DAISY COCKBURN & JEFFREY ST. CLAIR CELEBRATE ALEXANDER COCKBURN AND A COLOSSAL WRECK at City Lights Books
Come celebrate Alexander Cockburn and A Colossal Wreck at City Lights Books, Sunday 11/17
Verso invites you to celebrate the release of A Colossal Wreck: A Road Trip Through Political Scandal, Corruption and American Culture by Alexander Cockburn at City Lights Books Sunday, November 17th, 5:00 pm
“It’s alive on every page, this thing; its feisty sentences wriggle — A Colossal Wreck will have a long life among those who care about the crackling deployment of the English language, partly because Mr. Cockburn had such a wide-ranging mind ... His book is a stay against boredom.” — Dwight Garner, New York Times
“Alex struck American journalism like lightning,” Michael Tomasky of the Daily Beast wrote in July, 2012, after the passing of radical journalist Alexander Cockburn. Indeed, as one of the most influential writers of his generation, the Irish American Cockburn had introduced a singular and much-needed critical voice to the Nation, the Village Voice, Wall Street Journal, his own powerful newsletter, CounterPunch, and many other publications. “At once a fearless campaigner and matchless stylist, Cockburn” — in the words of the Atlantic — “would say all the outrageous things his blank Yank counterparts lack the wit, courage, erudition, or pater-spirit to utter on their own.”
A Colossal Wreck is the final masterpiece from Cockburn, assembled as a riotous road trip through the last decade of American politics and culture. Along the way, Cockburn deploys his caustic wit to skewer the hypocrisy and corruption in Washington — from the warmongering of Bush and Cheney to the liberal hypocrisies of Clinton and Obama — and reflects with astonishing insight upon the defining moments of the era: ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, the cruelties of Palestinian occupation, 9/11 and the ensuing invasions, the Wall Street crash, and more.
Told with candor and spirit, Cockburn’s provocative political travelogue is woven through with deep learning and unique insights, as he frankly brings us into intimate contact with the works and lives of famous friends and enemies alike. His heartfelt memoriam to Edward Said, acerbic reflections on ex-friend Christopher Hitchens, and pithy remarks on his many dealings with other literary power players paint a picture of a journalist with irrepressible verve and unflagging convictions.
With a legacy that lives on not only in innumerable columns, articles and books, but also in the many writers he mentored, Cockburn’s career was a tumultuous ride across America’s intellectual landscape. To celebrate the Bay Area launch of A Colossal Wreck, join Daisy Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair Sunday, November 17th, 5 PM
City Lights Books 261 Columbus Avenue at Broadway (North Beach) San Francisco, California 94133
Praise for A Colossal Wreck
“My copy of A Colossal Wreck is festooned with little blue Post-Its to mark pages of crunchy quotability, and the enormous pleasure I get from this collection is tempered by the pang of wishing Alex and his voice on the page were still here.” — James Wolcott, Vanity Fair
“A Colossal Wreck provides ample evidence for Cockburn's standing as one of the left's most perceptive and entertaining commentators.” — The Guardian
“Between the malevolence of the Republicans and the mediocrity of the Democrats, the last four decades have been a pretty dismal time to be a left-wing radical in the United States. Few of us have stayed scrappy; still fewer have kept a sense of humor. Cockburn — hedonist, populist, brawler, dandy — made it a little easier. I wish the next generation one of him.” — George Scialabba, The Los Angeles Review of Books
“A fine trip through a rambunctious, productive, provocative and well-lived life.” — Kirkus Reviews
“This is a book that exhales life and comes with that brio which is characteristic of Alexander Cockburn.” — Vijay Prashad, CounterPunch Alexander Cockburn was the co-editor of CounterPunch and the author of a number of titles, including Corruptions of Empire, The Golden Age Is in Us, Washington Babylon and Imperial Crusades. Brought up in Ireland, he moved to America in 1972 writing for the Village Voice, the Nation and many other journals. He died in July 2012.
