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Letters (Feb 19, 2014)

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This is my story of how I showed up at this Hotel California on November 12, 2012. I'm not from Mendocino; let's get that fact straight. I'm from Yuba County. While I was up here visiting some kinfolk of mine, I ended up having a disagreement with a few of their friends after a steady week of partying. I ended up getting jumped by them. It was four on one, and yes, I'm the one. It was a fight for survival out there, actually self-defense. Here I am, still in jail on February 9, 2014, still fighting for my life in this bass-ackwards County Jail.

When I got to the Hotel Mendocino I sat in booking for four days waiting to be arrested for self-defense. It was past the 72 hour mark, but finally on the fifth day they made up their charges. On my fifth day I was finally housed late that night. I was put in B-mod on lockdown for approximately 30-45 days. Once they got me out of lockdown they sent me to D-mod. D-mod is better known as the prison mod, which is run with prison politics.

Once I got into D-mod the inmates gave me the rundown about how this county works. It's run with prison politics which go like this: 1. If you're white, you run with the whites; you don't eat or sit with other races. 2. You can't take any disrespect from anyone. 3. You don't let anybody call you the N-word which is another word for a black.

The P-word is another word for a man taking another man's manhood. The B-word is another word for a female dog, a rat or a snitch. If rule 2 or rule 3 is broken you can't just say sorry and hope everything is going to be cool. It's an automatic fight if it happens.

So here I was in this prison mod for 30-45 days when someone hit me with a level 2 rule infraction. It's med pass time and my door is opened. At the end of the table was an Indian and his homeboy. I am thinking, Oh crap, not good. So after I walked to the end of the gate to get my meds, the Indian got up and started jumping up and down. I thought it was kind of funny. He took a swing at me and missed so I knocked him out with one swift right hook. The other white boy with me started beating up the other Indian. Long story short, my homeboy said, “Whites run together; you are not going to get jumped.” I said, “Thank you.”

Cops in Mendocino jail only did a walk through every hour back then. So you are at the mercy of the inmates until the cops get there. So I ended up with a 10 month indeterminate Ad Seg, the hole. After the ten months I finally got to go back to general population. I was there for a week and someone got beat up and crapped and pissed all over themselves all the way down the hall. I had nothing to do with this fight but Mendocino needs someone to take the fall so of course, “Let's get the out-of-town guy.” Again, I was back in the hole for first-time self-defense, the second time as a scapegoat. So I asked why I was in the hole again with 10 write-ups. (Lucky me).

My name is Mikey, that's what people know me as. I'm also called Inmate Lawson and I have been writing the greatest paper ever, the AVA, because we can write true facts. In Volume 62, Number 5, on page 10 there was a letter called “fun buns” which was our first article. We got our AVA in the mail on the following Thursday, but this one we did not get until Friday.

I was advised by classification that she had read the letter from Inmate Lawson and me, “Mikey.” So we got cell-searched first thing 7am in the morning by Deputy Dyche, aka, “fun buns” himself. I'm not talking the normal walk-through looking for hookers and assault rifles. I'm talking the white glove treatment. Up out of bed, taking off the sheets, looking between your toes, under your nuts and spreading ass-cheeks. I got found with a broken soapdish which they said was sharp and could be used for opening doors. I told them it was for cutting up fruit or sandwiches. You put the fruit in pudding or a little kool-aid and it tastes good that way. So today, January 9, 2014, the third day after the article came out regarding “fun buns,” Mr. Fun Buns himself came back and took every soap dish from all the lockdown cells. Because I wrote a paper along with “Lawson” about this jackass backwards jail, I was written up for a broken soap dish. Oh, I forgot to mention Mr. Fun Buncs had all the AVA newspapers removed from the jail because he is a little sourpuss. They can't just say that I am receiving a write-up for writing to the AVA about this swine farm.

Stuck in this bacon factory,

Nolan Todd Lawson Jr.

