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Mendocino County Today: November 12, 2013


by Bruce McEwen

“Need for Speed,” the infantile flick filmed in Anderson Valley and other Mendo locales last spring, drew small crowds of onlookers wowed by the automotive stunts Hollywood enacted on our outback roads, none of them designed for high speed chases. The movie isn't out yet, but Aaron Long initiated a high-speed, non-sanctioned chase of his own in late September when he was chased by Sheriff's Deputy Jim Wells, an old schoolmate.

It was quite a pursuit, and one that should raise some serious policy discussions among County law enforcement. The present police policy is chase 'em down, a policy that may be as dangerous as the high speed antics of the fools the police pursuing them. But chase 'em down when you're driving your own wheels off-duty?

Whatever, as the young people say. When Deputy Wells, off duty and driving his own truck, finally caught up with Long, he arrested his former classmate and charged him with felony assault with a deadly weapon — a vehicle.

The Prelim was last Wednesday.

Aaron Long
Aaron Long

Long's weaponized vehicle was a blue 1986 Nissan 280 ZX, a speedy little sports car.

Deputy Wells was off duty, driving his 2013 Chevy crew-cab 4x4. Wells said he’d just merged on to Highway 101 at the northbound Talmage Street freeway entrance when he spotted Long in the blue Z-car.

“I recognized Aaron, and he presented his middle finger to me.”

DA David Eyster asked for a less formal clarification.

“Do you mean he flipped you off?”

“Yes. He flipped me off.”

“Then what did he do?”

“He was in the number one lane and he eased over into my lane.”

“What did you do?”

“I moved onto the shoulder of the road over the rumble strip.”

“Then what happened?”

“Aaron moved into the number two lane, cut in front of me and put on his brakes, giving me the finger again, through the sunroof.”

“How far into your lane did he come?”

“About a foot. Had I not braked, I’d have slammed into the back of him.”

“What was the defendant trying to do?”

Andrew Higgins of the Office of the Public Defender objected.

DA Eyster rephrased:

“In your opinion, what was the defendant trying to do?”

“He was trying to get me to go off the road.”

“What would you estimate his speed at?”

“Approximately 90 MPH, but he would slow down and then wave at me through the sunroof to follow him and then speed up again.”

“Did you call dispatch for help?”


“Where did this all end?”

“On Lees Road in Redwood Valley.”

“You followed him that far?”

“I couldn’t keep up, but he kept motioning for me to come up or follow him. He kept weaving through traffic, we went through Calpella, and he kept motioning through the sunroof, suggesting I follow him. He got off on East Road, ran the stop sign, cutting the corners, and turned northbound on East Road. He went by the Little Lake Market and the Animal Control Officer was there with his overhead lights flashing, but he ignored that. [The dogcatcher drives a Ford F-250 with a big steel box of cages mounted on it, not exactly built for hot pursuit.] He then went past the theater at School Way, passing cars on the right shoulder, and turned west on School Way. He passed more vehicles by crossing the double yellow line. At this point, I lost sight of him. When I finally caught up again I saw Deputy [Frank] Rakes [the bailiff who was on duty in this courtroom during the hearing] in his 1965 Mustang, pulling into the intersection.”

“Was there a collision?”

“No. Aaron locked up his brakes and screeched to a stop in a cloud of smoke, then went down Road N; he then took Laughlin Way, northbound, then he slowed and went on Lees Road a short way before turning into a driveway.”

Public defender Higgins: “How long were you on Highway 101 before you saw my client, Mr. Long?”

“I’d just gotten on; less than five seconds.”

“And how long was the total pursuit?”

“About 10 miles.”

“Did you exceed the speed limit also?”


“Did you go around cars?”


“When you saw the animal control officer with his emergency lights on, did you let him lead the chase?”

“He couldn’t have kept up.”

“You felt the gestures were directed at you?”

“I’ve known Aaron for years. He’d slow down, then motion for me to follow. I told dispatch I couldn’t keep up.”

“Did you have the option of backing off?”


“But you didn’t choose to do so?”


“So you were going around vehicles, over the speed limit, in pursuit — were you on your cellphone while you were in pursuit?”


Higgins summed up his defense: “Your honor, all we have is testimony that my client eased into somebody else’s lane — a reckless driving charge, maybe, but certainly not a felony level assault with a deadly weapon.”