A Colossal Wreck: A Road Trip Through Political Scandal, Corruption, and American Culture Publication: September 10, 2013 ISBN 978-1-78168-119-0/ $29.95/ 498 pages/ Hardback
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A MUST READ in the 18 November issue of The New Yorker. “Buzzkill, How do you set up a legal market for pot?” Short answer. You don't unless you arrest a whole lot of people who refuse to go legal. The rub is that legal dope will come with a lot of overhead, meaning higher prices to those America's tokers who go legal. Buzzkill is the smartest, most comprehensive piece we've read on the eternal subject.
THE CHRON'S architecture writer, John King, nicely sums up the new casino in Rohnert Park in the Saturday edition: “A big suburban box despite glitzy touches.” Anything other than a box would be out of place in Rohnert Park, but this thing represents Rohnert Park's mother of all boxes, ka-ching, ka-ching.
THE MUCH MALIGNED Frisco Daily's Saturday paper also featured an intelligent look back at Lenny Bruce's historic appearances by Gary Kamiya whose recent book, Cool Gray City of Love, is the best thing ever about the town. Just having turned 21, I saw two performances by the breakthrough comic; the first one was simply amazing. To a young person like me, anyway, especially in the context of the early 1960s. Bruce was arrested after his performance that night, and arrested several times before and after for obscenity and, as Kamiya reminds us, it wasn't until Bruce got his case before an intelligent judge, he might have spent more time in jail than on stage. Judge Clayton Horn, in Kamiya's words, “instructed jurors to consider Bruce's work as a whole, said foul language was not of itself obscene, and instructed them that if the work had any redeeming social value, it was not obscene. The jury found Bruce not guilty.”
LENNY BRUCE: “If Jesus had been killed 20 years ago, Catholic schoolchildren would be wearing little electric chairs around their necks instead of crosses.” Nothing obscene about that, and the so-called obscene stuff was inevitably taken out of context by the police. They'd get up in court and simply rattle off hilarious testimony consisting only of, “Mr. Bruce said… .this word, that word with no context at all, as if he were a lunatic swearing at the people who'd paid to see him do it. I remember one of his routines referred to the Pope as “Woppo,” and I was there one night when a drunken woman kept interrupting him until he finally blurted out, “I hope you're wearing dirty underwear when the niggers take over.” That one even stunned me, and writing it here it is sure not to be understood by lots of people. (As an editorial courtesy, I'll break it down for you: The times, you see, were rife with white male fear of perceived black sexuality. “They” were going to rape your sister, you see, if “they” couldn't marry her, and so on. So Bruce's shout out to the heckler satirized Whitey's irrational fear of black men. But everything he said offended wide swathes of the population, and he paid, probably, by dying young.
CRAB SEASON has begun. Used to be that you could get great deals right off the boats at Noyo. Still true? Here in the ever bountiful Anderson Valley, the Lemons family at Lemons Market, Philo, provides fresh crab (and salmon) right off their fishing boat, courtesy of Tom, Tom Jr. and Wade Lemons.
HUMBOLDT: HIGH INTENSITY DRUG TRAFFICKING AREA? WHO’D OF THUNK IT
By Kym Kemp
“Good news,” tweeted Jared Huffman the North Coast’s Congressman this morning, “Humboldt County just named High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA). This =more federal $ 2 fight illegal trespass pot grows.” (Translation of last part for non tweeters: “This equals more federal money to fight illegal trespass pot grows.”)
Is this good news?
That fact that Humboldt is actually an area with a lot of marijuana grows and marijuana sales as well as a significant meth problem will surprise almost no one but is this the right solution for our situation?
According to the White House, HIDTA (pronounced hide-tuh) exists to help local, federal, state and even tribal law enforcement work better together and “reduce the supply of illegal drugs in designated areas of the United States… .” The website explains, “The program’s 57 Intelligence and Investigative Support Centers help HIDTAs identify new targets and trends, develop threat assessments, deconflict targets and events, and manage cases.”
So, this is kind of special, right? This is saved for extreme measures?
No, not really. Actually, 60 percent of the U.S. population is in a HIDTA. Sixteen percent of all counties in the United States are given this designation.
