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Off The Record

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.

LAST WEEK, in response to growing Humboldt County frustration with its floating population of derelicts, the HumCo Sheriff's Department began to dismantle neo-hobo camps outside Garberville.

HUMBOLDT COUNTY towns from Garberville north to Arcata and Eureka, have a large, floating population of criminally disposed methamphetamine addicts who reinforce the county's already large population of drunks and not so wholesome young transients who linger rather than transit. From the violent on-line comments about these street populations it's clear that vigilante actions against the shoals of wandering derelicts is only a bad episode away.

HERE'S A TYPICAL expression of HumCo frustration: “As a young person, I for one am over the homeless situation here in Humboldt, just last week I went down to the Arcata plaza and saw large crowds of people, I thought there was some sort of event but upon closer inspection ALL were young homeless (travelers, whatever you want to call them). In all my time here this was for sure the most homeless I have seen at the plaza at one time. You can’t walk thru town without being harassed and violence is on the rise. A good friend a few weeks back was pulled out of his car and attacked by one of these travelers. I hear similar stories all the time. I see young travelers come up here thinking they are going to get rich trimming but just end up strung out sitting on the corner next to Safeway. Enough is enough, GTFO.”

MENDOCINO COUNTY'S street populations are also fairly large but are pretty much confined to Ukiah and the Mendocino-Fort Bragg corridor, not that that's any excuse for not addressing the problems they present. These populations are younger and  more aggressive than they were a few years ago, and there are more and more of them all the time because, and feel free to pick your own reason but I put it on the natural consequence of a society disordered by the berserk capitalism that grinds up more and more people so badly they're already terminally dysfunctional by the time they're twelve. Hell, in this country probably half the so-called normal population couldn't pass a mental health exam.

WHAT'S THE ANSWER short of a revolutionary re-ordering of a society that no longer works for millions of its people? It certainly isn't fair to the majority of everyday functioning citizens that they feel, and often are, besieged by menacing persons in the public spaces of their home towns, so what to do?

THERE ARE HUMANE strategies for mandatory sequestration, if you'll pardon the creepy euphemism for rounding up people with no fixed addresses and housing them in one place such as a tent camp or, as is done in Eugene, Oregon, a church-run compound on the western edge of the city where the homeless are fed, housed, cleaned up, counseled, and required to work for room and board.

PEOPLE who think they have a right to burden the larger community while they get loaded all day should simply be arrested and charged as mopes. What's humane about letting them destroy themselves on the streets as they limp along with a free Methodist sandwich a couple of times a day, just enough sustenance from the do-gooders so they can spend their days in altered states of reality abusing their pit bulls?

A MODERN VERSION of the old County farm might work. (I nominate the semi-abandoned Point Arena Air Force base, the ghostly little village at the very top of Windy Hollow Road that once housed Air Force personnel and their families.) The old Mendo County Farm was at Bush and Low Gap where chronic drunks and miscellaneous incompetents, the spiritual great grandfathers of today's street populations, were court-ordered to reside for fairly long periods of time while they dried out or simply got themselves into at least minimal functioning order. The farm was, I understand from old, old-timers, productive enough to support the population it housed.

AND THEN THERE'S GOLDILOCKS, a young street person who racked up her first drunk in public in Fort Bragg at the age of 18. Incarceration might save her from herself. She's now 22 and only lives to drink herself stuporous. Why isn't there a way to intervene in the lives of the publicly self-destructive? We've tracked Goldie for a couple of years out of a concern for her well-being, a concern now shared by many who regularly let us know when and where they spot her. A caller told us just yesterday (Tuesday, 2nd October) that Miss Locks and her dog were standing outside the Redway Liquor Store. When she disappeared from Mendocino County earlier this summer she had two dogs. We wonder where her other dog is. We hope our roving reporter, Bruce McEwen, a veteran of the homeless life and now a resident of Southern Humboldt, will send us his views on the situation there.

SECOND PIXIE SIGHTING - Miss Jacqueline Audet, aka Goldilocks, aka Pixie, has also been sighted recently at the Ukiah WalMart. 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 ageing 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.

THE SHERIFF'S new bloodhound ‘Red’ met the public on Sunday at Barra Winery in Redwood Valley at the first Public Safety Appreciation Barbecue. The event was a benefit for the Mendocino Public Safety Foundation, a non-profit that was set up in 2011 “to raise funds to help local law enforcement and to build stronger ties between peace officers and the public they serve.” The Foundation's first grant paid for Red, the second is “Avatar, a tactical robot that allows police to enter and search a crime scene without endangering personnel.”