Judge Ann Moorman had a different view.

“The witness recognized the driver of the Nissan,” she said, “and gave his opinion that the defendant was trying to run him off the road.”

“His opinion is irrelevant,” Higgins said. “The word he used was ‘eased’ into the other lane.”

“I’ll have to check that,” Moorman conceded. “But this is not misdemeanor conduct, moving around like that in multi-ton vehicles at high speeds; I’m not inclined to reduce it to a misdemeanor.”

“His [Long’s] criminal record,” Eyster added, “would prevent any reduction in charges, anyway. I have his rap sheet right here, if the court would like to see it.”

“I don’t need to see it,” Moorman said. “Moving around like that on the freeway is enough for me. I’m holding him to answer.”

At this point, Eyster threw in a violation of proba¬tion, and the bells of doom began to toll for Mr. Long’s driving privileges. “Need For Speed” will be playing the Ukiah Theater around Christmas. Long might be out of jail by then. Maybe he'll settle for the fantasy version of his own need for speed.



Three Years On: Applause, Frustration & Hope

Tuesday, November 11, the third anniversary of Susan Keegan’s murder, offers us a chance to express both admiration and indignation about how this case has been handled. The contours of Susan’s death are well known to readers of this blog. Less certain is when the long-delayed prosecution will get underway.

Family and friends are still pleading, scolding, hollering, and weeping as they struggle to push the Mendocino County District Attorney’s office to pursue justice. We believe our frustration at the endless delays is more than justified. But we also want to take a moment to offer praise where praise is due.

Shortly after taking office a few months after Susan died, DA David Eyster was handed a file about her case by the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office — a file filled with holes, errors, and sloppy police work. Laid before him was a botched investigation.

The mistakes had begun within hours of Susan’s death. “The home should have been declared a crime scene that morning,” one investigator told us.

The Keegans, in better days
The Keegans, in better days

But Peter Keegan, Susan’s physician/husband, had fast-talked Sgt. Scott Poma, at best an indifferent police officer, into believing a story that defied credibility — that Susan, an engaged writer, reader, actor, and budding artist, was disguising a lethal substance abuse problem. No facts supported his claim, but the Harvard-educated physician was authoritative, and the cops walked away from the scene with far less evidence than they should have collected.

Next, the autopsy was put in the hands of Jason Trent, MD, a medical examiner whose questionable competence has been an open secret in Mendocino County. Trent twice recanted his testimony in an unrelated homicide case, saying, “that’s what I swore to, that’s what I signed, but I was wrong.” So unskilled was the medical examiner that at least one attorney told us she often went outside the county to have her evidence analyzed. Trent’s contract with the Sheriff’s Office was finally severed this summer, almost a year before it was due to expire, but not before his grossly inadequate examination of Susan Keegan’s body.

Faced with such clumsy police work, the DA must surely have been tempted to walk away from the case. Instead, his office looked hard at it, and saw enough to investigate further.

Slowly, Eyster’s team took steps to recover some of the evidence that had been lost. Investigators twice sought and executed warrants to search the Keegan house. They consulted with experts and listened to others who could speak knowledgeably about various aspects of the case, and ultimately learned enough to convince them, and indeed the entire law enforcement community of Mendocino County, that Susan’s life had been stolen from her.

In August 2012, they acted on that knowledge by changing her death certificate to read “homicide.”

For the determination all of that took, we are grateful. And yet, as the Anderson Valley Advertiser, a steadfast ally in the effort to give voice to Susan’s story, has quipped, “this isn’t the Kennedy assassination.” Why the continuing delay in making an arrest and bringing the case to trial? There is a single suspect in the case, a man who has reportedly refused to speak to authorities, even to proclaim his innocence.

The initial slipshod investigation has not made things easy for prosecutors, who understandably prefer guaranteed convictions. But there is enough evidence to persuade every experienced cop and investigator who has looked at it. Put that evidence before a jury of the suspect’s peers. Let the community understand what happened. Let the system work.

Susan was cheated — of books she would have read and foreign capitals she dreamed of visiting, of wisdom she sought and kindness she would have offered. Of the grandchildren she yearned to nurture. She did nothing to earn her terrible fate.