In fact, Mendocino County was designated a HIDTA in 2011. Humboldt will join it under the umbrella of the Northern California HIDTA (NCHIDTA).
What exactly is the focus of this more local organization?
According to the 2011 NCHIDTA Drug Market Analysis, (LoCO recommends this—clearly written and lots of interesting statistics,)
Key issues identified in the Northern California HIDTA region include the following:
• Mexican DTOs maintain unrivaled dominance over wholesale drug distribution in the Northern California HIDTA region. Their deeply entrenched, well-organized, and extensive networks enable them to supply illicit drug markets in the region and throughout much of the country.
• Widespread methamphetamine trafficking and abuse, particularly of ice methamphetamine, re- mains a problem so pervasive that methamphetamine continues to pose the greatest drug threat to the region.
• Methamphetamine production continues at high levels in the region—largely facilitated by well-organized pseudoephedrine smurfing rings and a growing number of methamphetamine conversion laboratories.
• Outdoor cannabis cultivation continues at high levels in the region at grow sites principally operated by Mexican DTOs. The propensity of these DTOs for violence while protecting their grow sites poses a significant threat to public safety and law enforcement personnel.
• High-potency marijuana continues to be produced at illicit indoor grow sites in the region by various DTOs, criminal groups, and independent dealers exploiting California’s state medical marijuana laws.
In order to understand how being designated HIDTA will affect Humboldt, LoCO contacted Mendocino Sheriff (and Humboldt County native) Tom Allman.
Allman said that the purpose of HIDTA is to coordinate major investigations not to raid smaller marijuana grows. He stated, “HIDTA is not for the regular type of commercial grows in Humboldt and Mendocino Counties. If someone has 150 monster plants,…that is not what HIDTA is for.” It is for a coordinated overview of large criminal organizations.
“Let’s say,” he explained, “we have a genuine cartel. We would be able to use HIDTA for coordination especially if it dealt with another region. It helps us communicate with outside law enforcement.”
“HIDTA was one of our biggest partners during [Operation] Full Court Press,” Allman pointed out. “It is a great example of the good [HIDTA can do.]”
As to increased money, Allman said the amount, around $50,000 his office receives, isn’t “going to make or break my budget…it helps pay for overtime.”
He said the new status “should open up some new funding opportunities [and] bring new resources to the table… .” The real benefit he says is a “deeper partnership between local and federal agencies.” He does state that HIDTA has a specific amount of equipment available to be shared. Though he won’t go into details on what that consists of.
“Many times,” Allman stated, “probably more often than not, organized crime is several steps ahead of law enforcement. HIDTA helps us catch up.”
Allman address worries that federal agencies will have more control in our local areas by insisting that “Your sheriff is the controlling officer in how the organization works…The trust your county has in Mike Downey is huge. He is not handing over the keys to somebody and saying here take over.”
“MA and Pa Kettle that are growing weed is not the purpose of HIDTA,” Allman reiterates firmly.
So, Humboldt? Good news or not?
TIME’S UP, BARACK
Letter to the Editor:
We were playing flag football in the mud when the coach came out to say that the President was shot dead and that we were to get dressed and go home. The argument in the locker room was what now for '64, Johnson or Goldwater? Walking home, the shop windows already had portraits of the President surrounded by black crepe. After nightfall, at Andrews Air Force Base, the coffin was brought down from Air Force One by a lift, then shoved into a gray military hearse and driven across the city to Bethesda Naval Hospital. I guessed the timing and walked out to the dark stretch of Wisconsin Avenue by the golf course hedge. The air was raw with light fog and the road was deserted. Everyone was inside and every house had a TV glow in the windows. After awhile several dim pairs of headlights rolled up the misty grade from the District Line. They were a Montgomery County police car closely followed by the dead President's hearse and a second police car behind. The three vehicles moved quietly past without lights or sirens into the city of Bethesda. I went home, back to the TV with everyone else for four days. At that same time, I heard later among this 50-year blizzard of assertions, that planeloads of military advisers on their way to the United States had been ordered by the new administration to turn around in midair and go back to Vietnam.
