Press "Enter" to skip to content

Off The Record

DONALD R. NELSON, a lifelong resident of the Mendocino Coast, passed away early in the morning of November 6, at home in the care of loved ones. He was a timber faller for over twenty years, working for the Union Lumber Company and its successors. In the early 1970s, he began to be approached by union organizers who eventually came to represent Fort Bragg’s timber workers. Nelson was elected president and later business agent of IWA local 3-469, where he worked hard to advance the interests and protect the rights of woods and mill workers. Until last year, he lived on the property homesteaded by his grandparents, natives of Finland.

WE'RE ALL SADDENED by Don's passing. A gentle, kind man, I never saw him lose his temper, even when sorely provoked by the self-alleged disciples of Gandhi during the heated Redwood Summer period.

TOM HINE, aka Tommy Wayne Kramer, the brilliantly provocative Ukiah writer, suffered a heart attack Friday. Rushed to Sutter Memorial Hospital in Santa Rosa, Tom is recovering and expects to soon return to his Ukiah home. Phony liberals of the Ukiah type who call constantly for Kramer's banning, can hold the champagne. Tommy's coming back.

SUSAN KEEGAN was murdered two years ago November 11th. The popular Ukiah woman's death was first ruled an accident, then homicide. Since her husband “found” Susan's body in the bathroom of her home he has slandered her memory to everyone who will listen as a pill-popping drunk, but Doctor Keegan himself has since become “a person of interest” in her murder — the ONLY person of interest in his wife's death by means of lethal blows, plural, to her head. Mrs. Keegan was not a drunk or a closet drug person, but a person actively engaged in her community in everything from theater to book clubs. She got up every day and did things. Drunks and drug people do not get up every day and do things. They get up, if they get up, and get loaded. Mrs. Keegan's many friends have steadily lobbied DA David Eyster to arrest and prosecute the obvious perp, and they're getting impatient after two full years of what is beginning to look like a lot of dithering.

NOBODY'S TALKING but something fairly big is up between the feds and the Mendo Sheriff's Department, apropos of which an anon reader writes: “REALLY??? I expected no more of KC Meadows wake up wake up wake up but I thought the AVA might do a little follow up on ANY reporting on “Capt” Johnson's brother and Daddy having five hundred marijuana plants 50 feet from Randy's door. And then we have our sheriff going on record to say that 'his employee' probably did not know… Really? The Johnsons, who are unemployed, bought Brooktrails Lodge two years ago from Dr Gitlin. Tom Uhlman [sic] has illegally promoted his buddy Randy not once but twice. Two thirds of the senior officers under Mr. Tom have retired out since he took office. Are you being paid off too, Mr. Anderson? Where in this county is a real live investigative reporter? Where in this state? Why doesn't SOMEONE go talk to the retired folk… or gee, even follow the money? There is a Pulitzer Prize for an honest and not completely lazy journalist. How about it? CC: Glenda Anderson (Hope springs eternal... not even bothering with the Journal who gave top headline billing to the poor bloke who had dope in his cell… and who waited one full week to put a little tiny article about a federal bust of the second in command of law enforcement of this county on the front page.”

FIRST OFF, the Sheriff's name is spelled A-L-L-M-A-N. Second, Captain Johnson lived next door, not on the raided premises. Third, the raided premises consist of old resort cabins, each of them rented by an individual who, it seems, was growing within 215 guidelines, soooooo it's not as if Johnson, his 80-year-old father and his brother were growing 500 pot plants all by themselves, and it's highly unlikely that Captain Johnson was growing at all. When it's all sorted out, if it is fairly sorted out by the feds, and if you trust them to sort out anything fairly you have twice the faith in them that I do, I bet it will be Captain Johnson's brother growing his 215 plants while the tenants grew theirs, for a total of 500 plants, a minor gro by Mendo standards but certainly an illegal one even by the standards of 215, which disallows more than 20 or so plants on any single parcel.

DID CAPTAIN JOHNSON know that pot was being cultivated next door? Undoubtedly. But look at it this way: Do you tell your brother and your father how to live their lives? Would you bust your father and your brother for growing marijuana?

WE HAVE AN ELECTED SHERIFF in Mendocino County. All California counties have elected Sheriffs. Every election, deputies are forced to take sides. Post-election there is bitterness among the losing side, always a bad thing in an organization that has to work closely with each other in life-threatening situations. Mendocino cops overwhelmingly supported now-retired Captain Broin for Sheriff over Allman. There are, then, post-election deputies who actively don't like Allman, and by actively I mean I'll bet they've brought in the feds with accusations that there's some kind of collusion underway between the Sheriff's Department's leadership and perhaps even other County officials and large-scale growers. I'd have to see some proof of that before I believe it, and so far I haven't seen any, and we would have seen it because people tell us stuff which, by the way, is STEP ONE in so-called investigative journalism — people telling journalists stuff. The retired cops know how to reach local media. We'd love to debrief them. Call us at 895-3016. Confidentiality guaranteed.