The friends and family of the Justice4Susan Committee, and the many community members who tell us they support our goals, feel a powerful obligation to advance the cause of justice in Susan’s name. Let us hope that the officials sworn to protect the people of Ukiah feel that same obligation — and fulfill it.



Evidence of meth thrown out

by Tiffany Revelle

In what could be a significant ruling for medical marijuana defense, a Mendocino County Superior Court judge last Friday granted a motion to throw out evidence from a vehicle search done because the driver admitted to having the drug and a county-issued card identifying him as a medical marijuana patient.

Judge Ann Moorman ruled in favor of Mendocino County Deputy Public Defender Eric Rennert's motion to suppress the evidence used to charge his client, Kevin R. Hawkins, 55, of Cloverdale, with possessing methamphetamine when a Ukiah Police Department officer pulled Hawkins over on South State Street and searched his vehicle.

The officer had no reason to believe the search would turn up evidence of a crime, so proper grounds hadn't been established for the search, Moorman ruled.

"The question is, does admission of the presence of marijuana alone, with a valid recommendation, provide law enforcement with probable cause to search,” Rennert said.

The ruling is significant, he said, because no case law currently exists regarding that question.

Hawkins was pulled over by a UPD officer at 3:50 a.m. April 18 for a traffic violation and produced a valid driver's license, registration and proof of insurance, according to Rennert. While the officer was checking the documents, he asked Hawkins “if he had anything illegal in his vehicle,” according to the officer's testimony, quoted in Moorman's ruling.

"The officer testified that he had not seen any contraband or other evidence of illegality to explain the inquiry,” according to Moorman's order to grant the defense's motion. “The officer also testified that he did not smell anything such as an odor of marijuana."

The smell of marijuana from inside a vehicle is enough to establish probable cause for a search, Moorman asserts in her ruling, citing a 2007 case where the state Court of Appeal ruled that an officer had probable cause to search a vehicle after smelling the drug, seeing a second bag in the car after the driver showed him one containing a small amount, and believing the driver would drive away after having smoked marijuana.

Hawkins told the officer who stopped him that he had less than an ounce of marijuana in the car with him, and showed him a Proposition 215 card (Compassionate Use Act of 1996) issued by the county of Mendocino.

The officer told Hawkins “that the practice had changed in that the County no longer issued such cards,” according to the ruling, to which Hawkins said he got the card in 2000 from the county Department of Public health with his doctor's help.

It had no expiration date because Hawkins obtained it for “a chronic and terminal condition,” according to Moorman's order. The court found the card valid.

The officer opted to search the car anyway “because he (Hawkins) told me he had marijuana in the car,'“ according to testimony quoted in Moorman's ruling.

"This Court is not suggesting that the presentation of the 215 card was a means of immunization from the search,” Moorman wrote. “But, the totality of the circumstances included a voluntary statement coupled with the county issued card AND a complete absence of odor or impaired driving, or evidence of a larger amount of marijuana in the car.” (The emphasis is Moorman's.)

The Mendocino County District Attorney's Office has two weeks to appeal the ruling. If an appeal is filed, the case would go before the state Court of Appeals.

Rennert said if that happens, the ruling would be published as case law that can be used as precedent for similar court decisions statewide, becoming the first of its kind.

(Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal.)


RainbowWarriorGREENPEACE'S Rainbow Warrior tied up at Pier 15 Friday where it will remain through November 19th for public tours, art shows, films, panel discussions and live music. Up to 900 people a day are expected to visit the boat, made famous by a 1985 incident off the coast of New Zealand when the French bombed — and sank — its predecessor, the first Rainbow Warrior, during a nuclear weapons protest. The new Rainbow Warrior (actually, the third overall) is a $33 million, custom-built sailboat outfitted with a helipad, and unique A-frame masts that give the boat stability and allow it to derive 90% of its power from the wind. It's designed to accommodate up to 32 crewmembers as they circle the globe blocking oil tankers, protesting deforestation and taking up other environmental crusades.



