EXCUSE ME, but is it any secret that the economy of Anderson Valley runs on dual intoxicants called marijuana and wine? Why, then, would the local school board and its feckless (and wildly overpaid) attorneys suddenly begin a terminally foolish discussion about the “appropriateness” of gym banners sponsored by local wine interests? Any discussion of “appropriateness” and young people is obviously pointless in the endlessly dissolute society the young grow up in. Winery-sponsored gym banners are non-existent hazards in the minefield of American life.
WE BECAME interested in this silly contretemps when we received this anonymous note: “Some of the sports boosters have heard a rumor that the school board is going to make us pull all of the banners from wineries out of the gym saying it's “Ed Code.” Just wondering the validity of the rumor and if it's true, I don't think they realize the financial impact that would be on our sports program and how ridiculous it is. I think there are gymnasiums and football fields named after wineries in Napa Valley. Banner sponsorship is the only way the wineries contribute. What about the banner for the Catholic Church? Separation of Church/State? I hope this isn't true. Our Booster Club will fold and do you think the school can pony up the $60k plus that they raise each year?”
SCHOOL TRUSTEE ERICA LEMONS steered me to Leigh Kreienhop at the district office, and the next call was from Superintendent Collins who explained the discussion had begun at a recent school board meeting about new school board policies from the state, one of which warns against advertising alcohol in the schools. Collins said it was clear that the Boonville gym banners did not advertise alcohol and the policy was unlikely to apply to us. Collins said he “certainly did not want to vilify the local businesses that do so much to support school programs.” The banners merely acknowledge the contributions from local businesses, among them wineries. He said he planned to talk with the Booster Club about the matter. Asked if he hoped the issue just fades away, Collins replied with a laugh, “Yes, I hope so.”
NADIA BERRIGAN WRITES: “Art students at Anderson Valley High School would like to paint with oil paints on canvas boards. Oil paints are forgiving and blendable. You may remember landscapes and portraits painted by students, displayed at Lauren's Restaurant, and the Fair. If you would like to help with funding this project, please go to DonorsChoose.org/nberrigan to check it out in more detail, or you can call at 901-7559. Thank-you, Nadia J. Berrigan, Art Teacher, Anderson Valley High School.
SORRY to see that fence go up at the foot of the Boonville-Ukiah Road. It closes off the ancient swimming hole under the bridge over Anderson Creek enjoyed by generations of locals, one more reminder that the Anderson Valley is almost buttoned all the way up.
I THINK GREG KROUSE enjoys Bob Ayres' Boonville Big Band: “Whoa Baby! If you missed the Boonville Big Band at the Grange Saturday night, you missed one hot performance. The acoustics were perfect, the lighting was dynamic via Light Maestro Dennis Hudson, and the only missing component was the Band's fearless leader, Bob Ayres, who suddenly got pneumonia. Happily, Bob is on the mend, but a testimony to the greatness of a bandleader is his skill at building strength and capability into a band that can play strong in his absence. Saxophonist, Bob Day, a perpetual music man step to fore, directing by standing while playing or a nodding sax, kept everyone on line and “Whoa Baby!” Did I say that before? The band was on the mark. The music swept around the band, literally blew off the stage; invigorating anyone with verve to step up and dance. It was one incredible piece after another of fine swing band tunes and a few boogie woogie tunes, but my favorite was Duke Ellington's “Mooch” with its haunting gang of clarinets and a raspy trumpet flair. The performance featured many solos that, well, were incredible. Bob Day himself is one incredible Tenor Sax guy. Erica Zissa did some tasty things on alto and soprano sax. Rassle dazzling the audience was Rick Yates on Trumpet and Rosco Toumanoa did some tasty arpeggios on his Dizzy Gillespie style trumpet. Eric Wick blew some nice bendy things on his trombone. A Gene Krupa style drum solo on Krupa song by James Preston was a real treat. Sharon Garner, a natural gracing the stage with great vocals and belting em out, too. She was joined by guitarist, Yon Jacobs and drummer, Kevin Burke, who crooned some nice tunes too. The new white Grange grand piano was featured, played by local Nadia Barrigan and Coasty, Bill Adams. In total it was 18 band member and it was clear that all of them made this a special night. It was hard not to see the Big Band back at the Grange and Grange leaders huddled discussing a possible Valentine dance with a dance contest. “Whoa Baby!”