AND PUH-LEEZE! Is there a cop anywhere in the County who doesn't know that X-number of his neighbors are growing dope? What's Allman supposed to do? Direct his small band of cops to fan out over a county the size of Rhode Island and arrest every grower they encounter? The feds tried that once in the King Range, Southern Humboldt, and accomplished exactly zilch.

I THINK ALLMAN and probably the Supervisors are being targeted by the feds because the feds, at the highest levels of the DEA and the Obama government, do not like Mendocino County's sensible efforts to try to bring some order, some reason to the local marijuana business. All that cash-money being made and not a nickel for local government. The zip-tie program was a good idea, but who shut it down? Obama and the DEA.

WITH THE HAUGHTY high-handedness we've come to expect from them, the judges of the Mendocino County Superior Court, in an unsigned press release, have announced that they're cutting back Ten Mile Court's operating hours. Ten Mile, some of us will recall, was sold to us as a major convenience for residents of the Mendocino Coast. No longer would these thousands be required to trek the two-hour roundtrip to Ukiah for justice. It could all be done in the new courthouse in Fort Bragg.

BUT RIGHT AWAY, major cases, as always, were shuffled off to Ukiah, meaning major felonies committed in, say, Westport or Point Arena, continued to be sorted out in Ukiah, necessitating that all the witnesses, all the people summoned for jury duty, everyone interested in the case, had to go to the County seat because, boiled down, it was more convenient for the system that people go to it than it was for justice to go to the people. And to think the Anderson Valley Justice Court tried a murder case as late as 1935 involving a Philo man who fed his inconvenient brother to his hogs. But as of December 31st, in modern Mendo, criminal felony and juvenile matters, matters that require transportation of the alleged perps from the County Jail in Ukiah, will be heard in Ukiah.

WHICH MEANS COAST COPS, not to mention the even more numerous jurors and prospective jurors, will while away the hours far from their work and their homes sitting around in Ukiah for the Black Robes to shuffle justice their way.

AND THAT'S JUST for openers. Ten Mile will be open two less daily hours, from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. “for filing of papers, inspection of files and other clerical business. Court sessions will only be held Monday through Wednesday, except for long-cause civil matters that start on a Wednesday, which can continue uninterrupted through Friday of the same week, “according to the Mendocino County Superior Court.

THE COURT'S STATEMENT, issued October 30th, called the “service reduction” temporary, and attributed it to a $768,675 cut in the state's budget for local court systems, a statement that doesn't include the information that the Superior Court is fully expecting enough funding from this broke system to build an unneeded new courthouse in Ukiah, a courthouse insufficient to house much of any civic body but themselves.

THE ALLEGED SOLUTION to the funding shortfall? According to the judges, the solution is passage of Governor Brown's Prop 30, the so-called public education bailout to which partial court funding and funding for state prison inmates re-routed to county jails has been attached.

DA EYSTER WRITES: “As the DA of Mendocino County, I am ADAMANTLY opposed to what the judges are proposing for Fort Bragg. I found out about this by reading the press release; no one from the courts sought my input before deciding to downsize Ten Mile. Any minor cost savings realized from the Ten Mile court is literally being transferred to the wallets of coastal residents and coastal law enforcement if this goes through. More than ever coasties will have to make MORE treks over the hill to Ukiah, costing victims and witnesses time and $ and leaving less police officers to protect coastal public safety ... while they travel back and forth to and hang out in the Ukiah courthouse. Did these budget problems just appear out of thin air? No. So why then did the local judges seek and endorse the appointment of TWO new highly-paid judges? Why also is there still a push for a new multi-million dollar courthouse in Ukiah? Why can't any downsizing happen in Ukiah? I could go on and on ... but please listen up! All our coastal friends need to light up the court's phones and let them know how important it is to have a full-time, full service court in Fort Bragg to serve the needs of coastal residents! The court's admin office telephone number (in Ukiah, of course) is (707) 463-4664 M-F. Please be polite but let Judge Henderson and his colleagues know that this is Ukiah-centric and a bad plan.”

VETERANS AT WAR? The Board of Supes agenda for Tuesday, November 6, contains a cryptic recommendation from the Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) recommending that the Board appoint an ad hoc committee to review changes to the usage policy and fee structure for the County-owned veteran's buildings. There is absolutely no background information included with the recommendation, but the AVA has learned that this stems from a dispute which surfaced last year between traditional veteran's groups like the American Legion and the Veteran's of Foreign Wars on one side and the upstart Veteran's for Peace on the other.