SEVERAL READERS have asked about Flynn Washburne, the talented writer from Mendocino County who is currently a resident of the state pen at Tehachapi. Flynn pulled a few armed-with-a-toy-gun robberies, one at the Bank of America in Ukiah, another we know of at a bookstore in Fort Bragg, the first armed robbery of a bookstore in Mendocino County history, maybe American history. But we knew then that Flynn was a literary guy. He was writing his autobiography for us when he suddenly wasn't. Lots of things can happen in prison, few of them good. Way back Dannie Martin, another talented prison writer, so annoyed the authorities they gave him “bus therapy,” meaning they put him on an unending prison bus tour of America chained and shackled. I believe that practice has been ended, but some of us need reminding that for all the hype about being the most advanced country in the world, America is also the most primitive country in the world. We hope Flynn is well and will soon resume writing.


AllmanTubaSHERIFF TOM ALLMAN, in civvies, popped into Lauren's last Thursday night to play Trivia, joining Muriel Ellis's team to help Muriel and Co. finish a strong second to Vinegar Ridge (aka “The Ancient Geeks”). Allman jovially introduced himself to his teammates who promptly reciprocated by naming the team “The Inmates.” The Sheriff, who is something of a celebrity tuba player in local beer-barrel polka circles, also made inquiries of local artist and musician Nadia Berrigan about sitting in with Bob Ayres’ Big Band which, as we know, is in serious need of some baritone ooomph. Boonville! Mendocino County's most happening community!


ABOVE ALL, this big nation has failed to reckon the central quandary of our time: the fatal hypertrophy of finance. This ghastly engine of rackets and swindles is the enlarged heart of a dying body politic, and all we know how to do is feed it more monetary Cheez Doodles. This has been going on far longer than the doctors and the witch doctors thought possible, and there is a foolish hope among the credulous that the larger organism of the economy must therefore be immortal. But the reality-based minority stoically awaits the final congestive infarction. — James Kunstler


I WAS PAINFULLY TIMID, and while still young the idea of Hell took a fearful hold on me. One night I thought I was irretrievably damned and cried myself to sleep in vain yet terrified efforts to form a conception of eternal pain. In the morning I renewed my lamentations and my mother was sent for. She comforted me with the assurance that the Holy Ghost was convicting me of sin and thus preparing me for ultimate salvation. This was a new idea and I rather approved. — Synge



Workshop For Farm and Ranch Families

Anderson Valley Land Trust is hosting a workshop on succession planning for farm and ranch families on Friday, November 22, 2013 from 8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. at the Anderson Valley Grange in Philo.

Succession planning is the process of mapping the transition of the family farm or ranch business, land, and assets from one generation to the next. When it comes to passing on the family farm or ranch, a simple will or estate plan cannot fully cover the intricacies of the transition.

According to California FarmLink, 70% of U.S. farmland is going to change hands in the next 20 years; 70% of farmers have no will and 75% of farmers have no named successor. In California there are 9 California farmers over age 65 for every farmer under age 35. These facts underscore the importance of estate and succession planning to keep farm and ranch lands in production and to preserve the agricultural heritage of communities like Anderson Valley.

Workshop presentations will provide information on how to decide who will run the farm or ranch in 5, 10, 20 or more years. Experts from Mendocino County and around Northern California will provide key information and tools to help farm and ranch families address this question and plan for their land's continued production in the future. Topics will include: successful business transfers; how to develop the next generation's management capacity while protecting the current generation's interests; tools to keep harmony in the family through this difficult process; estate planning; and avoiding unnecessary transfer taxes (income, gift and estate).

All generations are encouraged to attend. Lunch, workshop materials, and one copy of California FarmLink's Farm Succession Guidebook per family are included in the workshop cost of $25 each for the first two family members and $15 for each additional member. Workshop participants will be eligible for a low-cost, private consultation with an attorney and/or CPA at a future date.

Pre-registration is required by November 18th. Call Shelly at 707-895-3150 or send an email with names of all family members who will attend and one contact phone number or email address to <> . More information is available at <> .

