singer was a conservative and near-McCarthy-like anti-communist. But he was also a feminist. We was born in 1902 in Russian ruled Poland, grew up in Warsaw, and after WWI he worked for his brother who was editor of a periodical. In 1935, due to the Nazi threat in neighboring Germany, Singer immigrated to the United States while his wife, and son emigrated to Moscow from Warsaw.

Remarque, whose books were burned and banned by the Nazis, fled first to Switzerland and finally to the United States in 1939, becoming naturalized citizen in 1947. His sister stayed behind in Germany with her family where she eventually was charged with sabotaging troop morale by saying publicly that the war was lost. At her trial the judge reportedly said, “Your brother escaped us. You won’t.” She was guillotined by the Nazis in 1943.

You are what you eat” was a motto of the German materialist philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach, (1804-1872).

* * *

CALL FOR ENTRIES. Partners Gallery Juried Ceramics Exhibition Partners Gallery in Fort Bragg announces a juried ceramics exhibit open to all Mendocino county ceramic artists. The show will be juried by Doug Browe, ceramics instructor at Mendocino College and Mina Cohen, member of Partners Gallery. Artists chosen for the show will have their work exhibited at Partners Gallery January 10-28, 2013 with an opening reception Friday, January 11th. Original utilitarian and sculptural work in clay completed in the last two years and for sale will be considered. Work for the exhibit will be juried from 1-4 original works on the following dates: Tuesday, November 13th at Mendocino College, Ukiah 1:00-3:00 pm in the ceramics lab. Work will be juried the same day and must be picked up by 4:00 pm the same day. Artists that have been accepted will be notified within a week. Friday, November 16th at College of the Redwoods, Fort Bragg 1:00-3:00 pm in the ceramics lab. Work will be juried the same day and must be picked up by 4:00 pm the same day. Artists that have been accepted will be notified within a week. A $5.00 entry fee (flat fee) will be charged to have work juried for consideration in the show. This is to cover publicity that includes postcards, press releases, web announcements, artists reception, installation costs, etc. Partners Gallery will pay the artist 55% of the retail price for all work sold during the exhibition. Accepted work must be hand-delivered to Partners Gallery in Fort Bragg on Monday, January 7th 3-5 pm (or make other arrangements with the gallery). (Partners Gallery PR - Ginny Stearns

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