LAST YEAR THE LOCAL CHAPTER of Veteran's for Peace sought permission to hold a Vets for Peace conference at the Veteran's hall in Ukiah. The six County owned veteran's halls scattered around the County are managed by local committees drawn from the local veterans groups. As we understand it, the committee in Ukiah told the Vets for Peace to go pound sand. The Vets for Peace complained to the Board of Supes, asking for equal treatment, fees and access. The HHSA Director added that the usage policies and governance structure for the vet's halls were inconsistent and unclear and in need of updating. The Board punted by granting usage for the Vets for Peace conference at a reduced rate and directing staff to work with the different vets groups and return with a revised policy.

THE LOCAL VETERANS GROUPS were encouraged to work out their differences, but to no avail. Now, over a year later, the issue is back before the Board of Supes. The traditional veterans groups say the Vets for Peace are not really a veterans group because they allow membership to non-veterans. And of course they question the patriotism of the Vets for Peace. It is unfortunate that veterans who served their country honorably (more honorably, for sure, than the aging armchair warriors and morally corrupt politicians who sent them off to war in the first place) can't agree that they are entitled to equal rights to use the local vets halls. We understand that veterans groups in other counties are able to work out the details without a lot of animosity and unnecessary drama. And does anyone think the Mendo Board of Supes will make a better decision than the vets themselves could, if they were only willing to sit down with each other and work it out?

ONLY 8.7 percent of San Francisco's registered voters are registered Republican, which just might be the most lopsided political stat in the country for a population of 800,000 people. I bring it up because Stan Anderson, Mendocino County's most visible and relentless Republican, has asked me to remind the County's three other active Republicans that their central committee will meet Saturday, November 17th from 10 to noon at 235 Haehl Creek Court, Willits.

ELECTION COMMENT from Jim Kunstler: “Anyway, once this dreadful election is over the floodgates of events will open up and we will once again be forced to reckon especially with the epochal forces that seek to shatter the financial system. Sandy was a kind of preview of coming attractions for a different sort of wreckage to come.”

IT'S STILL TUESDAY but I'm glad the election is over. What an endless-seeming deluge of insults it's been, and to think this is the country that produced the Lincoln-Douglas Debates.

A READER WRITES: “I hope you can give us an article on the beatification of Jerry Melo — he seems to be on a fast track to sainthood here in Bragg. Strange to those of us who remember him as part of the good-ol-boy system and a stooge for the timber interests.”

FRANKLY, that's how I remember him, too. But for all that Melo (or anyone else) didn't deserve to die the way he did, especially, as we now know, when his murder could have been prevented if either Mr. or the former Mrs. Bassler had alerted the police that their son was armed and had been dropped off by the former Mrs. Bassler near the site where Mathew Coleman of the Mendocino Land Trust was shot to death. I don't see any point in a posthumous rip of Melo. He worked for Big Timber and he represented conservative perspectives as a member of the Fort Bragg City Council. RIP, Jere.

ON OCTOBER 26, 2012, deputies responded to the Mendocino Coast District Hospital where they contacted Tonya Scheurich and Andrew Jacobsen. Both reported that they had been kidnapped, held against their will and assaulted at 22190 Rivers End Road. Scheurich and Jacobsen told deputies that they had been at that location when they were assaulted by James Lawson and/or Rachelle Sutherland with an unknown weapon(s). After being assaulted they were taken inside the residence at that location, restrained and interrogated for numerous hours. During that interrogation, both were either tormented, terrorized and/or threatened with death. At one point Scheurich and Jacobsen were freed from their restraints and were able to flee the location. Both fled to safety and law enforcement was notified. Both Scheurich and Jacobsen had visible injuries consistent with an injury caused by a blunt object. Deputies later proceeded to the scene and recovered a weapon believed to be used during the assault. At about 2100 hours, deputies located and arrested Sutherland at 29700 Highway 20. Sutherland was ultimately transported to and lodged at the Mendocino County Jail where she was booked on the listed charges. On 10/27/2012 at about 2050 hours, deputies located and arrested Lawson at 21600 Bald Hill Road. Lawson was ultimately transported to and lodged at the Mendocino County Jail where he was booked on the listed charges. Both Lawson’s and Sutherland’s bail was set at $100,000.  Mendocino Sheriff’s Press Release

ACCORDING to his “Linked In” web connection, Ray Hino, freshly sacked at CEO at Coast Hospital Fort Bragg, is now functioning as a board member at Health Research & Educational Trust, a non-profit with headquarters in Chicago.