This workshop is presented by California FarmLink and is part of the Anderson Valley Land Trust's Legacy of Working Lands. The project is funded, in part, by a grant from the Community Foundation of Mendocino County with additional support from the Savings Bank of Mendocino County, East Bay Community Foundation, Navarro River Resource Center, California Rangeland Trust, Anderson Valley Grange, and Mendocino Land Trust.



by Jeff Costello

“...I realized what makes our generation unique, what defines us apart from those who came before the hopeful winter of 1961, and those who came after the murderous spring of 1968. We are the first generation that learned from experience, in our innocent twenties, that things were not really getting better, that we shall not overcome. We felt, by the time we reached thirty, that we had already glimpsed the most compassionate leaders our nation could produce, and they had been assassinated. And from this time forward, things would get worse: out best political leaders were part of memory now...” — Jack Newfield, Robert Kennedy: A Memoir

Anyone old enough remembers the moment JFK was killed in Dallas.

jfk2I was a junior in high school, 16 years old, walking in the hall on a rest room break, or “going to the basement” as the euphemism went at Farmington High School in Connecticut. Farmington was still a puritanical, culturally constipated New England town where such basic functions as relieving oneself were just not mentioned. The lower-class section of town, literally the “other side of the tracks,” was called Unionville although it was - and I suppose still is - officially in the town of Farmington. In 1964, Unionville still had an operating 19th century textile mill.

Four miles east, at the other end of town, across the river, is the village of Farmington Center, the home of Miss Porter’s School for Girls - est. 1843 - where daughters of the upper-upper classes are sent to train as proper wives for their future power broker husbands. One graduate of Miss Porter’s was Jacqueline Bouvier, future wife of John F. Kennedy. If you’ve ever seen the video of Jackie showing off the White House dishes and furniture, and noticed her stilted mannerisms, these were learned at Miss Porter’s.

It was 1:30 PM Eastern time when I encountered The Penguin, a short, fat, nerdy kid who always wore a dark suit or sport jacket, white shirt and tie, and vest.

“The president has been shot in Texas,” he said. I was not interested in politics but had a vague hearsay-generated impression that JFK was some kind of good guy. I didn’t believe The Penguin. I was back in class when the principal came over the P.A. and made the announcement. The last president to be assassinated was McKinley in 1901, and there was no seeming protocol for understanding this. Nobody knew what to say, although some girls were crying, and we were let out of school early.

Soon came the official story, a lone nut communist who had been in Russia was the culprit. It was less than ten years after McCarthy, the Cold War was in flower, and communism was the ultimate evil.

I watched on TV when Lee Harvey Oswald was shot to death in the police station by a sleazy night club owner called Jack Ruby. It was all very clean, cut-and-dry, end of story. So we were told. But I’ve never quite understood the obstinacy, the utter verve over the years, of the conspiracy deniers. Don’t we have enough evidence enough these days that the official story is always bullshit?

As Jack Newfield pointed out, the subsequent murders of RFK and Martin Luther King eliminated the only public figures able to transmit any hopeful, relatively anti-establishment message. No one else has appeared to take their place. The lesson has been learned.



by Debra Keipp

The deed on the two acre meadow along Point Arena Creek said the narrow strip of ag land on the canyon floor was a brush-free fire corridor for the City limits. Even so, it was densely saturated with poison oak, hemlock and coyote bush by the time I owned it. The crumbling limestone cliffs served as home base for federally protected Mountain Beaver Territory. I needed a few goats to eat down the undesirable vegetation. The idea of grazers sounded organic and pastoral.


When I couldn't find rental goats, Hawaiian Tina gave me her two goats for free. Tina worked in the snack booth at Arena Theater. Every night after closing down the movies, she'd take home the leftover theater popcorn to feed her goats. They loved popcorn best, as table scraps go. When they moved to my place, inside the City limits just down the street and around the corner from Arena Theater, those goats could smell the popcorn waft down the Main Street wind corridor. It became impossible to keep them home on nights when they could smell popcorn. By morning they'd be gone. And, every time they escaped, I could find them at the theater looking for Tina to serve up their popcorn.

Having goats was a lot like having parrots. Parrots look at you as their dilating pupils telescope, examining you, their quarry. Sometimes birds bite, like goats when they head-butt. The weird-looking pupils in the eyes of these two goats, a Nubian male and an Alpine female, sized up what use they could make of me. The male liked to urinate on his head (the Brut of billy goat cologne) to smell more attractive to the female and to try to bring her much sooner into estrus (female mating season), which is essential to goat mating. Billy goats are reeking, smelly beasts.

The Nubian male had downward sagging ears and horns; the Alpine female had upward pointed ears and horns. Either direction their horns pointed. I was screwed but didn't know it yet.