THE FORT BRAGG woman killed two Monday nights ago as she crossed Highway One has been identified as Harriet Louise Crowell, 58. Clad in dark clothing, Ms. Crowell was hit as she crossed the highway just north of the Fern Creek Road intersection. The driver of the 1987 Mazda that struck her was identified as Fort Bragg resident Ezequil Sanchez, 20, who was traveling at an estimated 55 mph and did not see Crowell in the road. Drugs and alcohol were not considered to be factors in the crash, the CHP said.

THIS CASE hasn't gotten much attention outside Humboldt County, but it's so awful we're surprised the Brit tabs haven't picked it up. (Feel free to drop in “allegeds” wherever you think they might apply.) Jason Anthony Warren, 28, a convicted felon, was arrested in Eureka for assault on Thursday, September 27th. Although he'd already been sentenced to the state pen for an earlier acts of random mayhem, he was miraculously out of custody when he committed yet another violent assault for which he was arrested. Finally back in custody, Eureka police determined that Warren, apart from the assault, had murdered two women, one in a hit and run near Arcata, the other a woman a hundred miles north in Hoopa.

WARREN HAD RUN DOWN and killed a Humboldt State instructor while she was jogging with two other women, both of whom were also badly injured as Warren ran them down. After he'd committed that hit and run murder and its related mayhem, Warren drove to Hoopa where he murdered a second young mom.

ORDINARILY, a man with a violent history is not out of custody after he's been sentenced to state prison. Whichever HumCo judge signed off on the deal ought to be Warren's next cellmate.

CLOSER TO HOME, my sister-in-law, Diane Zucker, a member of the Mendocino County School Board, spent last weekend in Point Arena where the Board had convened a meeting last week. Sunday, about 2pm, as she was driving to her hotel down at the Wharf, a burly young man, shouting obscenities, suddenly hurled himself onto the hood of Ms. Zucker's car, shattering her windshield. She drove slowly on towards the pier, the young man a writhing hood ornament who finally rolled off her car as Ms. Zucker came to a stop. His head bleeding from where he'd bashed it on the windshield, the young man ran into the ocean. Lt. Stefani was soon on-scene to take the guy peacefully into custody. “Lt. Stefani was very good. He took charge and had no further trouble with him,” Ms. Zucker said Monday. “Me? I'm still shaken.” Benjamin Sage Stein, 30, of Point Arena is being held on $25,000 bail at the County Jail on charges of assault with a deadly weapon, i.e., hurling himself on Ms. Zucker's vehicle.

THE SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT, and the local police, do all the heavy mental health lifting these days and, it's been clear for years now, are much better at not only knowing who's nuts and who isn't, they are better at dealing with the mentally ill than most mental health “professionals.” The County Jail is the County's psychiatric unit. The Jail does what it can for the violently crazed many of whom are merely under the influence of drugs and not crazy at all. The crazy-crazy wait in isolation cells until a lock-up facility has room for them. Demand for lock-up facilities to house and treat the mentally ill is great, supply is scarce.

MULLIGAN'S BOOKS, Ukiah, now also functions as a contract post office, which is already saving lots of Westside Ukiah residents the long automobile roundtrip to the town's new post office on South Orchard where long waits at two windows double the frustration of your transaction. But with Mulligan's offering basic services and the added attraction of conversation with Mulligan's gentlemanly and erudite proprietor, Dave Smith, central Ukiah now has a handy option to South Orchard.

MAN BEATER OF THE WEEK: Miss Erica Svendsen of Ukiah. A big girl at 5'5” and 210, Miss Svendsen could probably put the hurt on a male-type individual if she were of a mind to. But she has a nice face and, applying the latest phrenologic science, there's no way she'd harm another person. Which is what the cops must have thought too because the lady's bail was set a mere $10,000.

A BODY, as yet unidentified by either name or gender, was found in a Greenfield Ranch home consumed by fire Wednesday (3rd October) afternoon. The home at 3800 Radical Ridge Road was believed to be occupied by a single person. Sgt. Greg Van Patten of the Sheriff's Department said that “There were no obvious signs of foul play,” but the cause of the fire is under investigation. A CalFire fire captain was first on scene. He said the home was engulfed in flames when he arrived, and would clearly be a total loss. Anyone with information about the fire is urged to contact the MCSO tip line at 234-2100.