Mendocino County Jail, Ukiah

PS. I forgot to mention that I fired my second public pretender because she told me I was bleeped. I asked why, and she hit me with this logic: “You are not from here.” So here I am thinking this was a great town until I heard that. You come here on vacation and leave on probation if you are not sentenced to prison. — Mikey from Yuba County but stuck in the sewer plant Mendocino County Jail.

PPS. The truth of a mind in lockdown and why kids become corrupt. It started with a simple rule infraction or offense in words. Or maybe just as a small scuffle or a big fight. Immediately you are taken from your general population program and thrown away into the hole. Sunlight is a must to be happy and disease-resistant but in here the walls echo when you talk and the lights never turn off. Every day 24 hours a day you should hear the screams of this place. I'm next to mentally ill inmates. They smear crap on the walls and talk about satellites, drink their own urine for some attention. People with seizures are locked away and I've seen them fall on their faces and get up if they don't choke. With a busted face they need stitches but still have to cuff up with shackles and chains. That sound rattles my brains. I get a shower once every 48 hours. These guards in with their badges sewn on their shirts abuse their powers. They couldn't cut it or make it on the streets and it's not my fault that their family life consists of an nice home but a cheating husband or wife so they become drunks and hate themselves and come here into my cell to trash, abuse and mess with me, then I freak out and get written up. That's what they get off on. It's sick. I am all alone. My mind races and tries to talk but nobody is home. I have no cellmates or a yard group. The mind with no fresh air or sun becomes stagnant like sour rum. It's sad how fast you can lose it. You start taking talking to yourself and your imaginary friends. Once they get you to this point here comes the psych doctor and it's time to pill-value you. They start asking questions like why are you mad or are you going to harm yourself?

I wish people would understand what makes a convict not give a damn. You get no phone card to talk to your kids, family, dad or mom. If you don't fight or stand up you will surely die in here. The innocent become evil and start to prey on the weak people. The guys with multiple strikes try to get you to give up and follow their lifestyle. Many fall victim to this game and this is how a boy becomes a killer or a robber or a gang member, all because the jail and prison are corrupt and evil. Locking people away isn't the answer to anything. All the snitches get praise and a chance at rehab. But if you are a violent offender there is no rehab. Just a prison-bound bus to take you down to San Quentin. This is coming from some judge who doesn't even know you. “I think he is a monster, time to put him away.” The dope fiends get old and a slap on the wrist.

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Sonoma County Supervisors,

I beseech you, please, NO FLUORIDATION.

I am 69 next month. I have been a workout guy since I was 25. I spent nearly 30 years as a distance runner, and have done about every style of workout you can imagine. Along with this goes healthy diet, clean living and plenty of clean WATER. That’s why I am six foot tall and one hundred sixty pounds, and wear 33 waist jeans that are LOOSE. I take care of myself. It’s a job!

I cannot remove the fluoride from the water if you deliver it fluoridated. NO ONE CAN! How NASTY is that? Think on that…you cannot remove this aluminum waste garbage once it is inserted in the water using any viable water cleaning system that is available. NONE!! The BEST filters available will only remove a portion of it, and those filters would run about eighty dollars every quarter of the year. That’s a waste of money.

Leaving the fluoride in; here’s where it goes in a senior like me that drinks at least a GALLON of clean water every day. (I use British Berkefeld system with Black Berky filters replaced annually. I have TWO of them in our home). IF the water is fluoridated, my kidneys will have to process all that material. They will not process all of it. The rest will end up IN MY AGING BUT STILL VERY ATHLETIC BONES. This will result in my bones becoming BRITTLE much sooner. This will MESS UP MY LIFE and probably SHORTEN IT.

Please, get the kids some tooth brushes and do some oral hygiene training in the schools. Ten million and a million a year to benefit WHO?

Alabama was the first state to fluoridate. They quit it long ago; Texas, too. Why? RESULTS STUNK! It was a waste of money.

This will be the SR parking meters revisited with serious health hazards as a bonus. Talk about a LOSE LOSE deal.

Please, stick with fixing the roads and getting us out of the power company.