Eventually I could see that the perimeter of the meadow they'd defoliated was bordered with square, framed pig wire. Once they finished most of the vegetation inside the meadow, they eyeballed the cliffs outside the fence line. One or the other of the goats would push into the pig wire fencing until their horns snagged a few wire squares. Then they'd both pull until they'd flattened the fence and could walk right over it and escape.

It was at this point in our collective learning curve, that I became a regular early morning acquaintance of Bill Hay who owns Point Arena Water Works. In fact, at the time, Bill Hay could probably innocently enough identify every pair of pajamas I owned. Because several mornings after the goats had been working pre-dawn on demilitarizing the fence, they'd excuse themselves from the meadow, silently walk under my bedroom window up to the Arena Theater on Main Street, and park themselves next to the theater's kiosk and wait for popcorn to happen. Sometimes it appeared they'd been there overnight. Bill Hay was often the first one to drive through town in the morning before any of the coffee shops opened. He'd see my goats clownin' around the theater kiosk, drop by the house around 6 or 6:30 and dryly inform me, “Your goats are in front of the theater again.”

I'd dress for the Main Street goat round-up, which always gave the coffee drinkers a bit of amusement. The amount of poop at the Theater's front entrance told me how long they'd been staking out the popcorn stand. They'd let me catch them. In fact, often they came enthusiastically running and vaulting toward me, excited to see me. Constantly too affectionate, the male routinely head-butted and rubbed me with his stinking yellow-stained noggin all the way home. The female was more reluctant to leave the theater.She bleated all the way home, probably complaining she hadn't had popcorn since moving to my place.

I had developed a tolerance for the goats, lightened by the comedy of their strange ways. Even the frustration of my damaged fences was remedied by a bit of electric fence rope lining the inside of what remained of the pig wire. When I was just getting the hang of the goats; they were getting out less and less by the time the nanny became pregnant. The Alpine eventually gave birth to a beautiful female resembling her sire, the Nubian. Little Periwinkle's life was short, though, as one of the dirty tricks used by virile billy goats is to kill the offspring, thus sending the nanny promptly back into estrus – a “refreshed” mating season immediately following birth. I had separated him and her after Periwinkle's birth, but ruthless and relentles he broke into their nursing pen and killed their kid. I hated him for it.

After burying Little Periwinkle, I went to the bar at Arena Cove and sat offended at how cruel nature was. I was done with goats. Did anyone want a goat? How about two goats? An extremely tame, popcorn-loving pair, perhaps? We discussed ways to castrate goats, goat meat vs. goat cheese and milk, goat grazing vs. a Weed Eater, and folks shared a few goat stories, but no amount of commiseration made me want to keep them.

A few weeks later, I noticed silence coming from the meadow where the goats lived. No bleating. I could see they were gone. Absolutely vanished into thin air. No blood, bones, tracks, smell... nothing. I asked around. No one had seen them. I walked the perimeter of the property and searched the 200 acre pasture above the mountain beaver colony. I never found them, or any trace of them. Not even any poop in front of the theater, which would always be their first stop when they got loolse. This made me wonder if their disappearance was voluntary. I soon concluded it must have involved some human intervention.

After a month or so, I dismantled the gate, their shelter (goats hate the rain and getting wet) and all their climbing structures and goat stuppas. It was a relief not to have goats any more, but the mystery of their disappearance lingered.

One morning about four months later, I was brushing my teeth in the bathroom, getting ready for the day, when I thought I heard the first bleat. I continued with what I was doing, thinking the Mexican family next door must be getting ready for another back yard goat slaughter. I brought a cup of coffee from the kitchen to my back bedroom, which sat over a two car garage, which also had some historical significance as the first indoor grow room in Point Arena way back in 1974. I could hear a goat bleating directly under me, inside my open basement garage. I went to the upstairs basement door located across from my washer and dryer in the upstairs hallway of my home.

I prepared to stick my head down the steps to see what was up when, the minute I opened the basement door, I was met by the billy goat. He was thrilled to see me, launching himself up the last three steps of the threshold like a spring loaded jack in the box. As I stepped out of his way, he broadsided the washer and dryer, horns and hooves flailing on the slick linoleum as he continued bashing into the metal appliances trying to regain his footing. He sounded like a thunder storm. God created goats for the clusterfuck. And there was the nanny fast on his rump. She heaved over his sprawled body and made a beeline for the kitchen, smelling breakfast. Needless to say, they let themselves in... and were happy to see me after their mysterious “vacation”.