Several weeks after Kennedy's death I saw a tiny notice on an inside page of The Evening Star, DC's afternoon paper. It read, in effect, “President Johnson has ordered that several exhibits associated with the assassination of President Kennedy be placed in the Archives of the United States under seal for 50 years.” That time period will end within a month. President Obama has the power to unseal these exhibits. Mr. President, time's up! Open the Archives!
Yrs, Jay Williamson, Santa Rosa
SEATTLE ELECTS SOCIALIST CANDIDATE TO CITY COUNCIL
By Manuel Valdes
Seattle voters have elected a socialist to city council for the first time in modern history.
Even in this liberal city, Sawant's win has surprised many here. Conlin was backed by the city's political establishment. On election night, she trailed by four percentage points. She wasn't a veteran politician, having only run in one previous campaign.
But in the days following election night, Sawant's share of the votes outgrew Conlin's.
"I don't think socialism makes most people in Seattle afraid," Conlin said Friday.
While city council races are technically non-partisan, Sawant made sure people knew she was running as a socialist — a label that would be politically poisonous in many parts of the country.
Sawant, a 41-year-old college economics professor, first drew attention as part of localOccupy Wall Street protests that included taking over a downtown park and a junior college campus in late 2011. She then ran for legislative office in 2012, challenging the powerful speaker of the state House, a Democrat. She was easily defeated.
This year, though, she pushed a platform that resonated with the city. She backed efforts to raise the minimum wage to $15; called for rent control in the city where rental prices keep climbing; and supports a tax on millionaires to help fund a public transit system and other services.
"I will reach out to the people who supported Richard Conlin, working with everyone in Seattle to fight for a minimum wage of $15 (an) hour, affordable housing, and the needs of ordinary people," Sawant said in a statement.
During her campaign, she condemned economic inequality, contending that some people aren't benefiting from the city's declining jobless rate, ongoing recovery from the recession, and downtown building boom.
"She's passionate about her values," Conlin said.
Research showed no socialist candidate had won a citywide office in the past 100 years. The last socialist candidate to make it into the general election was in 1991 and was defeated, said Scott Cline, the city's archivist.
(Courtesy, the Associated Press)
MEANWHILE, IN FORT BRAGG...
Ex-girlfriend arrested in alleged attack with bat
Officers were summoned at 3:55pm Nov. 11 to the 200 block of East Fir Street for a report of domestic violence and spoke to a man who told them his former girlfriend, Treva M. Mays, had attacked him.
The man had several scratches on his face and hands, and his nose was red, according to the FBPD. He told police Mays had caused the injuries and had tried to hit him with the bat. He did not need medical attention, the FBPD stated.
Officers found Mays nearby, interviewed her and arrested her on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, domestic violence and destroying a telephone line.
Mays was taken for medical clearance to the Mendocino Coast District Hospital, where she allegedly grabbed one of the officers who was walking her from the patrol car to the hospital doors. The officer wasn't injured. Inside the hospital, Mays allegedly threatened the officers repeatedly, the FBPD stated. Mays was additionally charged with resisting executive officers.
She was booked at the Fort Bragg Police Department after being medically cleared, and taken to the Mendocino County Jail.
* * *
Officer allegedly punched at hospital
Police on Monday arrested a 58-year-old Fort Bragg man who allegedly punched an officer outside the Mendocino Coast District Hospital, according to the Fort Bragg Police Department.
An officer at the River Drive hospital called for backup at 6pm Nov. 11 for a man who was causing a disturbance in the emergency room. A responding officer determined the man, identified as Ricky J. Moore, came to the hospital voluntarily for treatment, but didn't find him in the waiting room.
The officer checked the surrounding area and found Moore in the parking lot "acting oddly," according to the FBPD. The officer talked to Moore "about what was bothering him and why he came to the emergency room," and Moore allegedly punched the officer with a closed fist, hitting his right cheekbone.
The officer took Moore to the ground and called for other officers to help. A sergeant arrived and Moore was arrested without further incident on suspicion of assaulting a peace officer and resisting executive officers. He was booked at the Fort Bragg Police Department and taken to the Mendocino County Jail.
