Press "Enter" to skip to content

Mendocino County Today: Sunday, March 2, 2014

* * *

THE PLOT THINS: The man arrested this week for plunking down a bag of dope at the security check at the Mendocino County Courthouse says the pants he was wearing weren't his. He was as surprised as anybody when he pulled the baggie out and plunked it into the tray. Pablo Reyes-Sanchez, 24, of Willits pulled the baggie from his pants pocket at the entrance checkpoint at about 8:20am on Wednesday, said sheriff’s Capt. Gregory Van Patten. “When you come up to the security checkpoint, there is an x-ray machine and you’re supposed to empty the contents of your pockets and anything metal into a tray that goes through a scanning machine,” Van Patten said. “When he went to empty the contents of his pocket, out came this baggie of cocaine.” The baggie allegedly held about half a gram of the drug, a small amount but enough to catch the attention of the courthouse security detail. When deputies questioned Reyes-Sanchez about the drugs, “He used the ‘These aren’t my pants’ defense,” according to Van Patten. “He said it wasn’t even his cocaine and that the pants weren’t even his,” said the captain, “but he wouldn’t elaborate on why he was wearing somebody else’s pants.” Sheriff’s deputies discovered that Reyes-Sanchez was wanted on a felony warrant for allegedly making criminal threats, and booked him into county jail on the warrant and also on suspicion of drug possession. He has since been released on $70,000 bail. Van Patten said he didn’t know why Reyes-Sanchez was visiting the courthouse in the first place.

* * *

KZYX WILL TRY TO UNSEAT JOHN SAKOWICZ at the station's board meeting Monday night in Fort Bragg. Coate himself has posted this smug prediction of the night's events: “The meeting coming up on Monday will be quite an event it looks like. I am to sit there serenely while they do the heavy lifting. We shall see…”

* * *


Dear Editor:

Re:  Proposed Hare Creek Shopping Center.

What do residents and business owners of Fort Bragg need with yet another "shopping center"?   Does the City and Group II developer plan to go forward without public input? Locally owned businesses strive to bring quality items, not cheap, slave labor junk. The small town uniqueness of Fort Bragg is being overtaken by craven business developers whose only stake is the bottom line.  Group II states it has two retailers interested in this shopping center...who are they and what will they offer our town? If this project goes forward, Fort Bragg will lose it's soul buried by crass consumerism.

Elizabeth Ryan, Fort Bragg

* * *



The Ukiah Valley may lose access to state grant funding for drought relief if an entity can't be found soon to monitor the valley's groundwater.

As part of its California Statewide Groundwater Elevation Monitoring program, the state Department of Water Resources ranked California's 515 groundwater basins and subbasins as very low, low, medium and high priorities. DWR is focusing on high- and medium-priority basins for state water grants or loans, according to Mary Randall, regional coordinator of the DWR's Northern Region Office.

“The Ukiah Valley is the only groundwater basin within Mendocino County that's been preliminarily designated as a medium-priority basin,” Randall said at a Wednesday meeting of Mendocino County's emergency drought ad-hoc committee.

“We're only looking at medium- and high-priority groundwater basins for compliance with this (monitoring) program right now, and there isn't a monitoring entity that's been identified for that basin,” she said. “If a monitoring entity is not identified to do monitoring within that basin of wells, then Ukiah Valley won't be eligible for grant funds, at least from DWR.”

She wasn't sure of the deadline to identify such an entity, but literature she handed out at the meeting says state officials expect the list of high- and medium-priority groundwater basins not monitored under CASGEM to be finalized in March.

“It needs to be done rapidly, because there hasn't been a determination,” Randall said.

Out of the state's 515 groundwater basins, 126 are ranked medium- and high-priority. In the North Coast hydraulic region, there are no high-priority basins and eight ranked medium priority, including the Ukiah Valley.

Randall handed out data showing how the Ukiah Valley groundwater basin was ranked. On the data sheet is a notation saying the “2010 Ukiah Valley Water Supply Assessment expresses concerns regarding (state Water Resources Control Board) assertion that all or most of the groundwater' in the basin is, for legal purposes, underflow from the Russian River and associated tributaries.”

(Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal.)

* * *

SIGNS OF THE TIMES. Press release from Redwood National & State Parks: Newton B. Drury Parkway will be closed on a nightly basis starting Saturday, March 1, 2014. The parkway will be closed each day at sunset and reopened at sunrise.  The hours of closure will be variable as the time of sunset and sunrise changes.  Closure hours may also be impacted if staff is responding to other emergencies. Patrols will also be increased during this time to ensure the protection of our natural resources. This closure is in response to a significant increase in wood poaching crimes occurring along the parkway. These crimes usually involve cutting burl and bunion growths from both standing and fallen old-growth redwood trees. The wood is then sold for construction materials, ornamental furniture, and souvenirs. This type of wood is becoming increasingly rare and the most plentiful supply is often found on park lands. Much of the illegal poaching occurs at night. The closure is a proactive step toward preserving our State’s priceless natural resources. The parkway will remain open as usual during the daylight hours. Access to Elk Prairie Campground in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park is still available both night and day by taking the Newton B. Drury Parkway exit (Exit 753) off of Highway 101.

* * *

STATEMENT OF THE DAY: Of course, the US media has downplayed the fascistic-neo-Nazi “ethnic purity” element of the Ukrainian coup in order to focus on – what they think — are more “positive themes”, like the knocking down of statues of Lenin or banning Communist party members from participating in Parliament. As far as the media is concerned, these are all signs of progress. Ukraine is gradually succumbing to the loving embrace of the New World Order where it will serve as another profit-generating cog in Wall Street’s wheel. That’s the theory, at least. It hasn’t occurred to the boneheads at the New York Times or Washington Post that Ukraine is rapidly descending into Mad Max-type anarchy which could spill over its borders into neighboring countries triggering violent conflagrations, social upheaval, regional instability or – god help us – WW3. The MSM sees nothing but silver linings as if everything was going according to plan. All of Eurasia, the Middle East and beyond are being pacified and integrated into one world government overseen by the unitary executive who defers to no one but the corporations and financial institutions who control the levers of power behind imperial shoji-screen. What could go wrong? (— Mike Whitney)

* * *


Governor’s Water Tunnels Opponents to Release New Map:

Largest Agricultural Water Users, Selenium-Damaged Land, Oil Deposits for Fracking

Sacramento, CA - Restore the Delta (RTD) and Food and Water Watch, opponents of Governor Brown’s rush to build Peripheral Tunnels that would drain the Delta and doom salmon and other Pacific fisheries, announced today they will hold a teleconference on Tuesday, March 4, to release a new map depicting the overlap between the largest agricultural users of Bay-Delta water exports, land impaired by selenium concentrations that make farming unsustainable, and oil and gas basins that could be fracked.

“This map will show a remarkable overlay of where our water is going, how the public subsidizes unsustainable crops on drainage-impaired lands, selenium concentrations that pose a threat to the public, and underlying oil deposits that could be fracked with water from the governor’s tunnels,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of RTD. “Unsustainable farming has damaged these lands. And the taxpayers have been subsidizing it. Fracking is another water intensive industry in the San Joaquin Valley that will further contaminate groundwater supplies. The governor’s plan describes water for fracking via the proposed peripheral tunnels as a beneficial use. Beneficial for whom? The peripheral tunnels would benefit unsustainable corporate agribusiness in one region and potentially the energy industry – at the expense of everyday Californians.”

WHAT: Restore the Delta Map Release: Largest Water Users, Selenium-Damaged Land & Oil Fracking

WHEN: 2:00 pm, Tuesday, March 4, 2014

WHO: Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Ex. Dir., Restore the Delta; Adam Scow, California Campaigns Director, Food & Water Watch

WHERE: Media Teleconference: Dial 1-800-434-1335, Code 674292#

* * *

AT THEIR JANUARY 21, 2014 MEETING, the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors, on a 3/2 vote, took a big step forward in making it possible for local homeowners and business owners to access special property assessed financing to pay for home improvements that address energy efficiency and water conservation, through the Property Assessed Clean Energy (or PACE) program.

Before moving forward, the Board spent more than a year considering PACE, established an ad-hoc Board committee to research the issue, received letters of support from, among others, the City of Fort Bragg, and received public comment.

Mendocino County’s PACE program is now expected to be in place by late spring or early summer 2014. Thus, PACE financing for Mendocino County homeowners will come in the midst of an epic drought, and at a time of growing concern nationwideabout the environmental and economic impacts of dependence on fossil fuels.

How Does PACE Work?

PACE in Mendocino County is being modeled after similar programs established in cities and counties nationwide.

Nearby, in Sonoma County, more than 2,000 PACE-funded projects have been completed, most of them for residential housing.

Mendocino County’s PACE program will be available for both homeowners and business owners, and will be developed and run by the same third party administrator that runs the Sonoma County PACE program: Ygrene Energy Fund, whose nationwide headquarters are based in Santa Rosa, California.

According to the Sonoma County Energy Independence Program: PACE provides “an opportunity for property owners to finance energy efficiency, water conservation and renewable energy generation improvements through a voluntary assessment. These assessments will be attached to the property, not the owner, and will be paid back through the property tax system over time, making the program not only energy efficient but also affordable.”

Let’s consider this hypothetical example: the Reyes family owns a two story home in rural Mendocino County. They are concerned about their high energy bills and the difficulty they have in keeping their home warm during the winter. In the midst of the drought, they worry that their well is running low, and wonder if they have leaking pipes. They wonder how to make their home more energy and water efficient. They wonder if their home would be a good place for solar power.

Mendocino County’s PACE program, as proposed to the Board of Supervisors by Ygrene, and as being developed now, would provide the Reyes family with good information and referrals to contractors who understand the PACE program, who will come out to the Reyes’ home to evaluate their energy use and provide proposals for ways they can improve water conservation and energy efficiency.

Once the Reyes family decides which improvements they want to implement, they can voluntarily opt-in to participate in the PACE program, applying through the local PACE office to levy a self-assessment to pay for the improvements. The local PACE office provides guidance, helping the Reyes family to understand their options, and to complete an application for the PACE program.

By participating in the PACE program, the Reyes family is able to improve their home's water conservation and energy efficiency. These improvements result in a decrease in their energy bills, and save their well from running dry during the summer, which saves them the cost and headache of having to drill a deeper well.

With lower home energy bills, and a more sustainable water supply, the Reyes home is now a more affordable, and comfortable, place to live.

Unlike a loan, PACE is a property tax self-assessment, attached to the property, which the Reyes family agrees to pay back over time, through a voluntary increase in their property tax bill.

If the Reyes family decides to sell their home, they will need to tell the purchaser about the assessment, which stays attached to the home’s property tax assessment, and thus is taken over by the new homeowner.

The PACE program is now being implemented in cities and counties across the nation. But it all began in California in 2008.

Under the PACE model, cities and counties are allowed to create special districts where property owners in the district may voluntarily agree to add an assessment to their property tax. These clean-energy districts are authorized as an extension of the Mello-Roos Community Finance Facilities Act of 1982.

In the words of “In 1978 Californians enacted Proposition 13, which limited the ability of local public agencies to increase property taxes based on a property’s assessed value. In 1982, the Mello-Roos Community Facilities Act of 1982 (Government Code §53311-53368.3) was created to provide an alternate method of financing needed improvements and services. The Act allows any county, city, special district, school district or joint powers authority to establish a Mello-Roos Community Facilities District (a “CFD”) which allows for financing of public improvements and services.”

According to Ygrene: “In 2008, the California State Legislature adopted…AB 811, [which] authorizes cities and counties to enter into voluntary contractual assessments with property owners for eligible energy efficiency, renewable generation and water conservation improvements that are permanently attached to private property. The legislature determined that installation of these improvements enhances the environment, creates jobs and stimulates the economy, and thereby provides a public benefit.”

So What's Next?

Mendocino County Board of Supervisors has now established the Clean Energy District (2013-1), and is in the process of “Validation,” meaning it is on track and moving forward in the steps needed to implement the PACE program by late spring or early summer.

The Clean Energy District (2013-1) now includes all unincorporated areas of Mendocino County. As part of the Validation process, the incorporated cities in Mendocino County are being given the chance to “opt-in” to be included in the District, making their residents eligible to participate in the County’s PACE program.

The County will also work out details of their partnership with Ygrene, including how the assessments will be funded. Once Mendocino County completes the Validation process, Ygrene will have the green light to move forward in establishing the local office and staffing needed to make PACE happen.

Summer 2014 locals can expect to hear specific details from Ygrene about the location of the Mendocino County PACE office and the availability of PACE assessments. Local staff will be responsible for marketing and outreach. Contractors will be encouraged to participate in Contractor Trainings to learn how best to work with the PACE program.

Thank You Board of Supervisors!

Mendocino Solar Service thanks the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors for their thoughtful consideration of PACE. We thank County staff for their work on PACE, as well as Supervisor Dan Hamburg and Supervisor John McCowen who served on the Board's Ad-Hoc Committee researching PACE, and Supervisor Dan Gjerde who supported the PACE project.

We also extend our thanks to Keith Rutledge of REDI, for his unwavering support of PACE.

And, our thanks as well to all the residents, homeowners and business owners who spoke out and sent comments to the Board in support of PACE.

Here's to more, and more, and more good news to share!

Kind Regards,

Bruce Erickson, Maggie Watson & the Mendocino Solar Service team

* * *


“Not only is the motion picture an art, but it is the one entirely new art that has been evolved on this planet for hundreds of years. It is the only art at which we of this generation have any possible chance to greatly excel.”

by Raymond Chandler

Oscars49Oscar winners Clair Trevor and Walter Huston, holding their statuettes, pose with last year's winners Edmund Gwenn, far left, and Celeste Holm at the 1948 Academy Awards presentations in Hollywood, Ca., March 24, 1949.

* * *

Five or six years ago a distinguished writer-director (if I may be permitted the epithet in connection with a Hollywood personage) was co-author of a screen play nominated for an Academy Award. He was too nervous to attend the proceedings on the big night, so he was listening to a broadcast at home, pacing the floor tensely, chewing his fingers, taking long breaths, scowling and debating with himself in hoarse whispers whether to stick it out until the Oscars were announced, or turn the damned radio off and read about it in the papers the next morning. Getting a little tired of all this artistic temperament in the home, his wife suddenly came up with one of those awful remarks which achieve a wry immortality in Hollywood: "For Pete's sake, don't take it so seriously, darling. After all, Luise Rainer won it twice."

To those who did not see the famous telephone scene in The Great Ziegfeld, or any of the subsequent versions of it which Miss Rainer played in other pictures, with and without telephone, this remark will lack punch. To others it will serve as well as anything to express that cynical despair with which Hollywood people regard their own highest distinction. It isn't so much that the awards never go to fine achievements as that those fine achievements are not rewarded as such. They are rewarded as fine achievements in box-office hits. You can't be an All-American on a losing team. Technically, they are voted, but actually they are not decided by the use of whatever artistic and critical wisdom Hollywood may happen to possess. They are ballyhooed, pushed, yelled, screamed, and in every way propagandized into the consciousness of the voters so incessantly, in the weeks before the final balloting, that everything except the golden aura of the box office is forgotten.

The Motion Picture Academy, at considerable expense and with great efficiency, runs all the nominated pictures at its own theater, showing each picture twice, once in the afternoon, once in the evening. A nominated picture is one in connection with which any kind of work is nominated for an award, not necessarily acting, directing, or writing; it may be a purely technical matter such as set-dressing or sound work. This running of pictures has the object of permitting the voters to look at films which they may happen to have missed or to have partly forgotten. It is an attempt to make them realize that pictures released early in the year, and since overlaid with several thicknesses of battered celluloid, are still in the running and that consideration of only those released a short time before the end of the year is not quite just.

The effort is largely a waste. The people with votes don't go to these showings. They send their relatives, friends, or servants. They have had enough of looking at pictures, and the voices of destiny are by no means inaudible in the Hollywood air. They have a brassy tone, but they are more than distinct.

All this is good democracy of a sort. We elect Congressmen and Presidents in much the same way, so why not actors, cameramen, writers, and all rest of the people who have to do with the making of pictures? If we permit noise, ballyhoo, and theater to influence us in the selection of the people who are to run the country, why should we object to the same methods in the selection of meritorious achievements in the film business? If we can huckster a President into the White House, why cannot we huckster the agonized Miss Joan Crawford or the hard and beautiful Miss Olivia de Havilland into possession of one of those golden statuettes which express the motion picture industry's frantic desire to kiss itself on the back of its neck? The only answer I can think of is that the motion picture is an art. I say this with a very small voice. It is an inconsiderable statement and has a hard time not sounding a little ludicrous. Nevertheless it is a fact, not in the least diminished by the further facts that its ethos is so far pretty low and that its techniques are dominated by some pretty awful people.

If you think most motion pictures are bad, which they are (including the foreign), find out from some initiate how they are made, and you will be astonished that any of them could be good. Making a fine motion picture is like painting "The Laughing Cavalier" in Macy's basement, with a floorwalker to mix your colors for you. Of course most motion pictures are bad. Why wouldn't they be? Apart from its own intrinsic handicaps of excessive cost, hypercritical bluenosed censorship, and the lack of any single-minded controlling force in the making, the motion picture is bad because 90 per cent of its source material is tripe, and the other 10 per cent is a little too virile and plain-spoken for the putty-minded clerics, the elderly ingénues of the women's clubs, and the tender guardians of that godawful mixture of boredom and bad manners known more eloquently as the Impressionable Age.

The point is not whether there are bad motion pictures or even whether the average motion picture is bad, but whether the motion picture is an artistic medium of sufficient dignity and accomplishment to be treated with respect by the people who control its destinies. Those who deride the motion picture usually are satisfied that they have thrown the book at it by declaring it to be a form of mass entertainment. As if that meant anything. Greek drama, which is still considered quite respectable by most intellectuals, was mass entertainment to the Athenian freeman. So, within its economic and topographical limits, was the Elizabethan drama. The great cathedrals of Europe, although not exactly built to while away an afternoon, certainly had an aesthetic and spiritual effect on the ordinary man. Today, if not always, the fugues and chorales of Bach, the symphonies of Mozart, Borodin, and Brahms, the violin concertos of Vivaldi, the piano sonatas of Scarlatti, and a great deal of what was once rather recondite music are mass entertainment by virtue of radio. Not all fools love it, but not all fools love anything more literate than a comic strip. It might reasonably be said that all art at some time and in some manner becomes mass entertainment, and that if it does not it dies and is forgotten.

The motion picture admittedly is faced with too large a mass; it must please too many people and offend too few, the second of these restrictions being infinitely more damaging to it artistically than the first. The people who sneer at the motion picture as an art form are furthermore seldom willing to consider it at its best. The insist upon judging it by the picture they saw last week or yesterday; which is even more absurd (in view of the sheer quantity of production) than to judge literature by last week's best-sellers, or the dramatic art by even the best of the current Broadway hits. In a novel you can still say what you like, and the stage is free almost to the point of obscenity, but the motion picture made in Hollywood, if it is to create art at all, must do so within such strangling limitations of subject and treatment that it is a blind wonder it ever achieves any distinction beyond the purely mechanical slickness of a glass and chromium bathroom. If it were merely a transplanted literary or dramatic art, it certainly would not. The hucksters and the bluenoses would between them see to that.

But the motion picture is not a transplanted literary or dramatic art, any more than it is a plastic art. It has elements of all these, but in its essential structure it is much closer to music, in the sense that its finest effects can be independent of precise meaning, that its transitions can be more eloquent than its high-lit scenes, and that its dissolves and camera movements, which cannot be censored, are often far more emotionally effective than its plots, which can. Not only is the motion picture an art, but it is the one entirely new art that has been evolved on this planet for hundreds of years. It is the only art at which we of this generation have any possible chance to greatly excel.

In painting, music, and architecture we are not even second-rate by comparison with the best work of the past. In sculpture we are just funny. In prose literature we not only lack style but we lack the educational and historical background to know what style is. Our fiction and drama are adept, empty, often intriguing, and so mechanical that in another fifty years at most they will be produced by machines with rows of push buttons. We have no popular poetry in the grand style, merely delicate or witty or bitter or obscure verses. Our novels are transient propaganda when they are what is called "significant," and bedtime reading when they are not.

But in the motion picture we possess an art medium whose glories are not all behind us. It has already produced great work, and if, comparatively and proportionately, far too little of that great work has been achieved in Hollywood, I think that is all the more reason why in its annual tribal dance of the stars and the big-shot producers Hollywood should contrive a little quiet awareness of the fact. Of course it won't. I'm just daydreaming.


Show business has always been a little overnoisy, overdressed, overbrash. Actors are threatened people. Before films came along to make them rich they often had need of a desperate gaiety. Some of these qualities prolonged beyond a strict necessity have passed into the Hollywood mores and produced that very exhausting thing, the Hollywood manner,which is a chronic case of spurious excitement over absolutely nothing. Nevertheless, and for once in a lifetime, I have to admit that Academy Awards night is a good show and quite funny in spots, although I'll admire you if you can laugh at all of it.

If you can go past those awful idiot faces on the bleachers outside the theater without a sense of the collapse of the human intelligence; if you can stand the hailstorm of flash bulbs popping at the poor patient actors who, like kings and queens, have never the right to look bored; if you can glance out over this gathered assemblage of what is supposed to be the elite of Hollywood and say to yourself without a sinking feeling, "In these hands lie the destinies of the only original art the modern world has conceived "; if you can laugh, and you probably will, at the cast-off jokes from the comedians on the stage, stuff that wasn't good enough to use on their radio shows; if you can stand the fake sentimentality and the platitudes of the officials and the mincing elocution of the glamour queens (you ought to hear them with four martinis down the hatch); if you can do all these things with grace and pleasure, and not have a wild and forsaken horror at the thought that most of these people actually take this shoddy performance seriously; and if you can then go out into the night to see half the police force of Los Angeles gathered to protect the golden ones from the mob in the free seats but not from that awful moaning sound they give out, like destiny whistling through a hollow shell; if you can do all these things and still feel next morning that the picture business is worth the attention of one single intelligent, artistic mind, then in the picture business you certainly belong, because this sort of vulgarity is part of its inevitable price.

Glancing over the program of the Awards before the show starts, one is apt to forget that this is really an actors', directors', and big-shot producers' rodeo. It is for the people who make pictures (they think), not just for the people who work on them. But these gaudy characters are a kindly bunch at heart; they know that a lot of small-fry characters in minor technical jobs, such as cameramen, musicians, cutters, writers, soundmen, and the inventors of new equipment, have to be given something to amuse them and make them feel mildly elated. So the performance was formerly divided into two parts, with an intermission. On the occasion I attended, however, one of the Masters of Ceremony (I forget which—there was a steady stream of them, like bus passengers) announced that there would be no intermission this year and that they would proceed immediately to the important part of the program.

Let me repeat, the important part of the program.

Perverse fellow that I am, I found myself intrigued by the unimportant part of the program also. I found my sympathies engaged by the lesser ingredients of picture-making, some of which have been enumerated above. I was intrigued by the efficiently quick on-and-off that was given to these minnows of the picture business; by their nervous attempts via the microphone to give most of the credit for their work to some stuffed shirt in a corner office; by the fact that technical developments which may mean many millions of dollars to the industry, and may on occasion influence the whole procedure of picture-making, are just not worth explaining to the audience at all; by the casual, cavalier treatment given to film-editing and to camera work, two of the essential arts of film-making, almost and sometimes quite equal to direction, and much more important than all but the very best acting; intrigued most of all perhaps by the formal tribute which is invariably made to the importance of the writer, without whom, my dear, dear friends, nothing could be done at all, but who is for all that merely the climax of the unimportant part of the program.


I am also intrigued by the voting. It was formerly done by all the members of all the various guilds, including the extras and bit players. Then it was realized that this gave too much voting power to rather unimportant groups, so the voting on various classes of awards was restricted to the guilds which were presumed to have some critical intelligence on the subject. Evidently this did not work either, and the next change was to have the nominating done by the specialist guilds, and the voting only by members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

It doesn't really seem to make much difference how the voting is done. The quality of the work is still only recognized in the context of success. A superb job in a flop picture would get you nothing, a routine job in a winner will be voted in. It is against this background of success-worship that the voting is done, with the incidental music supplied by a stream of advertising in the trade papers (which even intelligent people read in Hollywood) designed to put all other pictures than those advertised out of your head at balloting time. The psychological effect is very great on minds conditioned to thinking of merit solely in terms of box office and ballyhoo. The members of the Academy live in this atmosphere, and they are enormously suggestible people, as are all workers in Hollywood. If they are contracted to studios, they are made to feel that it is a matter of group patriotism to vote for the products of their own lot. They are informally advised not to waste their votes, not to plump for something that can't win, especially something made on another lot.

I do not feel any profound conviction, for example, as to whether The Best Years of Our Lives was even the best Hollywood motion picture of 1946. It depends on what you mean by best. It had a first-class director, some fine actors, and the most appealing sympathy gag in years. It probably had as much all-around distinction as Hollywood is presently capable of. That it had the kind of class and simple art possessed by Open City or the stalwart and magnificent impact of Henry V only an idiot would claim. In a sense it did not have art at all. It had that kind of sentimentality which is almost but not quite humanity, and that kind of adeptness which is almost but not quite style. And it had them in large doses, which always helps.

The governing board of the Academy is at great pains to protect the honesty and the secrecy of the voting. It is done by anonymous numbered ballots, and the ballots are sent, not to any agency of the motion picture industry, but to a well-known firm of public accountants. The results, in sealed envelopes, are borne by an emissary of the firm right onto the stage of the theater where the Awards be made, and there for the first time, one at a time, they are made known. Surely precaution would go no further. No one could possibly have known in advance any of these results, not even in Hollywood where every agent learns the closely guarded secrets of the studios with no apparent trouble. If there are secrets in Hollywood, which I sometimes doubt, this voting ought to be one of them.


As for a deeper kind of honesty, I think it is about time for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to use a little of it up by declaring in a forthright manner that foreign pictures are outside competition and will remain so until they face the same economic situation and the same strangling censorship that Hollywood faces. It is all very well to say how clever and artistic the French are, how true to life, what subtle actors they have, what an honest sense of the earth, what forthrightness in dealing the bawdy side of life. The French can afford these things, we cannot. To the Italians they are permitted, to us they are denied. Even the English possess a freedom we lack. How much did Brief Encounter cost? It would have cost at least a million and a half in Hollywood; in order to get that money back, and the distribution costs on top of the negative costs, it would have had to contain innumerable crowd-pleasing ingredients, the very lack of which is what makes it a good picture.

Since the Academy is not an international tribunal of film art it should stop pretending to be one. If foreign pictures have no practical chance whatsoever of winning a major award they should not be nominated. At the very beginning of the performance in 1947 a special Oscar was awarded to Laurence Olivier for Henry V, although it was among those nominated as best picture of the year. There could be no more obvious way of saying it was not going to win. A couple of minor technical awards and a couple of minor writing awards were also given to foreign pictures, but nothing that ran into important coin, just side meat. Whether these awards were deserved is beside the point, which is that they were minor awards and were intended to be minor awards, and that there was no possibility whatsoever of any foreign-made picture winning a major award.

To outsiders it might appear that something devious went on here. To those who know Hollywood, all that went on was the secure knowledge and awareness that the Oscars exist for and by Hollywood, their purpose is to maintain the supremacy of Hollywood, their standards and problems are the standards and problems of Hollywood, and their phoniness is the phoniness of Hollywood. But the Academy cannot, without appearing ridiculous, maintain a pose of internationalism by tossing a few minor baubles to the foreigners while carefully keeping all the top-drawer jewelry for itself. As a writer I resent that writing awards should be among these baubles, and as a member of the Motion Picture Academy I resent its trying to put itself in a position which its annual performance before the public shows it quite unfit to occupy.

If the actors and actresses like the silly show, and I'm not sure at all the best of them do, they at least know how to look elegant in a strong light, and how to make with the wide-eyed and oh, so humble little speeches as if they believed them. If the big producers like it, and I'm quite sure they do because it contains the only ingredients they really understand—promotion values and the additional grosses that go with them—the producers at least know what they are fighting for. But if the quiet, earnest, and slightly cynical people who really make motion pictures like it, and I'm quite sure they don't, well, after all, it comes only once a year, and it's no worse than a lot of the sleazy vaudeville they have to push out of the way to get their work done.

Of course that's not quite the point either. The head of a large studio once said privately that in his candid opinion the motion picture business was 25 per cent honest business and the other 75 per cent pure conniving. He didn't say anything about art, although he may have heard of it. But that is the real point, isn't it?—whether these annual Awards, regardless of the grotesque ritual which accompanies them, really represent anything at all of artistic importance to the motion picture medium, anything clear and honest that remains after the lights are dimmed, the minks are put away, and the aspirin is swallowed? I don't think they do. I think they are just theater and not even good theater. As for the personal prestige that goes with winning an Oscar, it may with luck last long enough for your agent to get your contract rewritten and your price jacked up another notch. But over the years and in the hearts of men of good will? I hardly think so.

Once upon a time a once very successful Hollywood lady decided (or was forced) to sell her lovely furnishings at auction, together with her lovely home. On the day before she moved out she was showing a party of her friends through the house for a private view. One of them noticed that the lady was using her two golden Oscars as doorstops. It seemed they were just about the right weight, and she had sort of forgotten they were gold.

* * *


Transient Sleeping In Bushes -- Caller in the 1100 block of Airport Park Boulevard reported at 7:28 a.m. Wednesday that a transient was sleeping in the bushes. An officer responded and cited the person for camping.

Dog Escaped Yard -- Caller in the 1300 block of Rose Avenue reported at 9:46 a.m. Wednesday that an aggressive dog escaped from a yard and was chasing the caller. An officer responded, put the dog in its yard and left a card for the owner.

Teen Refusing To Come Home -- Caller at Ukiah High on Low Gap Road requested at 11:24 a.m. Wednesday that an officer call her for help with a teenager refusing to come home. An officer advised the caller.

Hit-And-Run -- Caller in the 700 block of South Dora Street reported at 1:39 p.m. Wednesday that a driver in a truck bumped into her car and left. An officer responded and noted that the car had suffered "very minor damage" and the truck driver had not realized his vehicle had hit the other.

Transient Behind Building -- Caller in the 1100 block of Airport Park Boulevard reported at 7:29 a.m. Thursday that a transient was sleeping behind the building. An officer checked the area but the person was gone.

Stolen Vehicle -- Caller in the 200 block of Irvington Drive reported at 8:17 a.m. Thursday that a vehicle had been stolen. An officer responded and arrested William F. McKnight, 27, of Nevada, on suspicion of stealing a vehicle, being a fugitive from justice and receiving stolen property. He was booked into Mendocino County Jail under $15,000 bail.

Burglary -- Caller in the 500 block of South Main Street reported at 9:51 a.m. Thursday that the business was burglarized.

Duffel Bag In Front Of Bank -- Caller in the 700 block of South State Street reported at 11:33 a.m. Wednesday finding a large duffel bag in front of the bank. An officer responded and took a report for found property.

Man Carrying Bolt Cutters -- Caller in the 1200 block of Airport Park Boulevard reported at 12:35 p.m. Thursday that a man was walking along the fence carrying bolt cutters. An officer responded and contacted the man, who said he was picking up trash and had found the bolt cutters.

Shoplifter -- An officer responded to Kohl's on North Orchard Avenue at 1:59 p.m. Thursday and arrested a woman for theft. She was cited and released.

Shoplifter -- An officer responded to Kohl's on North Orchard Avenue at 4:26 p.m. Thursday and arrested a man for theft. He was cited and released.

THE FOLLOWING were compiled from reports prepared by the Ukiah Police Department regarding calls handled by the Fort Bragg Police Department.

Suspicious Woman Pulling Child In Wagon -- Caller in the 400 block of South Franklin Street reported at 11:30 a.m. that a woman pulling a wagon with her 4 year old appeared to be under the influence of drugs. An officer responded and determined that the woman was not under the influence and the child was well-cared for.

Kerosene Stolen -- Caller in the 100 block of East Cypress Street reported at 1:09 p.m. Wednesday that someone stole 200 gallons of kerosene from a tank.

Tip Jar Thief Caught -- Caller in the 100 block of North Franklin Street reported at 6:07 p.m. Wednesday that the person who stole his tip jar two months earlier was inside and being restrained. An officer responded and advised the man of city code.

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

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