THE ABOVE WELL-DESERVED tribute to Shorty Adams coincided with a visit from the legendary school bus driver himself. With the schools closed for the holidays, Shorty was enjoying some time off. He reminded us that he'd been driving Valley kids to school since 1958 while we marveled that he was closing in on 4 million (!) school bus miles without an accident. (That's got to be a national record, got to be.) “And you know what?” Shorty asked, “In all my years this is the nicest group of parents and kids yet.”
SPEAKING of the kids, that's a nice thing our volunteer firefighters are doing down at the Boonville firehouse. They've accumulated a goodly collection of donated children's toys they'll distribute to the young ones whose Christmases are likely to be quite austere.
PRETTY QUIET on the scanner last week. An older woman was having difficulty breathing, a difficulty our emergency people quickly remedied, and a 21-year-old Navarro man who suffered a life-threatening wound in an accident. Garth and Judy Long were instantly on the scene to staunch the blood flow, and the kid will be fine.
ROBERT KRAFT sends along a collection of unencouraging photos of deformed frogs — three-legged frogs, five-legged frogs, frogs with unnaturally elongated legs. In a way, it's good to see any frogs at all in the Anderson Valley, and the only places you do see them is well away from the pest and herbicide-drenched vineyards. BW, before wine, they were everywhere.
INCLUDED in my old friend's collection of suffering amphibs, are photos of Bicycle Man and the late Alvie Price of Navarro. Bicycle Man appeared a couple of times a year on 128, pushing his old bike through the Valley circa 1970-77, occasionally riding it on the downhill stretches. Shorty Adams, among many locals, would give the old guy a few dollars and wish him well. “He never said much,” Shorty recalls. “You'd see a wisp of smoke coming up from under a bridge and it would be him camping for the night. I never met anyone who knows what happened to him. A lot of people have passed through this place.”
ALVIE PRICE was one of the last of the old loggers who'd begun their years of work as young teenagers when the big trees were cut down by handsaw. He and his brother once spent nearly three weeks falling a redwood that measured something like 29 feet at the base. We did the best we could with the photograph.
SIERRA NEVADA MUSIC FESTIVAL (aka “Rastafest") is scheduled for the Boonville County Fairgrounds June 14 to June 26 with the annual event itself taking place on the weekend of June 20th. The use permit occurs in the form of a lengthy “Rental Agreement” between Rastafest's organizers and the County and the Boonville Fairgrounds. It calls for the organizers to pay $27,500 in rent plus an additional $19,000 to the County for law enforcement.
$19,000 SEEMS EXTORTIONATE given that festival organizers provide their own security and attendees are mostly too stoned to cause any trouble, but it's an opportunity for deputies to pick up a nice OT check.
ADDITIONALLY, the Festival has to pay a $187 booking fee for Festival-related arrests if they number more than six. Who's to say that a drunken hippie outside the fairgrounds is the Festival's responsibility? The agreement also calls for not more than 5,000 tickets to be sold, and not more than 6,500 writhing, half-naked, patchouli-drenched attendees inside. And there's a mandatory sale of 300 tickets to “local residents” at discounted prices.
AMPLIFIED MUSIC is supposed to cease at midnight on Friday and Saturday nights, and 10pm on Sunday. The festival producers are also required to prepare a traffic plan for CHP approval 60 days prior to the event, a trash removal plan, and all vendors must have proper licenses. Not less than six vendor slots are reserved for “local food, microbrewers and winery vendors.”
RASTAFEST'S organizers are really, really good at putting these things on. By Monday afternoon you wouldn't know that 6,000 people had been in town. We hope that piling on fees and gouging stipulations doesn't drive them away.
WE'VE GOT a full moon rising Tuesday with very high tides and the waning very low tides perfect for tide-pooling. Dave Gurney, Fort Bragg ocean guy, writes: “Glass Beach is ever popular, maybe too popular, but there are great tide pools there. Basically, anywhere there are rocky reefs instead of sand, you are going to find tide pools. Watch out for slipping on the kelp-covered rocks though. If you really want to see the wild wilderness just off our coast though, I suggest diving.”