A 79-YEAR-OLD SEATTLE MAN said to be suffering from dementia has left his assisted living facility and may be headed to Ukiah, which he regards as his hometown. Seattle Police detective David Ogard said Sherman Davis “had been talking for a couple of months about wanting to move back to his house in Ukiah, which has been sold for a year, year and a half.” The old man has been missing since September 25th and was last traced to Cottage Grove, Oregon and Oakland, Oregon on the 25th. Both towns are on I-5 in Southern Oregon, indicating that Davis had been making good time towards his old home in his 2003 Honda Odyssey minivan, Washington plate AEX0052. He is described as a 6-feet tall, gray hair, 185 pounds. Davis's daughters, Beth Lang and Cindy Davis, are traveling from Eugene to California trying to retrace their father's steps, according to a statement from the family. Please call either 911 or Detective Ogard directly at (206) 684-5007 if you have information as to Davis's whereabouts.

JUST IN FROM the HumCo Sheriff's Department, and further confirmation of reports that transients are causing a lot of anxiety among the “straight” population: “On 10-2-12 at about 10:25pm, Sheriff’s Deputies were dispatched to a reported shooting on Redwood Drive just north of Redway. When deputies arrived, they located the victim who had been shot two times. The victim was identified as Daniel Mashburn, transient, age 46. Mashburn told deputies he had been walking in the area of Redwood Drive with his girlfriend when they were confronted by the suspect and an argument ensued. The argument escalated and the suspect drew a handgun and shot Mashburn two times. Afterwards the suspect, who Mashburn did not know, fled. Mashburn and his girlfriend provided descriptions of the suspect to deputies and California Highway Patrol Officers, who had arrived to assist. Jack Belk, age 53, of Charlotte, North Carolina, was soon under arrest for the shooting. Mashburn is still hospitalized and listed in critical condition.

THE EEL RIVER RECOVERY PROJECT (ERRP), a creation of the Wiyot Tribe and the Bear River Tribe of the Rohnerville Rancheria, Humboldt County, sponsored a dive of the lower Eel River to count the early run of fall Chinook salmon on Friday, September 28. Two teams of ten covered pools from below Fernbridge to the River Lodge and the second pools extending upstream to Weymouth Bluffs above the Van Duzen River. Only 75 adult Chinook salmon were counted, 18 small male “jack” Chinook, 54 adult steelhead and 294 “half pounder” steelhead were counted. Counts likely substantially under-estimated the Chinook salmon numbers because of unexpected factors that confounded getting an accurate count. The Eel River closes to catch-and-release angling on October 1 unless the Eel River is flowing at 300 cubic feet per second (cfs), but prior to that date fishing can occur in very low flows. Although the Eel River was only flowing at 63 cfs at Scotia, according to the US Geologic Survey gauge there, anglers were out in full force and even prevented the lower dive team from entering some pools where fish held. Other pools where fish were concentrated had no visibility due to algae dislodged by fishermen. The flow of the Eel and its tributaries is approximately half of the long-term averages for the date despite rainfall being in the range of normal. Thick mats of algae line the shore of the lower Eel River and potential toxic blue-green algae species can be intermixed. Divers in the Weymouth Pool below Howe Creek encountered floating algae mats and many contracted swimmer’s itch. Thick mats of algae also cover the stream bottom and could create adverse conditions for salmon and steelhead, such as depressed dissolved oxygen. Vandals broke into one of the ERRP vehicles off East Ferry Road and stole a gear bag containing project dive gear and masks and snorkels. The condition of the lower Eel River would suggest that water conservation and nutrient pollution prevention are necessary to help it regain its health. The next dive is scheduled for Saturday, October 13. Unless flow conditions change before then, only lower pools will be investigated. Divers will again meet River Lodge at 8:30am, but anyone interested in volunteering should check in before with ERRP Volunteer Coordinator Pat Higgins at 707 223-7200. See for more information.

UKIAH VALLEY MEDICAL CENTER WARNING — A drug called preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate, used as a pain medication with some patients seen by Dr. Michael Young, the UVMC pain specialist, may cause meningitis. The hospital's letter reads, “A group of patients at an ambulatory center in Tennessee received an epidural injection similar to the one that you received... at the (Ukiah) Pavilion Surgical Services. We were notified that the patients in Tennessee developed some symptoms similar to meningitis. The New England Compound Center which manufactured this lot of steroids has recalled this particular compound across the nation as a precautionary measure. If for some reason you happen to experience any unusual symptoms within one to four weeks following your treatment, please seek the appropriate level of care: emergencies should always go to the closest emergency department, and non-emergencies should contact your physician's office during normal business hours. Although we don't anticipate any reactions to the injections, there are some symptoms you should be aware of: a stiffening of the neck or a different kind of headache than you've previously experienced, fever, stiffness, sensitivity to light or stroke-like symptoms (localized weakness, numbness or slurred speech).”