KYM KEMP of the Lost Coast Outpost and the Mendo Sheriff's Department expanded on recent reports of the body found on a bank of the Eel near Piercy. Lt. Greg Van Patten of the Mendocino Sheriff’s Office says that it is “too early for us to tell who this might be. Tomorrow is the earliest we can get an anthropologist here…The anthropologist will do a body recovery…The remains will be taken to Chico….There an inventory of the bones will be done and a reconstruction….They usually examine the bones for any trauma or injury. That can take weeks.” He said that if there is flesh remaining then the whole process could take longer.

MS. KEMP interviewed the people who found the corpse: “For years a local family has taken kayaks up the Eel River from their home near Piercy. 'We have an area near where we live that we kayak to and go mushroom hunting,' explained the woman who prefers to remain anonymous. 'For the last three or four years a sneaker was sticking out of the ground in the forest nearby where we go mushroom hunting. We joked that there was a body attached. My daughter who is 8 now played by there.' But, they didn’t really believe that the sneaker was anything other than 'river trash.' (Photo taken after the shoe had first been removed and the bones discovered. The shoe was set upright in the approximate original position in order to show how the scene originally appeared.)

“HOWEVER, yesterday, the man of the family and the daughter kayaked over and found not one but two sneakers exposed side by side with their toes sticking up. The woman explained that this seemed more likely to contain a body and so the man decided to investigate. '[My husband] kind of pulled it out and there was a sock and he dumped it out and there were bones.' The father and daughter immediately left the area, kayaked home, and called the woman. Even though he had seen the bones, the woman said that her husband was still unsure about whether this was real. So when the woman got home at dusk, the parents headed back. To save time, they didn’t launch the boats. Instead, they waded through waist high water. 'We crossed the river with our headlamps and a camera and dug up enough to determine there was a leg bone attached.'

“THE FAMILY didn’t want to call the Mendocino Sheriff on the flimsy fact they had found a pair of shoes. They wanted to make sure they were not mistaken. As the woman said, 'I just knew I had to get a picture. You want to be sure you are giving them accurate information. My husband says he still can’t believe it.' They waited until 7am to call law enforcement because 'we knew there was nothing the police could do at night to recover skeletal remains across the river.' The family who found the body a mere two days before Halloween is struggling to find balance. On the one hand says the woman, 'We have chickens and ducks and bunnies. They die. We’ve explored death in the last couple of years. Death—when you live on a farm, is part of life.' This, she believes, has helped her daughter cope. On the other hand, she says, 'Last night, [our daughter] didn’t want to watch a scary Halloween movie. She wanted to watch Glee.' It didn’t seem the time for something frightening.”

SCOTT STEPHENS, 25 of Manila, HumCo, was attacked by a shark Tuesday morning near the entrance to Humboldt Bay. He said he punched the beast in the head until it released him. More than 100 staples were required to seal Stephens' multiple gashes. Stephens said his attacker was “a young great white shark” that pulled him underwater. “I opened my eyes underwater and punched the shark on the side of the head until it released me,” Stephens said. “I saw a lot of blood.” Doctors say Stephens suffered at least seven deep lacerations, but none of his vital organs were damaged during the attack. He is listed in fair condition after undergoing surgery Tuesday at St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka.

UPDATE: The Mendocino County District Attorney's Office released Kristin Wright, the woman who was ripped off during a marijuana transaction gone bad. No charges have been filed against Kristin, but maybe she's learned who not to associate with.

HERE WE GO AGAIN. 11/3 11:25am Jacqueline Nicole Audet, 22, of Bend, CA, was booked into the Mendocino County Jail after having been arrested in Fort Bragg for being under the influence of drugs and alcohol in public. Police were called when she was seen walking into traffic on the Noyo Bridge. Arrested with Ms. Audet was her companion, Donald Leroy Jordan, 50, of Willits. He was also booked into the Mendocino County Jail after having been arrested in Fort Bragg for being under the influence of drugs and alcohol in public.

THESE TWO JUST got out of jail a week ago, and isn't it about time Ms. Audet did a little more time for the sake of her own well-being? (Jordan would seem to be beyond help, but even he ought to be held longer than a weekend.) What a joke our judges make out of these chronics with repeated arrests, repeated bails of $5,000 (which are repeatedly waived), repeated conditions of probation which are repeatedly ignored. Used to be the chronics went straight to the drunk tank at the state hospital at Talmage where they were compelled to go through a program, at the end of which the alcoholic occasionally awoke from his stupor to resume life. Now, thanks to Reagan who dismantled the state hospital system, it's catch and release. This girl will be dead before she's 30.