I’ll let you know right now if you pass this, don’t take it personal, but I’ll bust my butt to dethrone every one of you that votes FOR this thing. I am talking especially to YOU, SUSAN GORIN!

Nowhere in your job description do you have the authority to MEDICATE the population.


a Sonoma County Resident

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With the wedding announcement sent yesterday, I almost forgot my 10 best books…

  1. Mendocino Papers. Bruce Anderson
  2. Behind the Green Curtain, AVA stories
  3. Mendo Noir, AVA stories
  4. Pig Hunt, the movie, Robert Mailer Anderson. Still waiting for the paperback edition
  5. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Dee Brown
  6. The Wolf At Twilight, Kent Nerburn
  7. In The Land of the Grasshopper Song, Elliot and Reed
  8. The Spirituality of Imperfection, Kurtz and Ketcham
  9. Life on the Mississippi, Mark Twain
  10. The Crash of 2016, Hartman

Randy Burke


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To the Editor:

I writing to let you know that the KZYX Board of Directors recently drafted a “love letter” to KZYX General Manager, John Coate. It will soon be posted to the KZYX website. The letter is absurd, especially in light of the fact that KZYX is facing five or more challenges to the renewal of their FCC licenses.

I take the love letter to be a vote of confidence in Coate, but it borders on the obsequious. Perhaps it is a belated Valentine's Day note.

Maybe. It reads much more like a tribute to Caesar.

Eight of the nine members of the Board of Directors endorsed the letter. I sit on the Board, and I was the sole dissenting vote. Regretfully, I can't cut and paste the letter and share it with you. Why? Because that would violate the Board's obsession with secrecy.

I asked Board Chair Eliane Herring if the Board would allow me to post a short dissent to the love letter — much like the courts publish a dissenting opinion alongside majority and concurring opinions for important court decisions in the court reporter — but I never received an answer from Ms. Herring.

Silence. No answer.

No surprise. The Board, would seem not to want to air any diversity of opinion with respect to poor management decisions at the station, nor does it seem to value free speech. We've known that much four months ago when Coate canceled the station's only public forum for public comment “Open Lines,” and indefinitely suspended the show's popular host, Doug McKenty — the Board was silent then, too.

John Sakowicz


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I was disappointed to see Doug McKenty again present as if it were a fact, that there is a policy at KZYX against criticizing NPR. If one existed I would certainly have been informed of it at some point in the 13 years I have been hosting Takes on the World during which I have criticized the coverage or lack of same by NPR on some important item of the day many times, as I have also criticized Democracy Now!, although the latter less frequently, and no one there has ever said a word to me about it. I told this to Doug on the phone after he called me, following my last letter, but he prefers to believe what he wants to believe, even when it isn't true.

I should add that KZYX is probably the only radio station, certainly of the public variety, where I can speak without fear or hesitation about the pernicious role played by the Israel Lobby in influencing US politics. From the very beginning, station management has defended me against those devotees of Israel among KZYX's listeners and sponsors who wanted me off the air since they didn't want me telling the truth about what I gathered was their favorite country (none of whom had the courage to come on my program and challenge me when I invited them to do so.)

As for Nashville emigre, Kathryn Massey's, report on the station in Valley People, I will say that in the many years I have been at the studio, the toilet bowl has never once been stuffed up nor has it been, at any time, “next to Mr. [Rich] Culbertson's office.” Nor have I have seen anything resembling “A dead mouse's head and part of its body…stuck in an open electric socket on the wall of his office.” It's possible that the office cat may have placed it there for consumption later in the day or as a trophy of her hunting prowess, but I very much doubt it, since physically inserting any part of a mouse into wall socket would be a challenge for a human, let alone a cat.

From a single trip to the station, during a fundraising week when things tend to be hectic, Massey seems to have become an expert on public radio stations and non-profits, with a particular obsession with KZYX (or, more likely, she is fueling someone else's obsession). She wonders why no underwriters were on the air endorsing the programs they sponsor. I wonder where that question was coming from? Isn't the fact that they pay their money to support the station enough for her? Neither KQED or KALW, two Bay Area NPR affiliates who also use underwriters do so. Maybe Massey should ask them why not. Better yet, maybe she should just go back to Nashville.