ANOTHER LETTER is going out to patients who received the drug. It reads in part, “If you were in any danger, you would most likely have already developed meningitis-type symptoms or experienced a different type of pain than your original symptoms.” It suggests patients call Dr. Young if they have questions, but to go immediately to the emergency room if they have symptoms.

THE HOSPITAL said it made the letters public to make sure patients who may have received the drug are aware of the recall.

LATE LAST FRIDAY the Hospital issued another press release called “No Recall Related Reports of Meningitis.” According to Heather Van Housen, patient care executive at Ukiah Valley Medical Center, there have been no reported cases in Mendocino County.

ONE MORE TIME: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Ukiah Valley Medical Center is one of four California clinics to receive and medically deploy steroid shots from a recalled batch linked to an outbreak of deadly meningitis. The recalled shots have been linked to five deaths and 40 confirmed illnesses in other states but none yet in California.

THE UKIAH POLICE DEPARTMENT is investigating the suspicious death of Duane Johnson, 45, of Ukiah, who was found unconscious and not breathing in the 300 block of North Main Street at 5:42am, September 4th. Johnson could not be resuscitated and died at the Ukiah Valley Medical Center. The Ukiah Fire Department was told that Johnson had fallen. However, Ukiah Police Department detectives determined that Johnson had not died from a fall but was a “victim of foul play.” Manuel Rodriguez, 21, has been identified as a suspect in Johnson's death and the public's help is being sought to locate him. Dewey said Rodriguez is believed to have fled to Mexico. He is described as 5-9, 220-pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. He was last known to be traveling with his girlfriend and her 2-year-old son. The Ukiah PD says Rodriguez is a “documented gang member from Sonoma County” with a history of violence. Anyone with information about the case or Rodriguez's whereabouts is asked to contact the UPD at 463-6262.

IN A SATURDAY PRESS DEMOCRAT STORY on the legislative triumphs of our elected leaders, we found these two laugh lines: “Evans did not return several messages seeking comment this week. Her staff said she was traveling in Russia and France on state business.” Really? What business would that be for a Northcoast state senator?

GAS PRICES in California have spiked in recent weeks and are now running about $4.50 a gallon in San Francisco, according to the Motor Trend gas price website. In Mendocino County gas prices (for regular) range from about $4.10 in a few places to nearly $5.00 in some of the outback locations like Boonville and Philo. The average price of regular gas across the state was nearly $4.49 a gallon, the highest in the nation, according to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report. In many areas of California, prices have jumped 40¢ in a week as wholesale prices soared. Some stations in Southern California ran out of gas and shut down Thursday rather than pay the extra wholesale costs. The national average for gas is about $3.79 a gallon, the highest ever for this time of year when prices historically decline. Gasoline inventories in California are reported to be the lowest in more than 10 years which the usual oil industry analysts attribute to California’s “special blend” environmental requirements on top of recent refinery problems, particularly Chevron’s Richmond refinery fire in August. But it’s hard to believe that long-standing regulations, costly as they may be, or even the two-month old refinery problems are the cause for this latest price spike in just a few days. There are probably other reasons in the mix having to do with the usual market “speculation” that the industry analysts seldom mention. Nevertheless the situation is not expected to improve any time soon. Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at, said California prices will keep rising because in the past week wholesale gasoline prices have jumped $1 a gallon, but average retail prices have increased only 30¢. Some analysts think prices nationally will start coming down for the winter, but they think California could see a longer spike given its “unique fuel requirements.”

GASOLINE hit an all-time average high in California of $4.6140 a gallon Saturday, and take your pick of the reasons but if you choose GOUGE and SPECULATION you're off to a good start. The previous high was $4.6096 on June 19, 2008.

GOVERNOR BROWN has gotten off a purely show biz directive to the California Air Resources Board ordering that agency to allow gasoline refineries to switch to cheaper “winter blend” gasoline a week or two early, thereby stretching out the state’s gasoline supply and reducing prices. The winter brew is slightly worse for the atmosphere, and the switch was due to occur on the 31st anyway. And the oil companies are already whining they can't make the switch that fast. From what we can gather, however, gouge and speculation remain the root causes of the radical rise in fuel prices. The oil companies do it because they can.