The officer had minor injuries from the punch, but didn't need medical attention.
* * *
Woman arrested in break-in, attack with bottle
Police on Tuesday arrested a 47-year-old Fort Bragg woman who allegedly broke into a man's home and attacked him, according to the Fort Bragg Police Department.
Officers were summoned at 8:23pm Nov. 12 to the 100 block of East Oak Street for an assault and battery report, and spoke with James R. Avants, 52, of Fort Bragg, who had a bruise over his left eye and was bleeding from his left ear, according to the FBPD.
Avants told them that Heather S. Dewolf had forced her way into his apartment and started to yell at him, then hit him in the face with a closed fist and threw a bottle of alcohol at him, hitting his head, according to the FBPD. Avants didn't need medical attention.
Officers found Dewolf nearby and arrested her without incident on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, burglary and assault and battery. She was booked at the Fort Bragg Police Department and taken to the Mendocino County Jail.
“IT WAS SO HOT, we turned the corner and I saw the underpass and thought, Oh, good, it will be cool for a few minutes, then I heard the shot, the first one.” — Jackie Kennedy
THE ITINERARY FOR THE PRESIDENTIAL TOUR called for JFK and the First Lady to visit five cities — San Antonio, Houston, Fort Worth, Dallas, and Austin — for speeches and fund-raisers before making a weekend barbecue stop at LBJ's ranch, the prospect of which gave JFK the shudders, particularly the indignity of having to wear a big cowboy hat to placate LBJ's mewling ego. For the president's aides, a sense of bad juju hung over the entire proposed presidential swing through Texas, especially the stop in Dallas, where Adlai Stevenson, the two-time Democratic presidential candidate and United Nations ambassador, the epitome of courtly liberalism, got the natives riled up with a seditious speech daring to praise the spirit of cooperation promoted by the UN. Them's fightin' words in Texas, which had passed a law making the flying of the UN flag a crime, and afterward Stevenson was surrounded by a welcoming committee of Alamo avengers. “Two men spat in his face and the wife of an insurance executive smacked him over the head with a sign proclaiming: ‘If You Seek Peace, Ask Jesus’…” JFK's reception threatened to be worse. Handbills were printed in the style of the Old West outlaw posters blaring that the president was “Wanted for Treason.” On the day of JFK's arrival, a black-bordered full-page ad reminiscent of a death notice appeared in The Dallas Morning News and all but accused the president of being a commie traitor. “Why have you scrapped the Monroe Doctrine in favor of the ‘Spirit of Moscow’?” (The ad's complete text reads like an early mimeographed spew of a Glen Beck manifesto.) But the crowds were friendly along the motorcade route, prompting the wife of the Texas governor to tell Kennedy, in one of the prize quotes in the annals of bitter irony, “Mr. President, you can't say Dallas doesn't love you” — and then bang bang bang… We have immensely more gun nuts running around today than we did in 1963, and they are toting a lot more firepower. Each ramp-up of rabid animus raises the odds of another Dallas, and there's a lot more of that frothing around, too. — James Wolcott
THAT DAY, AGAIN
by Larry Bensky
Everyone will be talking about where everyone was that day. Except that “everyone” in this country now means fewer than one in four people — those of us who were alive and of an age to have had memories on November 22, 1963.
My experience was wildly atypical, for sure. I was nine time zones away, alone, in a tiny stone farmhouse in the French Alps. There was a phone. (Its number was “Le Cinq a Lans.”) It was connected to a switchboard in the nearby (half-hour walk) town post office and general store which was open, more or less, eight or nine hours a day except for three or so hours at lunch. When it was closed, there was no phone service.
There was a radio, and on it I began to hear frantic voices, some time in the early evening. I had been in France less than a month on what turned out to be more than a three year stay, at the end of which I was pretty much bilingual. But at that point my high school French, augmented by a lot of reading, was nowhere near up to the task of understanding what was going on. “Kennedy” “condition grave” “assassinat” bounced around, incoherently.