OUR GENTLEMANLY former Supervisor, Norman DeVall, encountered Ms. Audet last Thursday at the Boatyard Shopping Center in Fort Bragg, her usual haunt when she's in the area. There's a homeless camp nearby and plenty of panhandling opportunities from the Boatyard's foot traffic. Norman introduced himself by saying, “Just want to say hello. I am sure that I and many others are following your travels every week.” Ms. Audet replied that she did not appreciate the attention, that it made her feel like a curiosity, 'curiosity' being Norman's characterization of her feelings. Ms. Audet went on to say that newspaper attention deprives her of what freedom she has which, as we've said, seems to be absolute but should not include the freedom to commit public suicide.

FORMER SUPERVISOR De VALL said Ms. Audet was well-spoken and “clear and sober.” Norman asked “Pixie” (Ms. Audet's street name) if he could give her his card. She said yes. Pixie's “road dog,” as contemporary vagabonds describe their traveling companions, lurked nearby but, Norman said, “He walked right by us. He did not want to say hello to me at all. My old but shiny black BMW was probably not the kind of vehicle he would be attracted to.” De Vall went on to explain, “Being a CASA volunteer and having been around mental health somewhat,” Pixie didn't seem to be in all that bad of shape.

De VALL handed Pixie his card and told her she could call anytime. She didn't know where Elk, de Vall's home town, was. “I told her she ever got stuck or really needed a hand to give me a call. I didn't see any cell phone or anything. Her diction and vocabulary and a way of speaking made me think she was not totally a person from the streets. She wishes that the AVA would leave her alone. That's what I she wanted me to tell you. My intuition is that I expect I might be hearing from her. Her dog wanted to climb in the car. A big white dog with spots. She was a little taken aback by the fact that I got along with the dog so well.”

AT THAT POINT, de Vall said, a very large woman ran out of the Smoke Shop screaming at Pixie to leash her dog. Pixie calmly informed the hysteric that the dog was under control. de Vall said it was clear from the aplomb with which Pixie cooled out the screamer that “she has a lot of street smarts. She seems to have been through a lot, but  Mendocino County has very little to offer her if she were to make any effort to change her situation.”

COMMENT OF THE DAY: “Sometimes, you get people talking and there's a lot of low content-to-word ratio.” — Jim Harbaugh, head coach, SF 49ers

THE GOOD NEWS. The Press Democrat has been sold. The bad news — Doug Bosco bought it. The former Congressman and lawyer represents bad people and worse projects from his Santa Rosa office. And now they have a daily newspaper to promote the private interests of themselves and their friends.

BOSCO AND FRIENDS are organized as Sonoma Media Investments, a limited liability corporation. One of the other major investors is also a political fixer and Sonoma County investor named Darius Anderson who interned for Bosco back in the 1980s. Anderson went on to become a top aide to Ron Burkle, a billionaire supermarket mogul and major Democratic campaign donor who frequently golfed with President Clinton. When Gray Davis ran for California governor in 1998, Anderson joined the campaign as his chief fund-raiser. After that Anderson, who lives in Sonoma, started his own high-powered/high-priced Sacramento-based lobbying company, Platinum Advisors.

CAN IT GET worse than these two characters? Yes.

OTHER INVESTORS include Stephen Falk, once of the San Francisco Chronicle and now chief executive of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and Bill Hooper, president of Anderson's development firm, Kenwood Investments, and a former executive with Clear Channel Outdoor, the billboard advertising company.

THE PRESS DEMOCRAT and two other SoCo weeklies had been bought from the New York Times by a Florida-based chain. The Times and the Florida people used the PD as a cash cow, steadily dumbing the paper down to its present day condition as a kind of instant prose chloroform. The paper has been irrelevant to the Northcoast since it was sold to the Times in 1985 by the Person and Finley families of Santa Rosa. BOSCO functioned as Northcoast congressman from 1982 until 1990 when, out of disgust at his general political spinelessness and specifically his errands for Big Timber as BT looted the Northcoast of trees and jobs, Bosco was unseated by a Peace and Freedom Party candidate, Darlene Commingore, who took a large progressive vote from Bosco, unseating him for a Bosco-like Republican of zero distinction called Frank Riggs, who was then defeated by now-Mendocino Supervisor Dan Hamburg, but Riggs was re-elected defeating Hamburg who served only one two-year term. Then Riggs was soon unseated by the Bosco clone Mike Thompson in 1999. BOSCO is married to Gayle Guynup, a Sonoma County Superior Court judge at the time of their nuptials. She is the daughter of the late Victor Guynup, a Humboldt County timber magnate and log exporter. Bosco and friends have a 100-year lease on the old Northwest Pacific Railroad which they bought for exactly nothing. Bosco's former Congressional aide, Mitch Stogner, with lots of help from the Northcoast's entrenched Democrat officeholders — Chesbro naturally, and Thompson of course, manage the tracks along which no train has appeared on a regular basis since 1968.