I was unprepared for the return of the goats. I had since taken apart their habitat in the meadow. I'd used the gate for another section of the property, and was quite over them by then. My heart just wasn't into messing with them any more. I called Mark Biaggi, who had a herd of grazer goats and asked him if he wanted them for free. He came with his two small children to take them. His little girl was about five at the time, and she took one look at the billy goat and said, “Look Daddy, he looks just like Tank!”. I asked if he'd be using the male for breeding. He said, no, he'd be fixing him. He said only kept one male per herd. I asked him if he'd use anesthesia. He said no. I grimaced, then rationalized my reaction to his looming pain as payback for what he'd done to Little Periwinkle.

Three years later, once again at Arena Cove, someone inquired if I had ever found out what happened to my “gallivanting goats”. I informed him I never knew the circumstances of the missing goats.

He told me that a certain fun-loving redhead had heard me bitching about the goats the night the Nubian killed Little Periwinkle in the nursing pen when I'd been at Arena Cove complaining about the evil mating practices of goats. She'd kidnapped the goats for whatever use she had in mind. What she planned to do with them remained a mystery. She and her sisters were easy on animals and have a family horse who's pushing forty. But, after a few months, she no longer wanted them and had brought them back.


  1. Harvey Reading November 12, 2013

    My, my, my, how things have changed. Back in ’79, the L.A. County Sheriff’s Office put on pursuit driving classes at the fairgrounds in Pomona. The main thing they stressed was safety, not demonstration of penis size (or compensation for lack thereof) with an automobile. Just keep the perp’s car in sight, and wait. Eventually it will crash. No need to endanger innocent civilians by trying to chase down the perp, thus making said person more likely to attempt even higher speeds. Of course, in those days, P.O.S.T. training also emphasized keeping cop operations within the bounds of the Constitution, which has been thrown out completely these days in favor of high-capacity handguns and military weaponry. We also were trained not to shoot in crowd situations, unless we were damned sure that we were gonna hit our target … and not take out bystanders. Then again, that’s what you get in a sick society, where most people now condone torture … only if necessary, a course. We deserve whatever we get from a world that is fed up, for our utter thuggishness and self-entitled ecksepshunalism.

  2. Harvey Reading November 12, 2013

    “I WAS PAINFULLY TIMID, and while still young the idea of Hell took a fearful hold on me. One night I thought I was irretrievably damned and cried myself to sleep in vain yet terrified efforts to form a conception of eternal pain. In the morning I renewed my lamentations and my mother was sent for. She comforted me with the assurance that the Holy Ghost was convicting me of sin and thus preparing me for ultimate salvation. This was a new idea and I rather approved. — Synge”

    Sounds like he was raised in the Southern Baptist cult. They’re good at that. And, it takes a lifetime, maybe longer, to completely rid oneself of the bullshit.

    • Bruce Anderson November 12, 2013

      Yes, the great Irish dramatist was basted in the Irish equivalent, but eventually liberated himself to write some of the best theater ever.

      • Harvey Reading November 12, 2013

        Not everyone can do that after being subjected to the child abuse that is religious indoctrination of children. I did, realizing in grammar school that none of it made a lick of sense, but, at 63, I still am haunted by the nightmares, not from “scary” movies, but from religious tales and from the threats from church people, particularly my parents, of burning forever in hell if I did not believe their bullshit, literally, word for word. Unfortunately, far too many succumb to the nonsense, for life … and do their best to make life miserable for others by insisting they believe, too, and by blocking abortion clinics.

        The military copies religion with its TV and radio ads, and by presence of its recruiters in public schools. I often wonder if the opt-out form for being contacted by the military (through school records that public schools are required to provide the scavengers) is still available to parents. Or, if parents even know about it.

        • Bruce Anderson November 13, 2013

          In James Joyce’s “Portrait of the Artist as A Young Man,” a priest describes hell for a class of small boys in such graphic detail it gives me a chill reading it as an adult. We know what it has done to generations of children.

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