DENNIS ROUSE WRITES: “Not a thing needs to be added to Anne Fashauer's report from Cabo San Lucas to emphasize that of all the many once idyllic places in Mexico that have been ruined by mindless wholesale gringo tourism Cabo is firmly in the Top Ten. Key phrases: Heavy traffic. Road work. Cabo Mega Store. Timeshare presentation. Construction noise. Property with five pools. Earth to Anne: You left beautiful winter days in Anderson Valley for this?”
THE MAJOR & THE BUMP IN THE NIGHT… Cruising down the Willits end of the Willits Grade last Tuesday evening about 6:30, traveling in the slow lane at a leisurely, lawful 60mph in my battered 2004 Prius, I was startled from whatever tedious reverie was reverberating off the walls of my skull when I hit something, something big, something I feared might be alive, something I instantly feared I might have killed if it was alive. Had some disoriented transient made a sudden dash across 101 and I, a liberal, had run him over? Or had I merely hit a deer, a kind of rite of passage for rural motorists; drive enough country miles and eventually you hit one. The Editor, who claims to be a three-deer man, says he's also had a buzzard crash through his windshield once. He says, in the avuncular tones he adopts when he's passing out suspect advice, “Son, drive right through 'em. Whatever you do, don't swerve. People die when they swerve.” But the instant I hit whatever the hell I hit, I remember thinking, “I wonder how many people know that the official plural of Prius is Prii (Pri-i)?”
I HADN'T SEEN ANYTHING in the roadway. As a Senior Citizen, I won't pretend my hawk-eyed vision and lightning reflexes are what they were, but all I saw was a vehicle one or two carlengths ahead in the fast lane. I quickly assumed I’d somehow hit a big rock, and silently cursed Caltrans. Or maybe I'd hit a dead animal, some kind of bulky half-dead roadkill, and I cursed Caltrans and the CHP for not keeping 101 free of all obstacles, including hippies protesting the nearby bypass.
I KNEW FOR SURE I was screwed for major repairs. I should explain that I do not fetishize my transportation. If it reliably gets me there, I could care less what the transportation looks like. But we all know that nobody actually fixes anything anymore. They just order up a new parts and you pay thousands of dollars for them. I thought about going to a backyard Mexican Boonville body repair guy I happen to know; he could pound out enough dents to make the thing driveable.
WHAT I REALLY FEARED was being stranded. I wasn't driving to Willits for the pure delight of it on a frigid winter's night, I had the AVA in my care, the 12 flats I was carrying to Printing X-press in Willits, America's last newspaper to Mendocino County's last web press. I could not, would not be deterred from my mission! I still remember the morning years ago when Judi Bari, Naomi Wagner and their roving posse of dwarf bully girls briefly hijacked the paper on some see-through politically correct pretext. Never again!
I DROVE ON. My Pius was not disabled. Wounded, disfigured perhaps, it soldiered on down into Willits and the fuel pumps at Willits Safeway where I stopped for gas and a look-see. No sooner had I pulled up to the pumps than a slender, graying middle-aged man in a dark sedan drove up and asked, “Are you all right?” “Um, yes…” I replied, tentatively, mindful that one engages strangers anymore at one's peril. My new friend said, “You just ran over a mountain lion.”
MARONE! I love mountain lions! I'd rather kill myself than one of God's great creatures. Not that I've ever seen one outside a zoo, but what kind of psycho would want to run over grace and beauty?
MY GAS PUMP informant told he'd seen the lion streak across the highway right in front of him, left to right. “I think I may have nicked him with my right bumper,” he added. We looked at the front end of his car where there was indeed a fresh dent in his right bumper. Somehow the first bump from his car must have jolted the lion into a position of full-body vulnerability in front of me. I hit him with my left front bumper and ran over him with both driver’s side wheels. There were several obvious dents in my bumper and my hood. The bumper was partially dislodged but still more or less in place; the front grill was broken and loose but still attached. There was no fur or telltale blood.
AFTER THE PRINT RUN, the car ran okay. I drove back to Boonville, mission accomplished, saddened that an endangered species had perhaps taken another loss. On my way back to Boonville, I scanned the roadsides for my victim. I didn't see him, and I'm going to assume he lives on. On Wednesday I made an appointment with the Ukiah Pious dealer to have the front end inspected. Sure enough, I'll be out two grand.