Jeff Blankfort


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In response to Jeff's letter I just wanted to say that, while his intentions are good, I had a different experience with this policy of silencing criticism of NPR on KZYX.  Mary Aigner told me about a year and a half ago after I agreed with a caller critical of NPR on Open Lines, that this was station policy.  At that time, she told me that Jeff Blankfort was also aware of this policy as he had the habit of criticizing NPR on his show “Takes on the World.”  When I mentioned that I had a problem with this policy at my grievance hearing last December, neither Mary Aigner not GM John Coate disputed that this was current station policy.  That is my source for this information.  When I discussed my disgruntlement of said policy with Jeff over the phone, to my recollection he did not say he had never been informed of the policy, just that he is occasionally critical of NPR.  Should Mr. Blankfort get away with skirting this policy on his program without fear of his programs cancellation, I say this is great!  More power to you sir.  I was not as comfortable on Open Lines, and so ceased to criticize NPR on air.

Having said that, I would like to take the opportunity to let readers know that Jeff Blankfort has my utmost respect.  His program, “Takes on the World,” is one of the best programs on KZYX in my opinion and I would like to hear more programming like this on our community radio station.  Local, independent voices are what makes our community so unique and expression of these voices should be what KZYX is all about.  I know, from Mr. Blankfort's history with KPFA, that he has fought throughout his long and distinguished journalistic career for the right of independent and minority voices to be heard and I do not believe that he and I really have many differences in opinion on this.  I also believe that Jeff would have no problems with many of the reforms KZYX Members for Change advocates, including the democratization of station processes resulting in greater membership participation in the creation of MCPB's operational philosophy.  While I am happy that Jeff feels his program is accepted at KZYX, I do question that if a young Jeff Blankfort walked into the station today, if his application for “Takes on the World” would result in production.  I also question wether this decision would be made transparently with written testimony as to why it was not accepted.  Transparency in the programming decision making process is a goal in the ongoing campaign for change.

Also, while Jeff seems satisfied that his program is not censored, I doubt he would have a problem with some other ideas for change that include the promotion and syndication of programs like his that I believe have the uniqueness and production value to garner a larger audience.  KZYX should be viewed as a production studio where programs and podcasts are produced and promoted over the long term, not a just a radio station where a program is heard once and lost forever.  As a board member, I would advocate for a more user friendly archive system where programs like Mr. Blankfort's are posted soon after they are aired so those who missed the show could hear it on the internet at their convenience.

Personally, I am tired of arguing about this or that fact about this or that policy.  What I want is to help the current board facilitate communication between the variety of factions that now seem so inexorably separated.  Let's set up the committee system and allow concerned programmers like Jeff to be involved in the brainstorming session that needs to happen that will help build a more viable KZYX that truly does provide access to all points of view.

If you are currently a member, please vote for Doug McKenty and Patricia Kovner in the upcoming election in March.  For more information, see the KZYX Members for Change Facebook page.

Doug McKenty


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Sorry, but you are completely wrong about John Coate. He is quite competent. It is obvious you have been completely against the station from its inception and have no intention of allowing truth to get in the way of your criticism. Under Coate’s management the station has gone from crushing debt to operating in the black. Hard decisions had to be made, among them having to lay off the full time newsperson. Christina Aanestad was not fired. She was asked to submit stories for which she would be paid, much like she has done for other outlets, but she refused. There was no desire to have Christina go, just hard financial moves required to keep the station afloat. Much like discontinuing syndicated shows like Prairie Home Companion, and Click and Clack. And now that John Coate has directed the station back onto solid financial ground the local news is back as well.