Frantically, I searched the dial. “Armed Forces Radio” and the “Voice of America” were somehow blocked by the nearby Alps. But, finally, a weak BBC began to penetrate the nighttime airwaves.
And so I stayed up all night, and the next night, too. When the phones were opened the next morning, I tried to call home. But a remote Alpine village with 50 or so phone lines had zero priority in getting on the transatlantic cable. Finally, I walked down to the post office, which was also a small general store. The day-old newspapers were no help. Neither were the villagers who trickled in for hours, although they tried. Some were in tears. Though at that point I’d met none of them, a few gave me hugs and wished me “courage.” The house I was borrowing belonged to an American writer who had lived there off and on for more than a decade. It was assumed, correctly, that I was an American too.
Then the village — more accurately, the regional — priest arrived. It was Saturday, and all day long the dull old church bells had been slowly ringing. The priest shook my hand, grabbed me by the shoulders, and slowly, intelligibly, invited me to be the guest of honor at Mass the next morning.
The thought immediately ran through my head that I didn’t have a thing to wear. Which was true, or would have been true, had such villages cared about such things at such moments. Which they didn’t. The men limited themselves to wearing anything but their usual all-blue coveralls, and the women decorated their all-black, all enveloping daily dresses (many were war widows; only 20 years before, the Germans had killed or deported a large percentage of the men) with shawls, but that was about it.
Somehow I had figured out when Mass took place, and, after abandoning my decrepit, tiny motorbike, as I had to do most days, I made it into town. The only house on my steep hillside road sheltered four cows on the ground floor. Their body heat kept the farm family upstairs warm all winter. (You can imagine what else permeated the structure.) Oddly, I don’t remember the weather, though it was probably dry and cold most of that winter.
An usher with a look I’ve never forgotten — part friendly welcome, part total sorrow — met me outside and took me firmly by the elbow to the front row, right on the aisle. The organ was playing, slow and sad; the bells seemed not to have stopped for two days. Someone had taken the local daily, Le Dauphine Libere with its nearly full page Kennedy portrait, bordered it in heavy black cloth, and placed it prominently in front of us.
The Mass began, even more incomprehensible to me than everything else, since in those days it was still in Latin. The priest, his hands steepled in prayer pose, chanted. A small choir sang. People brushed past me to take communion at the rail, giving me sidelong glances. There were no hymnals, only bibles, and not many of those, since most people brought their own.
Then the priest stepped forward, holding a leatherbound, small book, and began to read in French. My brain, relieved from the Latin, mostly was able to understand.
“In the midst of almost universal corruption, which has come to pass in this world, if those whom God has put in the highest places do not try with all their might to support justice, the earth will be desolate, and corruption infinite. Ah, the blessedness of striving for justice! A task worthy of the greatest Kings who receive us. May it be happily attained, as you have so nobly undertaken to do it!”
He went on for some time, extracting from other sermons in the book, dealing with sorrow, with the shock of the incomprehensible, with the infinite goodness that lies beyond all evil acts and people, if only one is open to, and receives, religion’s infinite consolation. Then he talked about Kennedy, his great sense of solidarity with France and the French, his French-speaking wife, his being the first Catholic President, his solidarity with the poor. I knew better, of course. I knew about his bigoted father, the Bay of Pigs, his sexual hypocrisy, and more.
But by this time half the congregation was sobbing, as was the inner me. Not so much at the priest’s words, but with the pain in my lonely self and with my fury at the entire wounding charade, the impossible violence that I had studied in US history from slavery through the Trail of Tears, and the ghastly, almost forgotten (except there!) slaughter in the Philippines. And now the impossible to understand: Oswald was dead too, by then, I had heard in the middle of the night. But one didn’t have to go to Dallas for horrific violence. Here, a few steps from the church, retreating Germans had slaughtered captured French Resistants. And not far away God had chosen not to intervene at places like Auschwitz. (But of course God doesn’t do intervention, right?)
It occurred to me that I might be asked to say something. Fortunately, I wasn’t, since I might or might not have had enough French to be understood. And, aside from thanking everyone for their solidarity and concern, I had would have had nothing to say.