IN OTHER MEDIA NEWS, employees of Mendocino County's four Media News papers anticipate a takeover by an even dumber newspaper chain than they labor for now. I damn near screamed this morning when I opened the Journal's on-line home page and there was Ann Coulter, the queen of America's neo-fascisti. If the paper's is now featuring that nut, maybe it's already been sold. All print media is on the ropes. (Excuse me unwashed grammarians, but 'media' is plural.) Looking back, you could see our extinction coming around '95, certainly by 2000 when the young went electronic for whatever information they seek. When people over the age of about 65 start to go we'll be finito. Or on-line, which is a form of finito. The young 'uns are now wired for twit-tweets, their collective attention span reduced to somewhere between that of a fruit fly and a gnat. O for the days of the mosquito!

OUR BIGGEST OBSTACLE to survival, however, is the United States Post Office, which now delivers our out-of-county papers on a “Like whenever, dude” basis. Readers in San Francisco are lucky if they get their weekly blast only 7 days after the cannons were fired in Boonville. More distant subscribers are lucky to get a paper or two once a month. Adding insult to the huge injury my government mail service is doing me, I just got this e-mail from one of their bureaucrats, Mr. James W. Johnston of Daly City: “I did not appreciate the last email that you sent me with the offensive language. Do not forward anything of that nature to me again!” I immediately wrote back: “ I just pass along what your customers are saying about your service.  I give up. There's nothing I can do about it. But if I worked for a system that couldn't perform the simplest tasks like getting a newspaper from Boonville to San Francisco in a week I'd look around for new work.”

THE THING IS I didn't say anything offensive to this guy. I was always polite out of fear he'd make sure my paper wasn't delivered anywhere EVER AGAIN if I insulted him. I guess one of the letters I passed along took a well-deserved shot at the Post Office, but what's with this, this, this taking offense when I'm the injured party and this guy and his half-assed monopoly are doing the injuring? If you have a clean hanky, please lend it to me.

REMEMBER BROWNIE? Heckuva Job Brownie? Former FEMA director Michael Brown rolled out with a criticism of Obama for reacting too quickly to the East Coast hurricane-catastrophe: “One thing he’s gonna be asked is, why did he jump on [the hurricane] so quickly and go back to DC so quickly when in…Benghazi, he went to Las Vegas? Why was this so quick?… At some point, somebody’s going to ask that question…. This is like the inverse of Benghazi.”

RIGHT ON WRITING OF THE DAY from Gillian Flynn: “For several years, I had been bored. Not a whining, restless child's boredom (although I was not above that) but a dense, blanketing malaise. It seemed to me that there was nothing new to be discovered ever again. Our society was utterly, ruinously derivative (although the word derivative as a criticism is itself derivative). We were the first human beings who would never see anything for the first time. We stare at the wonders of the world, dull-eyed, underwhelmed. Mona Lisa, the Pyramids, the Empire State Building. Jungle animals on attack, ancient icebergs collapsing, volcanoes erupting. I can't recall a single amazing thing I have seen first-hand that I didn't immediately reference to a movie or TV show. A fucking commercial. You know the awful singsong of the blasé? Seeeen it. I've literally seen it all, and the worst thing, the thing that makes me want to blow my brains out, is: The second-hand experience is always better. The image is crisper, the view is keener, the camera angle and the soundtrack manipulate my emotions in a way reality can't anymore. I don't know that we are actually human at this point, those of us who are like most of us, who grew up with TV and movies and now the internet. If we are betrayed, we know the words to say; when a loved one dies, we know the words to say. If we want to play the stud or the smart-ass or the fool, we know the words to say. We are all working from the same dog-eared script. It's a very difficult era in which to be a person, just a real, actual person, instead of a collection of personality traits selected from an endless Automat of characters. And if all of us are play-acting, there can be no such thing as a soul mate, because we don't have genuine souls. It had gotten to the point where it seemed like nothing matters, because I'm not a real person and neither is anyone else. I would have done anything to feel real again.”