ACCORDING TO SATURDAY'S Press Democrat, of the two frontrunners for Sonoma County's 1st District Board of Supervisors, Susan Gorin and John Sawyer, Sawyer has raised the most money — $295,000.

SAWYER OWES THE AVA $400. He stiffed us for that amount when he closed Sawyer's News in Santa Rosa. We sold a lot of papers at Sawyers every week for years — years I tell you! It was our main sales outlet in SoCo, although Copperfield's various locations were good for us, too. And they all paid. Sawyer, too. Until he got ready to close. For the last three or four months, knowing he was going out of business but continuing to sell papers, he stiffed us.

ALL OUR SoCo outlets are gone now, and people who read newspapers (or anything else more complicated than a WTF tweet) are going, too.

RICH WHITE, the County’s recently hired Retirement Administrator, wanted to hire a $110k per year (including benefits) full-time “financial officer” to do much of what White was hired to do. The Supervisors said no.

SO, WHAT DID WHITE DO? According to retirement board member John Sakowicz, the retirement board decided on September 19 to authorize the hiring of a three-day-a-month  CPA named Scott German of Fechter & Co. out of Sacramento for $75,000 in place of the full-time $110K financial assistant White wanted.

ACCORDING to the retirement Board agenda for September 19, White asked the retirement board “to authorize the retirement administrator [White] to contract for accounting services with a qualified outside accounting provider for the needed bookkeeping, monthly financial statement preparation, and other general accounting services. Staff [White] recommends that the board approved the scope of service for Galena LLP to prepare and produce the CAFR [Comprehensive Annual Financial Report] for the retirement association and compare the report to the GFOA Certificate for Excellence Award. The retirement administrator will report back to the board on the status of accounting services and the CAFR.”

SAKOWICZ said the CPA charges $150 per hour for 24 hours a month, which will include Mr. German attending Retirement Board meetings, as well as preparation of routine reports to the State.

Pinches: “Was that a unanimous vote?”

Sakowicz: “No, it was not.”

Pinches: “What was the vote?”

Sakowicz: “The two fiscal hawks voted against it.”

McCowen: “I guess we’ll scratch our heads guessing who those were.”

SAKOWICZ demurred, but we suppose the “fiscal hawks” are Sakowicz and Ted Stevens. They pointed out that payments like this eventually come out of the County’s general fund. Sakowicz added that the Retirement Board has a “fiduciary responsibility” to make sure things are done right for its members and that technically the retirement board is spending less than they could on administration, and that they could be considered “under budget.”

PINCHES: “Being under budget is just a polite way of saying you’re going broke.”

McCowen: “At a slower rate."

Hamburg: “So we’re getting somebody for three days a month.”

Sakowicz: “At $150 per hour.”

Hamburg: “Which is $75,000 a year.”

Sakowicz: “Correct.”

Hamburg: “Instead of getting a full time person for $110k per year.”

Sakowicz: “That’s my understanding.”

Hamburg: “Ok.”

Supervisor Pinches wanted to ask a few more questions but Chair McCowen cut him off saying, “This is not a discussion item. We will have Mr. White reporting to us at some point in the future.”

Pinches: “Apparently they don’t have to report to us! They can just go around us and do what they want.”

McCowen. “Well, please. We have the report. I think County Counsel is looking a little nervous.”

IF NEW HIRE GERMAN can do the job in three days a month, the Retirement Board could have found a local, less expensive CPA who didn’t need to be paid to commute.

AND MR. SAKOWICZ WAS WRONG when he replied “Correct” to Hamburg’s question about $150 month translating to $75,000 a year. 24 hours per month times 12 months is 288 hours. $75,000 divided by 288 hours is $260 per hour, not $150 per hour. Something doesn’t add up — not a good sign from the people who are supposed to be responsible for the County’s pension numbers. A majority of the Retirement Board and the guy they're supposed to be supervising, Mr. White, are simply sticking their thumb in the eye of the Board of Supervisors for denying White the personal assistant he wanted.

WITH ALL THE TALK LATELY about the problems caused by Ukiah area street people, Supervisor John McCowen, does more than talk. He spends much of his scant free time in the physical clean-up effort and just as much energy trying to persuade the homeless to clean up after themselves and/or abandon their camps in the more ecologically sensitive areas of the Ukiah Valley, especially those camps bordering the Russian River. The last time we talked to McCowen about the problem, he mentioned a couple of tense encounters he's had with squatters, one of whom pointed out to McCowen that the Supervisor was not only outnumbered but that they could finish him off and “no one would ever know.”