The priest closed the book, stepped down, and handed it to me. So, he said, that I might have a deep and positive memory of our mutual time of sorrow.
I walked home alone. After I got a fire started, I began to read. It was (and is, I have it still, in my hands now) Volume II of “Masterpiece Sermons” by the seventeenth century Catholic cleric (eventually bishop), Jacques-Benigne Bossuet. An 1866 printing of sermons originally delivered in the mid-17th century. This copy, according to a bookplate, had been in a high school library in Rennes, in 1873, and had somehow made its way onto this church’s bookshelves 600 miles and 90 years away.
While fumbling for the BBC I began to read it. Over the next two months, I read it all. For years it was my bedside French book, until I took up deep study of Proust, about seven years ago. Over the years I’ve talked about it, sometimes, with cultured (and there are many!) French people who admire great prose, without undue (sometimes) concern for what it says.
I’ll read it a little of it on November 22, as I do every year. What I won’t do is watch any of the upcoming solmn, image-drenched, breathlessly stupid TV commemorations of Kennedy.
I’d advise you not to, either. Maybe say a prayer instead. Or make a wish that doesn’t necessarily have to include the god whose quotidian absence was never more palpable to me than 50 years ago.
That’s where I was.
NAMI MENDOCINO — MENTAL HEALTH NEWS
• Mental Health Court/11:00 Calendar under the direction of Judge Ann Moorman is successfully working with 11 clients in Ukiah and has been extended to June 30, 2014. The Coast Mental Health Court is stalled as D.A. David Eyster deals with staffing issues.
• Mental Health Board (MHB) meets next in Mendocino at Preston Hall 44831 Main St. on November 20, 2013 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The October meeting went 6 hours with Chair Jim Shaw resigning at the end for personal reasons. Denise Gorney is Vice Chair and next in line. An extra meeting is scheduled for October 31 at 10 a.m. at 221 S. Lenore St. Willits. John Wetzler, Secretary, asked that all Board members read the 14-page Laura’s Law legislation before the meeting. All MHB meetings are open to the public. Dina Ortiz said that our population is 22% Hispanic and she wants to know the Ortner statistics for adult mental health services provided to this population. Other Mental Health Board members are: Jim Bassler, Alyson Blair, Judy Judd, Jane McCabe, Vonna Kindred Myers, Jeff Nerney, Debra Ponton, William Russell, Roger Schwartz, Ken Scofield, and Dan Hamburg represents the Supervisors.
At the September MHB meeting, Chair Jim Shaw said, “I’m concerned about the equitable access of mental health services” countywide. “It seems to me the struggle to secure services in the second most populous city in the county, Fort Bragg, only portends that there won’t be mental health services in outlying areas such as Round Valley, Point Arena and Anderson Valley.” Todd Harris, Psychologist/MFT with Ortner said they were currently handling 30 cases on the coast and 44 inland. Susan Wynd Novotny said there are 16 additional clients inland. www.co.mendocino.ca.us/hhsa/mh_board.htm
• Mental Health Privatization
In June, the Supervisors gave Ortner Management Group (OMG) $80,000 and Redwood Quality Management Group (RQMG) $68,000 to prepare for the July 1, 2013 takeover of mental health crisis and recovery services. Of the $15.5 million total, OMG received $6.7 million (43%) to provide adult mental health crisis and recovery services. RQMG received $8.8 million (57%) to provide children and youth mental health crisis and recovery services. That leaves the County with around $6.5 million for oversight of the contractors, and few remaining staff. The following are excerpts from 1st Quarter Report to Supervisors. Ukiah Daily Journal
“Jim Shaw, chairman of the Mental Health Board, said more outreach is needed in outlying areas of the county, despite promised crisis access centers in inland and coastal areas – specifically in Covelo, Point Arena and Laytonville.” There is still no Crisis Access Center in Fort Bragg.
“As of Oct. 1, 846 children” and youth under 21 “had accessed children’s mental health services since the contracts went into effect July 1 according to Camille Schraeder of Redwood Quality Management Group.”