A YOUNG WOMAN recently handed me Ms. Flynn's novel, Gone Girl. “It's on the New York Times best-seller list,” she said, as I bit my tongue at the negative endorsement and gazed unenthusiastically at the pink and black book cover. Chick lit, I thought, not even very clear on what chick lit is beyond a general impression of long novels about young women. Unless they're written by Jane Austen or the Bronte sisters count me out. I have the additional handicap of being about as far removed from the Young Person zeitgeist as it's possible to be. I don't even know any young people except to say, “Dude!” to the dudes, an avuncular “Hello, young lady,” to the dudettes. But I assured this young woman I'd give the book a go. After all, she'd presented me with a hardbound copy of the thing that goes for about 30 bucks at a book store. Gone Girl knocked me out from the first page. There are some very good young fiction writers out there, but this lady is as good or better than any of them. She doesn't cut anybody any slack in this wild mix of brilliant observation, a very clever narrative (remember plot?) and real wit. Move over Trollope this is the way WE live now. I hustled right out and got her other book, Dark Places, which I also inhaled over a few rapt hours. I'm not aware of any highbrow reviews of Ms. Gillian's work — they're pretty much stuck at Joyce Carol Oates and unreadable Englishmen — but this lady is taking contemporary fiction to a new level. Another unique thing about Ms. Flynn's art: she gets inside both women and men with such clarity it seems uncanny, and the fact that young women are reading her in droves ought to give the more thoughtful dudes serious pause. If young women are thinking like this, and Ms. Flynn is a fave writer among them, you dudes better hunker down.

FROM THE AVA WEBSITE COMMENT LINE: “I guess perhaps many of you ‘D's’ never knew Doug Bosco's father-in-law was the owner of Humboldt Bay Forest Products, the late Victor Guynup. As a US Congressman for this area, Bosco wrote federal legislation for a timber harvest in the Hupa Reservation that gave his father-in-law windfall profits at the expense of the Hupa Tribe. Please be more careful who you check at the polling place with a ‘D’ next to their name.”

THE BANK OF MEXICO announced Thursday that remittance money to Mexico was off by 20% in September, the biggest drop since October of 2009 when immigrant labor was hit hard by the sudden economic implosion. The reduction of money sent to Mexico by its displaced sons and daughters is ongoing, as is the reduction of immigration itself.

THIS AB POACHING case didn't get the attention it deserves, but last spring game wardens started watching two guys on the Mendocino Coast taking more abalone than is allowed on what turned out to be the true assumption they were commercial ab poachers. Paul Chak Po Mak, and Samuel Xing Sin both had priors for taking more ab, way more, than is lawful. (Three a day, 24 a year is the legal limit.) These two guys took 84 in a month and sold them to restaurants; three confederates also were in on the thefts. The two ringleaders were fined $15,000 and $35,000 respectively, and all five lost their fishing licenses for the rest of their lives.

ARCATA'S MEASURE I on their November ballot would place a 45% electricity tax on households — with medical and other exceptions — that use three times the amount of power a typical family home does. The measure takes aim at commercial growers who maximize production by packing homes full of high intensity lights and irrigation systems that gobble electricity and sometimes cause fires from overloaded circuits. If Measure I passes, it would be the first measure of its kind in the nation aimed at marijuana growers, said Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. The amount of electricity that would subject a resident to the tax amounts to a $700 per month bill, and is roughly equivalent to the power used by a big chain drugstore. Pacific Gas & Electric Co. reports that 633 homes — one in 15— are using that much juice, indicating they are raising pot rather than families. If that many growers decide to absorb the tax instead of getting out of town, the tax would generate $1.2 million, or nearly 4% of the city's $31.7 million budget.

COMMENT OF THE DAY: “Viewed from here, the Tea Party shows a remarkable similarity to various political movements in interwar Europe: a rightwing populist movement which uses radical slogans to conceal profoundly conservative core values, financed by big business, cheered on by rightwing media, and drawing its support from the angry, the ignorant, the bigoted and the borderline psychotic…” — Tony Dennis, England

THE SUPES met at 9am Tuesday to consider: 1. an ad-hoc committee to research the idea of changing the rules and regulations for county veterans' buildings and make recommendations to the board. 2. A program that would allow property owners to assess themselves on their property taxes for the cost of energy-efficient and water-saving improvements, such as solar panels, low-flow toilets, double-paned windows, weather stripping, rain-collection systems, caulking or even Energy STAR appliances. 3. At 1:30pm, the board will hear an update on the North Coast Marine Protected Area monitoring planning from the MPA (marine protected area) Monitoring Enterprise, a program of the California Ocean Science Trust. 4. A “memorandum of agreement” between the US Forest Service, the federal Bureau of Land Management and the County of Mendocino to “enhance mutual communication” for five years, with a possible five-year renewal period. Sheriff Tom Allman, 3rd District Supervisor John Pinches and 1st District Supervisor Carre Brown are bringing the proposal to the board. Translation: Basic cooperation to get dope grows out of the forest, or at least keep them to a minimum. 5. A bunch of related consent calendar items having to do with modifications to the Caspar Landfill's ongoing beat-back of leachate.