BY SATURDAY AFTERNOON, San Francisco was already looking overwhelmed by an air, sea and ground invasion of weekend visitors in town for the Blue Angels, a billionaire's boat race on the Bay, a huge free bluegrass concert in Golden Gate Park, and two big-time ball games hosted by the Giants and the 49ers. And a street fair in the Castro, a Columbus Day parade in North Beach, a Burning Man festival half way out Third Street, to what is called Dog Patch, lately a trendo-groove-o neighborhood. There would be so much traffic generated by the sedentary suburbanites tooling into town to take in the weekend's splendors, that locals were advised to walk, bike or Muni around town. I did all three, which is what I do anyway because driving in San Francisco any time other than 3am is difficult. Friday, I biked through the Presidio to the Marina, intending to continue at least as far as Friends of the Library to say hello to my friend, Byron Spooner, an old school book guy, who runs the irresistible Friends operation. It's a terrific used book store with an attached coffee shop on the Bay at Fort Mason, a major debarkation point for soldiers and Marines fighting in the Pacific during World War Two, many of whom sailed west under the Golden Gate Bridge and never came back. As soon as the Blue Angels began jetting across Friday's clear skies, people began parking any old where they could pull over, including intersections. I watched a nicely turned out matron from one of the posh homes looking out on Crissy Field confront a fire truck crew. “How can emergency vehicles get through with you sitting here like this?” We are the emergency vehicle, ma'am, a fireman said. A young black cop pleaded with private vehicles to “keep moving,” often adding a plaintive “Please.” No one moved, and the planes roared back and forth, swooping low over the delighted throngs. I've always thought the Blue Angels should add some realism, a reminder of their death function, maybe strafe the crowds with marshmallows to give their admirers some idea what it might be like to be on the kill end of these miraculous machines which, for all their genius, have been defeated by medieval Mohammedans fighting back out of the caves of the Hindu Kush. Saturday, I biked up to the park for a look at how badly the music mobs were battering the botany, thinking about how startled its creator, John McClaren, who envisioned Americans in their Sunday best on sedate strolls through the urban forest he'd created, would be at its present function as, well, an Arcadian nightmare strayed far from its purpose as a leafy restorative. Thousands of people were funneling in from all directions, many of them, sensibly, on bicycles. Young women have never looked better. Young men have never looked goofier in either their clothes for small boys or all-out grunge, and all of them walking heads down, mesmerized by the idiocies displayed on their handheld gizmos. I ran into Aidin Vaziri, a music writer for the Chronicle. “All this great music this weekend and guess where I have to go? Madonna.” Much later in the glorious afternoon, with the engineered thunderers still splitting the skies, I grabbed the 1 California for the Ferry Building and a walk down the Embarcadero to the ballpark for the first playoff game between the Giants and the Reds. People were selling stuff — churros to sliders to wine — the whole way, this gauntlet of miscellaneous free enterprise mostly associated with the boat race underway on the Bay. A rock band pounded away near the ballpark, its lead singer moaning inaudible lyrics. Trashcans were inadequate to the task, nearly invisible beneath mounds of litter, but bonanzas of cash cans and bottles for the unlikely platoons of tweekers and ancient Chinese women who burrow into the detritus for retrievable nickels and dimes. I bought my first churro from an Hispanic who probably has to sell the things to pay off the slave smugglers who snuck him across the border. The magnificent churro! The most perfect junk food ever invented — a stick of deep fried sugar-dipped white dough. It plummeted to my gizzard like a culinary IED waiting to explode at a sip of the ballpark's six dollar Coca Cola. Giants fans are all right. Usually. But there were a lot of bad ones at the ballpark Saturday night.  The scalper guy I know said he only had two tickets left. Reserved seating, $300 each. He was in the act of selling both of them as I walked off. Thousands cheered when Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto somehow hurt himself on his eighth pitch of the game and had to leave the field, a sure sign that too many non-fans were in the house. Foul mouthed drunks were to my rear, two very silly women to my front. The two sillies brandished a view-blocking homemade sign, replete with tiny flashing Christmas lights, “So we can get on TV,” as one of them explained to the drunks. “Show me your tits,” one of the drunks said. “That'll get you on TV.” In the last inning, as the Giants disappeared on Game One's outgoing tide, a guy yelled at the Reds lights-out reliever, “You're a punk, Chapman.” Shuffling out of the ballpark after Chapman had punked Buster Posey with a final hundred-mile-an-hour bases loaded fastball, I wondered how much longer there'd be bread for all the circuses.

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