By having Sheila Tracy as your dedicated station reporter it shows your contempt. As a former employee of the station she has an axe to grind. Apparently she is bitter about not being able to destroy computers and knock out other equipment like she used to do with a vacuum as the paid cleaner. Now she is attempting similar destruction by working with KZYX Members for Change. Hardly an objective reporter. And she seems quite enamored of the statistic showing more KMUD members in Mendocino County than KZYX members in Humboldt. A good reporter might then mention that KMUD's signal reaches much further into Mendo than KZYX's does into Humboldt. Probably more Press Democrat readers in Mendo than AVA readers in Sonoma too, eh? Hell, there are probably more here in the Anderson Valley reading the PD than the AVA!

Patricia Kovner needs to get her facts straight if she wants to be a board member of the station. Christina was not fired. Annie Esposito is still on the KZYX airwaves, she co-hosts Corporations & Democracy. The station is not a closed shop, new local shows are regularly added. Most of the time when a local show goes off it is because the host no longer wants to do the show.

You are welcome to your partisan sniping from the dictatorial position of your privately run paper Bruce, a luxury the station does not have. You can continue the personal attacks and lies, something else the station does not do. But I think it shows poor and petty management.

W. Dan Houck

KZYX programmer and member


Ed Note: News lady Christina Aanestad wasn't fired? Well, that is news. The station absolutely can talk back but doesn't. Until now. Have the worms suddenly turned because years of mismanagement have caused the FCC to take a look at KZYX's license? This entire discussion should be occurring on the station's turbid airwaves. Why isn't it? Lies you say? Name one. You or Coate or Aig or even Jimmy Bumble — anyone associated with the place — is as welcome as Ms. Dawn to write up station affairs. We could run you and her side by side, maybe throw in Gordy Black as comic relief. Seriously though WD, I think you've got your dictatorships mixed up. 

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The belligerent Killers of Pax Americana.

“Touchdown” these camo-meatheaded assholes yell from an air-conditioned bunker in Nevada or New Mexico after they hellfired who really even knows who from a giant remote control airplane. Sick juvenile punks doing what they’re told and relating it to a twisted gladiator entertainment wrongly called a sport just as their long distance murder is wrongly called war. Very twisted.

Now the obvious depravity of football is fully revealed when sick criminals vaporize cellphones and, oops, too bad, raghead, with glib and callous endzone elations.

The NFL culture is nothing but another brainwashing branch of the military complex. The ugly Americans. The monster truck Adolf Eichmanns. The popular culture zombies.

Any person who would participate in remote control murder is an enemy of America. They are themselves drones. Warm-blooded unspirited humancraft. Monster puppets following orders. The empty vessels used by Obama the Peace Prize serial killer. Charlie Manson would’ve gotten medals instead of prison had he butchered VietCong for Johnson.

The people building and operating weaponized drone planes are in fact terrorists. They are swelling the ranks of angry Jihad with every strike. They are helping our misguided President guarantee the Pentagon endless enemies. Killing mostly innocents and dooming thousands of Americans and our proxies all to keep the masters of war in fat city. The banality of evil!

In all honesty, the complete vulgarity, greed, waste, megalomania and cynicism of SuperBowl is itself a thinly veiled marshal assault on Americans and the rest of the world. Just another obscene generator of disgust and hatred abroad.

Cancel the idiot StuporBowl Dumbday!

Use the money spent on this profane pageant on therapy for this psychotic society. If SuperBowl is really a slice of America and not just sick corporate theater oozing out of the TV, then I’m an alien in my own land of birth. Not that our militarism inflicted on us and the world hasn’t already forced me out of the mainstream.

Obama’s drone strike program is obviously not creating national security. The exact opposite. What it quite successfully does is create more enemies and profit for the Pentagon system. Very, very sick!

One of the useful side effects of a failed educational system and a hijacked economy is an endless line of hapless idiots who are willing to do the evil deeds for the madmen in charge. Fools rush in where intelligent people won’t go.

Hence the confusion between so-called sport and remote murder. From socially sanctioned violence to state terrorism, a logical progression for a small mind.

Here’s to more drone operators hearing the ugly truth of what they’re up to. Hearing from within their own human will to live and do what’s right for the many instead of the few.

In Peace,

Marvin Blake


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