“Jackie Williams, director of the Ford Street Project, said she believed the direction the mental health system was going was the right one, but urged the county to ‘hold the bar higher,’ as the transition could have been more organized . . . Williams also cautioned that there were likely ‘three or four times more people in the community who need to be in care.’ Ford Street asked to withdraw from the (Ortner) contract because the administrative burden on the organization was higher than the amount for which the organization is compensated, Williams said.”
“Susan ‘Wynd’ Novotny of subcontractor Manzanita Services said she was happy about the ‘continuity of care’ she’s seen resulting from collaboration between the involved partners, and that she’d heard positive feedback from people who use the system as well. She also mentioned a need for training to increase confidence in the Medi-Cal billing process.”
“Asked if the Medi-Cal funding is part of the contract or additional funding, Novotny said she wasn’t sure, but ‘the language of the Medi-Cal piece … was enough for us to consider walking away from the contract. It is a concern.”
“That said, she added that she was ‘confident enough to go forward,’ referring to ongoing efforts to help subcontractors with Medi-Cal billing.”
• Redwood Children’s Crisis Centers (Coast and Inland) offer early intervention crisis support for people under 21. During office hours, you can drop in at either Center and a Team Member will listen, provide emotional support, and begin to help you create your plan to: develop and strengthen coping skills, build a support network, and find the resources that will be most helpful to you.
• 24/7 Crisis Number 800-555-5906
• Ukiah Access & Crisis Center. 723 S. Dora St., 707-467-9065
• Fort Bragg Access & Crisis Center, 32670 Hwy. 20, S. 6, 707-961-0308
PETER WARNER OF SANTA ROSA WRITES: About planing swamp cypress, Taxodium distichum, I have some questions and suggestions. Does anyone at MCBG or elsewhere have evidence will not become yet another plague of invasive trees disrupting coastal ecosystems? Since this tree has not been planted in the area to any significant extent, I will presume that this is yet another example of humans conducting an uncontrolled ecological experiment. Many such “experiments” have turned out to have quite a negative effect on local ecology. Promoting introduction of non-native plants should require that the gardeners who do so assume accountability for any forthcoming ecological damage. (Ha!)
The Sonoma and Mendocino County coasts already host burgeoning populations of locally non-native trees and shrubs, such as Monterey pine, Monterey cypress, Tasmanian bluegum, blackwood acacia, gray wattle acacia, and Parney cotoneaster, initially introduced and established here by horticulturists and gardeners, to the everlasting detriment of native shrubs, trees, wildlife, and soil. Why not plant locally native plants that are important to wildlife, replacing some of those lost to residential development and short-sighted ecological ignorance? Native trees and shrubs that do well in wet places include several species of willow, California wax myrtle, shore pine, California rhododendron, black huckleberry, Mendocino cypress, and Sitka spruce.
Removing invasive plants that have negative ecological consequences — and simply displacing native species results in direct and indirect impacts to native plants and animals — costs private and public managers millions of dollars a year in California alone. Invasive plants can alter soil chemistry and hydrology, and compromise the potential for ecosystems and species to survive other human-related ecological damage, including climate change. Do local ecosystems really need another challenge incurred by human ignorance?
WELCOME TO AN EVENING OF LIVELY MUSIC IN THE LIGHTHOUSE
Marla Fibish is a long-time feature of the Bay Area Irish music scene, bringing a musicality and excitement to the tradition that is seldom heard on the mandolin. She is also known for her compositions, musical settings of poetry and instrumental pieces that have been featured in her work. In addition to the mandolin, Marla adds mandola, tenor guitar, bouzouki, accordion and her voice to the Noctambule sound. She has often taught at Lark Camp.
Bruce Victor is an eclectic and accomplished guitarist and composer, who plays a bunch of different guitars in a bunch of different tunings. Seemingly resisting any single musical genre, he has been labeled a 'poly-stylist,' (by one of the editors of Acoustic Guitar magazine), and has played with The Sirens of San Francisco, The Triplicates, and as a solo performer. He was the founder of the Acoustic Vortex, a non-profit musical organization that produced house concerts, mentored youth performers, and performed benefit concerts for other non-profit organizations.