I GOT TO SUTTER & KEARNEY on Wednesday just after 9am, one of the million-plus celebrants who would gather for the Giants triumphant parade up Market Street by 11. The crowds were already thick and, on Market, impassable. I worked my way west, up through the Tenderloin and its lost souls that for this one day included many wholesome-looking, unlost nuclear families headed for the parade, Mom and Pop staring straight ahead, trying not to see the human wreckage strewn about them. But little Donnie and Debbie, alarm in their Big Bird young eyes, wondered at all the disarrayed big people they never see in San Anselmo. “Look, mommy, those men are sleeping on the ground with no blankies!” I stopped at Larkin where it dips to Market, and took up a position maybe fifty yards uphill from the Civic Center, as close as I could get to the celebs without bulling my way downhill. I wouldn't be able to see much of anything, but simply being there is more the point of these things than seeing one's heroes close enough to say, “Dude! Way to go!” By October, these guys are more familiar to us than most of our neighbors, and twice as appealing. I was present because I wanted to see what the crowd was like, gage the vibe as we used to say. Well sir, the vibe was vibrant and smelled like marijuana, with young and old alike puffing away among the drunks as strangers chatted with strangers, and the whole mob of us togged out in combinations of orange and black. The visuals were doubly strange, a combination of Halloween and baseball, exemplified for me by an Elvis impersonator draped in Giants beads. Free enterprise had broken out everywhere, but storefront enterprise, especially the jewelry stores around Union Square, was hunkered down. The display cases at DeBeer's on Post were empty in anticipation of smash and grabbers. A formidably large, fit-looking, unsmiling white man, clearly a functioning psycho, was unamused at the happy scene on the street. He looked like he hoped, just hoped, some fool would take him on. He was walking point for DeBeer's International. Low level capitalists were working the crowds, hawking everything from muy autentico orange and black serapes to a Chinese guy selling “Authentic Italian Licorice” for four bucks. It tasted like Authentic Mall Licorice to me, but he was selling lots of it in the shadow of store announcing “Syrian Handmade Ice Cream and authentic Mediterranean pastries.” That area of Larkin and Golden Gate is headquarters for the state and federal forces of repression. You've got the big federal fortress on Golden Gate between Polk and Larkin across the street from the Hiram W. Johnson State Building where, on its upper floors, you find this region's appellate courts presided over by political appointees who, like their federal brothers and sisters on the other side of Golden Gate, faithfully ratify everything from coerced confessions to high finance swindles. I often pop in to use the facilities adjoining the state courts, marveling at the lush carpets, the marble men's rooms and, to solidify my ongoing fantasy that someday the millions massed below cheering on millionaire ballplayers might instead storm upstairs, helping themselves to the fixtures, the rugs, the big leather chairs, and the bad art, seriously disrupting their majesties' two hour lunches and tennis lessons. Hiram Johnson was a progressive, back when the term meant something, an austere old boy opposed to the rank privilege found today in the building named after him. The parade was running late. The crowd was reduced to cheering empty tour buses as agile young guys swung themselves up onto the landings of an apartment building for primo views. Directly to my front, two young women took big gulps from a fifth of Southern Comfort with chaser swigs from a mammoth bottle of Coca Cola, a combo only a kid could desire then survive. Tuesday night, when the Giants clinched with Romo buzzing a fastball straight as a string past Miguel Cabrera, things back in SF had gotten out of hand. The cops raced from mini-mobs doing bad things to majorly mobs doing bad things, like setting fires at intersections, groping women, randomly assaulting passersby, and in one grand piece of vandalism, torching a muni bus and severely beating a young man who boldly reminded the vandals that burning buses was not celebratory. Innocent thousands, though, merely careened drunkenly through the streets shouting their incoherent delight at the four game sweep of Detroit. When Wednesday's parade finally hove into obstructed view, there were encouraging boos at the vehicles containing politicians, enthusiastic shouts for Giants employees, and a real burst of joy at what I assumed was the favorite ballpark vendor of all, the Kettlecorn Man. And there was absolute pandemonium for the ballplayers when they finally hoved into view. I read later that Romo, bless him, a native of Brawley, wore a t-shirt inscribed “I Just Look Illegal,” a rare political statement from a professional jock, almost all of whom are pounded into bland conformity by the interlocked forces of media and big money. David Talbot's excellent book, Season of the Witch, about San Francisco in the fraught and frightening Frisco days beginning with the happy hippie horseshit of the late 1960s that quickly became the heavy drugs and murder cults of the 1970s, says in his book that Bill Walsh's Super Bowl 49ers and the steady Mommy hand of Dianne Feinstein, lifted San Francisco from its death malaise. I was skeptical. But last Wednesday, when I saw a million transported baseball fans presided over by the blandly inoffensive but widely popular mayor, Ed Lee, transported by a baseball team, Talbot's theory that sports and a politician can lift public morale in demoralizing times.


Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *