- Sneaker Waves
- Bypass Season
- Weekend Clinic
- Dope Futures
- Whither New Yorker
- Dead Air
- It Takes Three
- CP's Reading List
- Goodbye Lawrence Ringo
- Awake at Night
- Gaining Momentum
- Civic Pursuits
- Gump Art
- Farewell Peter Matthiessen
- Mismanaged Nation
- Police Reports
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE has issued a coastal hazard warning for the Northcoast. “It's not that the waves are going to be so high,” said the National Weather Service's Bob Benjamin. "But the periods are so lengthy between waves that it frequently leads to sneaker waves and rip tides. If you wade in the surf up to your knees and the waves are just crashing up to your waist, all of a sudden a 10-foot wave can come in, crash over your head and drag you in. These are the kinds of situations when the sea might look relatively benign, but yet it's not." And the weather is going to be clear and warm, drawing thousands to the beaches.
THE WILLITS BYPASS is roughly 25% accomplished according to Mauricio Serrano of Caltrans, the project's manager. Serrano told the Willits City Council that the second "building season" is commencing with serious concrete pours in the form of pillars and bridges at the south end of the six miles of two lane freeway running east of central Willits.
* * *
ON MARCH 25, the Board of Supervisors also considered a proposal to certify the mitigated negative declaration on the permit to move 900,000 cubic yards of fill dirt from Mendocino Forest Products site to the north end of the Willits bypass to fill in the large wetland area enough to bring the northern bypass off-ramp up out of the flood plain. The issue was mostly anticlimactic because, as several board members noted, the bypass itself was no longer an issue and the huge amount of dirt was going to come from some place even if a lesser amount of dirt could be arranged along with a scaled-back, less environmentally damaging interchange design.
BUT THAT DIDN’T STOP bypass opponents from asking the Board to try to force Caltrans into some kind of bypass downsizing by not certifying the mitigated negative declaration. Among the many Willits residents urging the Board not to certify were two of the area’s most dedicated bypass opponents, AVA reporter Will Parrish and fellow protester Lucy Neely (one of the women who chained herself to some heavy construction equipment and was prosecuted for trespassing and interference along with Parrish — but who was not charged with having to pay a half million dollar fine).
PARRISH: “One of the main questions under this agenda item is whether it is better to have 900,000 cubic yards of soil excavated from Oil Well Hill or whether it's better to excavate dirt from the Apache Mill site. I see that as just the latest false choice that Caltrans and its corporate contractors have handed down to us, because regardless of which option this board chooses to endorse, Caltrans is still filling up the largest wetlands of any project in Northern California in the last 50 years. Caltrans would have us pondering if is it better to strip the soil away from a site where they are going to clearcut seven acres at the abandoned mill site, or is it preferable to strip 900,000 cubic yards of soil away from Oil Well Hill which also involves a clear-cut of large stands of trees. Either way we have 90,000 acres of wetlands being destroyed. When I refer to false choices that Caltrans has handed down, I would like to note that in 2006 when Caltrans filed its environmental impact report it systematically excluded the alternative of going down the Railroad-Baechtel Avenue route/right-of-way which a large coalition of people in Willits supported and worked hard to put before decision-makers. Now Caltrans would have us systematically exclude from consideration the reduction of the northern interchange being reduced back to a design that they themselves created in 2006. So on it goes and goes — more false choices that Caltrans puts before our regional officials. So I stand with the people here who are calling for an environmental impact report on the project which obviously ought to be required. But I also say No to every single aspect of this project that has been put before this board. I say No to allowing the project to go forward without an EIR. I say No to allowing this project to go forward without careful consideration of scaling down the northern interchange. I say No to filling in the largest area of wetlands of any project in Northern California in the last 50 years and making Mendocino County into a symbol of watershed destruction in doing so. I also say no and I urge all of you to say no to political cowardice and expediency in allowing this to move forward. Thank you for listening.”
NEELY: I really do admire all the hard work you put into your job and trying to take care of your people. I am one of those people. So I will speak today from the perspective of a relatively intelligent hard-working and principled twenty-something because I feel like that is under-represented in our demographic here. I really appreciated what someone said just a few minutes ago about future generations. Your generation — Dan Gjerde is a little younger — but nobody knew what…
Supervisor John Pinches (jokingly): Are you saying we are not in our 20s?
Neely: Are you? You were once, I know that! (Laughs.) Nobody knew what these technologies would do. It's hard to see into the future. But now we have a better idea of it. The older generations have brought us to this point where we are. But it's my generation that is going to have to deal with it. We all have to deal with it — but I'm going to be alive longer. (Laughs.) I think by the end of your lives things are going to start looking pretty different and pretty rough for all of us. And that's an informed opinion I have made. I have really looking into it a lot. Our industrial corporate driven paradigm that this bypass is a product of exhibits the behavior of an addict. It is really an unwell being. I'm sure all of you have known addicts. Another informed decision of mine is, Yes, maybe it is too late to stop whatever is going to happen to this planet. There are a lot of positive feedback loops already in play and the bypass is an example of that. And the bypass is happening. And that's fine, I guess. But I do see that this is a false choice between Oil Well Hill or this abandoned mill site. It doesn't need to happen. The interchange can be scaled back. Maybe it is like, 'Oh whatever, the bypass is happening and we don't need to scale back the interchange.' But back to the metaphor of an addict. In fact, you don't need a metaphor, this is the literal behavior of our industrial corporate paradigm. But when you think about the life of an addict, you realize that it's never too late. Every moment is an opportunity. If you know a serious alcoholic who is told by the doctor: You have two months left to live. Your liver is shot. Should that person say, Oh, I have two months left to live so I'll just keep drinking and die drunk and angry? Or should he say, Well, I have two months left, now is the moment to start taking care of the life around me. So I urge you to take this opportunity to stop this lunatic addict behavior that we are all part of. I am too. I have to step back from it myself and see something different that we can do. Thanks.”
WITH THE EXCEPTION of Supervisor Hamburg the Board was unmoved by the impassioned opposition, pointing out that they had no control over the interchange design and it was going to be filled in from somewhere anyway and therefore it would be better to fill it in from the abandoned mill site even if the interchange was scaled back. So the board voted 4-1 with Supervisor Hamburg dissenting to approve the mitigated negative declaration.
REDWOOD COAST MEDICAL SERVICES Gualala clinic is open Mondays through Fridays, closed weekends. On weekends an ambulance and helicopter medi-vac haul serious cases to either Fort Bragg or Santa Rosa. Measure J, on a special election ballot for April, would extend clinic hours to include weekends. If it passes, and it needs two-thirds approval, residents of the area would be nicked an additional $112 a year. Some voters at the extreme ends of the district, which runs north to Manchester-Elk and south into Sonoma County, say they don't want to pay because they use either Coast Hospital in Fort Bragg or, to the south, hospitals in Santa Rosa. The election will be close. These days, it would be hard to get two-thirds approval for a guarantee of eternal life.
DOPE FUTURES? A HumCo grower says, “Good outdoor was going in Mendo all winter for $1200 a pound. Next year's prices— I'm guessing $900. Supply should be super-flood levels. Trimmers— $150 a pound. Bring your own food."
WHITHER THE NEW YORKER
In response to Todd Walton’s recent piece:
It’s not just those of you in far Northern California who feel profoundly alienated when perusing a copy of the New Yorker. Many New Yorkers do, too.
The streets here are teeming with tension, but the papers claiming to cover the action are so far removed from it that they read like science fiction. It’s still an immigrant city, with accents and slang that constantly reinvigorate and reinvent English, but you’d never guess that from the detached New Yorker tone. Nor would you suspect from reading the Times that most New Yorkers live in cramped little apartments and are struggling just to get by.
Which is why we subscribe to the AVA instead.
How can a city of a few thousand have a more exciting newspaper than a city of eight million? Easy: simply by including everyone, and covering conflict rather than pretending it doesn’t exist — or just dismissing it with a clever, ironic twist.
Thanks for the work you’re doing there.
Aaron Cometbus, New York City
KZYX GOES DOWN
To the Editor:
KZYX, Mendocino County Public Radio, lost its signal due to a major failure of old equipment for three days from March 31 to April 2. The station's 88.1, 90.7, and 91.5 FM were all down. Nothing but dead air for three whole days.
This catastrophe could have been predicted. Even as KZYX General Manager John Coate was demanding a 10% raise in 2013 making him the highest paid General Manager in KZYX's 25-year history, Coate knew that our broadcasting equipment was failing. He knew that better than anybody because Coate is a self-described techie. He was even on the cover on “Wired” magazine once upon a time.
This dereliction of duty is one of the many good reasons I filed my FCC complaint earlier this year when the station sought the renewal of its licenses. Having a signal that’s down for three whole days, as we did at KZYX this week, tells me one thing — KZYX does not deserve to have its license renewed under Coate.
This dereliction of duty almost rises to criminally negligent behavior. Why? Because KZYX serves the vital function of being the Emergency Broadcast System in times of emergency. If an earthquake had hit during those three days when KZYX’s signal was down, as it did in did in the cities of Brea and La Habra, southeast of Los Angeles, shortly after 9pm on Friday — a magnitude 5.1 earthquake — KZYX would have been silent. Again, nothing but dead air.
This is unacceptable. This is not cool. The people of Mendocino County deserve better.
John Sakowicz, Ukiah
ONE FINAL FOOTNOTE on the March 25 Supes meeting where the Board haltingly voted to rezone six parcels for multi-family “affordable housing” to comply with the settlement agreement the County accepted to meet state housing planning requirements.
After McCowen and Gjerde had recused themselves from the discussion, the decision to proceed with the rezoning of the eight parcels to multi-family residential (R-3) came down to only Supervisors Pinches, Hamburg and Brown. Pinches made it clear that he would not vote to force a rezone of a perfectly good piece of commercial property north of Ukiah, nor would he support the forced rezone of the Zaina vineyard property (mostly for reasons expressed by attorney Knight, as reported on Mendocino County Today for April 5). This created a procedural problem, one that is very common with small boards which operate in accordance with the California Open Meetings Law (aka, the Brown Act). Anyone with even passing experience with the government body voting rules knows that it takes a majority of the BOARD, not a majority of those present, to approve a motion, as noted by Supervisor Pinches who knew he could block the forced rezone of the two parcels in question:
PINCHES: “I realize the problems we’re having with the settlement agreement and I realize that the court should recognize and I believe the court will recognize that we’ve made significant progress on this settlement agreement. So I don’t think it’s all lost with what we’ve got left here. We’ve already accomplished four, plus these [remaining] six pieces of property today. So I support moving forward with six parcels, but not the Zaina [vineyard] property or the commercial piece of property out there at the Forks (north of Ukiah). We can argue about this all we want but it takes three votes to do it.”
Hamburg: “Does it take three? It takes three votes?”
Pinches: “You have to have three. Yes, it takes three. Oh yeah.”
Hamburg (to County Counsel Doug Losak): “It takes three votes or two votes?”
Pinches: “It takes three votes. Right?”
Losak: “It takes two. A majority of the Board.”
Hamburg: “Ok. That’s different.”
Pinches: “Are you sure about that?”
Losak: “A majority of the Board that’s hearing this issue.”
Pinches: “Well, so there is some options.”
Supervisor Brown said she was worried about the court ordering a moratorium, so she reluctantly supported rezoning all eight parcels to multi-family residential to keep a moratorium from being imposed on the whole county.
Hamburg then moved to rezone without the Forks commercial property in the hope that the Zaina vineyard property could be rezoned again later with an as-yet non-existent “mixed use” zoning option.
So the motion “passed” 2-1 with Pinches dissenting.
But — about four hours later the Board revisited the issue at the initiation of Mr. Losak:
Losak: “I just want to tell you that after this morning’s meeting on Agenda Item 5b I did some research and discovered that I was incorrect. I just looked at Government Code 25005 which states that Board action to proceed, um, it needs a vote of three members of the Board of Supervisors even if there are only three sitting up there.”
This began a long, rambling and confusing discussion about a motion to reconsider the item. Attorney Knight said that they couldn’t move to reconsider the earlier motion because there was no “majority” in the first place because only two Board members voted in favor which was not a majority of the five-member board. County Counsel Losak told the board that they had to move forward to “reconsider” the prior vote even though they could have simply moved to approve the six parcels on which there was agreement. Nevertheless, after several minutes of back and forth about who could make the motion and who could vote for what and when, Supervisor Brown finally moved to reconsider and the three remaining members of the Board rambled around some more and finally agreed to rezone the six agreeable parcels.
All of which could have been avoided if Mr. Losak had known the very basic rule he later “researched” or if he had at least taken Supervisor Pinches’s earlier cue — “are you sure?” — to look it up before giving off the cuff erroneous advice. Mr. Losak apparently wants to be appointed County Counsel to replace the recently resigned Tom Parker. But his after-the-fact “incorrect” rezone advice on this very simple and obvious procedural question certainly didn’t advance his chances.
BEST NON-FICTION BOOKS OF THE 20TH CENTURY (AND BEYOND) IN ENGLISH
by Alexander Cockburn & Jeffrey St. Clair
As the clock clicked down on the arrival of the new millennium, Alex and I were bemused at the spate of “100 best of the century lists” pouring forth from the New York Times, the New Yorker, Salon, the Guardian and other liberal publications. The lists were predictable and not many of the entries remained on our groaning shelves. So we decided to compile our own catalogue of the best books written in English and, later translated into English, during the 20th Century. We spent weeks whittling it down to roughly 100 titles for each. These became reading lists for like-minded CounterPunchers and proved two of the most popular pieces we’d ever run on the website, even pricking the interest of many librarians who were forced to confront the gaps in their own collections.
Over the decade, those pages were up on the site they attracted well-over two million unique visitors. Then disaster struck. During the Great Transformation of the CounterPunch website to a Word Press platform, those lists were mangled beyond recognition. I remember calling Alex and telling him to cautiously look at the wreckage. He clicked on the page, gasped and even sniffled a bit. “It’s the burning of the Alex…andria library all over again!” he quipped. Neither of us had the energy to recreate the lost pages.
Since then we’ve received many pleas to resurrect those lists, the most recent coming from an old pal of ours whose book had earned a spot in the top 100. Finally, I relented. I spent the last couple of weeks reviewing the entries and some old email exchanges with Alex about books that we both admired, which had been published in the intervening years. So we now present once again our 100 best non-fiction books published in English in the 20th century (with a few important additions), along with the introduction we wrote for our book Serpents in the Garden. (The translated books will follow.)
Jeffrey St. Clair
* * *
Serpents in the Garden
We edit CounterPunch, the popular radical website and magazine. We have fun doing it and we spend a lot of time laughing, as we chat on the phone between Petrolia, in Humboldt County, northern California, and Oregon City, Oregon, perched over the Clackamas River, a few hundred miles north across the Siskiyous, in a whole different weather system.
In the Sixties and Seventies, respectively, we both read English at college, Cockburn at Oxford, St. Clair at American University. English is a discipline that says, or used to say before the critical theorists seized power and put pleasure to the sword, that it’s okay to enjoy reading books and okay to put off more or less permanently what you’re going to do when you grow up: yet another definition of being a journalist or pamphleteer. We both like the blues and food and there’s a lot about both in CounterPunch. We both think that a big part of being radical in the best sense of the word is in enjoying, promoting, defending art and the spirit of freedom and pleasure and craft skills embodied by the arts. By the quality of life, art and freedom that radicals commend, so will radicals prevail.
You want to know where we stand? A few years ago we asked ourselves, and some friends, what we would include in the hundred best non-fiction books in the original English, published in the twentieth century—more or less. The library we’d send to other planets, or to George W. Bush (although we know Laura the Librarian is doing her best…) Then we asked ourselves and our friends about books in translation and music and films. But more of that later.
Culture, music, art, architecture and … sex. In the sixties the right thought the left had the best drugs and the best sex. Now? Well, the left sort of won that battle. These days the right knows its okay to have a good time and sneers at the left for staying at home to read up on theories of surplus value. But there are always subversive and revolutionary perspectives to be enjoyed in the Garden of Eden. And in the battle to return to that delightful piece of real estate, there were heroes thus far unsung, many of them writers. For every pleasure we enjoy, there’s a martyr in our past who paid the price.
Now for that reading list, so you can get acquainted with us.
— AC/JSC, April, 2004
* * *
Edward Abbey: Desert Solitaire: a Season in the Wilderness
Louis Adamic: Dynamite: A Century of Class Violence in America, 1830-1930.
Philip Agee: Inside the Company: CIA Diary
Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa & Murray Silverstein: A Pattern Language: Towns, Building and Construction
Michelle Alexander: The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colored-Blindness
Kenneth Anger: Hollywood Babylon
Hannah Arendt: Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil
David Arora: Mushrooms Demystified: A Guide to the Fleshy Fungi
James Baldwin: The Devil Finds Work
Reyner Banham: Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies
John Berger: Ways of Seeing
Jack Black: You Can’t Win
Robin Blackburn: The American Crucible: Slavery, Emancipation and Human Rights
Joseph Borkin: The Crime and Punishment of IG Farben
Jim Bouton: Ball Four
Richard Boyer & Herbert Morais: Labor’s Untold Story
Marshall Bradley, Fern Bradley & Barbara Ellis: The Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening
David Brower: For the Earth’s Sake
Norman O. Brown: Life Against Death: The Psychoanalytical Meaning of History
Robert Byron: The Road to Oxiana
Rachel Carson: Silent Spring
E. H. Carr: What is History?
Samuel B. Charters: The Country Blues
Andrew Cockburn: The Threat: Inside the Soviet Military Machine
Claud Cockburn: I, Claud
William Cronon: Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West
Elizabeth David: French Provincial Cooking
Alexandra David-Neel: My Journey to Lhasa
Vine DeLoria, Jr.: Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto
Angie Debo: Geronimo: The Man, His Time, His Place
E.R. Dodds: The Greeks and the Irrational
W.E.B. DuBois: The Souls of Black Folk
Havelock Ellis: Studies in the Psychology of Sex
William Empson: Seven Types of Ambiguity
Encyclopedia Britannica: 11th Edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica
Shulamith Firestone: The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution
M.F.K. Fisher: How to Cook a Wolf
Henry Watson Fowler: A Dictionary of Modern English Usage
Roger Fry: Cezanne: A Study of His Development
Northrop Frye: An Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays
Alex Haley & Malcolm X: The Autobiography of Malcolm X
Myles Horton: The Long Haul: An Autobiography
Carole Gallagher: American Ground Zero: the Secret Nuclear War
Martha Gellhorn: The Face of War
Dan Georgakas: Detroit: I Do Mind Dying
Stephen Jay Gould: The Mismeasure of Man
Robert Graves: The Greek Myths
Alice Hamilton: Exploring the Dangerous Trades
E.C.S. Handy & Elizabeth Handy: Native Planters in Old Hawaii: Their Life, Lore and Environment
Gerald Hanley: Warriors: Life and Death Among the Somalis
Jane E. Harrison: Themis: A Study in the Social Origins of Greek Religion
Anthony Heilbut: The Gospel Sound: Good News and Bad Times
Seymour Hersh: Kissinger: The Price of Power
George Leonard Herter & Berte Herter: Bull Cook: Authentic Recipes and Practices
William Hinton: Fanshen: A Documentary of Revolution in a Chinese Village
Richard Holmes: Shelley: the Pursuit
Ivan Illich: Deschooling Society
Ernest Jones: The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud
Leroi Jones: Blues People: Negro Music in White America
Alvin Josephy, Jr: The Nez Perce Indians and the Opening of the Northwest
Walter Karp: The Politics of War
Pauline Kael: For Keeps: 30 Years at the Movies
Robin D.G. Kelley: Thelonious Monk: the Life and Times of an American Original
John Maynard Keynes: The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money
Alfred Kinsey, et al.: The Kinsey Report on Human Sexual Behavior
Richard Erodes and John Fire Lame Deer: Lame Deer: Seeker of Visions
D.H. Lawrence: Etruscan Places
Meridel Le Sueur: North Star Country
Peter Linebaugh: The London Hanged: Crime and Civil Society in the Eighteenth Century
Albert Bates Lord: The Singer of Tales
Norman MacLean: A River Runs Through It
Fitzroy McLean: Eastern Approaches
Scott McCloud: Understanding Comics: the Invisible Art
Carey McWilliams: Factories in the Fields: The Story of Migratory Farm Labor in California
Norman Mailer: Advertisements for Myself
Leo Marx: The Machine in the Garden
Peter Matthiessen: In the Spirit of Crazy Horse
H.L. Mencken: Prejudices: A Selection
Henry Miller: The Air-Conditioned Nightmare
C. Wright Mills: Listen, Yankee: the Revolution in Cuba
Jessica Mitford: The American Way of Death
Edwin Morse: Japanese Homes and Their Surroundings
Robert Motherwell: Dada Documents and Manifestoes
Lewis Mumford: Technics and Civilization
Paul Oliver: Blues Fell This Morning: Meaning in the Blues
Oxford English Dictionary: Second Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary
Doug Peacock: Grizzly Years: In Search of the American Wilderness
Roger Tory Peterson: A Field Guide to the Birds of North America
Kim Philby: My Silent War
Ezra Pound: ABC of Reading
Charles Ramsey & Harold Sleeper: Architectural Graphic Standards
John Richardson: A Life of Picasso
Bertrand Russell: Autobiography
Edward Said: Orientalism
G.E.M. de Ste. Croix: The Class Struggle in the Ancient Greek World
Ken Saro-Wiwa: A Month and a Day: a Detention Diary
Nancy Scheper-Hughes: Death Without Weeping: The Violence of Everyday Life in Brazil
Robert Sherrill: The Gothic Politics of the Deep South
Lincoln Steffens: Shame of the Cities
Lawrence Stone: Sex, Family and Marriage in England: 1500 to 1800
Ida Tarbell: The History of the Standard Oil Company
Bertha Thompson: Sister of the Road: An Autobiography of Box Car Bertha
E.P. Thompson: The Making of the English Working Class
Hunter S. Thompson: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
David Thomson: A Biographical Dictionary of Film
Douglas Valentine: The Phoenix Program
Helen Vendler: The Art of Shakespeare’s Sonnets
Gordon Wasson: Soma: Divine Mushroom of Immortality
Geoffrey Wolff: Black Sun: the Brief Transit and Violent Eclipse of Harry Crosby
Frances Yates: The Art of Memory
LAWRENCE RINGO DIED FRIDAY. He was a tough guy, in love with life, fulfilled by what his own life had come to be about — plants and music, friends and family.
I met him in the winter of 2008/09 through Samantha Miller of Pure Analytics, who’d heard I was on the lookout for CBD-rich plants. I interviewed him that day for O'Shaughnessy's and the Anderson Valley Advertiser. Unlike most growers and plant breeders, Ringo was bold and forthright in describing his work.
I just put the AVA piece and my interview notes online at http://www.beyondTHC.com/remembering-ringo/
Ringo (and Samantha) gave Project CBD a great boost in those bygone days when I was still defining cannabidiol for readers of the AVA.
Fred Gardner, Alameda
PS. Everybody's into it now, but for many years the AVA was the paper of record.
AWAKE AT NIGHT
Awake at night—
the sound of the water jar
cracking in the cold.
Thank you for your positive review of “Comedy of Terror.” I'm delighted you thought well of my satire. My delight was tempered by a letter in the April 2 edition dismissive of Todd Walton, a writer I respect and admire. We're all entitled to our opinions, but let's label our tastes as subjective to avoid being thought tasteless.
Best, John Fremont, Fort Bragg
ON-LINE STATEMENT OF THE DAY.
MEANWHILE, EAST OF 101: When you are a true denialist, it’s even easier to ignore signs everywhere you look. How about that boarded up strip mall that was once thriving? I see more people riding bikes, pushing shopping carts (save my fucked up city, it’s a $100 ticket to get caught doing that, they steal from the middle class and the poor in any and every way they can to make up for what is proving to be chronic budget shortfalls). Ditto that the county, state, and federal levels. People dumpster diving. Houses that are foreclosed upon and stay up for sale for years, some idiots think housing values will recover when in fact they will likely go into the negatives. Have you busted the front and back rims on one of those potholes yet? Old, rotting infrastructure everywhere. When things do break down, people have no discretionary income to get these things fixed. The only cars that are parked at paint and bump auto shops, the furniture stores, and even places like Best Buy and Blockbuster (once icons on the American landscape) are the employees who made a shitty wage to begin with and are clinging to their jobs for dear life. That is the reality I see. I am in the once untouchable healthcare field, I have been out of work 3 months now. I know why so many middle aged men took their own lives when the former USSR collapsed. We are totally unprepared for the reality here. I saw it coming since 2008 and I see it happening all around me now gaining momentum.
LESSONS FROM WINSTEAD
Don’t Give Up On Civic Pursuits
by Ralph Nader
Perhaps there are lessons for other small communities from the conditions, positive and negative, of Winsted, Connecticut (the Town of Winchester), a community of about 11,000 people nestled in the beautiful Litchfield County Hills.
First, Winsted is unique in numerous ways. Northwestern Connecticut Community College, established in 1965 through local initiatives, has expanded its facilities. Winsted is the second smallest community in the U.S. to have a community college located within its boundaries. About the size of Manhattan in New York City, the Town of Winchester sports two lakes plus Crystal Lake, the drinking water reservoir, two rivers named Mad and Still, and an abundance of woods and meadows.
When its Winsted Memorial Hospital closed in 1996, the citizens did what no one else had managed to do after losing their hospital. They mobilized and reopened the closed facility with the Winsted Health Center, offering hospital level services except for overnight stays.
The country’s first law museum (the American Museum of Tort Law) and the first art museum devoted exclusively to America’s working men and women (the Wall of America) are being built in Winsted. These are not far from the fine Winchester Historical Society. Winsted is served by two newspapers – the weekly Winsted Journal and the daily Torrington Register-Citizen, and a vibrant cable access channel, where the Community Lawyer shares a program.
The Winsted Volunteer Fire Department with its three stations has continued to serve its people since 1862. A fourth station was added a decade later. Visitors have observed the architectural beauty of the churches in this community. The Town Hall and Post Office are easily accessible on Winsted’s Main Street. A new pottery studio has opened with cubicles for pottery artists and eager newcomers.
Winsted even has two summer camps for children from the cities.
Unlike most municipalities outside of New England, Winsted has the ultimate democratic town meeting, referendum form of local government. If used in an informed manner, it is hard to make excuses that the residents cannot be in charge, to the extent permitted by state and federal mandates.
Yet, notwithstanding Winsted’s many attractive features, there is a serious absence of operating civic pride among many of its residents that holds back their community. Even before Winsted’s hitherto, bustling factories closed or left town after World War II, before the county courthouse moved away, before the railroad station was closed, talking down Winsted made up too much of the people’s small talk.
To be sure, the scars of these losses remain. Jobs are hard to find in town, especially for the youngsters graduating from the local high school. Now more of a bedroom community, job holders commute to Hartford and other Connecticut cities to earn their living. One result is that there is less time for and interest in participating in local civic and political work, though there are still numerous clubs (Rotary, Kiwanis, Elk, Lions and Knights of Columbus) that provide opportunities for social interactions.
The decline of the local economy has lessened the ability of many residents to pay for the repairing and upgrading of the public works. However, year after year of deferred maintenance leads to rundown streets, bridges, sidewalks and other public facilities and increases the costs of eventual restorations.
Each generation of young residents tend to disparage their hometown as they move out. With the advent of the internet’s virtual reality and the introverted self-absorbing, 24/7 enabling gadgets, the separation from the reality of their town and its older historically-minded residents grows.
As the town’s fiscal health deteriorates, demoralization sets in under the cries of those who accentuate the negatives and ignore the positives, instead of embracing the pathways toward recovery. One result is that good people in Town Hall quit their jobs. Yet, the town manager, Dale Martin, remains solidly optimistic. Another consequence is that there is low voter turnout. A third result is that fewer people want to run in elections for town government positions and its various boards, even though very little money is needed for their campaigns. Potential candidates can almost walk the entire town, its hill country and around its seven mile, home-studded Highland Lake.
Throughout our country, communities are turned around first by the organization of enough civic character and steadfast civic personality to make the difference. A small number of determined people can tap the many under-utilized assets of their community and carry the day. I would guess that in Winsted, about one hundred people of diverse talents, including the younger generation, can forge the path to recovery, with the support of a more silent majority.
There are enough lessons from American history where towns such as Winsted can find encouragement from those who have overcome much greater odds. There are plenty of manuals, articles, case studies and available federal and state help so that civic revivalists need not re-invent the wheel. Visit Kettering, New England Futures or the Citistates Group for more information.
There are also local traditions of civic resiliency in the history of every community. Winsted overcame three devastating floods from the nineteen thirties to the mid-nineteen fifties, until civic pressure on key political figures from Washington to Hartford got a dry dam built. No floods since.
People who give up on their civic pursuits, citing futility, often have overcome far more challenging hurdles in their own personal family and work life – illnesses, unemployment, accidents and other fateful pressures. Civic organization can produce a better community – it’s a lot easier than we think!
Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition.
GEORGE BUSH'S PAINTINGS
This is the art of Forrest Gump. The comedy of a naive self-portrait apparently helped humanize the man most responsible for the 2003 invasion of Iraq
George W. Bush has found that magic recipe for public redemption that eludes Tony Blair. Don't waste time on globetrotting missions and elder-statesman opinions that do nothing to appease people who see you as a liar and warmonger and think you should be arrested. Take up painting instead.
That gentle, civilized art can wipe away a surprising quantity of blood.
Since it became known that Bush had taken up painting as a hobby and had hired a personal artistic trainer to improve his style, his opinion poll ratings in America have improved, slightly. The comedy of a naive self-portrait of himself in the bath that got leaked on Twitter apparently helped humanize the man most responsible for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Americans do tend to be forgiving of their more controversial presidents. This generosity is surely born of national self-regard. If you see the presidency as peopled by monsters how can you love your country? So like Nixon before him, Dubya is getting reassessed, or at least repackaged, his martial presidency forgotten in America's cozy reception of his cute paintings, unveiled in a television interview with his own daughter.
It's like being nice about the family idiot's latest art project. Aw, isn't that sweet, poor George has done paintings of world leaders. He's putting them in his little museum. The soppiness is unmitigated: early online reactions blathered moist-eyed about him capturing Vladimir Putin's “soul.”
His portrait of Putin actually looks like something you would find in one of America's trash-rich Salvation Army stores and buy to laugh at. It's got a classic amateur clumsiness and oddity to it. Bush has attempted to render shadow and shape in stylish blocks of fawn and woodchip and cookies 'n cream, but they don't sit right and the whole head looks mildly crazed. Perhaps this mad look is what is meant by revealing Putin's “soul,” but it seems inept rather than insightful.
It looks as if Bush's art coach has showed him paintings by no less a model than the great pop portraitist Alex Katz, whose semi-abstract, wide-eyed style and flat backgrounds his hamfisted daubs vainly echo. But the results lack coherence or vitality. This is the art of Forrest Gump.
Idiocy in art has its charms. In the man who ran the free world into bloodstained buffers, those charms quickly sour. These empty headed daubs look the work of someone you wouldn't trust to mow a lawn without cutting someone's foot off.
Winston Churchill also took up art as a hobby and even won respect as a serious painter — the art historian EH Gombrich compared him with Constable. But there was every reason to be kind to Churchill the painter. He had earned his pleasures.
(Courtesy, the London Guardian)
PETER MATTHIESSEN, AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR AND ENVIRONMENTALIST, DIES AT AGE 86
Peter Matthiessen, who spurned a life of ease and privilege in favor of physical and spiritual challenges and produced such acclaimed works as "The Snow Leopard" and "At Play in the Fields of the Lord," died Saturday. He was 86.
His publisher Geoff Kloske of Riverhead Books said Mr. Matthiessen, who had been diagnosed with leukemia, died at a hospital near his home on Long Island.
"Peter was a force of nature, relentlessly curious, persistent, demanding - of himself and others," his literary agent, Neil Olson, said in a statement. "But he was also funny, deeply wise and compassionate."
Few authors could claim such a wide range of achievements. Matthiessen helped found The Paris Review, one of the most influential literary magazines, and won National Book Awards for "The Snow Leopard," his spiritual account of the Himalayas, and for the novel "Shadow Country." His new novel, "In Paradise," is scheduled for publication Tuesday.
A leading environmentalist and wilderness writer, he embraced the best and worst that nature could bring him, whether trekking across the Himalayas, parrying sharks in Australia or enduring a hurricane in Antarctica.
Mr. Matthiessen helped found the Paris Review, one of the most influential literary magazines, and won National Book Awards for "The Snow Leopard," his spiritual account of the Himalayas, and for "Shadow Country."
A leading environmentalist and wilderness writer, he embraced the best and worst that nature could bring him, whether trekking across the Himalayas, parrying sharks in Australia or enduring a hurricane in Antarctica.
He was a longtime liberal who befriended Cesar Chavez and wrote a defense of Indian activist Leonard Peltier, "In the Spirit of Crazy Horse," that led to a highly publicized, and unsuccessful, lawsuit by an FBI agent who said Mr. Matthiessen had defamed him.
Mr. Matthiessen became a Zen Buddhist in the 1960s, and was later a Zen priest who met daily with a fellow group of practitioners in a meditation hut that he converted from an old stable. The granite-faced author, rugged and athletic into his 80s, tried to live out a modern version of the Buddhist legend, a child of wealth transformed by the discovery of suffering.
He was born in New York in 1927, the son of Erard Matthiessen, an architect and conservationist. "The Depression had no serious effect on our well-insulated family," the author would later write.
After graduation from Yale he moved to Paris and, along with fellow writer-adventurer George Plimpton, helped found the Paris Review. (Mr. Matthiessen would later acknowledge he was a CIA recruit at the time and used his work with the Review as a cover).
In the mid-1950s, he returned to the United States, moved to Long Island's Sag Harbor, socialized with Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and other painters, operated a deep-sea fishing charter boat - and wrote.
In 1961, Mr. Matthiessen emerged as a major novelist with "At Play in the Fields of the Lord," his tale of missionaries under siege from both natives and mercenaries in the jungles of Brazil. The book was later adapted into a film of the same name, starring John Lithgow and Daryl Hannah.
In the 1980s and '90s, Mr. Matthiessen published a trio of novels - "Killing Mr. Watson," "Lost Man's River" and "Bone by Bone" - about a community in Florida's Everglades at the turn of the 20th century and a predatory planter. Unhappy, he spent years revising and condensing all three into "Shadow Country," published in 2008 and a surprise National Book Award winner.
(Courtesy, the Associated Press)
ERNIE SAW IT COMING –
"The first panacea for a mismanaged nation is inflation of the currency. The second is war. Both bring a temporary prosperity. Both bring a permanent ruin. But both are the refuge of political and economic opportunists." — Ernest Hemingway
POLICE CALLS AS OF SUNDAY MORNING
The following were compiled from reports prepared by the Ukiah Police Department. To anonymously report crime information, call 463-6205.
TRANSIENTS DEFECATING -- Caller in the 500 block of North State Street reported at 10:42 a.m. Wednesday that transients were leaving trash and defecating behind a building and requested extra patrols at night.
DVDS STOLEN -- Caller at Safeway on South State Street reported at 12:42 p.m. Wednesday that DVDs had been stolen form her shopping cart the previous day. An officer was not able to contact her.
SHOPLIFTER -- Caller at Walmart on Airport Park Boulevard reported at 12:59 p.m. Wednesday that a shoplifter had just left. An officer responded and arrested a 54-year-old Ukiah man for theft. He was cited and released.
THEFTS -- Caller on Myszka Place reported at 7:18 p.m. Wednesday that several thefts have occurred at the home and the caller recently saw photos posted on Facebook that revealed teenagers had been on the property without permission. The information was recorded.
KIDS STOLE CANDY AND BEER -- Caller in the 1100 block of Airport Park Boulevard reported at 11:06 p.m. Wednesday that kids had stolen candy and beer. An officer responded but the suspects were gone.
CHASED BY PITBULL -- Caller at the corner of North State Street and Empire Drive reported at 7:33 a.m. Thursday that he had been chased by a pitbull while out jogging and was concerned the dog might harm someone. The information was passed on.
GOLD COINS TAKEN -- Caller in the 400 block of Luce Avenue reported at 3:58 p.m. Thursday that someone took her gold coins and chains. An officer took a report.
SHOPLIFTER -- An officer responded to Walmart on Airport Park Boulevard at 6:34 p.m. Thursday for a 21-year-old woman being held for shoplifting. She was warned and released.
REVVING ENGINES -- Caller in the 1900 block of Elm Street reported at 7:30 p.m. Thursday that neighbors were "revving their racecar engines incessantly." An officer responded and reported that the car owners were stopping for the night.
SHOPLIFTER -- An officer responded to Walmart on Airport Park Boulevard at 8:09 p.m. Thursday and arrested a 20-year-old Ukiah 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.
LAUNDRY BASKET MOVED -- Caller in the 200 block of South Harold Street reported at 9:20 a.m. Thursday that her beads were missing and someone had moved her laundry basket. She requested extra patrols in the area.
The following were compiled from reports prepared by the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office:
MARIJUANA TRANSPORT -- Sean M. Molina, 44, of Stockton, was arrested at 3:27 p.m. Wednesday on suspicion of transporting marijuana for sale and booked at the county jail under $15,000 bail. The MCSO arrested him.
DUI -- Xoche E. Wright, 36, of Ukiah, was arrested at 4:16 p.m. Wednesday on suspicion of driving under the influence and driving with a blood-alcohol level greater than the legal limit, and booked at the county jail under $30,000 bail. The California Highway Patrol arrested her.
CHILD ENDANGERMENT -- Veronica A. Alvarado-Valencia, 25, of Ukiah, was arrested at 10:30 a.m. Thursday on suspicion of child abuse or endangerment and possessing a controlled substance, and booked at the county jail under $25,000 bail. The MCSO arrested her.
MARIJUANA SALES -- Francis K. Macias, 42, of Lower Lake, was arrested at 12:12 p.m. Thursday on suspicion of possessing marijuana for sale, driving with a suspended license and failing to appear in court, and booked at the county jail under $40,000 bail. The MCSO arrested her.
VEHICLE THEFT -- Theo V. Corcoran, 28, of Talmage, was arrested at 12:37 p.m. Thursday on suspicion of vehicle theft and booked at the county jail under $15,000 bail. The Ukiah Police Department arrested him.
VEHICLE THEFT -- Jacqueline E. Sherosick, 28, of Willits, was arrested at 1 p.m. Thursday on suspicion of vehicle theft and booked at the county jail under $15,000 bail. The UPD arrested her.
MARIJUANA TRANSPORT -- Vanessa L. Diaz, 25, of Bronx, N.Y., was arrested at 2:09 p.m. Thursday on suspicion of transporting marijuana for sale and booked at the county jail under $30,00 bail. The CHP arrested her.
MARIJUANA TRANSPORT -- Malcolm Davis, 25, of Bronx, N.Y., was arrested at 2:10 p.m. Thursday on suspicion of transporting marijuana for sale and booked at the county jail under $30,000 bail. The CHP arrested him.
MARIJUANA TRANSPORT -- Julio A. Hernandez, 28, of Bronx, N.Y., was arrested at 2:11 p.m. Thursday on suspicion of transporting marijuana for sale and booked at the county jail under $30,000 bail. The CHP arrested him.
MARIJUANA SALES -- Luis A. Villalobos, 21, of Ukiah, was arrested at 3:44 p.m. Thursday on suspicion of possessing marijuana for sale and cultivating marijuana, and booked at the county jail under $25,000 bail. The Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force arrested him.
METH SALES -- Steven J. Claus, 39, of Fort Bragg, was arrested at 7:59 a.m. Friday on suspicion of selling methamphetamine, possessing methamphetamine for sale, possessing a controlled substance, committing offenses while released on bail, violating his probation terms and failing to appear in court, and booked at the county jail under $350,000 bail. The MCSO arrested him.
DUI -- Jessica O. Bentel, 32, of Laytonville, was arrested at 8:27 a.m. Friday on suspicion of driving under the influence and booked at the county jail under $30,000 bail. The CHP arrested her.
MARIJUANA SALES, TRANSPORT -- Adam M. Kendall, 25, of Vallejo, was arrested at 9:46 a.m. Friday on suspicion of possessing marijuana for sale, transporting marijuana for sale and driving without a license, and booked at the county jail under $30,000 bail. The CHP arrested him.